January 29, 2018 Martial Arts Studies

The Influence of Competitive Co-action on Kata Performance


Social facilitation is a phenomenon that can help explain performance outcomes in competitive sports. Previous research
has shown that performing in the presence of others may increase physiological arousal and that performance can be either facilitated
or inhibited depending on the skill level of the performers and the complexity of the skill performed. Although extensive research on this phenomenon has been reported in the sport psychology and related literature, previous findings have not focused on individual differences in terms of how social facilitation influences performance, and very little research has focused on martial arts. To bridge these gaps in knowledge, we investigated how a co-action situation would affect performance among 17 participants performing karate kata routines at a regional competition in SE England, comparing outcomes across age and sex variables. Expert judges awarded scores to each participant in both solo and co-action settings. Results showed higher performance scores in the co-action setting across the entire sample, with female karateka and older performers appearing to benefit the most. We argue that more research is required to explain this phenomenon, specifically with respect to understanding the apparent effects of age and sex on social facilitation.


DOI 10.18573/mas.49


Thomas, S., Lugo, R.G., Channon, A. and Spence, A. ‘The Influence of Competitive Co-action on Kata Performance’, Martial Arts Studies 5, 52-60.


Sion Thomas* is Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Greenwich, UK. He is a BASES Accredited Sport Scientist (Psychology), working with elite, professional individuals and teams across a number of disciplines. His research interests include the phenomenon of home advantage as well as hardiness amongst elite performers.
Ricardo Lugo* is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and is an applied practitioner. His research is focused on how psychological and psychophysiological characteristics and the perception of psychosocial environments interact and influence behaviors such as performance and resilience.
Alex Channon is Senior Lecturer in Physical Education and Sport Studies at the University of Brighton, UK. His research interests lie broadly at the intersection of sports, martial arts and society. He is a member of the Board of the Martial Arts Studies Research Network.
Alan Spence is an independent researcher based in Japan. He is interested in the relationship between psychological factors and competitive martial arts performance. He has been training in karate for 17 years and holds a first-Dan black belt.
(*first co-author)

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