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The Martial Arts - an overview of the fighting arts


On this page: Martial Arts Science you will be presented to various articles, reports, studies etc. that has been done about the fighting arts.

Quick side note: Do make sure you have a serious look at all the free stuff inside 'The Martial Arts Vault'!

You will also find things that relates to training, teaching and studying the martial arts. As such, a lot of this has to do with training, teaching and studying in general - not only our arts.

The term martial arts science imply that there has been some form of scientific method involved. It is not enough to state that "I've heard that...", "My master states...", or "In my opinion..." :-) By all means, this may be true, but it's still not considered martial arts science before some specific, agreed upon procedures has been followed!

If you happen to come across anything that would be considered martial arts research, then please don't hesitate to contact us! Send us your tip about martial arts science here!

And now - on to some budo knowlege: Books, findings, studies, research, tests about the martial arts.

Books about research, principles and science:

Fighting Science, by Martina Sprague


Fighting Science: The Laws of Physics for Martial Artists


Martina Sprague




Techniques, verbal methods, tactics, awareness

Timing in the Fighting Arts, by Loren W. Christensen and Wim Demeere


Timing in the Martial Arts, Your guide to Winning in (...)


Loren W. Christensen and Wim Demeere




Training timing for self-defense and competition

Fighter's fact book, by Loren W. Christensen


Fighter's Fact Book: Over 400 concepts, principles (...)


Loren W. Christensen




How to be a better fighter

Martial artists' moves revealed in "Fight Science" lab:

(August 14, 2006):

For the upcoming television special called Fight Science, researchers used high-tech equipment to put real martial artists to the test. The feature will air on August 20 on the National Geographic Channel.
The action took place inside a specially designed film studio that is part laboratory and part dojo, a school for training in the various arts of self-defense.
The result is an unprecedented look at how martial artists generate the power and speed behind each move.
The researchers were surprised to find that boxing is the fighting style capable of delivering the most force in a single punch.
Boxer Steve Petramale delivered about 1,000 pounds (453.6 kilograms) of impact force, the equivalent of swinging a sledgehammer into someone's face.

Read the rest of the story on

National Geographic Channel examines the science of martial arts in Fight Science:

(July 6, 2006):

It strikes four times faster than a snake. It kicks with more than 1,000 pounds of force. And it can rival the impact of a 35 mph car crash. It′s the most complex weapon ever designed - the human body.
Now, the National Geographic Channel brings together a dream team of scientists, motion-capture specialists and CGI animators, along with a cross-section of champion martial arts masters, to analyze the world′s greatest fight techniques.
The tests are designed to separate fighting fact from martial arts myth and provide unprecedented insight into their astounding strengths and capabilities. The results will be presented in the two-hour world premiere special Fight Science, Sunday, August 20, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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Jumping ability is in your genes:

(May 8, 2006):

Twelve-year-old Reuben James does a NASA-like launch off the gym floor and smacks the glob of foam smeared on his fingertips to the wall. The foam sticks like the business end of an ice-cream cone at the 232.86-centimetre mark.
In James's case, he jumped into a 99-percentile rating, meaning that 98 per cent of those who took the test in his age and gender group could not jump as high.
But why can James jump so high? The answer is something called "fast-twitch" muscles. They move up to 10 times faster than their counterparts, slow-twitch muscles, which are good for endurance activities (long-distance running, cross-country skiing and longer swims).

Read the rest of the story on

(March 24, 2006):

Let’s suppose your child wants to take a martial arts class. Being a conscientious parent, you check out the local dojos and find two good places. Both are suitable and well equipped. Both practice fighting with contact – but there’s one major difference. One dojo insists on a full range of protective padding – hands, feet, chest protectors, shin guards – the whole works. The other takes a much lighter approach - hands and feet, and sometimes not even those.

To the conscientious parent, the first place is going to look much safer, right? But when you look at the injury rates of the two dojos, you notice something odd: They’re about the same. The kids covered in foam padding are getting just as many bruises, scrapes, and sprains as the kids wearing almost none. What could be going on here?

What’s happening is a process known as risk compensation. It’s a tendency in humans to increase risky behavior proportionately as safeguards are introduced, and it’s very common. So common, in fact, as to render predictions of how well any given piece of safety equipment will work almost useless.

In the instance of the mini-ninjas, those with pads are likely hitting and kicking harder and more wildly than those without, and the adults supervising them are likely to be allowing it. Why would we do such a strange thing? Dr. Gerald Wilde of Queens University in Ontario proposes a hypothesis he calls risk homeostasis.

Read the rest here (pdf document). Open in new window here.

Head injury may be major risk in sport fighting:

From: British Journal of Sports Medicine, February 2006
(March 24, 2006):

Blows to the head often leading to concussion may be the single most common ending to "no-holds-barred" sport fighting, according to a new study.

The sport -- known variously as mixed martial arts fighting, cage fighting and ultimate fighting -- is basically a blend of martial arts, wrestling and street fighting. Competitions are banned in some U.S. states, but others allow them, and pay-per-view TV has brought matches to a wide audience.

Critics call the sport barbaric, as fighters try to knock each other out with punches, elbow strikes, choke holds and body throws, to name a few maneuvers. Defenders say no-holds-barred fighting is as legitimate as other combat sports, with one argument being that boxing is more likely to cause serious head trauma.

But the new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests that mixed martial arts actually poses a greater risk of concussion.

Read the rest here (pdf document). Open in new window here.

Thirsty people feel more pain:

(February 1, 2006):

Going without a drink can make you more sensitive to pain, a study has found.

Australian pain expert Dr Michael Farrell of the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne and team report their findings in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is another demonstration of the plasticity of pain responses," he said.

"In this particular instance a mild perturbation of electrolyte levels, which is fundamentally what gives rise to thirst ... is enough to modify the pain response."

Dr Farrell and the team studied the relationship between thirst and pain in 10 people.

The study participants had pressure applied to their thumbs to induce mild pain and were given saline injections to stimulate thirst.

Read the rest here (pdf document). Open in new window here.

Research shows brain's ability to overcome pain and thirst:

(January 30, 2006):

Researchers at Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute have discovered how the brain prioritises pain and thirst in order to survive - a mechanism that helps elite athletes to 'push through the pain barrier'.

The Florey's Dr Michael Farrell and colleagues discovered that pain sensitivity is enhanced when people are thirsty.

The scientists also found that a part of the brain is uniquely activated when pain and thirst are experienced together, suggesting these regions may act as an integrative centre that has a special role in modifying pain senses.

Dr Farrell used PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans to examine changes in brain activity. The 10 individuals participating in the study were given saline injections to stimulate mild thirst and thumb pressure to induce mild pain. Although the level of thumb pressure remained constant throughout the tests, as people became thirstier, they felt more pain.

Dr Farrell said the regions of the brain (the pregenual cingulate cortex and ventral orbitofrontal cortex) activated together during thirst and pain acted like a priority switch.

Read the rest here (pdf document). Open in new window here.

Breaking Boards - the physics of a karate chop:

(May, 2000):

by Curtis Rist
Scientists say it's not a trick--it just takes blinding speed and a couple thousand newtons

Advanced degrees in physics come in different varieties. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; students earn them by writing a dissertation.

At the Karate Institute in midtown Manhattan, they earn them by breaking one-inch-thick pine boards. Lots of them.

Ben Paris, a fourth-degree black belt in tae kwon do, is happy to demonstrate his grasp of the scientific principles.

Read the whole article here.

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