Research article
Issue: № 8 (110), 2021


Научная статья

Ли Сюе*

Белорусский государственный университет физической культуры, Минск, Беларусь

* Корреспондирующий автор (ahei0128[at]


В настоящее время многие исследования указывают на взаимосвязь между когнитивными способностями и моторными способностями. Однако подобного рода исследований в детских контактных единоборствах практически не проводилось.

В данной работе в качестве показателей оценки моторных способностей были выбраны скоростно-силовые качества, координационные способности, быстрота и техника движений, а в качестве показателей когнитивных способностей - IQ, внимание, зрительно-моторная реакция, обучаемость, память и мышление. 34 мальчика в возрасте 9-13 лет, имели 2-3 года стажа занятий контактными единоборствами. Они прошли тестирование, результаты которого были проанализированы с помощью расчета коэффициента корреляции Пирсона. Результаты показали достоверную корреляцию между моторными способностями и когнитивными способностями юных спортсменов. В частности, между координационными способностями и когнитивными способностями, координационные способности и обучаемость связаны с формированием моторных навыков. Подтверждение этой взаимосвязи дает научную основу для разработки методов обучения и отбора.

Ключевые слова: когнитивные способности, моторные способности, единоборства, дети 9-13 лет, корреляция.


Research article

Li Xue*

Belarusian State University Of Physical Culture, Minsk, Belarus

* Corresponding author (ahei0128[at]


Currently, many research shows that there exists a correlation between cognitive ability and exercise capacity, however, those on contact martial arts, with children as the target, are lack of overall evaluations and actual parameters. Therefore, it is necessary to verify the correlation between the two, with substantial parameters provided.

In this paper, speed-strength, speed, coordination, and technique are selected as evaluation indicators of exercise capacity, and IQ, attention, visual motor skills, learning efficiency, memory, and thinking as cognitive ability indicators, and the correlation analysis of which are conducted. The results show that a reliable correlation exists between the children’s exercise capacity and cognitive ability in unarmed combat, especially the correlation between coordination ability and cognitive ability, and that between coordination and learning ability, and the formation of sports skill, and the confirmation of which provides a scientific basis for training methods development and athlete selection.

Keywords: Cognitive Ability, Exercise Capacity, Contact Martial Arts, Children 9-13 years, Correlation.


As is well known, athletes’ excellent performance in competitions depend on exercise capacity of the athletes themselves which is the comprehensive embodiment of factors like body morphology, physical quality, skills, etc. With the current high attention paid to the sports, the athletes selected become younger and younger, and the correlation studies among various disciplines are carried out, so as to find new ways to improve the level of competition.

The correlation between cognition and exercise has become one of the research directions, among which the correlation between sports skills and cognitive ability are most widely studied (Huayi Xiao, 1999). Gagne, American psychologist, laid the original theoretical foundation for the research by proposing five cognitive abilities, including sports skills [2]. Cognitive ability is the ability of the human brain to process, store and extract information [3]. It is the most important psychological condition for the successful completion of human’s activities. Perception, memory, attention, thinking and intelligence are all recognized as cognitive abilities. Studies have shown that the scope of perception and the speed of the athletes, information processing, reaction ability, ability to focus and shift attention, coordination stability in emergency, and biomechanical rationality of the movement in sports competition are the key to the success of the sports competition [10]. Besides, cognitive ability is also manifest in acquiring and mastering knowledge and skills. The Theory of Cognitive Structure proposed by Bruner believes that learning is the development process of cognition, namely, the formation and transformation process of the cognition. Cognitive ability is also reflected in ability to find appropriate solutions to complicated issues in emergency, and the mechanism of which is called sports decision-making [11]. These results indicate that excellent performance in competitions is the result of a joint effort of cognitive ability and exercise capacity.

There are large quantities of researches on the correlation between cognitive ability and exercise capability, but most of which are about the correlation between sports skills and cognition ability, and among which, the correlation between preschool cognitive ability and large or fine muscle movement is in the majority. For researches on sports, one subbranch of cognitive ability (e.g., visual motor skills, intelligence) is selected for its impact on sports skills, with adult athletes as the subject, which have ignored the current “hope” age of athlete selection. The main significance of this paper is to determine the correlation between children’s cognitive ability and exercise capability in contact martial arts, propose substantive parameters, provide a scientific theoretical basis for athlete selection and training, and help to find new ways and methods.

Subjects and Methods

Body morphology is innate while physical quality and skills can be acquired through training, therefore, exercise capability of this study includes only physical quality and technique. And according to the characteristics of the unarmed combat, speed, speed-strength, coordination (balance) and skill are selected as the indicators of exercise capability and attention, intelligence, thinking, visual motor skills, learning ability and memory as those of cognitive ability.

In order to determine children’s cognitive ability and exercise capacity in Contact Martial Arts, 34 children aged between 9 and 13 were selected as our subjects to practice Taekwondo (n=14) and Karate (n=20). The test was conducted in the laboratory of Belarusian State University of Physical Culture from November 2020 to January 2021, with all the equipment provided by the laboratory. Before the test, we explained the purpose of the study to the coach and determined the physical status of the children to be tested, with exercise being shown in advance to ensure that the children understood how to perform correctly, so as to guarantee the accuracy of the data.

The following software and equipment were used to assess the indicators of cognitive ability and exercise capacity:

  1. Raven’s Progressive Matrices was prepared by the British psychologist John Carlyle Raven in 1938, which belongs to the asymptotic matrix diagram with a total of 60 graphs, which is hierarchical, with progressive process from direct observation to indirect abstract reasoning.
  2. NS-Psychotest hardware-software complex contains specialized tests for experimental research on the nervous system and the psychological parts of human being. High measurement accuracy can be obtained with high-quality and modern hardware and software adopted. And the accuracy of the evaluation results and information can be improved through mathematical statistical method.
  3. Platform SpeedCourt is a kind of interactive motion floor developed by Frank Eppelmann, which can detect athlete’s motor skills and cognitive ability. SpeedCourt system can be networked with sensor, monitor, PC and software, therefore, exercise results can be transmitted and obtained through the sensor when the athlete performs on the floor.
  4. Stabile-analyzer “Stabilan - 01-2” is a technical means used to detect, restore and improve motor coordination ability, with several tests can be selected to directly evaluate the indicators of balance function quality and direction reversal factor.
  5. Ludus Combat Simulator System is a unique training system that allows coaches and athletes to objectively measure and analyze the parameters for the various performances of martial arts training. It contains an electronic foot target and an app, and response time, strength, decision, times of hit, number of errors and so on can be detected directly by using Ludus Warriors App.

The experimental test results are processed by using mathematical statistics, with “STATISTIKA 7.0” for mathematical processing of the statistical parameters. In order to investigate the correlation among the statistical values, Pearson’s correlation coefficient is adopted for the R calculation, with only reliable correlation (P <0.05) considered.

The following test methods are used to assess indicators of cognitive ability and exercise capability.

Indicators of cognitive ability will be evaluated via Raven’s Progressive Matrices, NS-Psychotest hardware-software complex and platform SpeedCourt.

  1. Intelligence - Raven’s Progressive Matrices will be used to determine the level of intellectual development.
  2. Visual motor skills - NS-Psychotest hardware-software complex is adopted. “Simple visual motor response (SVMR) test” and “Differentiated reaction” are selected to assess visual motor ability, mainly response speed and numbers of reaction errors.
  3. Attention - NS-Psychotest hardware-software complex is selected to test attention in the response and attention distribution, mainly for the evaluation of response speed, number of errors, and degree of attention.
  4. Thinking - Platform SpeedCourt is used, with the testing item of “Colors and Letters”. It requires the subjects to stand on the platform and fast move to the corresponding blocks based on the hints (colors or letters) given on the screen, and the hints will be changed after each his/her choice for mainly evaluate the speed and number of errors.
  5. Memory - Platform SpeedCourt is adopted, with the testing item of “Memory (three subjects)”. It requires the subjects to quickly remember the three squares that flashes over the screen and move to the three corresponding squares as quickly as possible. Squares will be updated based on correct selection while hints will be given according to wrong choice. Main evaluation items are speed and movement distance.
  6. Learning Ability - This test consists of eight movements which are regular, with only direction and position changed between the former four movements and those of the latter. The positions of hands and feet change for each action (Fig.1). First, the eight movements are taught to the subjects, then after the demonstration for the first time, time, number of times the subjects learned, and number of demonstrations are counted until the subjects can successfully complete these eight movements alone, and the degree of completion of each their movement will be scored. Finally, learning efficiency and degree of movement complement will be calculated by the comprehensive evaluation of score, time spent, learning times and demonstration times. Learning efficiency and degree of movement complement are calculated as follows:
24-08-2021 10-00-01 S= score obtained T= total scores n= times tried  

24-08-2021 10-01-50

Fig. 1 – Test Learning Ability

1 – left arm bent forward at the elbow joint, right arm straight to the side, right heel close to the knee of the left leg, toes down; 2 – left arm straight ahead horizontally, right arm bent parallel to shoulder at elbow joint, right leg bent at right angle at knee joint; 3 – left arm bent parallel to shoulder at elbow joint, right arm straight forward horizontally, right heel close to left knee, toe down; 4 – straighten both arms upward, keeping them parallel; 5–7 – the same with other limbs; 8 – starting position


Platform SpeedCourt, stabile-analyzer “Stabilan – 01-2” and electronic target will be used for assessing indicators of exercise capability.

  1. Speed-Strength - Platform SpeedCourt is adopted and tapping test is selected. It requires the subjects to stand on the platform and tap their two legs alternately for 3 seconds, and the larger the number of tapping, the better. Main evaluation items are speed and quantity.
  2. Speed - Shuttle run is a very classic test for measuring speed ability. platform SpeedCourt is adopted. Main evaluation item is speed; Response speed in technical experiment will also be regarded as one indicator of speed capacity.
  3. Coordination (Balance) - Stabile-analyzer “Stabilan – 01-2 is used and Romberg test, Shooting target, Test “With involute” and Ball are selected for the evaluation of balance function quality and direction reversal factor, numbers of correct and wrong.
  4. Technique - Two electronic targets of Ludus Combat Simulator System are used, and the height of which are determined by the height of the subject, with the overhead target being parallel to the head of the subject and the median target parallel to the chest. There are two signal lights (left and right) on each electronic foot target. The tester will press the corresponding light button and the subjects need to hit the corresponding target quickly when the light turns on. Both feet of the subjects are required to be tested, with ten times of hit on each foot. Chinese coaches and referees (n=5) are searched to score each hit by the subjects. This test mainly evaluates response speed and technique.

Results and Discussions

24-08-2021 10-02-11

Fig. 2 – Correlation Diagram Between Indicators of Cognitive Ability and those of Exercise Capability


As Figure 2 shows there is a correlation between coordination (balance) ability and indicators of cognitive ability (attention, memory, intelligence, visual motor skills and thinking), so do learning ability and memory & intelligence, speed and memory, and technique and thinking. There is no significant correlation between speed-strength and indicators of cognitive ability. There is a correlation between attention and memory & optomotor response, so does intelligence and visual motor skills & thinking. There is a correlation among coordination ability, speed and speed-strength, so does coordination ability and technique.

In order to clearly explain correlation coefficient, indicators are divided into four groups: coordination (balance) ability and indicators of cognitive ability, speed & technique and indicators of cognitive ability, indicators of cognitive ability, and indicators of exercise capability.

  1. Analysis Results of the Correlation Between Coordination (Balance) and Indicators of Cognitive Ability

1.1 Coordination (balance) and attention & optomotor response

In Romberg Test, direction reversal factor shows a correlation with response speed of the differentiated reaction test (R=0.41), so does balance function quality and the degree of concentration in the response (R=0.41). And a positive correlation is found between the score obtained by right action in Shooting target and error coefficient in Differentiated reaction (R=0.36). There exists a positive correlation between the change in the direction of the movement and the degree of attention distraction by testing number of errors in “Ball” and response speed of “attention in response” (R=0.54), which indicates high level of coordination stability in unarmed combat helps the athlete to quickly respond to current emergencies. The deeper the attention paid, the stronger the ability of body control and coordination.

1.2 Coordination (balance) and intelligence, memory and thinking

“Scores in ‘Ball’” (R=0.37) & direction reversal factor (R=-0.41) are associated with intelligence, so do scores and response speed of the memory (R=0.-37); Score obtained is negatively correlated with response speed of the thinking (R=-0.41); The higher the scores obtained and the smaller the change in direction reversal factor, the more stable the coordination and control ability, which confirms that the better the coordination of the movement, the higher the indicators of intelligence and thinking.

2.Analysis Results of the Correlation Between Speed & Technique and Indicators of Cognitive Ability

A negative correlation appears between technique indicator and response speed of the thinking (R=-0.46), and the reason of which may lie in the correlation between thinking ability and learning ability, and the formation of learning ability and motor skills, which confirms that the stronger the thinking ability, the higher the standardized degree of the athlete’s technical movement. The hitting speed of the technique shows a correlation with continuous attention (R=0.38). And the speed of “prismatic movement” is positively associated with response speed of the memory (R=0.37). These results show that the technique speed and movement speed that the athlete shown in sport are related to attention and memory ability. High-quality attention can accelerate the extraction of information stored in memory, allowing the athlete to respond quickly and complete the movement.

  1. Analysis Results of the Correlation Among Indicators of Cognitive Ability

Degree of movement complement is proportional to Intelligence Quotient (IQ) (R=0.57) while which is inversely proportional to the speed in memory (three subjects) test (R=-0.45), which confirms that skill learning efficiency is related to IQ and memory ability. The higher the IQ, the faster the memory speed, the higher the learning efficiency. Learning efficiency shows a correlation with the hitting speed in technique experimental test (R=-0.45) and technique score (R=0.54). That is to say, Mastery degree of skills in unarmed combat is closely related to learning ability. The stronger the learning ability, the faster the athlete masters sports skills with accuracy. And intelligence is associated with the speed of visual motor ability (R=0.39). A positive correlation is found between attention change (R=0.41) & attention dispersion (R=0.48) and the distance of memory testing.

  1. Analysis Results of the Correlation Among Exercise Capability

Equilibrium function quality of Test "With involute" presents a correlation with quantity of speed-strength (R=0.37), the number of correct in "Ball" test has a negative correlation with movement speed in "Shuttle run" test (R=-0.46), and the hitting speed of technique shows a positive correlation with error quantity in "Ball" test (R=0.44), all of which represent that the faster the athlete hits under the condition of the higer attention. Quantity in tapping test is negatively associated with movement speed in Shuttle run test(R=-0.42).

According to the above mentioned, a correlation can be determined between cognitive ability and exercise capability in contact martial arts, which especially reflects coordination ability and cognitive ability. It is worth noting that because of the characteristics of the complex interaction with the opponent in unarmed combat, the victory of the competition depends largely on athlete’s coordination ability [6], [7], [8]. Results indicate that there are significant evidences of the correlation among intelligence, attention, visual motor ability, memory and thinking. Studies have indicated that the factors affecting the coordination level include intelligence, flexibility of neural process, dynamic stereotype quantity of the established sports skills, physical quality and personality. Psychologist Weber believes that performance IQ also belongs to intelligence, which represents the self-control of the degree of the behavior degree. From the perspective of brain structure, it can be found that the frontal lobe region manages motor plan and motor regulation, with supervision and internal management included. In addition, differences in coordination ability have an effect on experience of things outside, cognition and evaluation, and indirectly affect cognitive function. And it tends to affect the deeper accumulation of experience. From a neurosystem perspective, it can be found that neurons are renewable and can be reconnected, which means that proficiency can be achieved by repeated strategic exercise with thinking, so as to achieve the ultimate automation. The experimental results confirm the idea that these cognitive abilities develop along with coordination, and the reason of which possibly because one with strong coordination ability can be more access to high levels of sports skills, which can easily increase dynamic stereotype quantity of sports skills, which is also confirmed in correlation analysis [4], [9], [10], [13]. At the same time, there is a correlation between intelligence & memory and learning ability. Learning ability refers to the ability to obtain accurate knowledge and information in a fast and effective way, to integrate new knowledge into the existing knowledge system, and to transform it into one’s own experience. Learning ability itself is the embodiment of intellectual ability. Intelligence development is based on the function of memory, the maintenance of memory is also the basis of thinking, and thinking is the ability that must be possessed to solve problems. Modern cognitive theory believes that knowledge information can be permanently stored in a long memory, but the human brain will always be in the state of information processing, and learning materials are also easy to be interfered and be easily forgotten. However, the efficiency of learning can increase if memory is constantly consolidated, which means that intelligence and memory affect the efficiency of skill learning, high learning efficiency contributes to the formation of sports skills, and the development of sports skills also promotes the development of coordination ability and thinking.

Coordination ability is related to visual motor ability, attention and memory. Chen Kelai (2010) confirmed that coordination training can improve children’s attention. Studies have shown that coordination ability represents the mobility of neural process and the mobilization of sensory-perceptual mechanism [1]. The deeper the attention paid, the more efficient the information searched in the scene, and the faster the memory extraction, thus the cognitive process of movement decision-making is accelerated. A correlation is also confirmed among visual motor ability, attention and memory. Elite athletes outperform intermediate combatants in reaction time, refocusing and short‐term memory (Grushko A, Bochaver K, Shishkina A, et al. 2016) [12].

There is no direct correlation between speed-strength and cognitive ability, and the reason of which may lies in muscle tension being mainly reflected, therefore, it has no direct correlation with cognition. But there exists a correlation between speed-strength and speed & coordination ability. Speed-strength requires muscle tension to overcome resistance and perform fast movement, which means that the stronger the speed-strength ability, the faster the movement is [5].


It is identified that there exists a correlation between children’s cognitive ability and exercise capability in contact martial arts, and correlation parameters between indicators of cognitive ability and those of exercise capability are established. The higher the IQ and the stronger the memory. The higher the efficiency of skill learning; The faster response speed of the thinking, the better the skills are mastered; And cognitive ability is closely related to coordination ability. The higher the cognitive level, the faster the movement, the determination of which can be used to improve the training level of athletes in unarmed combat. Meanwhile, it also provides new methods and ways for athlete selection in the initial stage.

Конфликт интересов Не указан. Conflict of Interest None declared.

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