The Differences Between Tae Kwon Do & Jujitsu


Both jujitsu and tae kwon do are types of Asian martial arts based on the defensive principles of combat. However, aside from these similarities, there are significant differences in the origins, practice and international competition of these two sports.


  • Tae kwon do originated in ancient Korea and has developed over its 5,000-year history under other names such as subak or taekkyon. Jujitsu is a Japanese martial art that is said to have originated in the 16th century by a man named Shirobei Akiyama. Tae kwon do was developed more as a practice, or way of life, while jujitsu, although philosophical in nature, is more of a definitive defense practice.


  • "Jujitsu" translates in Japanese as the “gentle art of subtleness.” Founder Shirobei Akiyama envisoned this martial art style while watching branches either crack or fold when covered with snow. Tae kwon do is a combination of three words: “tae,” meaning leg or foot, “kwon,” meaning fist or fight, and “do,” meaning the way.

Fighting Style

  • Although both styles are defensive in nature, the main principle of jujitsu is to convert the attacking energy from an opponent into harming the opponent himself. Throws, trips and body contortion are key aspects of the fighting style. Tae kwon do was originally practiced as a way to break up fights quickly and promote a more peaceful world. The translation is very literal to tae kwon do, meaning the stopping of fists and feet, and involves many more aggressive tactics like trips and body checks, as well as punches and kicks.

International Competition

  • Jujitsu is not an Olympic sport, and is currently governed by the Jujitsu International Federation (JJIF). The JJIF is a private body that holds world championship competitions every two years and continental championships every two years. Tae kwon do has several governing bodies that oversee professional competition like the World Taekwondo Federation and the Pan American Taekwondo Union. However, Taekwondo was able to gain acceptance in the 1988 Seoul games by the Olympic Committee as a demonstrative sport only. In 2000 in Sydney, tae kwon do was given a full sport status.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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