Karate or Kung Fu?


Sedentary lifestyle in Asian children together with aversive parenting style may compromise their physical and psychological health. The aim of the proposed stratified, randomized controlled study are to explore the beneficial effects of Japanese martial art (karate) and Chinese martial art (Ving Tsun kung fu) training on improving the psychophysical health in this population. Over fifty-two Asian children (age = 6-12 years) will be recruited from schools in Hong Kong and then randomly assigned to either a karate group or a Ving Tsun group. Children in both groups will receive the respective physical and spiritual martial art training for 3 months (3 times/week, one hour each). Outcomes will be evaluated at baseline and after the intervention by a blinded assessor. Primary outcomes include muscle power of the arms and legs as measured by a medicine ball throw test and a standing long jump test, respectively. Secondary outcomes include flexibility as quantified by a sit-and-reach test, aggression as measured by the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire, and attention as measured by the Child Behavioral Checklist-Youth Self-Report. Both karate and Ving Tsun kung fu training programs are predicted to improve physical health of Asian children. It is expected that these training programs can be incorporated into the physical education classes or extracurricular activities in schools or in the community to improve project sustainability.

Full Title of Study: “Karate or Kung Fu? A Comparison of Japanese and Chinese Martial Arts Training for Enhancing Psychophysical Development in Asian Children”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Single (Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: March 31, 2022


  • Behavioral: Karate group
    • Children in the karate group will receive the basic Goju Ryu Karate training that includes basic stances (dachi), punching (zuki), blocking (barai) and kicking techniques (keri), form training (kata), supervised sparring (kumite), and conditioning exercises (for warm up and cool down).
  • Behavioral: Kung fu group
    • Children in the Ving Tsun kung fu group will receive the basic Wong Shun Leung style Ving Tsun training that includes basic stances (ma), footwork (bu), punching (quan), kicking (jie) techniques and conditioning exercises (for warm up and cool down).

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Experimental: Karate group
  • Active Comparator: Kung Fu group

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Change in muscle power of the upper limbs
    • Time Frame: 0 and 3 months
    • A medicine ball throw test
  • Change in muscle power of the lower limbs
    • Time Frame: 0 and 3 months
    • A standing long jump test

Secondary Measures

  • Change in flexibility of the low back and hamstring
    • Time Frame: 0 and 3 months
    • A sit-and-reach test
  • Change in aggression
    • Time Frame: 0 and 3 months
    • Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire
  • Change in attention
    • Time Frame: 0 and 3 months
    • Child Behavioral Checklist-Youth Self-Report

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • 6-12 years old
  • Asian ethnicity and reside in Hong Kong

Exclusion Criteria

  • any physical or psychological disorders that may affect test results
  • previous experience in martial arts
  • participate in regular sports training

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 6 Years

Maximum Age: 12 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • The University of Hong Kong
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Shirley S.M. Fong, Dr – The University of Hong Kong

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