BACKGROUND: Taekwondo athletes use protective body armor when competing in sparring matches. To judge sparring matches more objectively, manufacturers have integrated sensors into the protective body armor that measure strike force in real time. Electronic sensor systems were adopted by the World Taekwondo Federation as early as 2009, but there is a paucity of data characterizing performance variables for black and non-black belt athletes using electronic sensor systems. The purpose of this study is to describe 2020 Armor’s performance variables strike power (PWR), stamina (STA), and reaction time (RXT) for black and non-black belt athletes and to determine if variables are statistically different between black and non-black belt level athletes. METHODS: Healthy black and non-black belt taekwondo athletes (N= 23, 21 ± 5 yrs, BMI: 28.1 ± 8.4 m/kg2) were recruited from a single taekwondo studio. Each participant completed a PWR, STA, and RXT test using a rear-leg roundhouse kick against a chest-worn 2020 Armor electronic sparring unit affixed to a stationary body opponent bag. PWR, STA, and RXT variables were recorded from the 2020 Armor system and mobile application. Differences between black and non-black belts are presented as % difference, and independent samples t-tests were used to determine statistical differences between groups. RESULTS: Black belts generated 9.1% greater average PWR (P>.05), 5.8% greater STA (P>.05), and 12.3% faster RXT (P=.044) than non-black belts. CONCLUSION: The 2020 Armor unit detected differences in PWR, STA, and RXT between black and non-black belts. Only RXT showed a significant difference per group. This information can be valuable for taekwondo instructors in tailoring individual training programs to address specific performance variables associated with sparring and the progression of taekwondo skills.

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