Karate is one of the most popular martial arts, and it is distinguished into two competitive disciplines: Kata and Kumite. Kata is a fight against fictitious opponents, whereas Kumite is a real match against one opponent where the two competitors, under strict rules, are free to move, kick and punch in defensive and offensive ways. (1)
Technique is the ‘proper pattern of movements to do a specific sport skill’. With regard to effectiveness, it is defined as the power to produce an effect (decided, decisive, or desired effect). In other words, a movement is effective if the execution achieves the objective(s) of the movement (e.g. accuracy, scoring, power, projecting the body as far or as high as possible, etc.). (2)
In a non-contact karate fight, punches and kicks must be controlled (without injury to the opponent) or stopped before contact with the opponent’s body. (3) In the context of kumite, punching (zuki) and kicking (geri) techniques are allowed at the head (jodan) and abdomen (chudan). Kumite competition is divided into team matches and individual matches. Kumite’s scoring system contains: 3 points (Ippon) are awarded for leg kicks to the head and the techniques of cleaning and throwing, which result in a final fall of the opponent or a final punch, 2 points (Waza-Ari) are adjudicated for kicks to the trunk and punches to the back, including the back of the head and neck. Finally, 1 point (Yuko) is awarded for single arm punches to the head and body. (4)
To achieve injury prevention, new rules are stricter about prohibited behavior for competitors, including excessive force used in dealing blows to permitted areas, to the forbidden areas (throat, arms, legs, groin, joints, and instep), blows to the face with open hand techniques, and dangerous or prohibited throwing techniques. Any illegal behavior results in a warning or penalty. (5)
Contemporary match analysis systems, whether based on conventional video coding of matches or player tracking technology, provide a rich source of quantitative data on how well skills are performed during competition. The collection of such data enables key performance indicators for a single player or the team as a whole to be identified. The performance indicators may relate to biomechanical, technical, tactical or behavioral measures of performance. (6) (For example in Kumite when missing point(s): wrong footwork, wrong weight-shifting, error of distancing, etc.)
Hughes and Bartlett have suggested that KPI’s are “a selection, or combination, of action variables that aims to define some or all aspects of a performance”. (7) knowing and having a good and practical understanding of successful techniques and KPIs in high level karatekas will definitely assist high performance coaches, technical experts, scientific researchers and the athletes to improve their planning and training programs which can lead to an enhanced performance. Thus, the aims of the current study were to divulge the successful techniques and point losing KPIs in final competition of Karate World Championships -Austria 2016 in order to help coaches and top level athletes in this newly Olympic included combat sport.
All the ten final competitions of male individual (Individual male weight categories: >84 kg, <84 kg, <75 kg, <67 kg, <60 kg) and team matches (without weight limit) in Karate World Championship 2016 have been downloaded in HD quality. There were five final matches for individual on the basis of their weight categories and also five matches for team final (Islamic Republic of Iran Vs. Japan; 3 out of 5 was the winner). All the critical incidents' footages have been analyzed, frame by frame by the help of Kinovea Video Analysis software (0.8.15) and the data has been entered in Excel Microsoft 2013 for more analyzing. Before the researcher goes for any data entrance, all the perturbations and critical incidents (N) were recorded with their full antecedents (N-1, N-2, N-3... ) in order to obtain more accurate KPIs. Then all the successful techniques (winning points) and point losing KPIs have been extracted by regarding the antecedents and critical points which started to occur by the referee hajime (start fighting) and finished by the referee yame (stop fighting).
Furthermore, for a better and stronger research result, two other Karate experts have been recruited. All the KPIs have been presented to them in order to have their ideas about KPIs and matches. Random scenes of some matches have been selected accidentally. After reaching a consensus on every aspects of KPIs and existed antecedents of the matches, the analysis has been started.
The matches have been analyzed twice with a fortnight interval between by the same researcher who is black belt and karate coach. All the data, then, has been gathered in Excel Microsoft 2013 for analytical objectives and records.
23 different techniques plus warnings were recorded. Techniques were as follows: Ashi Barai (foot sweep), Mae Geri (front kick), Jodan Mawashi Geri (upper roundhouse kick), Chudan Mawashi Geri (middle roundhouse kick), Mae Mawashi Geri (flip kick), Ura Mawashi Geri (hook kick), Ushiro Ura Mawashi Geri (spinning heel kick), Ushiro Geri (back kick), Yoko Geri (side kick), Kizami Zuki (Jab), Oi Zuki (lunge punch), Kizami Zuki Gyaku Zuki (jab + reverse punch), Kizami Zuki Oi Zuki (double face starting with front hand), Oi Zuki Kizami Zuki (double face starting with rear hand), Kizami Zuki Oi Zuki Oi Zuki (triple face), Gyaku Zuki (reverse punch), Uraken (back fist), Haito Uchi (ridge hand), Uke (block), Nagashi Uke (sweeping block), Osae Uke (pressing block), Head Movement (dodge), Mawashi Uke (roundhouse block). It was analyzed which of the above techniques have been used by competitors and, moreover, which were used by winners and losers the most. On the other hand, the point losing KPIs have been extracted by regarding point losers’ antecedents’ KPIs (31 antecedents’ KPIs and 26 point losing KPIs). In figure 1-1 you can see 31 antecedents’ KPIs and 26 point losing KPIs which were used in this study.
A total of 345 points were awarded to the point winning competitors. Among them Oi Zuki (lunge punch) was the most used technique in the 2016 karate world championships finals with 90 total frequency for both winners and losers, regarding 15 for winning sides and 75 for unsuccessful tries; it means that approximately 83% of performed oi zuki by competitors were unsuccessful while only about 17% of them were successful. On the other hand the second place is for Kizami zuki with 87 total frequency for both winners and losers, regarding 22 for successful tries and 65 for unsuccessful ones. It is good to be mention that approximately 75% of the total Kizami zuki performed by competitors were useless and 25% of them were accepted by the referees.
It’s worth to be mention that 7 out of 15 successful oi zuki performances occurred in team matches and 8 out of 15 in individual finals. The rate of unsuccessful oi zuki performances belongs to individual matches with 52 tries while in team matches there were 23 misses by competitors.
As it is clear from statistics, there is a great tendency among individual matches for oi zuki performance which is in total (team successful & unsuccessful tries) 60 attacks by this technique while team competitions the fighters tend to use Kizami zuki more than any other techniques (total 48 successful & unsuccessful tries). If we compare these rates to the rate of the same research in 2009 by Laird & McLeod we will understand that there is a big switch from Gyaku Zuki (in Laird & McLeod research) to oi zuki and Kizami zuki in this 2016 final competitions. Laird & McLeod (2009) stated that the most frequently scored technique for all the fighters was Gyaku-Zuki to the body with 43.28% rate. However; in this new research on 2016 final competitions we reached to oi zuki and Kizami zuki as the most frequently scored and used technique, as you can see in above table, there is no Gyaku-Zuki technique as the most scored or frequently used technique.
O’Donoghue’s (2010) definition of performance indicators is a great starting point ‘A performance indicator must represent some relevant and important aspect of play’. (8). KPI represents key performance indicators.
In the (table 1) below table you can see antecedents’ (N, N-1, N-2, &… ) KPIs. In fact, what happens that a karateka lose a point (the process) and are the main reasons. So the point losing KPIs are placed into the antecedents’ KPIs. In other words in order to understand what are the main reasons for losing a point we should clearly know what where the process and what happened in this dyadic (combat sport 1 vs. 1) system. Having a good knowledge about antecedents’ KPIs can lead us to a result that why a point is lost.
Table 1: Antecedents’ KPIs
NO. Antecedents’ KPIs
1 PL starts an attack
2 PO starts an attack
3 Closeness for stimulation by PL
4 Closeness for stimulation by PO
5 PL gets closer
6 PO gets closer
7 Good footwork
8 Good weight-shifting
9 Wrong footwork
10 Wrong weight-shifting
13 Good block
14 Good technique prevention
15 Incomplete technique performance
16 Complete confusion
17 Making PO imbalanced
18 Getting imbalanced by PO
19 Inappropriate stance
20 Good Stance
21 PL starts a counter-attack
22 PO starts a counter-attack
23 Error of timing
24 Error of distancing
25 Uncovered guard
26 Forced error
27 Wrong technique selection
28 Good technique performance
29 Delay in technique performance
30 Performing pre-scoring technique
A total of 222 point losing KPIs’ cases have been extracted based on the antecedents’ KPIs. Among them 25 out of 222 were the most point losing KPI which allocated to “Point Loser (PL) starts an attack”, it means that the karateka who lost the point was the man who started the attack. On the other hand and the second top (23 out of 222) was “Point Obtainer (PO) starts an attack”, it means that by the winning side attack the point loser got surrendered. In the (table 2) below you can see the five top point losing KPIs and their frequencies.
Table 2: Top 5 point losing KPIs
Point Losing KPI Name Frequency
Point Loser (PL) starts an attack 25
Point Obtainer (PO) starts an attack 23
Error of Distancing 20
Wrong Technique Selection 20
Delay in Technique Performance 13
Discussion and Conclusion:
In team final between Iran and Japan, there were 5 matches, therefore as you see from Table 6; for example, in “wrong technique selection” in 5 matches there were 5 cases of this type; however, the same KPI (wrong Technique Selection) in -60 kg kumite between Iran and Netherlands occurred 5 times which means equal to all the five team matches. So it shows that the higher speed competition causes the fighters make mistake in proper technique selection. As you see again in this weight (-60 kg) there was no (zero) “Delay in Technique Performance” which shows that in light weight a karateka should decide rapidly what to do or react against his opponent; so however there is no “Delay in Technique Performance” but there are a lot of “Wrong Technique Selection” equal to all five team matches. And our study showed that in team final competitions 7 “wrong footwork” (wrong displacement of foot) happened in five matches and it is a great amount in comparison to individual final matches in +84 kg and -67kg which no “wrong footwork” occurred. Even in comparison to all other three individual final matches in -84kg, -75kg and -60 kg, the rate of team final competitions are high in contrast to 3 in all other three above mentioned weight division (one for each); it shows the relative equality of weigh causes less “wrong footwork” and in the other hand the disparity of weights can lead to more “Wrong Footwork”.
One of our point losing KPI which shows the high class and level of karatekas is “Complete Confusion”. In -75 kg kumite between Azerbaijan and Egypt, the Azerbaijan karateka acted in a way that his Egyptian finalist faced complete confusion for two times. This shows the talent and skillfulness of this Azerbaijani fighter and this happened one time in -84 kg final between Japan and Azerbaijan and the Japanese karateka caused his opponent face a “Complete Confusion” and once again in -60 kg final between Iran and Netherlands, the Iranian Karateka completely confused his Dutch opponent. In other matches (either team or individual ones) there happened no “Complete Confusion” which shows that Azerbaijani (-75 kg), Japanese (-84kg) and Iranian (-60 kg) individual finalist made the differences.
This study showed that there is big shift from Gyaku-Zuki (reverse punch) in 2009 to Oi-Zuki and also Kizami Zuki in 2016 which send this message that karate is becoming more faster than previous years. In fact, Jovanovic (9) reported that the time needed to execute kizami-zuki was 0.11s, which is shorter than the time necessary for the gyaku-zuki execution (around 0.15s). (9) And the reason why karatekas are not more successful in foot stroke in comparison to fist stroke (according to Table 1: 35 unsuccessful Chudan Mawashi Geri and 0 successful) and also they used them a lot (Chudan Mawashi Geri the 3rd most frequently used technique), may Hafmann (2008) answer about more complexity of foot stroke in comparison to fist stroke be to some extent correct; however when it comes to destruction and breaking, one of the most speedy and powerful one is Chudan Mawashi Geri. The frequency is the 3rd amongst all attacking techniques but currently the karate coaches haven’t found a good way in this technique performance or may be their focus on this technique was not enough. In fact, from these statistics we can conclude that may be in near future Chudan Mawashi Geri becomes the top used and scoring technique. Further research needed to be done on this case.
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