Karate tournaments consist of two equally important karate disciplines: the kumite and kata competitions. Due to being based both on the distinctive selection of movement techniques and their kinematic and kinetic patterns, we hypothesized that the elite kumite and kata competitors could differ regarding their anthropometric and physical performance profiles. Thirty-one senior male karate competitors of the national karate team (kumite n = 19; kata n = 12) participated in this study. The tests applied included both the assessment of anthropometric (body height, mass and body mass index) and the following physical performance measurements: the adductor and hamstring flexibility (sideward leg splits test), speed and acceleration (20-m sprint test with 10-m acceleration time), explosive power (countermovement and standing triple jump), agility ("T"- test) and aerobic endurance (20-m multistage shuttle run test). The kumite competitors revealed a larger body size through body height (p = 0.01) and mass (p = 0.03), while the differences in body composition were non-significant. The kumite competitors also demonstrated higher acceleration (p = 0.03) and explosive power (standing triple jump; p = 0.03). A 6-7° higher flexibility of the kata competitors remained somewhat below the level of significance (p = 0.09). The findings could be interpreted by the distinctive differences in the movement techniques. Specifically, a higher explosive power could be beneficial for kumite, while both a smaller stature and higher flexibility (particularly of the lower extremity) could be important for the exceptionally low postures of the kata competitors. Although further elucidation is apparently needed, the obtained finding could be of importance for both the early selection and training of karate competitors.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.