Unraveling the Differences and Discovering the Right Martial Art for You

Martial arts, the ancient discipline of physical and mental training, have been practiced and perfected for centuries. Each martial art has its unique features, and selecting the right one can be a daunting task. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of Kenpo Karate and compare it with other popular martial arts to help you make an informed decision.

What is Kenpo Karate?

Kenpo Karate, also sometimes spelled as “kempo”, is a modern martial art that blends traditional Japanese and Chinese martial arts with contemporary self-defense techniques. The art focuses on rapid, efficient movements to disarm and disable opponents, prioritizing practicality, and real-world applicability. Most techniques focus on three principles: block, strike, takedown.

Kenpo Karate vs. Other Martial Arts

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling-based martial art that emphasizes ground fighting, joint locks, and chokes. While Kenpo Karate focuses on striking techniques and practical self-defense, BJJ places a higher priority on submission holds and groundwork. The two martial arts have different objectives: Kenpo is geared towards disabling an attacker quickly, whereas BJJ aims to submit or control an opponent on the ground.


Taekwondo, a Korean martial art, is known for its high, fast kicks and spinning techniques. Compared to Kenpo Karate, Taekwondo emphasizes acrobatic and flashy moves, often used for demonstrations and sport competitions. While both martial arts share a focus on striking, Kenpo focuses more on effective hand strikes and fewer kicks in most systems, while Taekwondo is known for its kicks.


Boxing, the Western martial art, relies solely on punches and footwork. Kenpo Karate differs from boxing in that it incorporates a wider range of techniques, including kicks, elbows, and knee strikes. Additionally, Kenpo emphasizes self-defense in various situations, whereas boxing is typically practiced as a competitive sport.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs,” is a Thai martial art that uses punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes. While both Kenpo Karate and Muay Thai prioritize striking techniques, Muay Thai focuses on powerful, singular strikes, whereas Kenpo Karate emphasizes rapid, fluid combinations. Additionally, Muay Thai often involves clinching and limited grappling, which is less prevalent in Kenpo Karate.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art, shares many similarities with Kenpo Karate in terms of its practical, self-defense-focused approach. Both martial arts prioritize real-world applicability and quick incapacitation of an attacker. However, Krav Maga is less formal than Kenpo Karate and often incorporates elements from various martial arts, making it more of a hybrid self-defense system.


Kajukenbo, also a mixed martial art, was developed in Hawaii in the 1940s and has its roots in Kenpo, as well as karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, and Chinese boxing (also known as Tang Soo Do). Like Kenpo, Kajukenbo places a strong emphasis on practical self-defense and real-world scenarios.


Kenpo Karate is a versatile martial art that focuses on practical self-defense techniques, blending traditional martial arts with modern-day approaches. While it shares some similarities with other martial arts, its emphasis on rapid, efficient movements and real-world applicability sets it apart. When choosing a martial art, consider your personal goals, interests, and the specific characteristics of each discipline. Whether you are interested in self-defense, fitness, or personal growth, there is a martial art out there for you.

If you’re interested in learning more about Kenpo Karate, we recommend trying out a class to see if it’s right for you!

Photo credit: Shihan Mark Fountain of Fountain Photography and Fountain Studios of Self-Defense