In today’s world of free travel and globalization, Western and Eastern cultures mix all the time. 200 years ago, nobody could have imagined that one day, we will all play soccer together, or perhaps teach each other our own martial arts and combat systems, but here we are. Now, there are as many Eastern martial arts schools in the West as there are Western combat systems in the East. Due to the availability of all these martial arts, most cities and regions have a ton of different schools to choose from, which might not always be the easiest thing to do, seeing as the layman doesn’t know much about the martial arts they might end up training. In this article, we will compare Taekwondo and Boxing in all the ways they are similar and different.
The main difference between Taekwondo and Boxing, aside from the fact that they emerged in different hemispheres of our planet, is that boxing only uses punches, whereas Taekwondo is a very kick-heavy martial art.
There is a lot to be discussed about the history and the differences between these two martial arts or combat systems. Further in this text, we will discuss which one of the two we believe is more effective in real-life self-defense scenarios, and also which one we think you should choose if you are on the brink of making the decision. If you want to find out more about two of the most popular fighting styles on the planet, this article is meant for you, so read on!
What are the Differences Between Taekwondo and Boxing?
In order to gain more insight into the differences between boxing and taekwondo, first, we have to look at their history. Unlike other martial arts comparisons we have done, like Goju-Ryu vs Shotokan, or Taekwondo vs Aikido, it is not necessary in this case to precisely outline the martial arts that these two developed from since they were created far away from each other.
Boxing is one of the most ancient forms of fighting and physical fitness is known to man. More precisely, it is one of the oldest ones we have historical records or reliefs of. The oldest known depiction of boxing can be found on a Sumerian relief from the 3rd millennia BCE, according to Wikipedia. However, most of the recorded ancient accounts of boxing, with or without gloves, and often with spectators watching, dates back to Ancient Greece. Though there are many accounts of boxing-like sports from places like Sumeria, Egypt, and other parts of the Middle East, much of what we know about ancient boxing comes from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, which is why in many places, boxing is called Greco-Roman boxing.
Boxing can not really be localized to a certain city or a certain master, since people all around the world have been practicing it in different “styles” and ways, and we could easily bring up a list of dozens, if not hundreds of masters and great fighters. Much of boxing actually happens outside of official tournaments and championships, in street fights, and other unofficial or straight-up illegal organizations.
Boxing is a sport that exclusively uses punches. There is a rulebook called Marquess of Queensberry Rules, which is used to this very day as a general outline of boxing matches and boxing championship. Some of the most important rules in boxing are no hitting under the belt (the top of the shorts, which is placed around the middle of the abdomen), no grappling, biting, holding, kicking, etc. Basically, all you are allowed to do in boxing is punch, block, use your footwork, and sometimes go into a clinch, which is usually used as a resting position by the fighters. This clinch can either be broken up by the referee ordering the fighters to take a step back before continuing, or by punching one’s way out of it.
Taekwondo has a much more specific and also a lot shorter history than boxing does. Although all Eastern martial arts could be led back thousands of years to Ancient Chinese and even older Philippino martial arts, most of the styles we know of now have a relatively specific date when they were founded. In the case of Taekwondo, this was after the second world war, in the 40-s and 50-s.
There were 9 original Kwons in Korea, which all taught mixed and various versions of a combination of Japanese, Korean and Chinese martial arts, and after the war, there was a movement to unify them into one, national Korean art. The leader of this movement was army general Choi Hong Hi, who is also known as the person who came up with and wrote the Theory of Power, which is a series of observations and rules about effective fighting. Amongst other things, he talks about how speed is a better predictor of striking power than the mass behind the striking limb. The combined effect of speed and mass can be best produced by the legs since they are some of the largest muscles on the body, and a kicking foot can travel at speeds way faster than an arm can.
Contrary to popular belief, Taekwondo does have some striking, and traditionally, even a small amount of grappling, however, it is true that a large majority of the techniques are comprised of kicks. This is what gives Taekwondo that flashy look which people fall in love with. There is no other art quite like Taekwondo when it comes to using the legs to deliver powerful strikes.
Which is Better for Self-defense: Taekwondo and Boxing?
One of the most important questions when it comes to martial arts and combat styles like boxing and Taekwondo is how effective they are on the street, in an actual self-defense scenario. The reason most people start training them n the first place is to learn how to defend themselves, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that most internet forums on fighting are full of questions about comparing martial arts in terms of effectiveness.
When it comes to these two specific arts, boxing, and Taekwondo, there is a pretty straightforward answer to the question of self-defense effectiveness. The better of the two is boxing, though not by a too large margin. Read on to find out why!
This comparison isn’t a comparison like Taekwondo vs Aikido, which is very clear-cut. The reasons are somewhat more subtle, but there are two main reasons boxing has an edge over Taekwondo. One of them has to do with the type of techniques being used, while the other is based upon empirical evidence and the goal of both martial arts.
The type of techniques being used in both arts are very striking-based, however, boxing is more suitable for the streets due to the range boxers are comfortable at. Taekwondo, due to its large kicks, is mostly (keyword: mostly) long-range, whereas boxing can be done best ad medium- or close-range, and it doesn’t matter if it is a tightly packed hallway or the middle of an empty clearing, if you get near a boxer, you don’t have much chance. This doesn’t mean a Taekwondo practitioner couldn’t beat a boxer. They could if they manage to keep the distance and also to land one or two proper kicks. Boxers aren’t prepared for strong kicks to the leg, for example, and a Taekwondo fighter can easily deliver a crippling blow to their opponent’s legs, assuming the boxer doesn’t evade it.
The other main reason is that boxing, over the last few hundred years especially, has been solely developed and constantly improved in order to be more effective and efficient. Taekwondo has a much stronger connection to traditions, which hinders its effectiveness on the streets somewhat.
Which One Should You Choose: Taekwondo and Boxing?
Let’s assume for the sake of argument, that you have an equally good, authentic, qualified boxing gym and Taekwondo dojo near you. The reason we have to make this assumption is that even if you have a martial art that isn’t very effective, but is taught well, it will be better than training a great martial art poorly. So if you have high-quality training available, which one should you choose?
Even though we really prioritize self-defense, especially with martial arts, we would suggest Taekwondo in this case. The main reason for this is that even though boxing might be somewhat more effective, there is a much higher risk of serious brain damage. Boxing is one of the most dangerous sports in these terms, and in our opinion, possibly having a slight advantage in street fighting situations is just not worth the risk of developing early-onset Alzheimers or dementia. Taekwondo is also going to win you most street fights if you train it well and especially if you fight the average drunk guy, which is the type of opponent you are going to encounter most of the time.