We are starting a new type of post here at Coloradomanews.com – product reviews. The first product we review is the Strikemeter, reviewed by Master Bill Pottle of the Korean Academy of Taekwondo
The Strikemeter isn’t the first item designed in order to measure how hard a martial artist strikes, but it’s arguably the best. At our school, we have a ‘School Records Board’ where we record the best any student has ever done in categories such as “Most Kicks in 10 seconds” or “Longest Flying Side Kick.” We started this about 7 years ago, and naturally we wanted to know the hardest kick and hardest punch. We purchased a system from an English company named Imp-tec. You can see examples of their products. To be fair, ours was an earlier generation that had the sensor/readout connected to the pad by a wire. The impact would be affected by the holder, so we constructed a wooden vertical platform with sand bags in the base to hold it steady. However, the problem was that the sensor was taking our hardest shots, and soon broke. We sent it back and they fixed it for just shipping, but then we soon broke it again. It appeared that this wasn’t the answer.
A few years later electonic hogus came on the scene. At $500 each they were pricey, but we bought some in order to prepare our competition team. We purchased some from LaJust and they seemed to work fine for their purpose. Being wearable and wireless was cool, and we could beam the results to our dojang’s projection system. However, they faced another problem with regards to our school records board. They were only made to measure a narrow range, and thus many of our students could ‘max out’ the readings. (which also depended on the hogu size) The currently used system is Daedo Truscore, but they face the same problem with respect to maxing out the system.
So enter the Strikemeter. It has been designed in a way that manages to avoid both of the above problems. First of all it is self contained, and you aren’t striking the instrument itself. It simply attaches to the bag via velcro and sits there until you strike. There is an internal accelerometer that measures how the acceleration that occurs after a strike. The units are dimensionless and for our purposes, not particularly important. We just want relative measures that are consistent.
The other thing to notice is that the Strikemeter has a great range. It records weak strikes from children, as well as very strong strikes from 300+ lb black belts. Harder strikes get higher numbers, but it’s hard to say if a strike of 2000 is exactly twice as hard as a strike of 1000. They say that a strike of 400 is about equal to breaking one board, while 1000 is about 3, so there has to be some non-linear relationship.
Some people will be bothered that it doesn’t read out in pounds of force (as the $100,000 crash test dummies used in National Geographic’s Fight Science do) but force itself isn’t really the best measure of a kick. To see more, visit the physics of martial arts 101 presentation. It is important to note, however, that your results won’t correlate with anyone else’s, unless they use the same bag. We even changed a wavemaster top for a BOB and got different results. Measuring the acceleration from the kick is a good step, but it depends on the amount of stuff in the base and to a small extent where on the pad you strike. However, this isn’t a problem for us, as we just require all school records be set on the same bag.
If you max it out too easily or if it doesn’t detect weak strikes for your kids’ class, you can always vary the amount of weight in the base (water/sand/concrete/etc) in order to affect the range.
Using the product couldn’t be easier. There is only one switch. Turn it on and the display reads either CAL (Calibrating) GO (kick!) or the number of the last strike.
We used it in class and found that kids and adults alike love kicking it. We haven’t used it long enough to report on durability, but with the design I seriously doubt that there will be any issues. The unit is powered by one 9V battery (included).
You can purchase a StrikeMeter for $199 (including shipping) at http://www.strikemeter.com/
At this price this device represents a sensible investment for the majority of schools out there. It will easily pay for itself in terms of the excitement it will generate in your intro and regular classes. We will plan to contest a ‘hardest strike’ division at the 2013 Twin Dragons Tournament. The only thing that we would like to see is extra velcro included. For owners of multiple schools, you could take one unit between locations. You wouldn’t need to use it in class every day. We can buy it ourselves, but it represents a pain.
ColoradoMaNews did not receive any consideration for this review.