Scientists Use New Method To Study Judo
March 21, 2012

Scientists Use New Method To Study Judo

Brazilian scientists are taking note of the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts and want to quantify the amount of energy being used during these activities. By using tools and technologies such as electromagnetic blood tests and portable gas analyzers, these scientists will be able to quantify how much energy is used during other activities, such as team sports.

Watching a Judo match makes it clear why scientists would want to base their study on this sport. The two fighters will face each other, lock arms, and then engage in a tense and awkward session of strategic twisting and gripping, ultimately trying to throw their opponent to the ground. There are throws and counter throws, grips and chokes, but what makes up the majority of the fight is a series of stops and starts, a grip, a hold, a counter action, and then a throw.

By filming these matches in a controlled environment and attaching the fighters with portable gas analyzers, scientists from São Paulo, Brazil are able to record how much energy is used in the sport. These scientists will publish their video in JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments later this month.

Dr. Emerson Franchini, a fan of Judo as well as a Lecturer in the School of Physical Education and Sport at University of São Paulo, is the lead author of this study.

“Each sport has specific characteristics which confer different metabolic demands to them.”

“One of the most important aspects of the metabolic demand is the relative contribution of the energy systems.”

Dr. Franchini and his team studied the three energy systems being used during exercise: Aerobic metabolism, which converts nutrients into energy by use of oxygen; lactic anaerobic metabolism, which makes energy directly from carbohydrates without the use of oxygen and produces lactic acid; and alactic anaerobic metabolism, which also makes energy without oxygen, but does not produce any lactic acid.

The fighters were subject to blood tests as well as oxygen tests before, during, and after the exercise. By combining the data from each of the tests, the scientists were able to determine the aerobic and alactic anaerobic metabolism of each fighter.

This gave the scientists a clear picture on how much energy was exerted during the exercise, as well as how much energy was exerted for each specific throw and maneuver.

This kind of study can prove helpful in determining how much energy is used in other sporting activities. With this information, scientists will be able to determine how much benefit from exercise is to be derived from other sports.

Until now, researchers had only been able to study predictable activities, such as running. The authors hope their colleagues will take note and begin to study other sports and activities as well. For now, one can only assume that the scientists in the study are thoroughly enjoying their work, subjecting graduate students to a barrage of choke holds and full-body throws.