Sport injuries in full contact and semi-contact karate

Karate enjoys great popularity both in professional and recreational sports and can be classified into full, half and low contact styles. The aim of this study was the analysis of sports injuries in Kyokushinkai (full contact) and traditional Karate (semi-contact).

In a retrospective study design, 215 active amateur karateka (114 full contact, 101 semi-contact) were interviewed by means of a standardized questionnaire regarding typical sport injuries during the last 36 months. Injuries were categorized into severity grade I (not requiring medical treatment), grade II (single medical treatment), grade III (several outpatient medical treatments) and grade IV (requiring hospitalization).

In total, 217 injuries were reported in detail. 125 injuries (58%) occurred in full contact and 92 (42%) in semi-contact karate. The time related injury rate of full contact karateka was 1.9/1000 h compared to 1.3/1000 h of semi-contact karateka (p < 0.05). The most common types of injuries were musculoskeletal contusions (33% full contact, 20% semi-contact), followed by articular sprains with 19% and 16%. The lower extremity was affected twice as often in full contact (40%) as in semi-contact (20%) karate. Training injuries were reported by 80% of the full contact and 77% of the semi-contact karateka. Most injuries, both in training and competition, occurred in kumite. 75% of the reported injuries of full contact and 70% of semi-contact karateka were classified as low grade (I or II).

The high rate of injuries during training and kumite (sparring) points to specific prevention goals. The emphasis should be put on proprioceptive training and consistent warm-up. In the actual competition the referees play a vital role regarding prevention.

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.