Rule changes are periodically made in sports, often to reduce the incidence of injury or make the sport more spectator-friendly. From a sports performance perspective, it is important to understand the changes in physiological demands that may occur secondary to a rule change. 

In 2017, several rule changes were made by World Taekwondo, including raising the severity of penalties for specific non-fighting activities and overuse of “phantom striking,” raising the scoring of kicks delivered to the torso from 1 to 2 points, and limiting the amount of fouls causing disqualification from 10 to 5. 

The authors in this study analysed kinematic and physiological variables during competition, in two time periods 1) under the old rules 2) under the new rules. 22 national champion athletes (12 male, 10 female) were measured over a total of 258 total bouts; 133 under the old rules, 125 under the new rules. A biometer was worn throughout the duration of each competition, measuring heart rate, breath rate and energy expenditure, while blood lactate levels were taken before and after each bout. A wireless telemetric recording system was used to record activity, mechanical & physiological load & intensity. 

All measured values were significantly higher under the new rules. These findings may be useful for athletes, coaches and S&C coaches working in taekwondo in optimising sports-specific conditioning. 

#tkd #taekwondo #thescienceofstriking #combatsports #sportsperformance #strengthandconditioning

Janowski, Michal, Jacek Zielinski, and Krzysztof Kusy. “Exercise response to real combat in elite taekwondo athletes before and after competition rule changes.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 35, no. 8 (2021): 2222-2229.

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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By Sam Gilbert