Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Mixed Martial Arts Injuries Presenting to United States Emergency Departments, 2008–2015

Caroline Stephenson, Matthew E. Rossheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Limited research has systematically examined injuries resulting from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Judo, and mixed martial arts (MMA), especially when compared to more well-known or -established martial arts. These three combative sports differ substantially regarding their rules and techniques. BJJ emphasizes ground positioning and submission, Judo rewards throwing an opponent on their back with submission ending the match, and MMA emphasizes knocking out or forcing the submission of one’s opponent. We examined injuries, among people of any age, experienced from participation in BJJ, Judo, and MMA. We analyzed data from the United States (U.S.) Consumer Product Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to create estimates of injuries presenting to U.S. emergency departments (EDs). We compared injury profiles between sports, including estimated numbers of injuries, their site, type, and mechanism. Participation in BJJ, Judo, and MMA resulted in an estimated 39,181 injuries presenting to U.S. EDs from 2008 through 2015. Strains and sprains were the most common diagnoses for BJJ and Judo participants, whereas abrasions/contusions were the most commonly diagnosed MMA injury. Being struck resulted in the majority of injuries for all three sports. The head was the most injured body region for BJJ and MMA, whereas the leg was the most injured body region for Judo. Finally, the majority of BJJ and Judo injuries occurred during noncompetitive grappling, whereas most MMA injuries occurred during competition. Our study adds to the limited literature examining injuries from BJJ, Judo, and MMA using data from a probability sample and is an initial step towards understanding the national burden of injury from participation in these sports. Given the quantity and severity of injuries sustained by participants, additional research is needed to assess the riskiness of participation and the effectiveness of interventions, such as improved personal protective gear and mats, as a means to prevent commonly occurring injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-435
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)
  • Judo
  • Mixed martial arts (MMA)


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