Enhancing physical performance attributes in children through combat sports training programme
Karate is a type of martial arts which are ancient forms of combat, modified for modern sport and exercise. Martial arts generally provide health-promoting and meaningful exercise for millions of its practitioners. Participation in karate in Nigeria is beginning to increase, particularly among youths. The focus of this study was to investigate if combat sports training programme can serve as a tool for improving physical performance attributes of male children. The study was conducted using 27 male children, with age range between 6 and 12 years, who were registered participants in a karate training programme in Benin City. The study focused on some key components of physical performance such as speed of movement, lower body muscle strength, coordination, and balance. The participants were randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups with each group containing 13 and 14 participants respectively. Age range of participants in the experimental and control groups were 6 to 11 years (mean= 8.3) and 6 to 12 years (mean age= 9.1) respectively. The study employed experimental research design involving pretest-posttest randomized control group. The participants were subjected to testing before and after the combat sports training programme. Data generated from the study were analyzed using to independent samples t-test to test the difference in means between the two groups with statistical significance set at 0.05 level. Findings from the study revealed that combat sports training program positively influenced lower body strength (p = 0.002), coordination (p<.001), and level of balance (p<.001) of participants. However, no significant improvement was observed in speed of movement (p = 0.117). The outcomes of this study suggest that combat sports training programme designed for children with appropriate modification for their ages, can improve physical performance attributes and foster healthy physical development in children. It is therefore recommended that inclusion of combat sports training programme should be considered in designing sports programme for children in schools to foster a healthier and allround development in children.
Keywords: Combat sports, children, speed of movement, power, coordination, balance