Skip to main content

Combat athletes compete in many different sports. While some—such as wrestling, boxing, and karate—have been practiced for hundreds or even thousands of years, others, such as mixed martial arts (MMA) and Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ), are new to the scene. (The term "combat sports" describes a competition whose essence consists of direct combat between 2 competing athletes.1 See "Combat Sports and Terminology in Brief" on page 19 for descriptions of different combat sports and definitions of terms.)


Similar to athletes in other pro sports—as well as to tactical athletes, including military personnel, police, and firefighters2—combat sports athletes' continued employment relies on their physical performance and, ideally, avoiding injury. However, the physical demands of combat sports mean that injuries occur more frequently than in other sports. In MMA, for example, a number of studies have found an injury rate of 24-29 per 100 fight participations.3,4

Log in or create a free account to keep reading.

Join APTA to get unlimited access to content.

  1. Noh JW, Park BS, Kim MY, et al. Analysis of combat sports players' injuries according to playing style for sports physiotherapy research. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27:2425-2430.
  2. Ries E. Protecting the protectors. PT in Motion. 2017;9(4):16-25.
  3. Bledsoe GH, Hsu EB, Grabowski JG, et al. Incidence of injury in professional mixed martial arts competitions. J Sports Sci Med. 2006;1(5):136-142.
  4. Ngai KM, Levy F, Hsu EB. Injury trends in sanctioned mixed martial arts competition: a 5-year review from 2002-2007. Br J Sports Med. 2008;42(8):686-689.

You Might Also Like...


Navigating the Job Market as a New Grad During a Pandemic

Nov 18, 2020

Entering the profession as a PT or PTA during a pandemic is something none of us has experienced.


APTA Analysis: The Value of Physical Therapy in Wound Care

Oct 30, 2020

PTs and PTAs can play a major role in wound care. This analysis takes a closer look at relevant interventions and practice settings.


Electrophysiology and Wound Care

Aug 1, 2020

PTs explain what the two disciplines are, how they’re related, and their importance to all PTs and PTAs, and their patients.