PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to measure and compare physiological and time-motion variables during karate fighting and to assess eventual differences between winners and defeated elite karatekas in an ecologically valid environment.
METHODS: Fourteen elite male karatekas who regularly participated in national and international events took part in a national-level competition.
RESULTS: There were no significant differences between winners and defeated karatekas regarding all the studied variables. Karatekas used more upper-limb (76.19%) than lower-limb techniques (23.80%). The kisami-zuki represented the most frequent technique, with 29.1% of all used techniques. The duration of each fighting activity ranged from 90% of the individual HRpeak.
CONCLUSION: Karatekas predominantly use upper-limb karate techniques. Karate's nature is intermittent, with fighting activities representing ~6% of total combat's duration and ~84% of actions lasting less than 2 s, with ~21-s mean time interval in between. Kumite combat sessions induced high La and near-maximal cardiovascular strain. Other key success factors should be investigated to properly discriminate winners and defeated athletes.
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