One of the latest safety studies addressing combat sports, published last month in the journal Australasian Epidemiologist, the author compiled data from a total of 47 observational studies addressing injuries in combat sports. Specifically the author looked for the injury incidence rate, injury patterns and injury severity rates in 6 different sports, namely boxing, judo, karate, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and taekwondo.
The study found that sports with a striking element had the greatest injury rate with MMA leading the pack followed by boxing and the other striking sports and with Judo having the lowest injury rate of the group.
In terms of injury patterns the study found that “The head and neck was the most frequently injured anatomical region in boxing (84%), karate (74%), mixed martial arts (64%), and kickboxing (55%); whereas the lower limb and upper limb were the most frequently anatomical regions in taekwondo (51%) and judo (47%), respectively.”
Lastly, in terms of injury severity the study was lacking data on boxing, MMA and kickboxing. Of the remainign sports the study concluded that “the proportion of moderate to severe injuries (i.e. injuries resulting in more than one week of time lost from play) was 32% in taekwondo. 15% in karate. and 7% in judo.”
I should mention that a recent study published addressing MMA and boxing injury severity rates noting that while MMA had a greater overall injury rate than boxing, boxing injuries tended to be more severe.
The full study can be found here – Epidemiology of injuries in full-contact combat sports
The study included the following helpful visual charts –