Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Purpose: Gender is suggested to be the most important determinant of fat patterning, while the effect of sport should also be taken into account [Malina et al. 1982]. Although fat patterning in combat sports has been investigated before [Pieter et al. 2006], there is no information on it in taekwondo. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the skinfold patterning of international elite junior Spanish and American taekwondo-in.
Methods: Subjects were members of the junior national teams of Spain (10 boys, 16.70±1.49 years, 173.30±9.68 cm, 61.88±13.24 kg; 11 girls, 16.64±1.50 years, 162.16±6.69 cm, 54.96±10.60 kg) and the United States (9 boys, 15.44±1.21 years, 165.94±12.82 cm, 53.82±13.41 kg; 9 girls, 15.05±1.30 years, 160.82±3.49 cm, 50.58±10.41 kg). Skinfolds were taken according to standardized procedures: triceps, biceps, subscapular, supraspinale, anterior thigh and medial calf. A 2-way (Country*Sex) Manova was used to assess the differences between country and gender in skinfold patterning.
Results: There was a Country*Sex interaction for the medial calf skinfold (p=0.028, eta2=0.130). Simple effects analysis showed both the US boys (7.64±2.58 mm, p<0.001) and girls (9.33±2.12 mm, p=0.005) to have lower calf skinfolds than the Spanish girls (15.76±6.05 mm), as did the Spanish boys (8.60±1.84 mm, p<0.001). There was a Country main effect for age with the Spanish taekwondo-in being older: 16.67±1.46 years vs. 15.24±1.24 years (p=0.003, eta2=0.224). Collapsed over country, the girls had larger absolute skinfolds of the triceps (11.24±2.51 mm vs. 6.95±1.85 mm, p<0.001, eta2=0.507), thigh (15.95±5.43 mm vs. 9.28±2.32 mm, p<0.001, eta2=0.404), and supraspinale (8.06±2.99 mm vs. 5.53±1.71 mm, p=0.002, eta2=0.237).
Conclusions: In addition to sport and sex, ethnicity is also suggested to be a correlate of fat patterning, even in elite young athletes.