Safety recommendations in Shotokan karate

Clin J Sport Med. 2000 Apr;10(2):117-22. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200004000-00006.


Objective: To study risk factors for injury in karate and to establish safety recommendations.

Design: Cross-sectional survey of karate injuries.

Setting: Shotokan karate clubs in Boston, Massachusetts, Dallas, Texas, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Participants: All athletes training at each club received surveys. A total of 114 surveys were analyzed (74% response rate).

Main outcome measures: Presence of injuries (requiring any time off from practice), major injuries (requiring at least 7 days off), and multiple injuries (3 or more injuries).

Results: No statistically significant differences were found with respect to sex. For all outcomes, karateka younger than 18 years of age had fewer injuries. The number of karateka with injuries and with multiple injuries increased with belt rank until brown belt, then reached a plateau. Brown and black belts had a greater frequency of major injuries than the lower ranks. Training more than 3 hours per week correlated with an increase in injuries, major injuries, and multiple injuries.

Conclusion: Shotokan karate appears to be a safe sport, especially for those younger than 18 years of age. Risk of injury increases significantly when younger karateka of any rank or older karateka of lower ranks train more than 3 hours per week; therefore, to reduce the risk of injury to less than 50%, weekly training should be limited to a maximum of 3 hours in these groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / injuries*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety*
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology