Staying injury free in the martial arts

Training and competing in martial arts is like any other sport in that it can result in a wide range of injuries. Different types of martial arts may be more likely to result in certain injuries, however there are things you can do to give yourself the best chance of staying injury free.

Martial arts training should take place in a fun and safe environment, although there is a chance any of the following could be suffered -

Skin Injuries:

Cuts and bruises are fairly common injuries among martial artists. Friction burns can also occur when grappling, wrestling or sparring. Combat these injuries by wearing suitable clothing and protective equipment.

Facial Injuries:

Striking and grappling sports can result in minor injuries like cuts, bruises and lacerations. More rarely, you might experience fractures to the nose or cheek. This type of injury could be minimized by proper training and coaching, and use of the correct protective equipment.

Neck Injuries:

Bruising and abrasions to the neck are most common. However, some martial arts, such as jujitsu and MMA allow choking techniques. It's vital to understand the risks of martial arts and to learn them strictly under appropriate supervision and professional guidance.

Muscular Injuries:

Martial arts are extreme sports with extreme movements. Quick and maximal movements such as high kicks are likely to result in strained and pulled muscles. Avoid these injuries by ensuring a thorough and specific warm up and cool down before and after training.


Fractures and joint dislocations are less common in martial arts, but can occur. Styles that include joint locks and throwing may be higher in risk. Injuries can be minimized with ensuring the correct technique is used, and there is proper supervision at all times.


Styles that emphasise striking and throwing may be more likely to result in concussions. By wearing the correct safety equipment, this risk could be minimised. Any person with symptoms of concussion should be removed from training and evaluated by a health care professional as soon as possible.

You can minimise your martial arts injury risk in the following ways:

  • Learn the common risks associated with your style of martial art - try to combat them!

  • Train under the supervision of an experienced teacher at all times - and check they are qualified!

  • Ensure you conduct a thorough warm up and cool down routine - don't attempt high kicks before stretching!

  • Always wear appropriate protective equipment in your style of martial art - check with your instructor!

  • Speak with a sports science professional (physio) if you have any concerns about injuries - you could also ask your martial arts coach!