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Martial arts-Research-Training

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Research into different aspects of martial arts training.

Fitness of middle age practitioners

Fitness levels of middle-aged martial art practitioners.
P. Douris, A. Chinan, M. Gomez, A. Aw, D. Steffens, and S. Weiss
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2004; 38:143-147

This study sought to quantify and compare fitness levels of middle-aged practitioners of soo bahk do (SBD), a Korean martial art like Taekwondo with those of sedentary subjects.

Eighteen volunteers, 14 men and four women (aged 40–60 years), participated. Nine sedentary subjects (mean age 46.7 years) and nine SBD practitioners (mean age 46.8 years) were matched for sex and age. All subjects participated in a one-day battery of fitness tests. The following dependent variables were tested: body composition, balance, flexibility, quadriceps strength, grip strength, muscle endurance, and aerobic capacity. Body composition (% body fat) for the SBD group was 18.9% and30.8% for the sedentary group.

The SBD group was able to balance for 61.8 seconds v 26.2 seconds for the sedentary group. The result for the sit and reach flexibility test was 22.3 cm for the SBD group v 10.4 cm for the sedentary group. The number of pushups performed in one minute was 47.0 for the SBD group v 18.6 for the sedentary group, and the number of sit-ups performed was 66.1 for the SBD group and 37.3 for the sedentary group. Aerobic capacity was 41.0 ml/kg/min versus 31.1 ml/kg/min for the sedentary group. Quadriceps strength was 99.5% (peak torque/body weight) versus 83.0% for the sedentary group. Only grip strength was not significantly different.

Conclusions. There were significant differences between the groups for most of the physical fitness tests. The SBD practitioners displayed greater aerobic capacity, balance, flexibility, muscle endurance, and strength, and less body fat than the sedentary controls matched for age and sex. SBD can be considered an excellent form of exercise for the promotion of fitness in adults. Health professionals should be aware that there are alternative methods to using traditional exercise that can increase the physical fitness and health of the middle-aged population.

Anxiety and performance

Influence of temperament and anxiety on athletic performance.
D. Han, J. Kim, Y. Lee, S. Joeng Bae, S. Jin Bae, H. Kim, M. Sim, Y. Sung, and I. Lyoo
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5, 381 - 389

The research aimed to conduct basic descriptions of temperamental traits and the level of state and trait anxiety of young male athletes and to compare them by type of sports.

Study participants were 277 athletes and 152 non-athletes who were all high school boys.

Conclusions. Harm Avoidance score of athletes was higher than that of non-athletes. Harm Avoidance score of golfers was lowest and that of swimmers was highest. The state anxiety score of baseball players was lowest and that of taekwondo players was highest. The trait anxiety score of baseball players was also lowest and that of golfers was highest. Both trait and state anxieties of the 'winner' group were lower than those of the 'no winner' group. While prior research mainly focused on athletes' environment and phenotypic characteristics, we studied the pattern of temperaments in athletes along with its potential influence on athletic performance.

Isometric maximum strength

The importance of isometric maximum strength in college wrestlers.
M. McGuigan, J. Winchester, and T. Erickson
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 108 - 113

Previous research has demonstrated the importance of isometric maximal strength (PF) and rate of force development (RFD) in a variety of athletic populations including track cyclists and track and field athletes. Among coaches and sports scientists, there is a lack of agreement regarding how much strength is required for optimal performance in most sports. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between measures of PF, RFD, and one repetition maximum (1RM) strength with other variables that might contribute to successful performance in collegiate wrestlers.

Eight men who were Division III college wrestlers participated in this study. They were tested for PF using the isometric mid-thigh pull exercise. Explosive strength was measured as RFD from the isometric force-time curve. The 1RM for the squat, bench press and power clean exercises were determined as a measure of dynamic strength. Vertical jump height was measured to determine explosive muscular power.

Results indicated strong correlations between measures of PF and 1RM. The correlations were very strong between the power clean 1RM and PF (and squat 1RM and PF. There were no other significant correlations with other variables apart from a strong correlation between RFD and coaches ranking.

Conclusions. Findings suggest that isometric mid-thigh pull test does correlate well with 1RM testing in college wrestlers. RFD does not appear to be as important in college wrestlers. The isometric mid-thigh pull provides a quick and efficient method for assessing isometric strength in athletes. This measure also provides a strong indication of dynamic performance in this population. The lack of strong correlations with other performance variables may be a result of the unique metabolic demands of wrestling.

Aerobic capacity test for karate

Development of a sports specific aerobic capacity test for karate - a pilot study.
D. Nunan
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 47 - 53

The purpose of the study was to develop an aerobic fitness assessment test for 5 well-trained competitive karate practitioners and describe the preliminary findings.

A protocol simulating common attack strikes used in competition karate sparring was developed from video analysis. The time to perform the strike sequence remained the same, while the time between strike sequence performances was progressively reduced. The aim of the test was to increase the intensity of exercise through a decrease in recovery.

Conclusions. There was no significant between test difference in absolute VO2peak, relative VO2peak, HRM, and TE , indicating a potentially high reproducibility with the new test for these variables. However, VEpeak displayed potentially less reproducibility due to a significant difference observed between tests. There was a significant relationship between TE and relative VO2peak.

Pain tolerance in taekwondo

Selected personality traits, mood states, and pain tolerance in taekwondo.
P. McCarth
2006, Indiana University

Within a recreational activity, sports competition, and daily life, the ability to cope with pain has an effect on performance. While research studies have investigated several aspects of pain tolerance in athletes, few have focused on any connection between psychological variables and the ability to withstand pain.

The goal of this study was to explore the differences in pain tolerance between participants with different psychological profiles. 17 members of Indiana University taekwondo club and/or an academic taekwondo class, eight females and nine males, were tested on a physical pain test like the "horse stance" used in many martial arts.

Conclusions. Major findings indicated that those participants with a higher mental disturbance reached their pain tolerance in less time than those with more desirable mental health profiles. Participants who would be described as being more extroverted also took less time to reach their pain tolerance level on the physical pain test.

Motivation in martial arts

Participation motivation in martial artists in the west midlands region of England.
G. Jones, K. Mackay, and D. Peters
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 28 - 34

This study sought to identify the participation motivations and the perceived importance of certain participation factors in martial artists in the West Midlands, England, UK. A questionnaire was distributed to 30 martial arts clubs in the West Midlands region.

Conclusions. Results indicated that the rank order in terms of participation motives was: affiliation; friendship, fitness, reward/status, competition, situational, and skill development. Participants who trained for more than 4 hours per week placed greater importance on the underpinning philosophy of the martial art. Findings suggest that while there is a gender discrepancy in participation level, once engaged, females were equally committed to weekly training. The 'style' of the instructor is of paramount importance for enhancing student motivation to participate. High volume practitioners would appear to be fully immersed in the holistic appreciation of the martial art through increased value placed on its underpinning philosophy.

Performance in martial arts

Performance enhancement in the martial arts.
M. Frank, Ph.D.
This paper presents a literature review of recent studies that considered the effects of martial arts training on physical wellbeing.

The general literature has clearly shown the effectiveness of psychological skills training to enhance performance in sports. Although martial arts are a specialized area, there is a sufficient research base to conclude that sports psychology can assist martial artists with achieving peak performance in both katas and sparring. In particular, skills training can aid in regulating intensity in the martial arts as well as improving the physical skills required to be competitive.

This literature review indicates that important skills to teach to enhance performance in the martial arts include: concentration and focused attention, confidence, relaxation, regulation of intensity level, and controlling anxiety, visual search strategies, and self-talk.

Many methods have been shown to be beneficial to teach these skills. Initially, a needs assessment can determine for each athlete how to individually focus psychological skills training. Cognitive restructuring can help manage intensity level, improve concentration, and build confidence. Focused breathing, muscle relaxation and awareness, and meditation can be used to regulate anxiety or intensity level. Visio-motor behavior rehearsal has been effective for improving physical performance of martial arts skills. Also, it is generally recommended to keep self-talk logs, a daily event diary, and to develop a written competition plan.

Conclusions. The recommended structure for psychological skills training is 15-30 minutes several times a week throughout physical training. An individualized program that teaches the participants skills that they can incorporate into a personal plan is most effective.

Trunk and knee strength

Trunk and knee strength in practitioners of hard-style martial arts.
O. O'Donovan, J. Cheung, M. Catley, A. McGregor, and P. Strutton
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 2 - 12

The purpose of this study was to investigate trunk and knee strength in practitioners of hard-style martial arts, and to examine reaction times in these participants by measuring simple reaction times (SRT), choice reaction times (CRT), and movement times (MT).

Thirteen high-level martial artists and twelve sedentary participants were tested under isokinetic and isometric conditions on an isokinetic dynamometer. Response and movement times were also measured in response to simple and choice auditory cues.

Results indicated that the martial arts group generated a greater body-weight adjusted peak torque with both legs at all speeds during isokinetic extension and flexion, and in isometric extension but not flexion. In isokinetic and isometric trunk flexion and extension, martial artists tended to have higher peak torques than controls, but they were not significantly different. During the SRT and CRT tasks, the martial artists were no quicker in lifting their hand off a button in response to the stimulus [reaction time (RT)] but were significantly faster in moving to press another button [movement time (MT)].

Conclusions. The results reveal that training in a martial art increases the strength of both the flexors and extensors of the leg. Furthermore, they have faster movement times to auditory stimuli. These results are consistent with the physical aspects of the martial arts.

Power responses in taekwondo

Aerobic and anaerobic power responses to the practice of taekwondo.
A. Melhim
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2001; 35:231-234

Practicing the martial art of taekwondo (TKD) has been proposed to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular fitness as well as general physical ability. Furthermore, TKD masters and participants have promoted TKD as a total fitness program. However, research studies substantiating this seem to be lacking, perhaps because TKD is recognized more as a method of self-defense than a fitness program.

Nineteen male TKD practitioners with an average age of 13.8 years and 10.4 months of TKD training experience participated. Measurements included resting heart rate, aerobic power, anaerobic power, and anaerobic capacity.
No significant differences in either resting heart rate or aerobic power were shown after training. However, significant differences were observed in anaerobic power (28% increase) and anaerobic capacity (61.5% increase).

Conclusions. The practice of TKD promotes anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity, but not aerobic power, in male adolescents.

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