Taekwondo and boxing are both popular martial arts that can be found around the world. However, there has been some serious debate in the martial arts world as to which of these fighting styles is more effective in an actual fight.

Boxing is generally considered to be more effective in a fight than taekwondo because it focuses on hand strikes, which is the most common fighting style to counter. Boxing is also considered more effective in mixed martial arts due to the force generated by strikes.

Taekwondo and boxing are both respectable martial arts, but only one reigns supreme when it comes to effectiveness in the ring. Read on to learn more about the differences in effectiveness between taekwondo and boxing.

Boxing Is More Effective for Self-Defense

If you’re taking up a martial art for self-defense, boxing is undeniably more effective than taekwondo if you find yourself in a street fight. There are several reasons for this (Source: MMA Channel):

  • Most untrained fighters will use their fists. If someone has never taken a martial art, their default attack is typically their open hands or fists. Since boxing is also a sport that focuses on hand strikes, this makes it more effective at countering hand strikes and aiming in the same target window where the hands are being held up.
  • Boxing teaches evasion. The fancy footwork found in boxing is part of a boxer’s quick reflexes. These same reactions can help someone avoid an incoming blow in a fight if they find themselves having to defend against an attack. (Source: Glove Worx)
  • Boxing mentally prepares you to get hit in the face. If you end up in a fight in the real world, chances are it’s going to be the result of (or result in) a thrown punch. If you don’t have at least a little tolerance for the pain and surprise of getting socked in the face, you’re easier to stun and can leave yourself open to a second attack.
  • Boxing emphasizes strike accuracy. Knowing how to throw a punch is one thing, but knowing how to throw only a single punch to end a fight with a knockout is another. However, it’s important that boxers be aware of their own strength to avoid causing serious damage to their opponent, especially in unguarded fights.

Boxing is one of the closest martial arts to an actual street fight, so it’s generally more effective than taekwondo when it comes to self-defense. Here are a few more reasons why taekwondo isn’t as effective in self-defense as boxing:

  • Taekwondo was never intended for self-defense. Instead, the focus of taekwondo is self-improvement through the betterment of mind, body, and community. While taekwondo skills can be used for self-defense, this is not their primary intention. At the end of the day, taekwondo is a sport. (Source: United Martial Arts)
  • Taekwondo focuses on kicks. The impressive spin kicks and high kicks that make Taekwondo tournaments so thrilling to watch are not very effective in a street fight. They require plenty of free room to perform and aiming a kick at your opponent’s face leaves you open to a throw if you aren’t fast enough to avoid them grabbing your ankle.
  • Taekwondo has no real ground techniques. While boxing doesn’t have any ground techniques either, boxers typically have a superior level of upper body strength and weight to wriggle out of a hold. Since taekwondo focuses on the legs, a taekwondo fighter who has been mounted and pinned in a ground attack is in trouble. (Source: Martial Arts Planet)

The techniques of boxing and taekwondo will only get you so far in a real bar fight or mugging. You have to keep in mind that in a real fight, your opponent will not be following the rules. Dirty fighting may not be allowed in the sparring ring, but you need to know how to defend against it.

Boxing Is More Effective in Mixed Martial Arts

Along with being more effective than taekwondo in self-defense, boxing is also considered more effective as a fighting style in mixed martial arts.

Both boxing and taekwondo offer the powerful hand strikes necessary to gain the upper hand in an MMA bout. However, the kicks in taekwondo are not generally considered as powerful or useful in MMA as other disciplines which incorporate kicking, such as Muay Thai.

Muay Thai also focuses on kicking or striking at the torso and lower body rather than the head, which can leave Taekwondo artists dangerously vulnerable to being struck in the face by those with a boxing background. The steps in taekwondo are so intricate that it would also be easy for a heavier boxer to overwhelm the taekwondo fighter before they get in position for a kick.

The More Effective Fighter Is More Skilled

Whether you choose to study boxing or taekwondo, there’s no doubt that either of these fighting styles can be used effectively with the right training. A fighter who has mastered boxing is likely to clean the clock of a white belt taekwondo fighter, while a black belt taekwondo fighter can soundly beat an amateur boxer.

The common denominator is experience. Once you’ve achieved a level of mastery in your chosen martial art, you’ll have several traits that make you an effective fighter. These traits include the following:

  • Physical strength: Martial arts teach you to hit harder and use your weight effectively in a fight to throw your opponent off balance. Boxing and taekwondo also both improve your strike accuracy.
  • Resolve: A master boxer or black belt has been through hundreds of sparring matches and is not afraid to get into a fight. This confidence in a fight can already put a fighter leagues ahead of their opponent if they’re fighting someone inexperienced.
  • Situational awareness: A master fighter is aware of their environment in a fight and can use it to their advantage. It’s also important as a martial artist to know when it’s smarter to step down and avoid a fight rather than take it head-on.
  • Gentleness: A master martial artist of any fighting style knows how to pull their punches so that they don’t accidentally cripple or kill an unskilled opponent. Just because you have a higher level of skill or strength against your opponent doesn’t mean you have to use it to humiliate or injure them.

Hand-to-hand combat is about more than being the strongest or most vicious fighter in the room. It’s also important to have principles as a martial artist in order to be an effective representative of your chosen discipline.

Taekwondo and Boxing Are Both Effective Styles

Even though boxing is technically more useful in a street fight than taekwondo, both of these martial arts can help you develop the physical strength and situational awareness necessary to protect yourself in any conflict.

Perhaps the most important things you learn in martial arts are how to size up your opponent and avoid unnecessary fights whenever you can.