KINETICS AND ELECTROMYOGRAPHY OF THE MARTIAL ARTS HIGH FRONT KICK

  • H. Sorensen
  • M. Zacho
  • E. Simonsen
  • K. Klausen

Abstract

INTRODUCTION Fast unloaded movements like striking, throwing and kicking are typically performed in a proximo-distal sequence: Initially proximal segments accelerate while distal segments lag behind, then proximal segments deceler- ate while distal segments accelerate. In kicking, for instance, it is observed that the movement starts with forward angular acceleration of the thigh while the shank lags behind. Then the thigh decelerates while simultaneously the shank accelerates and the foot reaches its maximal velocity. This raises two questions: Is the thigh actively decelerated by the glutei and/or hamstring muscles, or passively decelerated by joint reaction forces from the accelerating shank7 Is acceleration of the shank enhanced by the thigh's deceleration? From a kinematic perspective this movement coordination seems disadvantageous, considering that the resulting linear velocity of the foot relative to the ground equals the vector sum of the resulting linear velocity of the knee relative to the ground and the foot relative to the knee. However, from a kinetic perspective it can be argued that thigh deceleration enhances shah acceleration to a degree where toss of knee velocity is more than accounted for in gain of foot velocity. The theory is that the angularly decelerating thigh exerts a knee joint force which causes angular acceleration of the shank, i.e. a %hip-lash" action. To obtain knowledge regarding how these kinds of movements are performed we decided to examine the martial arts high front kick. Similar to previous kicking studies we did so by kinematic measurements but in addition recorded the electrical activity of selected muscles in order to asses their temporal activation during the kick. METHODS Seventeen skilled taekwondo practitioners (14 males. 3 females) volunteered to take part in this study. Each subject performed three high front kicks aiming at a tennis ball suspended from the ceiling and adjusted to chin level. The fastest kick from each subject was selected for further analysis. The subjects were high speed filmed (200 f.p.s.) from their right side while kicking. Contrasting markers on selected anatomical landmarks enabled subsequent automatic digitisation. Displacement data were lowpass filtered with optimal cut-off frequencies (6-1 0 Hz) determined by use of residual analysis/ Jackson Knee method. Velocities and accelerations were derived from the displacement data by finite difference calculation. During kicking the electtomyographic activity (EMG) from five selected leg muscles were measured with surface electrodes. Kinetic data were obtained through inverse dynamics calculation using a two-segment link-segment model of the kicking leg and the movement equations developed by Putnam (1983). These equations enable division of the resulting moment acting on a segment into muscular components and motion de- pendant components arising from movement of adjacent segments. RESULTS Data for the thigh indicated that deceleration was caused by motion dependant moments arising from shank motion and not by active hip extensor muscles. Shank acceleration was caused partly by a knee extensor muscle moment and partly by a motion dependant moment arising from thigh angular velocity. Both thigh and shank kinetics were supported by EMG recordings. CONCLUSION As part of the accelerating moment acting on the shank was due to thigh angular velocity we suggest that the observed thigh deceleration should be considered unwanted but unavoidable due to shank acceleration. This implies that even though knee extensor muscles are important for shank acceleration the hip flexor muscles must not be neglected.