SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte

Print version ISSN 1517-8692On-line version ISSN 1806-9940

Rev Bras Med Esporte vol.23 no.4 São Paulo July/Aug. 2017 

Original Article




Ardalan Shariat1  3 

Brandon Stuwart Shaw2 

Mehdi Kargarfard3 

Ina Shaw2 

Eddie Tak Ching Lam4 

1University Putra Malaysia, Department of Occupational Health, Serdang, Malaysia.

2University of Johannesburg, Department of Sport and Movement Studies, Doornfontein, Johannesburg, 2028, Republic of South Africa.

3University of Isfahan, Department of Exercise Physiology, Isfahan, Iran.

4Cleveland State University, Department of Health and Human Performance, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



It is well known that the body composition of an athlete plays a critical role in sports performance. However, although many studies exist concerning the kinanthropometric attributes of mainstream sports, few studies are forthcoming on individual martial arts disciplines, especially in elite athletes.


This study aimed at establishing the kinanthropometric attributes of Judo, Karate, and Taekwondo athletes.


Thirty-eight elite male Judo (n=42, mean age: 21.7±2.9 years), Taekwondo (n=46, mean age: 21.1±2.6 years) and Karate (n=50, mean age: 21.3±3.0 years) athletes were chosen randomly. The study determined and compared stature, body mass (BM), body mass index (BMI), fat mass (FM), lean body mass (LBM), body surface area (BSA), sum of skinfolds (∑SK3), percentage body fat (%BF), and somatotype.


The findings of the present study demonstrate that although within normal levels, the sampled Judo athletes have significantly (p<0.05) higher FM, ∑SK3 (particularly at the triceps and subscapular skinfold sites), %BF and lower percentage LBM that either the Taekwondo and Karate athletes. In addition, the sampled Judo athletes displayed a more significant (p<0.05) endomorphic somatotype when compared to the Taekwondo and Karate athletes.


These findings are essential in determining the optimal kinanthropometric attributes of elite male Judo, Karate, and Taekwondo athletes and may assist in the context of talent identification.

Keywords: anthropometry; body composition; sports; martial arts



Sabe-se que a composição corporal de um atleta tem papel essencial no desempenho esportivo. No entanto, embora existam muitos estudos sobre as características cineantropométricas dos esportes predominantes, poucos são realizados sobre disciplinas individuais das artes marciais, especialmente em atletas de elite.


Este estudo visa estabelecer as características cineantropométricas dos atletas de judô, karatê e taekwondo.


Trinta e oito atletas de elite do sexo masculino de judô (n = 42, média de idade: 21,7 ± 2,9 anos), de taekwondo (n = 46, média de idade: 21,1 ± 2,6 anos) e de karatê (n = 50, média de idade: 21,3 ± 3,0 anos) foram selecionados randomicamente. O estudo determinou e comparou estatura, massa corporal (MC), índice de massa corporal (IMC), massa adiposa (MA), massa magra corporal (MMC), área de superfície corporal (ASC), soma das dobras cutâneas (∑DC3), porcentagem de gordura corporal (%GC) e somatotipo.


Os achados do presente estudo demonstram que, embora dentro dos níveis normais, os atletas de judô da amostra têm MA significantemente (p < 0,05) mais alta, assim como ∑DC3 (em especial nos locais de dobras cutâneas triciptais e subescapulares), %GC e menor porcentagem de MMC que os atletas de taekwondo e karatê. Além disso, os atletas de judô amostrados apresentaram somatotipo endomórfico mais significante (p < 0,05) em comparação com os de taekwondo e karatê.


Esses achados são essenciais para determinar as características cineantropométricas de atletas de elite do sexo masculino de judô, karatê e taekwondo e podem auxiliar na identificação de talentos.

Descritores:  antropometria; composição corporal; esportes; artes marciais



Se sabe que la composición corporal de un atleta tiene papel esencial en el desempeño deportivo. Sin embargo, aunque existan muchos estudios sobre las características cineantropométricas de los deportes predominantes, pocos son realizados sobre disciplinas individuales de las artes marciales, especialmente en atletas de elite.


Este estudio busca establecer las características cineantropométricas de los atletas de yudo, karate y taekwondo.


Treinta y ocho atletas de elite del sexo masculino de yudo (n = 42, promedio de edad: 21,7 ± 2,9 años), de taekwondo (n = 46, promedio de edad: 21,1 ± 2,6 años) y de karate (n = 50, promedio de edad: 21,3 ± 3,0 años) fueron seleccionados aleatoriamente. El estudio determinó y comparó estatura, masa corporal (MC), índice de masa corporal (IMC), masa adiposa (MA), masa magra corporal (MMC), área de superficie corporal (ASC), suma de los pliegues cutáneos (∑DC3), porcentaje de grasa corporal (%GC) y somatotipo.


Los hallazgos del presente estudio demuestran que, aunque dentro de los niveles normales, los atletas de yudo de la muestra tienen MA significativamente (p < 0,05) más alta, así como ∑DC3 (en especial en los locales de pliegues cutáneos triciptales y subescapulares), %GC y menor porcentaje de MMC que los atletas de taekwondo y karate. Además, los atletas de yudo muestreados presentaron somatotipo endomórfico más significativo (p < 0,05) en comparación con los de taekwondo y karate.


Esos hallazgos son esenciales para determinar las características cineantropométricas de atletas de elite del sexo masculino de yudo, karate y taekwondo y pueden ayudar en la identificación de talentos.

Descriptores:  antropometría; composición corporal; deportes; artes marciales


Success within any sport requires certain types of physical, physiological, psychological and social capabilities. It is well known that the body composition of an athlete plays a critical role in sports performance1,2. However, although many studies exist concerning the kinanthropometric attributes of many mainstream sports, few studies are forthcoming on combat sports3, especially in elite athletes4 and across the various martial art disciplines. When such data is forthcoming on kinanthropometric attributes in the world`s martial art disciplines, data is further lacking in the particularly strong Asian countries5,6.

Knowing the kinanthropometric attributes such as body size, body proportions, physic, body shape and body composition for any sport allows the coach and conditioning specialist to optimally develop nutritional and/or training programmes to maximise athletic performance in that particular sport7. Specifically, it has been demonstrated that a high degree of fat-free mass and low degree of fat mass is directly linked to improved exercise skills8. Further, the majority of research regarding kinanthropometric attributes have illustrated that the anthropometric features of morphology (endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy) also play an essential role in the success of the athletes in a particular sport in comparison to non-athletes9. As a result, coaches and conditioning specialists often consider certain kinanthropometric attributes in order to select the athletes to earn championship titles10.

In addition, the determination of kinanthropometric attributes for any sport is essential for talent identification for a particular sport11. In fact, many studies in talent identification have concluded that there is a strong relationship between body composition and motor performance12. By knowing the required kinanthropometric attributes for a particular sport, coaches and conditioning specialists will be better enabled to recognise and determine an individual’s capabilities and appropriately guide him or her to the appropriate sport and to develop realistic expectations for the athlete in a particular sport.

The problem with most of the previous studies on the kinanthropometric attributes of combat sports is that they were either concentrated on a limited spectrum of morphological characteristics or were conducted in the absence of one of the somatotype characteristics, anthropometric and/or body compositions1,2,12,13. As such, the present study aimed to examine the kinanthropometric attributes of three martial art disciplines (i.e., judo, karate, and taekwondo) and to juxtapose as well as to compare the kinanthropometric attributes of these three disciplines to determine if a significant difference exists among elite male athletes.



This study included a convenient sample of 138 elite male athletes from three martial arts disciplines: Judo (n = 42), Taekwondo (n = 46) and Karate Chyturio (n = 50) who had won/held national, Asian or world titles (Table 1) among national athletes of Iran. Written informed consent was obtained from the participants after they were explained the purpose of the study, measurement procedures and the possible negative events that could be encountered during the study14. This study was approval by the Institutional Review Boards of the Isfahan University, Iran (no:1394204/23/02/04).

Table 1 Descriptive statistics of subjects. 

Parameters Judo (n=42) Karate (n=46) Taekwondo (n=50)
Age (years) 21.7±2.9 21.1±2.6 21.3±3.0
Experience (years) 8.8±3.8 7.8±2.9 8.8±3.7
Exercise per week (hours) 11.8±8.2 13.1±5.1 12.1±9.0


Anthropometric measurements were carried out according to the methods proposed by the International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK)15 and measured by the same technicians. Body mass (BM) was measured in kilogrammes on a calibrated medical scale (Trojan, BSA16056v, Duteck Industrial Co. Ltd, Taiwan), whilst stature was measured to the nearest millimetre, using a standardised wall mounted stadiometer (Seca Stadiometer, 216, Seca, USA). Participants were required to wear minimal clothing and no shoes whilst the technician completed these tests16. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated by dividing the participant’s body weight (kg) by height squared (m²) and expressed as kilogrammes per square meter (kg.m-2) while body surface area (BSA) was calculated using the following formulae: BSA (m2)=(body mass in kg)0.425×(stature in cm)0.725×0.007184 (Hume & Weyers, 1971). Fat mass (FM) was calculated by multiplying body mass by fat percentage and was divided by 100 to get a percentage [body mass multiplied by (fat percentage divided by 100) while lean mass was calculated as total body mass in kilogrammes subtracted by fat mass in kilogrammes15.

Skinfolds (biceps, triceps, chest, mid-thigh, and abdominal, subscapular, suprailiac and calf) were taken on the right side of the body using a skinfold calliper (Harpenden, HSB-BI, ATICO Medical Pvt. Ltd, United Kingdom) and percentage body fat (%BF) ratio was calculated using the equation of Jackson and Pollock17. In order to calculate the sum of skinfolds (ΣSK3) the triceps, subscapular and chest skinfold measurements were summed together. Upper arm and thigh circumferences were measured in centimetres (cm) in both a tensed and relaxation position, while the measurement of the calf circumference was measured with the participants sitting at the end of a table and having their legs hanging over the edge. The widths and diameters of the humerus and femur were measured to the nearest 0.1 millimetre (mm). The components of the body type (endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph), the somatotype dispersion mean (SDM) and the somatotype attitudinal mean (SAM) were measured in terms of the recommended formula by Carter and Heath18.

Data analysis

All statistical analysis was performed using the SPSS for Windows software (version 19.0, SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA). Data are presented as means ± standard deviation (SD). One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine differences between the various martial arts disciplines in all kinanthropometric attributes, followed by Scheffe’s post hoc tests. P < .05 were considered statistically significant in the interpretation of the results.


The findings of the present study demonstrate that the sampled Judo athletes have significantly (p < .05) higher fat mass, sum of skinfolds (particularly at the triceps and subscapular skinfold sites), percentage body fat and lower percentage lean mass that either the Taekwondo and Karate athletes (Table 2). In addition, the sampled Judo athletes display a more significant (p < .05) endomorphic somatotype when compared to the Taekwondo or Karate athletes (Table 2 and Figure 1).

Table 2 Kinanthropometric attributes of elite male judo, karate, and taekwondo athletes. 

Judo (n = 42) Karate (n = 46) Taekwondo (n = 50)
Stature (cm) 177.5±8.3 178±6.02 177.0±8.1
Body mass (kg) 73.8±14.9 76.9±13.7 71.8±14.9
BMI (kg.m-2) 23.2±3.2 24.1±3.1 22.7±3.2
BSA (m2) 1.9±0.2 1.9±0.2 1.9±0.2
Fat mass (kg)†,†† 10.1±3.6 8.1±2.9 7.8±3.1
Lean body mass (kg) 63.7±11.9 68.8±11.5 64.0±12.6
Lean body mass (%) †,†† 86.6±2.4 89.6±2.3 89.3±2.6
Bicep skinfold (mm) 8.6±3.2 8.6±2.5 7.9±2.7
Triceps skinfold (mm)†,†† 10.7±3.9 9.5±3.4 9.0±3.5
Subscapular skinfold (mm) †,†† 12.3±3.6 10.5±2.9 11.1±3.3
Pelvic skinfold (mm) 17.0±7.1 14.6±5.3 15.0±5.8
Mid-thigh skinfold (mm) 8.9±3.0 8.6±2.9 8.6±3.2
Thoracic skinfold (mm)††,††† 11.9±2.2 7.8±2.1 8.5±2.4
Ventral skinfold (mm)†† 13.6±3.0 11.9±1.8 11.9±1.8
Sum of 3 skinfolds (mm)†,†† (triceps, subscapular and chest) 39.9±10.7 34.6±7.8 34.7±9.3
Percentage body fat (%) †,†† 13.4±2.4 10.4±2.3 10.7±2.6
Knee width (cm) † 9.8±0.6 9.9±0.6 10.1±0.6
Elbow width (cm) ††† 6.5±0.4 6.6±0.4 6.4±0.5
Calf circumference (cm) 40.4±2.8 40.0±1.8 40.1±2.4
Arm circumference (cm) †† 35.9±2.7 37.5±2.0 35.9±3.1
Endomorph †,†† 4.0±0.9 3.5±0.8 3.5±0.9
Mesomorph 4.8±1.1 4.7±1.1 4.6±1.2
Ectomorph 2.6±1.1 2.3±1.0 2.8±1.2

Figure 1 Somatotypes of elite male judo, karate, and taekwondo athletes. 


Success within any sport requires certain types of physical, physiological, psychological and social capabilities. It is well known that the kinanthropometric attributes of an athlete plays a critical role in sports performance1 and talent identification3. In spite of their importance, very few studies have been done to compare the kinanthropometric attributes among sub-disciplines and especially in elite athletes4,19. In this study, critical kinanthropometric attributes (i.e., stature, body mass, BMI, fat mass, lean body mass, body surface area, sum of skinfolds, %BF, and somatotypes) that could affect athletic performance were investigated among male Judo, Karate and Taekwondo elite athletes.

The findings of the present study demonstrate that the sampled Judo athletes displayed higher fat mass, sum of skinfolds (particularly at the triceps and subscapular skinfold sites), percentage body fat and lower percentage lean body mass that either the Taekwondo and Karate athletes. In addition, the sampled Judo athletes displayed a more endomorphic somatotype when compared to the Taekwondo and Karate athletes. This finding may support the proposal of King and Williams in that Karate and Taekwondo athletes, but not Judoists, require moving their bodies in the utmost possible speed in the existing space.

The results of the present study showed that the three sub-disciplines of combat sport did not display any difference in many kinanthropometric characteristics such as stature, body mass, BMI and body surface area. This may be as a result of the common nature of these three similar combat sports, which utilise similar aerobic and anaerobic energy systems3. As a result, all of these three sports require high muscular strength and power. It has previously been demonstrated that stature has a positive effect on the performance of the athletes8,20and it is no surprise that the Judo, Karate and Taekwondo athletes did not differ in height. This finding is confirmed in other studies of athletes from other countries11.

While the Judo athletes were found to have had a higher level of body fat percentage than the Karate and Taekwondo athletes, these findings are comparable to those of similar studies7. Likewise, the findings of the present study on somatotype are consistent with the results of the majority of previous studies4,8,19. Interestingly, existing literature indicates that at all levels of competition, the mesomorphic component is the dominant somatotype component. Although this is true for the Karate and Taekwondo athletes in this study, the endomorph component of the Judo athletes is higher in comparison to sampled Karate and Taekwondo athletes. This increased mesomorphy, and indeed endomorphy in the Judoists, is essential in that the larger muscle mass reflected in the mesomorphy component can be considered a significant benefit for the athletes who encounter harsh physical confrontations during exercise and competitions, while the increased fat mass in the Judoists may prove beneficial in the throwing and related impacts in absorbing and dissipating such forces.


The findings of the present study demonstrate that the sampled elite Judo athletes displayed higher fat mass, sum of skinfolds (particularly at the triceps and subscapular skinfold sites), percentage body fat and lower percentage lean body mass that either the elite Taekwondo and Karate athletes. In addition, the sampled Judo athletes displayed a more endomorphic somatotype when compared to the Taekwondo and Karate athletes, who displayed a more mesomorphic type. These findings are essential since long-term training programmes may be implemented to improve identified kinanthropometric attributes in athletes associated with sports performance, and those athletes with appropriate kinanthropometric attributes may be identified and guided to and within the appropriate sporting discipline. Based on these results, it can be said that different athletes have different kinanthropometric attributes that is related to the source of their sport and specialised training.

All authors declare no potential conflict of interest related to this article.


1 - Casolino E, Cortis C, Lupo C, Chiodo S, Minganti C, Capranica L. Physiological Versus Psychological Evaluation in Taekwondo Elite Athletes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012;7(4):322-31. [ Links ]

2 - Chaabène MH, Hachana Y, Franchini E, Mkaouer B, Chamari K. Physical and physiological profile of elite karate athletes. Sports Med. 2012;42(10):829-43. [ Links ]

3 - Catikkas F, Kurt C, Atalag O. Kinanthropometric Attributes of Young Male Combat Sports Athletes. Coll Antropol. 2013;37(4):1365-8. [ Links ]

4 - Kirk C. Age and anthropometric variables and success in mixed martial arts. PeerJ Preprints 4:e2380v2; 2016. [ Links ]

5 - Mirzaei B, Curby DG, Rahmani-Nia F, Moghadasi M. Physiological profile of elite Iranian junior freestyle wrestlers. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(8):2339-44. [ Links ]

6 - Sadowski J, Gierczuk D, Miller J, Cieslinski I, Buszta M. Success factors in male WTF taekwondo juniors. J Combat Sports Martial Arts. 2012; 1:47-51. [ Links ]

7 - Alves CR, Pasqua L, Artioli GG, Roschel H, Solis M, Tobias G, et al. Anthropometric, physiological, performance, and nutritional profile of the Brazil National Canoe Polo Team. J Sports Sci. 2012;30(3):305-11. [ Links ]

8 - Faraji H, Nikookheslat SD, Fatollahi S, Alizadeh M. Physical and Physiological Profile of Elite Iranian Karate Athletes. Int J Appl Exer Physiol. 2017;5(4):35-44. [ Links ]

9 - Bernardi BB, Santos-Junior RB, Bueno JC, McAnulty SR, Utter AC, Souza-Junior TP. Dietary Practices and Anthropometric Profile of Mixed Martial Arts Athletes: 3204 Board# 269 June 3, 3: 30 PM-5: 00 PM. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(5 Suppl 1):914. [ Links ]

10 - Fukuda DH, Stout JR, Kendall KL, Smith AE, Wray ME, Hetrick RP. The effects of tournament preparation on anthropometric and sport-specific performance measures in youth judo athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(2):331-9. [ Links ]

11 - Franchini E, Nunes AV, Moraes JM, Del Vecchio FB. Physical fitness and anthropometrical profile of the Brazilian male judo team. J Physiol Anthropol. 2007;26(2):59-67. [ Links ]

12 - Kenney WL, Wilmore J, Costill D. Physiology of sport and exercise. 6th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2015. [ Links ]

13 - Gualdi-Russo E, Graziani I. Anthropometric somatotype of Italian sport participants. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1993;33(3):282-91. [ Links ]

14 - Kargarfard M, Lam ET, Shariat A, Shaw I, Shaw BS, Tamrin SB. Efficacy of massage on muscle soreness, perceived recovery, physiological restoration and physical performance in male bodybuilders. J Sports Sci. 2016;34(10):959-65. [ Links ]

15 - Norton K, Olds T. Anthropometrica: a textbook of body measurement for sports and health courses. Sydney, Australia: UNSW Press; 1996. [ Links ]

16 - Shariat A, Kargarfard M, Sharifi GR. The effect of heavy resistance exercise on circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol in male body building athletes. J Isf Med School (IUMS). 2012;29:2400-12. [ Links ]

17 - Jackson AS, Pollock ML. Practical assessment of body-composition. Phys Sportsmed. 1985;13(5):76. [ Links ]

18 - Carter JE. Physical structure of Olympic athletes. New York: S. Karger; 1982. [ Links ]

19 - Zbigniew B, Dariusz G, Elzbieta H-W, Sergejs S. Anthropometric profile and anaerobic capacity of martial arts and combat sports athletes. J Martial Arts Anthroy. 2016;16(2):55-9. [ Links ]

20 - Kirk C. The influence of age and anthropometric variables on winning and losing in professional mixed martial arts. Facta Universitatis, Series: Phy Edu Sport. 2016;14(2): 227-36. [ Links ]

Received: February 10, 2017; Accepted: February 17, 2017

Correspondence: Mehdi kargarfard, professor Department of Exercise Physiology, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Isfahan, HezarJerib Street. Box 81746-7344, Isfahan, Iran.

Creative Commons License This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License