J. Macan, D. Bundalo-Vrbanac, and G. Romici
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2006; 40:326-330
This study evaluated the incidence and distribution of injuries in karate before and after the implementation of new rules established by the World Karate Federation in 2000.
Injury incidence was followed up during the official karate competition seasons of 1997 and 2002 in Croatia. A questionnaire was used to collect data on the age and sex of the competitor, and localization and severity of injury. Data were analyzed separately for female and male competitors and age categories <18 and ≥18 years.
The overall injury incidence rate was similar in 1997 and 2002. The relative risk of injury was significantly higher in 1997 than in 2002 for competitors younger than 18 years. The overall relative risk of head injury was significantly higher in 1997 than in 2002, but the relative risk of leg injury was significantly lower in 1997 than in 2002. Most injuries were categorized as mild in both periods studied.
Conclusions. The results confirm the importance of the new competition rules in the distribution and prevention of injuries in martial arts. Strict judging and heavy penalties for uncontrolled blows, particularly for the youngest competitors, can significantly decrease the risk of injury.