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Open Access Research article

Characteristics of martial art injuries in a defined Canadian population: a descriptive epidemiological study

Mark McPherson1 and William Pickett12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada

2 Department of Emergency Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:795  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-795

Published: 30 December 2010



The martial arts have emerged as common activities in the Canadian population, yet few studies have investigated the occurrence of associated injuries on a population basis.


We performed such an investigation and suggest potential opportunities for prevention. The data source was 14 years (1993 to 2006) of records from the Kingston sites of the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP).


920 cases were identified. Incidence rates were initially estimated using census data as denominators. We then imputed annual injury rates per 10000 using a range of published estimates of martial arts participation available from a national survey. Rates of injury in males and females were 2300 and 1033 per 10000 (0.3% participation) and 575 and 258 per 10000 (1.2% participation). Injuries were most frequently reported in karate (33%) and taekwondo (14%). The most common mechanisms of injury were falls, throws and jumps (33%). Fractures (20%) were the most frequently reported type of injury and the lower limb was the most common site of injury (41%).


Results provide a foundation for potential interventions with a focus on falls, the use of weapons, participation in tournaments, as well as head and neck trauma.