In martial arts, the creativity is reflected in the capability to effectively (i.e., with high force) perform a high number of techniques and variations within these techniques [1]. The development of new and effective actions requires exploratory behaviour [2]. Hence, ways to enhance exploration seems beneficial in martial arts.

Exploration of different actions can be characterised as either flexible or persistent [3]. Flexible exploratory behaviour can be indicated by the tendency during practice to use different techniques (high between-technique variability), whereas persistent exploratory behaviour can be indicated by a tendency to use the same technique(s) (high within-technique variability). Each exploration type may well support the development of creative actions, and they may also interplay to contribute collectively to creative solutions over time [2]. For instance, an individual might initially develop many different techniques using a flexible exploration strategy, and then go on to use a persistent search strategy- such as to evaluate or refine the effectiveness of the previous actions [4]. In order to support these processes, the individual can use feedback about the outcome of their action. Indeed, making feedback available to the individual can improve the rate of learning.

Unfortunately, little is known about how feedback influences the development of creative actions. Recently, new methods have been developed that provide feedback about the impact force of strikes. However, no study to date has examined how feedback about force influences exploratory behaviour and improves the development of creative actions in combat sports. This information would be useful for all coaches that are searching for (scientific) methods to enhance their athletes’ exploratory behaviour and subsequently enhance creativity and performance.

Research question

The aim of this research is to examine the effect of feedback on exploratory behaviour.

Method and design

At least 21 elite Karate athletes will perform two 30 min practice sessions with an instrumented boxing bag that registers and provides feedback about impact force. In one session force feedback will be made available to participants, and in the other no feedback will be available. Recordings of the sessions will be used in self-confrontation interviews to obtain within- and between-technique variability data. This data will be analysed to see the effect of feedback on the within- and between variability, and therefore on the exploratory behaviour of the martial artists.


  1. Milazzo, N., Farrow, D., Ruffault, A., & Fournier, J. F. (2016). Do karate fighters use situational probability information to improve decision-making performance during on-mat tasks? Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(16), 1547-1556.
  2. Orth, D., van der Kamp, J., Memmert, D., & Savelsbergh, G. J. (2017). Creative motor actions as emerging from movement variability. Frontiers in psychology, 8.
  3. Nijstad, B. A., De Dreu, C. K., Rietzschel, E. F., & Baas, M. (2010). The dual pathway to creativity model: Creative ideation as a function of flexibility and persistence. European Review of Social Psychology, 21(1), 34-77.
  4. Beaty, R. E., Benedek, M., Silvia, P. J., & Schacter, D. L. (2016). Creative cognition and brain network dynamics. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(2), 87-95.