Skip to Content

Is Karate A Joke? (8 Reasons Why It’s Not)

I’ve been into martial arts for some time, and I often gave karate a bad wrap once I learned about other martial arts. But, I later realized it’s actually very good for fighting. So, I thought I’d write this article to explain why karate is no joke.

So, is karate a joke? Karate is no joke because:

1. Karate is used in the UFC

2. People that do karate can break bricks

3. Karate is a solid striking art

4. Lots of people do karate

5. Karate is an Olympic sport

6. Some karate schools use weapons

7. Karate people have good fitness

8. People that do karate regularly are sharp

Whether you want to know if karate is useful in a fight, and whether karate is respected, this article will explain everything you need to know about whether karate is a joke.

karate fighter hitting a punchbag

Why karate is not a joke

I’ll explain the reasons above in more detail so you have a good idea of why karate is not a joke, and whether it’s a good martial art/sport for you:

1. Karate is used in real fights, especially in the UFC

Many fighters in the UFC learned karate at an early age either exclusively or with other martial arts. Such as Lyoto Machida, and Robert Whittaker. And the influence of karate on their style is very evident.

You can see that some fighters who had a background in karate have a fighting style that looks a lot like kumite (sport) karate. And they have a wide-open stance and move in and out very quickly. 

This is different from a boxing style where they can spend a lot of time ‘in the pocket’ where they stand directly in front of their opponent, at a very close distance, and bob and weave.

On a side note, I recently made a list of the best karate fighters in the world, which includes some that fight in mixed martial arts. You can read it by clicking here.

2. People that do karate can perform amazing feats

You may have seen karate people break bricks with their hands, punch pieces of wood, or karate chop concrete. In either case, the techniques they use in karate can be perfected to the point where they can do serious damage.

Here’s a video of a karate instructor breaking bricks with a punch:

If they can do that to bricks imagine how hard they could strike a person.

And developing this level of strength and skill in their hands is like turning their hands into a weapon. 

In my opinion striking a person and striking bricks is a bit different because they focus for a long time, and couldn’t necessarily do it on a person who is trying to avoid them. 

But, nonetheless, their hands are much stronger than an average person’s. So, if nothing else in a real fight they would hurt the other person more easily than someone who doesn’t train in this aspect of karate.

3. Karate is a legitimate striking art 

Martial arts can broadly be categorized as either a 1) striking art and 2) a grappling art, here’s how the main ones can be separated:

Grappling arts:

  • Judo
  • Wrestling
  • Jiu jitsu
  • Sambo – both striking and grappling

Striking arts:

  • Boxing
  • Kickboxing
  • Karate

In karate you learn punches, kicks, and karate chops which, like boxing and kickboxing are effective at either knocking the wind out of your opponent, knocking them out, or doing enough damage that they give up.

Punches and kicks go beyond the martial art or sport that teaches it and are fundamental moves of any fight. Therefore, the skills that a karate person knows are useful in a real fight and are variations of the key strikes and kicks that work in a real situation.

4. Lots of people love and do karate

Although karate is a bit contentious it’s still done and practiced by many people around the world. And is a very popular sport.

Because of this fact it doesn’t appear to be becoming less popular and shows that it is not a joke. 

However, in karate they don’t put a lot of emphasis on grappling, but if a person has superior skills in striking they will win in a striking exchange against another person without as much skill a large majority of the time. 

In a fight, if a person with superior grappling skills like wrestling can get close and grab a person, they can typically dominate a fight.

But, if a person has superior striking skills and can avoid getting grabbed or has skills to remain on their feet, they will eventually win the fight most of the time. Because they can hit their opponent and can avoid getting hit.

Therefore, it still appears that many people see the value in striking, and like karate for other reasons so it remains very popular today.

5. Karate is an Olympic sport

As you may be aware, Karate is an Olympic sport.

This means that it’s very popular, and the competition side of the sport is well developed. This also shows that it’s well respected and liked by a lot of people.

6. Some karate schools practice with swords and staffs

Some styles of karate use swords, staffs, and other weapons.

The literal translation of karate is ‘open hand’ meaning a martial art without weapons. And the emphasis is on winning a fight without weapons.

However, aspects of their sister martial arts kobudo – which teaches skills with weapons – are taught at many karate schools according to And in a real situation, a staff could take the form of a broomstick or umbrella. 

Weapons on their own are incredibly dangerous, and because some schools of karate practices techniques with them it makes them even more deadly.

This aspect of karate makes it formidable, and effective for defending yourself, and people that know these skills are better prepared in a real-life situation. And therefore, is no joke.

7. Doing karate gives you above average fitness

A person who is in shape will generally win a fight against someone who is of average fitness, or below average.

This is because they can feint and move around their opponent until they get tired. 

When a person gets tired it’s more difficult for them to perform moves, and ultimately they will need to sit down or lie down to take a rest. Therefore, the added benefit of fitness that ‘karatekas’ – people that do karate – get means they are better prepared for a fight. 

8. People that do karate train regularly and are sharp

Someone who is performing fighting moves regularly will be sharp compared to someone who trained a lot in the past but doesn’t train much anymore.

This is because the muscle memory from performing the moves is still fresh.

You may have noticed this if you’ve done other sports and taken time off. Within 15 minutes or so you’ll get back into the swing of it. 

But, in a real situation, you don’t have that time. And people that don’t train at all, or who trained a lot in the past will be one step ahead. And gives them sharper than average reflexes that make this aspect of karate no joke.


As you can see, these points show that karate is not a joke, and is a legitimate martial art that you can use to protect yourself provided it’s trained in a way that resembles a real fight. 

Such as, training for a karate tournament, and with partners that are trying to avoid your moves.

It is, however, only one part of the skillset you’ll need to be effective in a fight. And to be a good all-around fighter it’s important to have both striking and grappling skills. Especially to be effective in mixed martial arts, and in a real-life situation.