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The effect of 6 months of twice weekly karate training on flexibility, balance, and strength was evaluated in 14 boys who perform karate as beginners (age M = 10.3 ± 1.8) and a group of the same age who had never been involved in martial arts (n = 10; age M = 10.9 ± 1.4). All subjects were pretested and posttested on the following: flexibility of upper extremity (shoulder), hamstrings and quadriceps; strength, including handgrip strength and concentric flexion/extension of quadriceps; and balance, with eyes either open or closed. After 6 months, the tests were evaluated and compared by groups. The results showed the karate group made significant gains on quadriceps flexibility and balance with eyes closed. By improving flexibility, balance, and strength, karate improves three of the basic fitness components that are very important for preventing sport injuries in the growing years.
Mariona A. Violan, Eric W. Small, Merrilee N. Zetaruk, and Lyle J. Micheli are with the Division of Sports Medicine, Children’s Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.