Martial arts injuries

Med Sport Sci. 2005:48:59-73. doi: 10.1159/000084283.


Objective: To review the current evidence for the epidemiology of pediatric injuries in martial arts.

Data sources: The relevant literature was searched using SPORT DISCUS (keywords: martial arts injuries, judo injuries, karate injuries, and taekwondo injuries and ProQuest (keywords: martial arts, taekwondo, karate, and judo), as well as hand searches of the reference lists.

Main results: In general, the absolute number of injuries in girls is lower than in boys. However, when expressed relative to exposure, the injury rates of girls are higher. Injuries by body region reflect the specific techniques and rules of the martial art. The upper extremities tend to get injured more often in judo, the head and face in karate and the lower extremities in taekwondo. Activities engaged in at the time of injury included performing a kick or being thrown in judo, while punching in karate, and performing a roundhouse kick in taekwondo. Injury type tends to be martial art specific with sprains reported in judo and taekwondo and epistaxis in karate. Injury risk factors in martial arts include age, body weight and exposure.

Conclusions: Preventive measures should focus on education of coaches, referees, athletes, and tournament directors. Although descriptive research should continue, analytical studies are urgently needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arm Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Facial Injuries / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / injuries*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors