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Judo vs. Kung Fu — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on October 17, 2023
Judo is a Japanese martial art focused on throws and ground combat, while Kung Fu is a collection of Chinese martial arts emphasizing strikes, kicks, and forms.
Judo vs. Kung Fu — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Judo and Kung Fu


Key Differences

Judo, originating from Japan, primarily emphasizes throws, joint locks, and ground grappling. It's designed around the principle of using an opponent's energy against them, allowing smaller fighters to defeat larger opponents. On the other hand, Kung Fu is a term that encompasses various Chinese martial arts styles. These styles are diverse and can focus on strikes, kicks, weapon use, and fluid forms.
In the world of Judo, the primary uniform is known as a "gi", and combatants are called "judokas". The sport is often practiced for self-development and discipline, in addition to self-defense. Kung Fu, while also spiritual, is more varied in its forms, ranging from the graceful movements of Tai Chi to the rapid strikes of Wing Chun.
Judo competition, often seen in the Olympics, is a testament to its effectiveness and global appeal. Points are scored by throwing the opponent, pinning them, or applying joint locks. In contrast, Kung Fu is more often associated with cinematic portrayals, thanks to its visually impressive forms and techniques. While competitions exist, they can vary widely based on the specific Kung Fu style in play.
Judo's techniques stem from the ancient samurai arts of combat, designed to disarm and defeat armored opponents without weapons. It's deeply rooted in respect and discipline. Kung Fu, with its ancient Chinese roots, has a storied history intertwining with Chinese philosophy, medicine, and folklore, making it not just a physical practice but also a cultural and spiritual one.

Comparison Chart



Primary Focus

Throws, joint locks, ground grappling
Strikes, kicks, forms, sometimes weapons


Varies, often robes or sashes

Sport Representation

Varied competitions, cinema

Historical Roots

Samurai combat techniques
Chinese philosophy, medicine, and folklore

Compare with Definitions


A Japanese martial art focusing on throws.
She's been practicing Judo for five years.

Kung Fu

Intertwined with Chinese philosophy and medicine.
Kung Fu is not just combat; it's a way of life and health.


A system of self-defense without weapons.
Judo taught him how to neutralize threats without striking.

Kung Fu

Often characterized by fluid, dance-like forms.
The Kung Fu performance was as mesmerizing as ballet.


Rooted in samurai combat techniques.
Judo's origins can be traced back to the battlefields of ancient Japan.

Kung Fu

Can include weapon training in its curriculum.
In her Kung Fu school, she learned the staff and the sword.


A sport with Olympic recognition.
He won a gold medal in Judo at the Olympics.

Kung Fu

A diverse range of Chinese martial arts.
He's a master of three different Kung Fu styles.


A discipline emphasizing the "gentle way".
Judo's philosophy is all about redirecting an opponent's force.

Kung Fu

Made popular globally by cinema.
Bruce Lee introduced Kung Fu to the world through his films.


A sport and method of physical training similar to wrestling, developed in Japan in the late 1800s and using principles of balance and leverage adapted from jujitsu.

Kung Fu

Alternative spelling of kung fu


A Japanese martial art and sport adapted from jujutsu.


A sport adapted from jujitsu, originally a method of self-defense without weapons, and similar to wrestling; it was developed in Japan.


A sport adapted from jujitsu (using principles of not resisting) and similar to wrestling; developed in Japan

Common Curiosities

Where did Judo originate?

Judo originated in Japan.

Is Kung Fu from China?

Yes, Kung Fu has its roots in China.

Is Kung Fu the same as Karate?

No, Kung Fu is Chinese, while Karate is Japanese.

What is the primary philosophy behind Judo?

Using an opponent's energy against them, emphasizing the "gentle way".

What is Judo?

A Japanese martial art that emphasizes throws, joint locks, and ground grappling.

Is Judo an Olympic sport?

Yes, Judo has been an Olympic sport since 1964.

Is Judo useful for self-defense?

Yes, its techniques can be effective for self-defense.

What is Kung Fu?

A collective term for various Chinese martial arts styles emphasizing strikes, kicks, and forms.

What do Judo practitioners wear?

They wear a uniform called a "gi".

Which is better, Judo or Kung Fu?

It depends on individual preferences and goals; both have unique strengths.

Are there Kung Fu competitions like Judo's Olympic events?

Yes, but they vary widely based on the specific Kung Fu style.

Who are the practitioners of Judo called?

They are referred to as "judokas".

Is Kung Fu only about fighting?

No, it's also deeply rooted in Chinese philosophy, medicine, and culture.

Is Kung Fu just what's shown in movies?

Movies often dramatize, but the essence is rooted in genuine martial arts.

Are there different styles of Kung Fu?

Yes, there are numerous styles, each with its own techniques and philosophies.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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