Study – 34% of Competitors Injured During Army Combatives Tournaments

Adding to this site’s archives of combative sports safety studies a recent article was published in the journal of Military Medicine reviewing the injury and disability rate following Army Combatives Tournaments (a competition very similar to MMA).

In the recent study, titled Injuries Sustained During Modern Army Combatives Tournaments, the authors reviewed records from 195 MAC competitors with a view to documenting injury severity and duration.  The study found 34% of the participants sustained some level of injury with 14% suffering injury leading to some level of disability.  The average length of disability was one month for those in the latter category.  Unsurprisingly the study found that the competition classes with more restrictive rules led to a lower injury rate.

The full abstract reads as follows:


Injuries sustained during Modern Army Combatives (MAC) tournaments can result in variable recovery time for involved competitors and unpredictable loss of readiness for military units. A paucity of MAC data is available to guide military medical providers and unit commanders on expected injuries or loss of readiness. Literature reviewing mixed martial arts competitions offers some insight but demonstrates variation in fight outcomes resulting in injuries ranging from 8.5% to 70% and it is difficult to effectively extrapolate such data to predict MAC tournament injuries.

Materials and Methods

This study retrospectively reviews pre- and post-competition medical records from two MAC tournaments held at Fort Hood in 2014 and 2015 to provide descriptive clinical information on injury patterns to practitioners and military commanders.


Records from a total of 195 competitors with a mean age of 24.4 yr were analyzed with a total of 67 injuries, 29 of which resulted in duty limitations (14.8% of participants). Competitors participating in less-restrictive mixed martial arts style fighting (Advanced MAC) were 4.3 times more likely to sustain an injury than those limited to upper body grappling events (95% confidence interval 2.30–8.16). Military Acute Concussion Evaluations were reliably recorded both pre- and post-competition in 44% of total participants with no significant statistical difference between pre- and post-tournament evaluations. Duty profile limitations of injured competitors averaged 1 mo in duration.


MAC tournaments result in injury rates comparable with other combative sports and military training courses.

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