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The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Physiological Factors in Peak Performance of Tae Kwon Do Athletes

Tae kwon do is a full-contact, free-sparring sport in which points are awarded for head contact. Tae kwon do competition consists of three 3-min rounds with a 1-min break between rounds. Most points accumulated determines the winner. There are appropriate methods of training for peak performance in tae kwon do that equip the athlete with the physical endurance needed for continued training and competition—and success.

Chiefly, the tae kwon do athlete’s cardiorespiratory function, energy expenditure, and blood lactate system must be well controlled if peak performance is to be reliably achieved. Peaking, or the ability of an athlete to perform at his or peak capacity when competitions occur, is dependent upon proper physical training of several physiological factors (Hiroyuki et al., 1999). For optimum peaking, tae kwon do athletes should train, specifically, their aerobic and anaerobic capacities, their muscle strength, their neuromuscular coordination, their speed, and their recovery. It is well known that physical conditioning—aerobic capacity in particular—depends on four elements: maximal oxygen consumption, anaerobic threshold, work economy, and recovery (Howley, Bassett, & Welch, 1995).

As with any other athlete, to maintain good performance throughout a competition, an elite tae kwon do athlete must maintain his or her physiological base (Bompa, 1999). Determining anaerobic threshold (AT), maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), and other endurance-performance physiological variables through incremental exercise testing is a major requirement for success (Bentley, McNaughton, Thompson, Vleck, & Batterham, 2001).


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Imamura, H., Yoshimura, Y., Nishimura, S., Nakazawa, A. T., Nishimura, C., & Shirota, T. (1999, February). Oxygen uptake, heart rate, and blood lactate responses during and following karate training. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 31(2), 342–346.

Howley, E. T., Basset, D. R., & Welch, H. G. (1995, September). Criteria for maximal oxygen uptake: Review and commentary. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27(9), 1292–1301.