The purpose of this study was to investigate trunk and knee strength in practitioners of hard-style martial arts. An additional objective was to examine reaction times in these participants by measuring simple reaction times (SRT), choice reaction times (CRT) and movement times (MT). Thirteen high-level martial artists and twelve sedentary participants were tested under isokinetic and isometric conditions on an isokinetic dynamometer. Response and movement times were also measured in response to simple and choice auditory cues. Results indicated that the martial arts group generated a greater body-weight adjusted peak torque with both legs at all speeds during isokinetic extension and flexion, and in isometric extension but not flexion. In isokinetic and isometric trunk flexion and extension, martial artists tended to have higher peak torques than controls, but they were not significantly different (p > 0.05). During the SRT and CRT tasks the martial artists were no quicker in lifting their hand off a button in response to the stimulus [reaction time (RT)] but were significantly faster in moving to press another button [movement time (MT)]. In conclusion, the results reveal that training in a martial art increases the strength of both the flexors and extensors of the leg. Furthermore, they have faster movement times to auditory stimuli. These results are consistent with the physical aspects of the martial arts. Key PointsMartial artists undertaking hard-style martial arts have greater strength in their knee flexor and extensor muscles as tested under isokinetic testing. Under isometric testing conditions they have stronger knee extensors only.The trunk musculature is generally higher under both conditions of testing in the martial artists, although not significantly.The total reaction times of the martial artists to an auditory stimulus were significantly faster than the control participants. When analysed further it was revealed that the decrease in reaction time was due to the movement time component of the total reaction time.The training involved for the practice of the hard-style martial arts increases the strength of muscles involved in kicking. This increased strength is not seen in the trunk muscles. Furthermore, martial artists have a faster response time; the cause of which appears to be only the faster movement time.