All types of martial arts are physically demanding and carry a high rate of personal injury. Martial Arts injuries are incurred by novices and seasoned athletes and cover the gamut from minor to severe. Beginner athletes tend to sustain sprains and soft-tissue injuries in Karate, Mixed Martial Arts and Thai Kick Boxing. When professional fighters get injured they are most likely to incur fractures and life-threatening injuries.

The term “Martial Arts” covers a wide variety of sports that have been practiced for centuries. Each region of the world has its over version of martial art. For example, Tae Kwon Do focuses on kicks and standing techniques; Judo is all about throws and chokes, and Jujitsu has a focus on grappling and forcing the opponent into submission with painful arm and leg locks. “Mixed Martial Arts” is a growing sport that uses techniques from all forms of martial arts; it has very few rules, making it both exciting and dangerous.

Martial Arts Injuries

As more people participate in Martial Arts, the rate of Martial Arts injuries increases. The type and severity of the Martial Arts injuries is fairly consistent across the sub-types although Karate practitioners are more prone to hand injuries, Judo practitioners to joint dislocations and Mixed Martial Arts practitioners to cervical spine injuries.

Martial Arts Injuries Breakdown

Mild Injuries – Most Martial Arts injuries are mild and involve soft-tissue. Examples include contusions and lacerations, joint sprains, mild concussions, and whiplash like injuries.

Moderate Injuries – Moderate Martial Arts injuries include fractures, dislocations, tendon ruptures and neuropraxias (disruption to nerves). Fractures to long bones, pelvis, radial head, and ankles are commonly reported. Blood clots can form from repetitive arm movements. If a fighter experiences pain, swelling and bluish discoloration in their hand, fingers, or arm they are at risk of having a pulmonary embolism and should go to the hospital immediately. “Karate Kid Finger” is a recognized condition wherein the pinky finger receives a contusion from performing karate chops. In bad cases fibrosis occurs and may require surgery.

Severe Injuries – Severe and life-threatening injuries in all forms are a real risk when performing Martial Arts. Severe injuries including damage to internal organs in the abdominal cavity, rib fractures, internal bleeding, paralysis, or air escaping into the chest. Injuries to the spine and head should be taken seriously-if a life threatening or paralyzing injury is suspected, an ambulance should be called immediately.

Preventing Martial Arts Injuries

To some, using safety measures such as head protection, mouth guards, and gloves goes against the ethos of martial arts: combat. More children and adolescent tournaments, however, are introducing safety gear to reduce the number of Martial Arts Injuries. Complete safety gear is much less often used at the adult and professional levels.

Proper training of technique is vital to reducing injuries as is the use of muscle stretching and strengthening exercises. Be sure to enroll your child in a class with an experienced and careful Martial Arts instructor.

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