3 Physical Data Points 2020 Armor Measures for Martial Artists

3 Physical Data Points 2020 Armor Measures for Martial Artists

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War


First - a short story.

British cycling never won a world medal in 100 years. It was so bad that bike manufacturers refused to sell bikes to British riders due to their poor performance as it would hurt sales.  

The new High Performance director Dave Brailsford adopted a new training philosophy called “aggregation of marginal gains”. His theory was if you can break down cycling to its elements and measure and improve each piece by 1% you get significant increase when put together. 

They made adjustments to their training and equipment, measured the results to see if they were improving (or not) and continued to tweak. During the 10 years of this aggregation of marginal gains, the British cycling team earned 178 world championships and 66 Olympic gold medals. They are known as the most successful run in cycling history.

An ordinary team of athletes through minor adjustments, measurement and improvements went from the worst in the world, to the best in the world.


What gets measured, gets improved.


For martial arts, these 15 attributes make up a good fighter

  • Power 
  • Speed
  • Stamina/Endurance
  • Combinations/Follow Up
  • Stepping/Footwork
  • Distance control
  • Timing
  • Blocking/Defense
  • Reactivity
  • Pressure Capacity
  • Coachability
  • Technique
  • Flexibility
  • Strategy
  • Accuracy

Which ones do you measure?


In this post, we describe three physical data points (reaction time, power and stamina) and why they are important in combat sports. Knowing what these numbers are can give the coach and athlete an advantage over their competitors. Because now you can tell before a competition if the results of your training are helping your physical capabilities. If you are below your baseline reaction time, stamina and power leading up to a competition, you can adjust your strategy. 


Reaction time - Milliseconds (MS)


Reaction means how fast an athlete is able to respond to a stimulus. Reaction time is extremely important for combat sports, as the quicker you respond the more likely your strike will connect and score.

2020 Armor measures reaction time by flashing the lights on the chest guard. You have to hit the chestguard or headgear as fast as you can. The time between the stimulus (the flashing lights) and your strike is your reaction time. Proxy tests for reaction, such as “blazepods” which require an athlete to kick the air based on a stimulus does not account for the applied movements of striking a target and recovering from that movement to strike again, which is essential in martial arts.  


By keeping track of the reaction time of various techniques, the coach and athlete can adjust their training to improve the speed of specific techniques, increase chance of scoring, and create a more well rounded player who can adapt to any fighting situation.


For example, in the 2020 Armor “Coach View” mobile app, you can tag specific techniques you are measuring reaction time for. The athlete would do a reaction time training session and tag the session as “Left Side, Back Leg, Attack, Round House”. By tagging the training sessions, you can track trends over time and see if that specific technique is improving, plateauing or decreasing over time. Based on the results (which the app clearly shows) coach and athlete can adjust their training. 


Power- Joules (J)


In martial arts, power is the combination of strength and speed in a technique applied to an opponent. In order to be powerful, one must be strong, have good balance, coordination, and be able to control that power - especially in martial arts.


2020 Armor measures power in Joules (a unit of measurement for Energy) when a strike is applied to the vest or headgear. The harder your strike, the higher the power, or Joules. A coach and athlete can increase their power by having the right combination of strength, speed, balance and coordination.


Proxy tests for power such as one rep max squats or vertical jumps do not account for the technique and movement of a strike in martial arts, which leaves them lacking in accuracy. 


By keeping track of the power of various techniques, the coach and athlete can adjust their training to increase the power of specific techniques and increase the chance of scoring points


For example, in the “Coach View” on the 2020 Armor mobile app, you can tag specific techniques you are measuring the power for. The athlete would do a power training session using the vest, head gear and mobile app and tag the session as “Right Side, Back Leg, Counter, Back Kick”. 


By tagging the training sessions, you can track trends over time and see if that specific technique is improving, plateauing or decreasing over time. Based on the results (which the app clearly shows) coach and athlete can adjust their training. It is important to note that when measuring power the object the vest or headgear is on needs to be the same to get accurate results. For example, the power of a kick for a vest tied on a BOB versus a round wavemaster bag will be different because those two bags have different physical properties and therefore will give different results. 


Stamina - Joules per 10 seconds (J/10s)


Stamina is power sustained over time. If you hit the same amount of power in the start of the first round as you do at the end of the third round - you have great stamina. The better your stamina, the higher chances of winning.


2020 Armor measures your stamina in energy (Joules) delivered in 10 second intervals, as exchanges in combat sports are typically 6-8 seconds in duration. The harder or more frequently you strike the vest or headgear, the more Joules/10 seconds gets transferred into the system, and the more stamina an athlete has.


Stamina in sport is traditionally measured via VO2 max on a treadmill. VO2 max is a great proxy, but due to the complexity and cost of measurement, it is not practical and we do not get enough data points to adjust our training. Also a martial art match is not the same as running on a treadmill introducing other inaccuracies.  

  

By seeing at which moments in a round the stamina of an athlete spikes or decreases, we can create adequate strategies, physical training and day of competition routines to yield a higher chance of winning. 


For example. If we see the peak Joules/10s for an athlete occurs during the 2nd half of the round, for all three rounds, we can see that the athlete is a “late starter” and “turns it on” after getting some comfort in the ring. The coach can devise a strategy to get the athlete to start earlier, get the athlete to do a much longer warm up during the day of competition to increase their chance of winning. 


Conversely, perhaps the athlete is the opposite - they start strong but the J/10s is always trailing at the end of the rounds, indicating their stamina levels are not up to par. 


It is important to note that when measuring stamina the object the vest or headgear is on needs to be the same to get accurate results. For example, the stamina results for a vest tied on a BOB versus a round wavemaster bag will be different because those two bags have different properties and therefore will give different results. 



So there you have it. We showed you why reaction time, power and stamina are important for combat sports. Once you start collecting the data, you will start seeing patterns emerge over time. Once you see the patterns, you can then make better decisions, and therefore win more matches.


Enjoy the fight.