Chinese kung fu and Japanese aikido are perhaps the two most famous and popular systems of oriental martial arts today, which compete with each other for the right to be called the most advanced schools of hand-to-hand combat.

However, if we compare kung fu and aikido in terms of effectiveness, then we must take into account the fact that, for example, kung fu is not a single martial arts school.

There are at least several hundred different hand-to-hand combat systems in Chinese kung fu or wushu, ranging from the simplest to the incredibly exotic.

With aikido, things are somewhat different, aikido is one complex yet beautiful martial art system that has its roots in the ancient fighting methods of the Japanese samurai.

In Chinese Kung Fu, the moves are very fast. In fact, in a few moments, a kung fu practitioner can defend himself and then attack. Moreover, all movements are interconnected.

In the art of aikido, the opponent is not so much attacked as deprived of the opportunity to attack.

If you manage to stumble upon the dilemma of choosing what a martial art is to learn, perhaps you should at least know each discipline.

As with differentiating aikido from kung fu, you must first know the principles so that you don’t get frustrated in the end.

Aikido basics

Aikido is generally a martial art based primarily on self-defense. It is not a “strength for strength” martial art because it does not use the strength of the defender to subdue the attacker.

It is less aggressive compared to other types of martial arts such as Hapkido and even Kung Fu.

Kung fu basics

Kung Fu is a more general term referring to a collection of Chinese martial art styles. It treats the body like a weapon from head to toe and is used to subdue an opponent in the shortest possible time while dealing the least amount of damage.


It also takes into account the art of self-defense. But unlike aikido, kung fu is more aggressive because it requires the use of equal or greater strength to fend off attacks.

Kung Fu is also a measurement of how dedicated an art is. The term can mean achievement and skill in literal Chinese.

Excellence in kung fu is achieved through long labor and labor practices.

Aikido is a Japanese-style martial art based on Aiki jujutsu. Kung fu is a collection of different types of Chinese martial arts.

Aikido is less aggressive than Kung Fu because the latter instills the principle of “strength of strength”.

  • Training method: Aikido training incorporates partner exercise and meditation techniques practiced in a non-competitive environment. On the other hand, Kung fu incorporates rigorous physical conditioning, and sparring with opponents, and aims to gain strength.
  • Techniques: Kung fu uses striking techniques such as elbow strikes, punches, and kicks with grappling techniques such as takedowns, joint kicks, and throws. In comparison, Aikido emphasizes the use of throws, pins, joints, and locks and majors on circular movement and fluid motions.
  • Philosophy: While Kung fu focuses on physical and mental strength and inner building strength, Aikido focuses on blending the opponents’ energy and using their movements to attack them. Also, Aikido focuses on developing a strong spiritual and non-violent environment.
  • Application approach: Even though the two focuses on self-defense mechanism, Kung fu focus on powerful strikes, kicks, and takedowns to attack their opponent, while Aikido focuses on self-defense through the use of the attacker’s energy to neutralize the attack without causing any harm.
AspectKung FuAikido
PhilosophyEmphasizes self-defense, physical and mental conditioning, and spiritual development.Focuses on using an opponent’s energy against them and seeks to promote peace and harmony.
TechniquesA wide variety of striking, kicking, and grappling techniques, as well as weapon usage.Joint locks, throws, and immobilization techniques, as well as some strikes and weapon usage.
TrainingOften includes rigorous physical conditioning, including strength and flexibility training.Focuses on relaxation and fluidity of movement, as well as developing sensitivity to an opponent’s energy.
UniformTypically wears loose-fitting clothing or traditional Chinese attire.Typically wears a white or black gi (uniform) and a hakama (pleated skirt-like garment) for advanced practitioners.
CompetitionCan include sparring and forms competitions.Generally non-competitive, with a focus on cooperative training and mutual improvement.
Belts/RanksOften uses a colored belt system to denote rank.Uses a kyu/dan system, with colored belts for kyu ranks and black belts for dan ranks.
ApplicationsOften used for self-defense, as well as for health and fitness benefits.Primarily used for self-defense and personal development, with less emphasis on physical fitness.


Kung fu and Aikido are two distinct martial arts with different origins and philosophies. Still, they share similarities in their self-defense and training approaches. Some of the similarities include:

  • Self-defense: Kung fu and aikido train practitioners on self-defense mechanisms and teach practitioners how to defend themselves in cases of violent and non-violent opponents.
  • Focus and techniques: The two martial arts focus on the importance of techniques over strength. The practitioner depends on techniques, skills, and physical exercises to fight effectively.
  • Discipline: Both techniques require high discipline and commitment during and after training.
  • Philosophy: Both martial arts emphasize spirituality in the martial arts. While Kung fu focuses on Buddhism, Aikido focuses on harmony and non-violent conflicts.

What to choose?

Many have come to the conclusion of which of the two is the best type of martial art. Well, it depends on the situation and the applicability of the discipline applies on a case-by-case basis.

Sometimes Kung Fu will look superior to others, and other times it’s Aikido. You really can’t generalize and be direct.

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