Are Wrestling and Karate Similar? What are The Differences between Wrestling and Karate?

One of the common questions beginners might ask is if Karate and Wrestling are similar. Wrestling and Karate have some similarities and differences, which we will discuss in this post. Here is a table showing their differences which we will discuss in this article.

Age15,000 years600 years
OriginBabylonia, EgyptIndia
Type of Martial ArtGrappling Martial ArtStriking Martial Art
Belt SystemNone8 – 10 belt system
AssociationsUnited World Wrestling (UWW), International Amateur Wrestling Federation(IAWF), World Wide Wrestling League(W3L)World Karate Federation(WKF), International Karate Organization(IKO), International Sport Karate Association(ISKA)
Summary of the differences between Karate and Wrestling

This post will discuss the similarities and differences between Karate and Wrestling. After discussing their differences, we will talk about the martial arts that are more similar to both martial arts.

Karate vs. Wrestling:  Similarities and Differences

Is Wrestling like Karate?

Wrestling is like Karate in the sense that they are considered a sport. This means they have some competitions and regulatory bodies to set their rules. However, Karate and Wrestling have a lot of differences, including their fighting style, origins, and the presence or absence of a belt system.

First, maybe one of the things you find interesting on the table is I said Karate came from India.

Karate came from an Indian martial art known as Kalaripayattu.

Kalaripayattu was adopted by Chinese monks and was used by Shaolins in their Kung Fu, which became known as the Crane style.

Later, the Crane style was introduced to Okinawa, Japan. Then, with some changes, it became modern Karate.

This is why most people say that Karate came from Japan. However, diving deeper would let you see its natural origins.

Regardless, the addition of some moves by the Japanese made Karate so unique that it can be considered a different martial art.

Another big difference we can see is its age. Wrestling has been around for thousands of years, and we can see them in cave paintings such as in Babylon and Egypt. It was said that the martial art is 15,000 years old, which makes it one of the oldest martial art.

Karate, ever since the time it was known as Kalaripayattu, started in the 1400s. This makes it a newer martial art.

Moreover, the two martial arts are different in their approaches to combat.

Wrestling focuses on grappling and throws. They are great for ground fights. Karate concentrates more on strikes such as punches and kicks, which is suitable for stand-up fights.

This puts a lot of differences, which is why MMA fighters can learn Karate and Wrestling, as their difference makes them complementary.

Why are these martial arts complimentary? When people fight while standing, they can use Karate to strike their opponents. However, since most fights can lead to the ground, this is where Wrestling shines.

The combination of Karate and Wrestling is practical that it removes the weakness of one another. Since Wrestling is not great at stand-up fights, Karate can complement this as it is a stand-up martial art.

Karate isn’t good at ground fights which makes Wrestling an excellent sport to learn for karate practitioners.

Another difference you might notice is their uniform and belt system.

Most wrestling schools don’t have a belt system, while Karate schools would offer a belt progression system.

In Karate, you would hear the progression from white to black belt.

Wrestling has belts, but it is given to champions like what we see in boxing.

Belts in boxing aren’t considered a progression but a reward for the best wrestlers.

With these in mind, how about their similarities?

Well, for one, both Wrestling and Karate have a regulating body such as UWW and WKF, which systematizes both martial arts such as the rules, progression, etc.

Other martial arts such as Jeet Kune Do don’t have a regulating body.

Recommended Read: If you’re wondering why Jeet Kune Do doesn’t have a governing body like Wrestling and Karate, you may check this post where I discussed why Jeet Kune Do may be fake. Here is the link: Is Jeet Kune Do Fake?

Furthermore, Karate and Wrestling have their spot in the Olympics, which isn’t present for other martial arts.

For similarities, these are the only things I can think of as their fighting styles are entirely different.

Now that we understand the similarities and differences between Wrestling and Karate, what martial arts are similar to both these martial arts? We will discuss them in the following sections.


What sports are similar to Karate?

Sports quite similar to Karate are most likely striking martial arts styles, including Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Wing Chun, Taekwondo, and Kick Boxing. However, grappling martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Wrestling are very different as these martial arts focus on rolls.

As previously discussed, Karate is a striking or a stand-up martial art where people fight while standing.

This makes it a different type of martial art compared to Wrestling.

So, what martial arts are closer to Karate? Well, Martial arts focused on striking are closer to Karate than Wrestling. Some examples are Boxing, Taekwondo, Kick Boxing, Muay Thai, and Wing Chun.

Of course, they are some differences between these martial arts. For example, kicking is not allowed in boxing but allowed in Karate.

Taekwondo focuses on mobility, speed, and flexibility, while Karate focuses more on solid stances, power, and strength.

In terms of strength, Muay Thai focuses on bringing more destructive power while Karate is focused on speed.

However, these are all striking martial arts, making it close to Karate.

For example, Karate practitioners can punch like in boxing, Kick like in Taekwondo, and do elbow strikes like in Muay Thai.

These sports are similar in that MMA practitioners use these martial arts as a basis for their stand-up offense.

Now, how about Wrestling? That’s what we will discuss next.


Which martial art is most like Wrestling?

Martial arts similar to Wrestling include Sambo, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and Judo. These martial arts have a lot in common with Wrestling, such as throws, locks, chokes, and submissions.

Compared to Karate, Wrestling is more focused on ground attacks. Thus, it is closer to ground martial arts such as Jiu-jitsu, Judo, or Sambo.

Of course, they still have some differences. For example, Judo is focused on throws while Jiu-Jitsu is more on locking their opponents.

However, all of these can be used for ground fights which is why most MMA fighters choose these martial arts for their ground offense.

What’s next? This blog post discussed the similarities between Wrestling and Karate. How about knowing the difference between Wrestling and Boxing in terms of safety? You can learn more about it here: Which is safer? Boxing or Wrestling?

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