Interest towards Karate and Taekwondo is increasing every other day because combat sports like these contribute to both physical performance and personality development. Fighting sports include high-intensity, short-acting and anaerobic alactic type of applications. The success of the athlete in these sports depends on conditioning features as well as coordinative features such as joint mobility, balance, coordination and stimulus response (reaction). For this reason, it is also clear that different scientific studies are needed in the sports branches mentioned. One of the issues that is thought to be untouched in this area is whether there is any relation between hand preference and athletic success in the mentioned sports branches.
1.1. Hand Preference
Hand preference is use of right or left hand dominantly. The hand preference idea is that the preferred hand is used more effectively and skillfully in daily activities. In other words, while the right-handed people use their right hand more successfully than left-handed ones in daily activities, and the left-handed people use their left hand more effectively and efficiently than right-handed ones. The motor fields that control the hands are in the left hemisphere in 95% of the people. This is why people most commonly use their right hands (Leong, 1980).
It has been found that the left-handed people use their right brain and right-handed people use their left brain more dominantly, because of their right and left brain hemispheres. Motor spaces are more dominantly located in the left hemisphere, which allow approximately 95% of the humans to control their hands. For this reason, the majority of people use their right hand (Turan, 2010).
Karate, contrary to the common belief, is not an attack sport but a defense sport. The first movements of the “Kata”, which hold an important place in the karate sport, are blocks and that is a clear proof of this statement (Doğan, 2003). It has an important role in personality development as well as physically improving the body composition of a person. Dojo is a salutation stance extended towards the field of competition (tatamiye), opponent and trainers which is an indicator of previous statement (Türkeri, 2007).
Karate is a martial art aiming the development of character through education. All techniques and behaviors that could harm human beings are prohibited. This is why all attacks should be controlled. Competitors must apply all techniques in accordance with the Karate’s technical rules and in a controlled manner (Soykan, 2003).
The most important feature distinguishing karate sport from other sports is the “Do” philosophy. This thinking system which can be found in the vast majority of Far East fighting sports, indicates ripening over time (Doğan, 2003).
Taekwondo, besides being a defense art and sport, aims to improve physical fitness, resistance and ability. Its main characteristic is that it contains defensive techniques against the opponent with bare hands and feet. Respect, love, humbleness and patience are among the other attributes of Taekwondo (Chun, 1975). All of Taekwondo’s movements are based on a foundation in which the defense spirit is dominant since the days it was developed to defend against enemies. In ancient times, people lived primitively which require physical strength and abilities, this is why their bodies collapsed and their back hunched in short time during their older ages. Sports, especially Taekwondo, help developing physical fitness, resistance and abilities at the same time (Kim, 1995).
255 athletes in total which consist of 144 male, 111 female, 120 karate and 135 taekwondo athletes, 223 right-handed and 32 left-handed people, who have participated in interuniversity karate and taekwondo championships of Turkey which is in the activity program of Karate and Taekwondo federations in 2016, contributed to this research. The athletes participated in this study with their own consent and none of them had any health problem.
The choices are “always with the right hand” (+10 points), “usually with the right hand” (+5 points), “with both hands” (0 point), “usually with the left hand” (−5 points), and “always with the left hand” (−10 points).
In the data obtained from the questionnaire, the evaluation was done like this: +80 to +100 points for dominant right-handed ones, +20 to +75 points for non-dominant right-handed ones, −15 to +15 points for two handed ones, −20 to −75 points for non dominant left-handed ones and −80 to −100 points for dominant left-handed ones.
56.5% of the athletes are male and 43.5% is female. Out of all athletes participated the height of; 10 (3.9%) were 150 - 159 cm, 60 (23.5%) were 160 - 169 cm, 116 (45.5%) were 170 - 179 cm, 64 (25.1%) were 180 - 189 cm, 5 (2%) were 190+ cm (Table 1).
Among male athletes from Karate branch the weight of; 9 (12.9%) were 60 kg, 17 (24.3%) were 67 kg, 26 (37.1%) were 75 kg, 11 (15.7%) were 84 kg, 7 (10%) were 84+ kg. Among male athletes from Taekwondo branch the weight of; 17 (23%) were 58 kg, 29 (39.2%) were 68 kg, 12 (16.2%) were 74 kg, 6 (8.1%) were 80 kg, 10 (13.5%) were 87+ kg. (Table 2)
Among female athletes from Karate branch the weight of; 12 (24%) were 50 kg, 13 (26%) were 55 kg, 10 (20%) were 61 kg, 8 (16%) were 68 kg, 7 (14%) were 69+ kg. Among female athletes from Taekwondo branch the weight of; 18 (29.5%) were 49 kg, 23 (37.7%) were 57 kg, 9 (14.8%) were 62 kg, 8 (13.1%) were
Table 1. Genders and heights of athletes.
67 kg, 3 (4.9%) were 73+ kg (Table 3).
43 (16.9%) of the female karate athletes were right-handed while 7 (2.7%) were left-handed; and 53 (20.8%) of the female taekwondo athletes were right-handed while 8 (3.1%) were left-handed. 62 (24.3%) of the male karate athletes were right-handed while 8 (3.1%) were left-handed; and 65 (25.5%) of the female taekwondo athletes were right-handed while 9 (3.5%) were left-handed (Table 4).
Table 2. Branches and weights of male athletes.
Table 3. Branches and weights of female athletes.
13 (21.7%) of right-handed male karate athletes won a medal while 47 (78.3%) didn’t win; and 8 (19%) of right-handed female karate athletes won a medal while 34 (81%) didn’t win. 13 (20.6%) of right-handed male Taekwondo athletes won medal while 50 (79.4%) didn’t win. 13 (25%) of right-handed female Taekwondo athletes won medal while 39 (75%) didn’t win. 3 (30%) of left-handed male Karate athletes won medal while 7 (70%) didn’t win. 7 (87.5%) of right-handed female Taekwondo athletes won medal while 1 (12.5%) didn’t win. 2 (18.2%) of left-handed male Taekwondo athletes won medal while 9 (81.8%) didn’t win. 2 (22.2%) of left-handed Taekwondo athletes won a medal while 7 (77.8%) didn’t win (Table 5).
Among right-handed male karate athletes, 27 (45%) didn’t win any matches, 16 (26.7%) won 1, 5 (8.3%) 2, 8 (13.3%) 3, 4 (6.7%) won 4 matches. Among right-handed female karate athletes 13 (31%) didn’t win any matches, 15 (35.7%)
Table 4. Distribution of branch and gender regarding the dominant hand preference of athletes.
Table 5. Gender, branch and medal winning status of athletes regarding their dominant hand preference.
1, 6 (14.3%) 2, 5 (11.9%) 3, 3 (7.1%) won 4 matches. Among right-handed male karate athletes 17 (27%) didn’t win any matches, 16 (25.4%) 1, 17 (27%) 2, 9 (14.3%) 3 and 4 (6.3%) won 4 matches. Among right-handed female taekwondo athletes 11 (21.2%) didn’t win any matches, 12 (23.1%) 1, 16 (30.8%) 2, 8 (15.4%) 3, 5 (9.6%) won 4 matches. Among left-handed male karate athletes there is no athlete who didn’t win any matches, 1 (10%) 1, 6 (60%) 2, 2 (20%) 3 and 1 (10%) won 4 matches. Among left-handed female karate athletes there is no athlete who didn’t win any matches. There is no 1 match winning athlete. 1 (12.5%) 2, 5 (62.5%) 3 and 2 (25%) won 4 matches. Among left-handed male taekwondo athletes 1 (9.1%) didn’t win any matches, 1 (9.1%) 1, 7 (63.6%) 2, 1 (9.1%) 3, 1 (9.1%) won 4 matches. Among left-handed female taekwondo athletes 4 (44%) didn’t win any matches, 1 (11.1%) 1, 2 (22.2%) 2, 2 (22.2%) 3 and there is no athletes winning 4 matches (Table 6).
There is a weak and negative relationship between the dominant hands of female athletes and their medal winning status (p < 0.05). There is no relationship between the branches of female athletes and their medal winning status (p > 0.05) (Table 7).
Female athletes are dominantly right-handed in general as it can be seen in the Table 8.
There is a relation between the dominant hands of female athletes and their medal winning status (p < 0.05). As R2 is 062, it can be said that there is a direct relationship between the medal winning and the dominant hands of female athletes. In other words, it can be said that the dominant hand preference has a 6% effect on medal winning status of female athletes. B (beta) is the value of the partial correlation coefficient, and the criterion for the relation between the dependent variable and the independent variable. The correlation between the dominant hands of female athletes and their medal status is 0.134 (Tables 9-11).
As a result of Pearson correlation analysis; no relationship between the dominant hands of male athletes and medal winning situations was found (p >
Table 6. Gender, branch and won matches count of athletes regarding their dominant hand preference.
Table 7. Correlation analysis regarding the dominant hand preference and medal winning status of female athletes.
**p < 0.05.
Table 8. Definitive statistics of female athletes.
Table 9. Regression analysis regarding female athletes’ dominant hand preference and medal status.
Table 10. Score averages and standard deviations regarding the dominant hand preference of female athletes.
Table 11. Dominant hand preference and medal winning status of female athletes.
005). There was also no relationship between the branches of male athletes and their medal winning status (p > 005).
The scientific researches conducted on the taekwondo branch, in which we have accomplished significant achievements in the name of our country in international sports events recent years and contradictive Olympics branch, karate, in which we have won several medals in Olympics games the popularity of which increases day by day, are estimated to contribute a lot to these fields.
Lanzoni et al. (2013) found out in a study on the world’s top 100 male racket players of branches like tennis, table tennis, squash, badminton that the proportion of left-handed athletes was higher compared to the general world population. Loffing et al. (2014) have found out in a study in which 903 athletes from various branches such as fencing, bowling, boxing have participated that the ratio of male athletes who dominantly use their left hand is (10.05%) while the ratio of left hand using female athletes is (7.88%) and determined that these ratios are higher compared to society. Left-handed athletes constitute 12.4% of total athletes in our study. In this respect, the ratio of left-handed athletes in our research supports the work done on the hand preference of individual sports.
Fisekcioglu (2011) stated that taekwondo athletes using left hand are more advantageous in exercising. In our study, the research result partially supports the aim of the study because of the significant difference in the female athletes’ hand preference and medal winning status. However, no a significant difference in hand preference and medal winning status considering male taekwondo athletes was found. Raymond et al. (1996); Loffing & Hagemann (2012); Grouios (2004) argues that dominant left-handed athletes in sport branches such as table tennis and Eksim influenced their opponent due to their racket and fencing pattern, and that left-wing athletes were much more successful in these sports branches. In Baseball (McLean & Ciurczak, 1982), in Tennis (Azemar et al., 1983), in Eskrim Bisiacchi et al. (1985) found that dominant left-handed athletes were more successful (Hagemann, 2009). In a study of video analysis of 54 left-handed and 54 right-handed male tennis athletes in 3 groups, dominant left-handed athletes succeeded in predicting the strike direction of right-handed athletes. In support of this hypothesis, it is suggested that left-handed athletes are more successful because of their influence on the detection of frequencies. The analysis results of the study of Del Corral & Prieto-Rodriguez (2010) on Grand Slam tennis tournaments between 2005 and 2008 have shown, when the quality differences between the players are checked, it is found that the right-handed players have about 5.9% have a lower likelihood of success compared to left-handed opponents. Loffing et al. (2012) conducted a video analysis of 18 volleyball players, predicting that the dominant left-handed ones were better than the right-handed ones in anticipating the direction of the shots from close and far distances, revealing that the visual perceptions of left-handed athletes were better.
The study we conducted supports the studies in the various sports branches above, indicating that the dominant left-handed female karate and taekwondo athletes have a weak negative relationship between hand preference and medal winning status, thus indicating that the left dominant athletes are more successful.
In another study on boxers by Gürsoy (2009), left-handed boxers lost 19.3 games in M = 120.6 matches, while the right handed boxers lost 42.3 matches in M = 127.8 games which indicates that left-handed boxers lost fewer games than right-handed boxers and, thus were more successful. In the studies by Ziyagil et al. (2010) on two different world wrestling championships (Istanbul and Greece) it was reported that dominant left-handed wrestlers won more matches, more degrees and medals. Our study supports both of the above studies and a weak, negative relationship was found between the number of medals won by female athletes. For this reason, dominant left-handed female athletes were found to be more successful than dominant right-handed athletes.
In studies on ice hockey athletes, Puterman et al. (2010) have found out that right-handed ones have a better chance of recovering shots than left-handed ones. Watson & Kimura (1989) concluded that although there is no performance difference between the left hand and the right hand, the left hand received less hits than the right hand. Akça et al. (2015) reported that the right hand was better than the left hand in terms of shot accuracy, depending on hand dominance.
In addition, out study does not support the studies conducted in favor of the right-handers, since there is no significant difference in favor of the right-handers both in male and female karate and taekwondo athletes.
It has been determined that dominant left-handed female karate and taekwondo athletes are very slightly more successful than the dominant right-handed ones. However, there was no difference between dominant hand preference and medal winning status of male athletes in the karate and taekwondo branches.
Although findings of our study show great parallelism with the findings of many similar previous studies, they also contradict with the findings of some studies.
1) For the reason that there is no precedent to our study in the literature on karate branch regarding the hand preference, more studies should be conducted in this regard. In Taekwondo branch, there are a quite limited number of scientific studies, which also require more scientific studies to be done.
2) It can be said that dominant left-handed female athletes are slightly more successful than dominant right-handed athletes in these sports branches, therefore it can be said that such athletes (left-handed) should be encouraged and supported.
3) Although dominant left-handed male athletes are less successful than female athletes, more studies on male athletes should be done.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.