Physical Training May 2004
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Comparative study of factors - motives in beginning practicing judo and karate.

Dr. Zaggelidis G. 1, Dr. Martinidis K. 2, Dr. Zaggelidis S. 1

1. Aristotle University of Thessalonica   2. Democritus University of Thrace (Lecturer) Greece


The present study was undertaken due to the scarcity of research in Greece concerning the situation on martial arts. In times that sport gains an important place in our society, the investigation of the factors that lead people to become engaged in less popular activities like Judo and Karate gathers a special interest. For the completion of this purpose a questionnaire of 28 items (typical – related reasons) was translated into Greek to be implemented. The query was administered to 56 Judo and 47 Karate individuals of both sexes, with variant experience in these arts. Data analysis revealed no difference between the two sports and sexes as regards to the main motives encountered for entering the sports. The latter serve as interesting for participants as well as a means of physical and personal cultivation. Differences were detected upon second rate reasons. Basically in Karate (p<.001), but also in all sample (p<.05) males are influenced more by demonstration means. The same applies for recreation being the reason (p<.01). Family urge was found higher among females (p<.05) in general, owing mainly to Karate subjects. Finally, the prevailing motivation underlining Judo / Karate involvement is of a rather internal source.

Comparative study of factors - motives in beginning practicing judo and Karate

In 1979 the Japan Prime Minister's Office carried out a "Public Opinion Poll of Sports" which showed an estimated 66% of those polled, participating in sports, while only 14% was given from the same poll that was carried out in 1957. The mentality has changed over the last fifty (50) years. Kuwahara (1982) has stated that sports are a part of modern civilization and form an important sphere of civilization together with politics, economics, the military, religion, art, science, information, etc. In other words, sports are an indispensable part in modern society.

Motivation is the energy which underlies all behaviour and is particularly connected to the butt of learning (Dweck & Legget, 1988). The nature and extent of the desire to learn will influence the degree of motivation, which, in turn, will determine the extent of personal involvement as well as the persistence to overcome difficulties and frustrations. Hence, understanding what motivates participants must be of major concern for everyone involved with organized physical activity (Carron, 1984).

Several motivation theories exist. First of all, motivators can be internal or external. The intrinsically motivated athletes will base their performance on how they complete the task (Roberts, 1985). Extrinsic motivation is any reward, which is generally connected to ego satisfaction, such as medals, praise from others, and money (social sources). Where the extrinsically motivated athlete differs from the intrinsically motivated athlete is that even when performance goals are set they will not be satisfied with these goals as there is no social comparison (success) involved in the evaluation process (McClelland et al., 1953).

Intrinsic motivation is the energy found to do an activity for your own sake and not for other reasons. Internal motivation consists of desires and aspirations, which are generally more long lasting since they come from within the participants themselves.

Internal and external motivations complement one another. The ultimate goal is to have our members take part in judo out of satisfaction and not to achieve rewards. On the other hand internal motivation can be developed through the judicious use of external motivators. An approach, which combines the use of play during teaching and the establishment of prizes based on diligence and the athletic spirit, can increase pleasure and self-esteem.

Sport has been defined as a more or less vigorous personal effort, which we practice for pleasure/ enjoyment according to a set of rules. A participant’s satisfaction can be either physiological or psychological. Sport may or may not be competitive (in relation to others or to one self). Sport competition adds motivation to its practice (Papaioanou & Goudas, 1994). From a practical standpoint, the tendencies toward pleasure were stronger than a competitive spirit.

Judo, Karate, and self-defence are combative activities; each of them consists of attacking movements such as striking, kicking, pushing, or pulling and of defensive movements for blocking the attacks (Sterkowicz, 1991). Judo has inherited a spirit of vitality and energy, and a spirit of mutual appreciation for other people. The gratification judokas derive from their commitment forms a kind of motivation that is based on rewards (belts, trophies, medals and selection) and it is safe to say that in judo it is solidly rooted on the form of the ranking system. Motivation of this type is effective for only so long, however, and more is needed to motivate a judoka. It is recommended that ranks not be used as the only source of external motivation, since this would have an adverse long-term effect on the quality of judo and not increase the likelihood of long-term participation in the sport.

Everyone has his or her own reasons for starting karate-judo, mainly in connection with needs. Some are motivated to join out of a need to get into shape or to learn self-defence techniques. Youths may be seeking to identify with a hero involved in the martial arts or may sign up because it is what their parents want. Many people decide to take karate-judo simply to learn self-defense. Some wish to develop some self-confidence. Others are more interested in the sport competition side of karate-judo and the social aspects involved in a large close-knit organization such as ours. Some appreciate the self-enlightenment element of karate-judo; the never-ending development of their mental and physical discipline. Still others are in it primarily for the exercise. These are just a few of the positive reasons for starting to learn karate-judo. On the other hand, there are those who get involved for the wrong reasons. Some believe that they will impress their friends and gain respect from their piers by being able to physically intimidate the average person in the street. As unbelievable as it may seem, there are even those who would enjoy causing pain and suffering to others. These are exactly the wrong reasons for attempting to learn any martial art.

 The object of this study was to investigate the initial reasons for judo / karate involvement in Greece.


Sample and Process

The study dealing with factors - motives that contribute to the beginning engagement with judo / karate was administered to a total of 107 individuals, mainly coaches and athletes of the two sports, but also referees as holders of a black belt. Questionnaires were properly filled by 56 persons from judo and 47 from karate. The remaining four were excluded from the study, because these contained insufficient elements. The questionnaires were distributed for judo during the Greek National championships held in Florina on December 2003 and for karate during the Regional (Northern and Central Greece) championships carried out in Edessa on January 2004. Subjects responded willingly. The number of women in the sample is relatively smaller than that of men which reflects their proportion within the whole population of the sport.

Design and application of the questionnaire

The questionnaire in use constitutes the Greek form of the corresponding Japanese instrument that had been used in the inquiry «Dissemination Measures of judo» by the Kodokan Judo Department Study Association (survey of the consciousness towards judo-factors for beginning judo) (Matsumoto et al., 1984), and also of the «Actual condition of women’s judo», (motivation practice judo) (Kawamura et al., 1978). The questionnaire was also implemented in variant by Sterkowicz in Poland (1990), to athletes of Judo and Ju-jitsu.

The Greek version was aimed at the collection of basic information on the factors-motives that contribute to the initial study of Judo - Karate, through 28 questions to be selected or not, with the option of additional comments to be marked (qualitative data). The questionnaire was translated into Greek by bilingual individuals, taking into account the grammar of the language so that the meaning was correctly expressed. Language assiduity, so that the questionnaire be comprehensible and readable, was carried out by a degree holder. For the confirmation of the Greek translation, the questionnaire was translated into the original language again, according to the process that is described by Berry (1969) and Brislin et al. (1973). The validity and the appropriateness of its content, structured to accomplish the inquiry in target, were checked by three experts of these sports (trainers - professors of Physical Education). Their observations led to small changes in the formulation of certain questions.

The grades (Dan) of the respondents were as follows:

Table 1. Experience (Dan) in judo / karate for Male – Female subjects
table 1

The subjects were aged within the range of 17 – 47 for Judokas and 16 – 56 for Karate persons.


The ranking of the answers (acceptance of) in the twenty eight questions (selections – options) is shown in table 2.

Table 2. Motives (reasons) for beginning Judo / Karate
table 2

The ranking of reasons is the same in total as it is within each sport for the three first ranks.

Taking into account factor analysis and correlations, a twelve part reasoning spectrum was formed with different meanings of each scale and inter - related reasons within some.

1. Physical - personal benefits (health, strength, ability, character)
2. Interesting sport
3. Suitable (not seasonal, cheap, near by)
4. Recreation
5. Means of Demonstration (book - magazine, T.V., film, lecture, in vivo display)
6. External Image (eastern origin, outfit, belt, atmosphere)
7. Structure – Nature of judo/ karate (one to one, small versus big, body size)
8. Safety (no injuries)
9. Competition (hard)
10. Family urge
11. Peers (friends)
12. Other

The options of ‘compulsory with an institution’ and ‘no reason’ were obviously excluded.

From cross tabs analysis (chi square X2) and non parametric Man- Whitney (U) test, differences between sexes for each sport and total are presented below (table 3):

Table 3. Sex differences in reasoning regarding Judo / Karate involvement
table 3

The only reason that was higher for girls, was 'family urgeing'. In the relative hierarchy (mean ranks) it is first for females while being last for males. The opposite is found for 'demonstration means'. In each sport separately, with regard to sex differences, the situation is the same as in the total sample for Karate, but not for Judo where 'external image' is first with 'other' last for males, and the reverse being found for females.

Differences between sports within each sex are presented in table 4.

Table 4.  Sport differences in reasoning regarding Male / Female groups

In Karate, first (by rank) comes the 'means of demonstration' for males and 'external image' for females, while in Judo, first comes 'family urgeing' and 'other reasons' respectively.

First option for Judo and Karate is ‘interesting’: males (67.5, 76.7 %) and females (81.3, 80%). Consistently in both sports for males and females this was followed by ‘health benefits’ and the moulding of body and character.

Diagram 1 presents the mean rank of grouped reasons for beginning Judo and Karate, as well their comparison amid the two sports.

Diagram 1. Sport differences in reasoning (Mean Ranks)
diagram 1


The gender factor basically had no statistically significant bearing on the strength of subjects’ incentives to enter the sports. The exception was 'family urgeing', especially among Karate subjects, and 'media influence' in general. Society is more delicate toward girls as to their engagement with sports, particularly in the case of the combative arts. Thus, the family urge appears to be a decisive inducement for women.

The strongest incentives in both groups (Judo / Karate) were: 'interesting' and 'physical – personal benefits', followed by 'family urge' and 'atmosphere' respectively. The difference in physical benefits, in favor of karate, likewise regarding 'demonstration means' (mainly for males) and 'external image' (for females), as well the reverse situation (in favor of Judo) for 'family urgeing' reflect the difference of the two sports in their nature and promotion. Indeed, Karate is better known in our society, mainly from films and is more “asked for” by children, where in Judo family urge is more needed.

In similar searches on the condition of Judo, for men (Maekava et al., 1958), in various countries (Matsumoto & Kawamura, 1963) and especially of women’s Judo (Kawamura et al., 1978), reasons to enter the sport were found to be, health, building up of body and character, and interesting. These were identical for men and women (Sterkowicz, 2003) based on Terry and Fowles (1985) motivation questionnaire. Following them, influence by friend, family, T. V. and the image of Judo were above 15 %. In a marginally related study on Ju-jitsu (Sterkowicz, 1990), among others, high in the ranking was 'improvement' in terms of fitness, while only 11.5 % of the respondents were motivated after watching films about Martial Arts and Eastern Culture. Likewise, the influence of radio broadcasts and TV programmes on the decision to take up Judo was in third place on the "motivation scale" with 16 %, in similar research conducted on Japanese Judoists (Matsumoto et al., 1984). The item with the highest response were ‘family urging’ (26 %), whereas ‘urging of a friend’, ‘strong’ and ‘influence of books & magazines’ were above 11 %. In some countries though, external influences were found to be higher than internal impetus (Murayama et al., 1979; Murata, 1980).

Initiation into the above sports in this study due to a desire for ‘hard competition’ was found to be below average by percentage. Similarly, the chance for a short person to knock down a big one, albeit not significantly different, was more characteristic among Judokas, but still not very high in percentage. Still, as Nobel Prize winner Dr. Konrad Lorenz wrote in his famous work on aggression, fighting is an extremely spontaneous action and in itself is the very proof of life. Simultaneously, the ritual fight, like Judo, may relieve aggression (Santschi, 1985).

There appears to be an interesting picture from the dissension of reasoning in between the two combat arts, as regards to options of second order, related to external image and suitability of the sport, and even more so for recreation. The latter, as with physical benefits, is deemed of enhanced value by Karate people. One must be cautious, however, owing to the weighted proportion that Karate people stick with the options of the questionnaire. Hence, only the distance in demonstration means and secondly in recreation can be safely contemplated as important, since, on the other hand, the ranking for most reasons is rather proportionate.

In conclusion, there are no differences between Judo and Karate participants as to which are the main reasons for them getting in those sports, and this is basically similar for both sexes. Potential athletes find Judo / Karate interesting and a means to attain physical – personal benefits, before any external influence or peculiarity of each sport is encountered as impulse to get them into these sports.


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Physical Training May 2004