How much training does it actually take to beat the Karate Kid?

By Seriously Science | February 20, 2014 6:00 am

First comes the YouTube video,  then comes the science!

Martial arts: time needed for training.

“PURPOSE: To measure the time needed to teach a series of martial arts techniques to proficiency.

METHODS: Fifteen volunteer subjects without any prior martial arts or self-defense experience were recruited. A panel of martial arts experts selected 21 different techniques including defensive stances, arm blocks, elbow strikes, palm strikes, thumbs to eyes, instep kicks and a carotid neck restraint. The critical elements of each technique were identified by the panel and incorporated into a teaching protocol, and then into a scoring system. Two black belt martial arts instructors directed a total of forty-five 45-minute training sessions. Videotaped proficiency testing was performed weekly. The videotapes were reviewed by the investigators to determine the proficiency levels of each subject for each technique.

RESULTS: The techniques were rated by the average number of training sessions needed for an individual to develop proficiency in that technique. The mean number of sessions necessary to train individuals to proficiency ranged from 27 to 38.3. Using this system, the most difficult techniques seemed to be elbow strikes to the rear, striking with thumbs to the eyes and arm blocking.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study 29 hours of training was necessary to train novice students to be proficient in 21 offensive and defensive martial arts techniques. To our knowledge, this is the first study that attempts to measure the learning curves involved when teaching martial arts techniques.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: The history of poisoning in the future: lessons from Star Trek.
NCBI ROFL: Homicide attempt with a Japanese samurai sword.
NCBI ROFL: Why it’s so hard to intercept a ninja.

  • RickD2

    lab results not based on dynamic applications or equal street confrontation…you’re leading more ninjutsu goobs to really think they can be a bad ass…in 2 weeks…hahah

  • rose maryawn

    My Uncle Connor got Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG use this link C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Christopher Knight

    This test is seriously limited by the fact that they are only testing techniques. What is the point of a scientific study if the question being asked is not representative of the subject? Martial arts is far more than just techniques and moves, so any scientific study based around it should reflect that. What a waste of money that test was.


Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]

See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar