Martial art is a general term that includes many forms and styles. Among the most popular are karate, judo, soo bahk do, tae kwon do, kung fu, and tai chi. Participation in a regular exercise programme has been shown to be an effective intervention to reduce or prevent a number of functional declines associated with aging. Fitness training according to the ACSM should include exercises to improve the cardiorespiratory system, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility and maintain optimal body composition. There are many forms of martial arts, originating from different countries such as Japan, Korea, and China.
Although they contain similar features, they each emphasise different systems of actions. Kung fu and tai chi use slow, purposeful, circular movements, which characterise it as a soft style. Karate and tae kwon do incorporate straight line powerful blocking, kicking, punching techniques as a major component, which characterise it as a hard style. Soo bahk do also known as tang soo do emphasises a combination of the hard styles of karate and tae kwon do with the soft style of the Chinese martial arts.
Their system of action and the characteristic use of bare hands and feet as striking weapons are different from other martial art systems.
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The primary purpose and philosophy of SBD is rejuvenation and the prolonging of life beyond the normal span. There have been numerous studies investigating the short and long term benefits of martial art training. Karate training has been shown to be sufficient stimulus for improving aerobic power. Previous research has used subjects that have been martial artists either over the age of 65 or between the ages of 16 and We found no study that documented the effects of martial art training on middle aged subjects 40—60 years of age.
The primary purpose of this study was to document and compare the effects of SBD training compared with a sedentary lifestyle on body composition, muscle strength, muscle endurance, balance, flexibility, and aerobic capacity in middle aged people.
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Eighteen people volunteered to participate: nine sedentary subjects and nine martial art practitioners seven men and two women in each group. The institutional review board at the New York Institute of Technology approved the study, and all subjects read and signed an informed consent form before participating in the study.
All subjects were tested between 9 am and 12 pm. Resting blood pressure, heart rate, height, and weight were recorded for all subjects before fitness testing. The following tests of physical fitness were administered in the following order on the same day and were completed within a two hour time period. A Lange skinfold caliper Beta Technology, Cambridge, Maryland, USA was used to measure subcutaneous fat at selected sites on the right side of the body.
Sites measured in the men were the triceps, suprailiac, abdomen, and thigh, and those measured in the women were the triceps, suprailiac, and abdomen. Balance control was assessed by a single limb stance timed test with the eyes closed. The stopwatch began after the subject raised one leg and closed their eyes.
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The stopwatch was stopped when the subject became unstable and placed the flexed leg on the ground or at the completion of 60 seconds. Both legs were tested in random order. Total time for both legs was summed and documented and then used for data analysis. The dominant hand was used for testing. Hand dominance was ascertained from the subject. The measurement was recorded in kg. Subjects were told to grip the dynamometer and give a maximal effort for three seconds.
Three repetitions were performed. This percentage was then used for data analysis. Leg dominance was identified by asking the subject to kick a ball. Preceding each test, a brief warm up was performed to familiarise subjects with the motion and to warm up the muscles before maximal output. Subjects were asked to perform five repetitions.
Subjects were observed during warm up to ensure that they performed the exercise properly. Each subject was stabilised at the chest, waist, and thigh with a strap. A shin strap was secured to the lower leg above the malleoli.
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The Cybex Norm was calibrated according to the manual before each test day. Subjects were instructed to extend the knee as far as possible to produce a maximum isometric contraction of the quadriceps. The measurements were obtained in ft-lbs. The exercise was repeated five times. All subjects were allowed a two minute rest period between tests. Muscle endurance was assessed using the one minute timed test for bent knee sit ups and push ups.
Both arms were placed at the side of the trunk. Two pieces of tape were placed on the mat to ensure that a proper sit up was performed. The first tape was placed at the tip of the middle finger of both hands, and the second tape was placed 3 inches away from the first tape. The subjects were asked to touch the second tape with their middle finger and return to the starting position shoulders touching the floor ; this constituted a sit up.
All subjects were asked to perform as many sit ups as possible within one minute. A rocking or bouncing movement was not permitted. The buttocks remained in contact with the mat at all times. The total numbers of sit ups were documented and used for data analysis. The procedure for push ups differed for men and women. The men lay on their stomach with both legs together. The hands were pointing forward and positioned under the shoulders. The subjects performed push ups from the mat by fully straightening the elbows and using their toes as a pivotal point. The upper body was kept in a straight line.
Subjects returned to the starting point with chin to the mat. The stomach and thigh were not allowed to touch the mat. The women used the same procedure except that the knees were bent and the ankles crossed over and plantar flexed. The knees were the pivotal point. All subjects performed as many push ups as possible within one minute. The total numbers of push ups were documented and used for data analysis. With the knees fully extended, arms evenly stretched, palms down, the participant reached forward without jerking. The subject pushed the sliding marker along the scale with the fingertips as far as possible.
The position of maximum trunk flexion was held for about two seconds. The test was repeated three times. The best value in cm was documented and used for data analysis. Each stage lasted three minutes.
Heart rate was recorded three times per stage, and blood pressure, at the rate of perceived exertion, was recorded once during each stage. The test was terminated when the patient achieved the predetermined heart rate or met any other test termination criteria outlined by the ACSM guidelines.
Heart rate was measured every minute of cool down, with blood pressure measured every other minute. This line was extrapolated to age predicted maximal heart rate, and a perpendicular line was dropped to the x axis to estimate the work rates that would have been achieved if the person had worked to maximum. This was an experimental study. The independent variables were the martial art SBD and the sedentary lifestyle. The dependent variables were the V o 2 max , sit and reach test, quadriceps strength, grip strength, body composition, push ups, sit ups, and balance.
In this study, the eight dependent variables are independent measures of the construct of physical fitness; they do not correlate and cannot be substituted for one another. Therefore, the results were analysed using paired t tests for each dependent variable, with significance set at the 0. Table 1 summarises the physiological characteristics of the subjects. The physiological data for the nine sex and age matched pairs were similar. The SBD practitioners were significantly different from the sedentary group in all fitness tests studied in all the dependent variables except grip strength table 2.
Comparison of results of fitness tests between the soo bahk do practitioners and the sedentary subjects.