Martial Arts: Time Needed for Training


David T. Burke 1 , * , Marina Protopapas 2 , Paolo Bonato 3 , John T. Burke 1 , Rpbert F. Landrum 1

1 Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Emory University, School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

2 Capitol Spine & Pain Centers, Herndon, USA

3 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation, Boston, USA

How to Cite: Burke D T, Protopapas M, Bonato P, Burke J T, Landrum R F. Martial Arts: Time Needed for Training, Asian J Sports Med. Online ahead of Print ; 2(1):34828. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.34828.


Asian Journal of Sports Medicine: 2 (1); 31-36
Published Online: February 28, 2011
Article Type: Research Article
Received: August 23, 2010
Accepted: December 27, 2010


Purpose: To measure the time needed to teach a series of martial arts techniques to proficiency.

Methods: Fifteen volunteer subjects without any prior martial arts or self-defense experience were recruited. A panel of martial arts experts selected 21 different techniques including defensive stances, arm blocks, elbow strikes, palm strikes, thumbs to eyes, instep kicks and a carotid neck restraint. The critical elements of each technique were identified by the panel and incorporated into a teaching protocol, and then into a scoring system. Two black belt martial arts instructors directed a total of forty-five 45-minute training sessions. Videotaped proficiency testing was performed weekly. The videotapes were reviewed by the investigators to determine the proficiency levels of each subject for each technique.

Results: The techniques were rated by the average number of training sessions needed for an individual to develop proficiency in that technique. The mean number of sessions necessary to train individuals to proficiency ranged from 27 to 38.3. Using this system, the most difficult techniques seemed to be elbow strikes to the rear, striking with thumbs to the eyes and arm blocking.

Conclusions: In this study 29 hours of training was necessary to train novice students to be proficient in 21 offensive and defensive martial arts techniques. To our knowledge, this is the first study that attempts to measure the learning curves involved when teaching martial arts techniques.

Full Text

Full text is available in PDF

© 2011, Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.