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Does Karate Count As A Sport?

Does Karate Count As A Sport?

We all grew up watching icons like Jackie Chan show off their karate skills on television. We often look up to these people as idols and athletes, but some would argue that martial arts practitioners are not sportsmen because martial arts are not the same as other sports.

While it is true that martial arts like karate have specific fundamental differences from other sports, however, several arguments can be made to justify why they should still count as a sport. Karate is a sport because it involves physical exertion and skill, as all sports do. 

It is also a part of the Olympics, and people often compete with one another in karate championships. Like all other sports, karate has competitors and rules, and it also requires practice to improve or level up with time. 

For all these reasons, we don’t see why karate should be excluded from the title of being a sport, but to find out more about the nature of this specific sport, keep reading ahead.

What Is A Sport?

According to most definitions, a sport is any physical activity that requires skill and physical exertion and involves two or more people competing with one another. This definition is important because any activity that fits this criterion falls under the ambit of being a sport, and using this definition, karate can clearly be classified as one. 

Why Should Karate Be Considered A Sport?

Even though the definition of ‘sport’ makes it clear that karate is one, we give you a list of detailed reasons that qualify the argument a bit more.

Karate Is An Athletic Activity

One of the most defining features of a sport is that they are athletic in nature and require great amounts of physical exertion. This is certainly a feature of karate as well, which is why karate is often practiced in Gyms and used for fitness. Those who practice karate undergo extreme physical exertion and are often fit because of it. 

It Is Practiced In The Olympics

The greatest qualifier for Karate to be considered a sport is the fact that it is commonly practiced in the Olympics. The addition is pretty recent, and it only began in Tokyo in 2020, but people from all over the world want to compete in this sport.

Karate Has Competitors And Rules

This is a key defining feature of many sports all over the world. Every sport, ranging from cricket to basketball, has specific rules that must be followed and specific competitors you need to defeat. The same is true for Karate. Specific rules are crucial to practicing karate; this includes the attire and the athlete’s code of conduct during the sport. 

There are certain forms of karate, such as Kumite, which require players to spar against one another. Fighting against competitors is a key feature of many combat sports, including boxing and wrestling. This feature helps qualify karate as a sport as well. 

To learn more about these rules, watch

Karate Is Improved Overtime

Now, this is true for most things but especially sports because all sports require practice and time for you to rank higher and higher. Karate is similar in that there is a ranking system, and as you improve, you rank higher and higher, which is signified by different best at each level. Those with the highest skill earn the prestigious black belt. 

Why Do People Not Consider Karate A Sport?

Despite all these arguments, there are several reasons why some people refuse to accept karate as a sport. They have their own set of reasons.

Karate Does Not Always Have A Competitor To Fight

There are certain types of karate in which you don’t need to compete with another person physically to win. The competition is judged based on posture and skill, but you don’t need to necessarily spar with the other party involved. Examples of this form of karate include; Kata, where fighters are judged by their form.

This type of Karate leans more towards the martial arts side, but that does not disqualify it as a sport because not all sports require physical contact. Technically, a competitor is still involved. 

People Prefer To Consider Karate A Martial Art Instead

Karate is considered a form of a martial art because it has more objectives than just competition. It teaches skill, form, discipline, and fitness. This widens the scope of Karate, and referring to it as a sport seems reductive.

However, there is no reason why karate cannot be both a sport and martial art. It has many objectives, but one primary objective is still competition, which qualifies it as a sport.

It Does Not Require The Same Level Of Physical Exertion

Some people don’t consider karate a sport because it does not leave you exhausted like a football or a wrestling match would. 

While it is true that it may not be as physically taxing, karate can still take a physical toll on the body. The exhaustion is also at a mental level because alot of focus and concentration is required to compete in the sport. What’s more, is that not all sports are the same level of tiring, but that does not disqualify them as sports.

How Is Karate Different From Kung Fu?

Many people mix the two because they use some of the same techniques, but kung fu is often a broader category than karate, involving both sports and martial arts. Kung Fu is made up of many forms of fighting; only some qualify as a sport because others are purely martial arts, whereas karate includes aspects of both sports and martial arts.

The Bottom Line

To settle the long debate about whether karate is a sport or martial art, we pose a simple question, why can’t it be both? Karate certainly has features of both these categories, and several arguments can be made to qualify its position as a sport. Even though some people argue against it, most of those arguments are easily refutable. So if you know karate, go ahead and call yourself a sportsman; it’s fully justified.