The Science Of Striking


Physical Preparation for Stand Up Combat Athletes

BRIEF REVIEW: PREVALENCE OF KNEE INJURIES IN BJJ 

  The knee is a common site of injury in many sports, including combat sports. Due to the direct stress to knee structures during submission attempts, the prevalence of knee injury in Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ) is thought to be high. This study aimed to evaluate the epidemiology of knee injuries in BJJ and compare this to other sports.    198 BJJ athletes answered a mixed questionnaire based on the Referred Morbidity Instrument. A musculoskeletal injury was defined as any event that causes absence from training or competition for > 1 week, change to training habits for >2weeks, or results in

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BRIEF REVIEW: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NUTRITION EDUCATION AND RAPID WEIGHT LOSS

Cutting weight safely is a critical element of performance and health in combat sports. It is often thought that athletes who are better educated in the science and practice are both able to cut weight more safely and with less impact on their performance, and also keep their weight closer to the division limits and therefore reduce the amount that they have to cut.    This authors of this study took 63 English male amateur boxers and had them fill out the Nutritional Knowledge Questionnaire for Athletes (NKQA) and the Rapid Weight Loss Patterns Questionnaire (RWL-Q), which assesses the frequency

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THE IMPORTANCE OF TRANSVERSE PLANE MOBILITY IN ROTATIONAL SPORTS

When we analyse the kinetic chain motion of the punch, there is an obvious contribution from the rotation of the hips and trunk. More proficient punchers tend to have superior utilization of these rotational elements, as the greater movement that occurs allows for greater force production and also allows the athlete to function more within their limits of range, where they likely exhibit greater strength and power. While this may be simply due to technical proficiency, it is also hypothesized that range of motion may also be an important contributing factor.   Sometimes it is useful to utilise knowledge from

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REHABILITATIVE EXERCISE: WHAT ARE WE ACTUALLY TRYING TO ACHIEVE

Most individuals, be they athletes or general population patients, understand that exercise is the most important factor in the rehabilitation of most musculoskeletal disorders. However, different types of exercises serve different purposes in the rehabilitation process, and we as health care providers (myself included) often fail to fully explain these purposes.   Within our model, we talk about different types of load that can contribute to an injury and that need to be addressed in rehabilitation. Our assessment of these different types of load will dictate how we go about our exercise prescription.   Direct, tissue-specific load. This is where

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BRIEF REVIEW: OPTIMAL AROUSAL FOR FIGHT PERFORMANCE

In any competitive activity, an athlete must have an optimal level of psychological arousal to facilitate ideal performance. It is thought that higher anxiety and harm avoidance is associated with poorer performance in combat sports. It is also thought that certain genetic psychological traits, in particular the behavioural response to stress, are associated with greater sports performance. In this study, 46 italian karate athletes underwent genomic DNA 5HTTLPR polymorphism testing, as well as a personality questionnaire (TPQ). They then participated in a match, with cortisol levels (used as a proxy for anxiety levels) measured 10 minutes before and 10 minutes

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BRIEF REVIEW: LONG-TERM HEAD IMPACT – EFFECT ON BALANCE

A history of sports-related head trauma may be associated with long-term neurological deficits. As such, methods to monitor certain aspects of neurological function in combat athletes could provide useful information and optimise the integration of protective strategies.   This was another great study from @  ‘s group out of Victoria University in British Columbia. 67 participants, including 19 striking combat sports (MMA, kickboxing, muay thai) athletes, 25 athletes from non-striking combat sports and other sports, and 23 active controls, underwent testing on an electronic balance board. Participants who had sustained head trauma in the prior 3 days or had been

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BRIEF REVIEW: METHODS OF MEASURING PUNCHING POWER

As striking power is a key characteristic for success in combat sports involving striking, measurement of this quality is useful for assessing the outcome of training interventions. The authors of this paper conducted a review of the current literature pertaining to assessment of punching force.  9 papers between 2000 and 2021 were included in the review, totalling 160 participants. Although all of these methods were shown to be reliable, due to the significant differences in methodology, results from the different methods cannot be compared. Therefore, future research should look into a comparison of different methods.  Akbaş, Anna, Anna Brachman, Bartłomiej

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OPTIMAL RESISTANCE TRAINING LOAD FOR PUNCHING POWER

Maximising punching power is a major goal of striking combat athletes, and as such, optimising training methods to achieve this goal is critically important. Performing resistance training at optimal power loads (the load that maximizes power output) has been shown to improve punching power in previous longitudinal studies. However, the results of these studies may be confounded due to possible improvements from technical practice etc. The authors in this study sought to investigate whether improvements in power output with resistance training exercises over the course of one microcycle would correlate with an improvement in punching power 8 male Brazilian national

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PHYSIOLOGICAL DEMANDS FOLLOWING TKD RULE CHANGES

Rule changes are periodically made in sports, often to reduce the incidence of injury or make the sport more spectator-friendly. From a sports performance perspective, it is important to understand the changes in physiological demands that may occur secondary to a rule change.  In 2017, several rule changes were made by World Taekwondo, including raising the severity of penalties for specific non-fighting activities and overuse of “phantom striking,” raising the scoring of kicks delivered to the torso from 1 to 2 points, and limiting the amount of fouls causing disqualification from 10 to 5.  The authors in this study analysed

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BRIEF REVIEW: HEAD AND NECK INJURY IN JUDO

Having an understanding of injury epidemiology in a specific sport is important for athletes, coaches and medical professionals. The authors of this paper conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of the rates and nature of injuries in competitive judoka.  Due to the diverse nature of the studies and the types of injuries included, it was difficult for the authors to reach a consensus around the rates of different types of injuries. However, whilst less severe injuries such as strains and sprains were commonly reported, an alarming finding was that head and neck injuries were described as the most commonly

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BRIEF REVIEW: AEROBIC AND ANAEROBIC PERFORMANCE IN BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a sport that relies heavily on both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Having population-specific data in terms of athletic performance variables can aid in designing and implementing sports performance programs.  12 BJJ athletes (including national and international level competitors) were assessed using:  Squat jump, countermovement jump, plyometric push up Lower (running) and upper (cycle ergometer) body graded aerobic test Lower and upper body wingate anaerobic test  Average results from the tests were as follows: Squat jump 37.8cm Countermovement jump 41.5cm Plyometric push up 15.7cm Lower body anaerobic peak power 11.9 W/kg Upper body anaerobic peak

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BRIEF REVIEW: PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSES AND BOUT ANALYSIS IN KICKBOXERS

Analysis of physiological responses during actual competition provide a more accurate representation of the demands of the sport, and as such are more useful in guiding training interventions. This study measured the heart rate and lactate concentration of 15 international-level athletes during 3x2min kickboxing bouts conducted under K1 rules. A technical analysis of each match was also performed.  Average heart rate was 97.5 bpm at baseline (after warm up), rose to between 178.2 after round 1, 182.1 after round 2, and 185 after round 3. Heart rate failed to return to baseline 8 minutes after the bout.  Average lactate concentration

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BRIEF REVIEW: TELEGRAPHING OF KICKING TECHNIQUES

The average reaction time of combat athletes is >500ms, which is much slower than the speed of a punch (200s) or kick (260s). Because of this, athletes must rely on detection of initiation signals in order to defend or counter attack. These early cues are also known as “telegraphs” (TGs). It is also known that more experienced athletes focus on more proximal body segments of their opponents. As a result of this, athletes need to decrease the extent to which they perform these TGs, whilst maintaining biomechanical efficacy and effectiveness of their technique. The aim of this study was to

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TAEKWONDO-SPECIFIC CARDIOPULMONARY TEST 

There has been a rapid increase in the number of combat sports-specific fitness tests being assessed in research environments and utilised in the field. This should in theory lead to more accurate assessment of sports-specific performance and optimised program design.  The researchers in this study sought to investigate the validity of a taekwondo (TKD)-specific cardiopulmonary test, and compare it to a traditional cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) and a continuous TKD-specific exercise test.  15 competitive male TKD athletes performed 3 different protocols on separate days, separated by 2-7 days. A portable gas analyser was used to measure VO2 and heart rate

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PREVALENCE OF EYE INJURIES IN MMA

Eye injuries are a common occurrence in mixed martial arts (MMA) due to the frequency and diversity of head attacks, the size of the gloves used, and the fact that the fingers are uncovered, leading to the potential for illegal eye pokes. This study sought to investigate the occurrence and characteristics of eye injuries in mixed martial arts. The researchers analysed all professional MMA event data from the Nevada state athletic commission between 2001 and 2020.  2208 fights were recorded from 256 events. Eye injuries were reported in 73% of events for a total of 369 eye injuries. The rate

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BRIEF REVIEW: THE EFFECT OF JUDO COMPETITION AREA ON PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSE

The environment within which an athletic event takes place can influence the physiological and psychological response of competitors, therefore influencing performance. Changes in competition area may force technical and tactical changes, therefore increasing or decreasing output and effort, and may also change perceived pressure. This study assessed the rate of perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate and blood lactate response of 20 elite female judoka to a 4m sparring bout on different mat sizes (4x4m, 6x6m, 8x8m), as well as with 3 different work:rest ratios (Self-selected (free), 2:1, 3:1). The free condition was hypothesised to result in a lower work:rest ratio,

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BRIEF REVIEW: THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN BOXING-RELATED HEAD INJURY PREVENTION

Boxing is characterized by repeated head contact, and participation results in increased risk of head and brain injury. The occurrence of these injuries is correlated with the number of punches received to the head during training and competition. Furthermore, the number of hits received to the head during competition negatively impacts judging criteria and therefore match results.  Researchers in Japan have created a motion-capture software system (the FTS, or Fist Tactics Support) specifically designed to measure the number of different types of strikes landed, and the type of defensive movements used when then these strikes are landed. They conducted a

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Rapid weight loss and kidney function

Rapid weight loss (RWL) is commonplace in most combat sports in order to gain a perceived competitive advantage over opponents. Despite this, strong concerns remain regarding the safety for athletes undergoing this process. As the main mechanism of rapid weight loss is dehydration, it makes sense that the kidneys are placed under a significant degree of stress. This systematic review aimed to synthesize the current evidence in relation to the impact of rapid weight loss in combat sports athletes on kidney function. A total of 10 studies, including 171 athletes from judo, TKD, MMA, muay thai and wrestling were included

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ACROMIOCLAVICULAR JOINT PART 3 – REHABILITATION

As with most orthopedic conditions, the rehab process involves settling the area down, then building back up. So once symptoms have settled, we need to reintroduce painful movements gradually, being guided by pain response after training.  With our resistance training, we want to ensure that we have an adequate balance between pushing and pulling exercises. This is essentially to avoid exposing the joint to excessive loading in each direction, and also to maintain strength balance around the joint. Initially we want to avoid exercises crossing the midline of the body, which tend to strain the AC joint. Pressing options such

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ACROMIOCLAVICULAR JOINT PART 2 – Pain management

Acute management of AC joint pain resolves around relative deloading. This may be in the form of decreased training volume and/or intensity, or training modification. Athletes may need to avoid techniques/angles that cause the greatest aggravation. Body shots (where the arm is at a lower height than the shoulder upon impact), and hooks in particular can place stress on this area. A change in equipment (i.e. changing from mitts to paddles, changing to a lighter bag/water bag, even using large gloves) may also help allow the area to settle, before building loading back up again.  Taping of the area may

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ACROMIOCLAVICULAR JOINT PART 1 – CAUSES

The acromioclavicular joint (where the acromion, the tip of the shoulder blade (scapula) articulates with the collarbone) is a common area of pain in the sporting population. The AC joint consists of 3 ligaments; the inferior and superior acromioclavicular (AC) ligaments, and the coracoacromial (CC) ligament (which consists of the conoid and trapezoid ligaments). The joint essentially acts as a pivot point to aid in scapular and shoulder motion.  Whilst acute injuries to this area are typically associated with direct trauma (falls onto the shoulder, collisions in contact field sports), AC joint pain in combat sport athletes, particularly striking athletes,

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 5 – Indirect, Systemic Load

This last post in the series will discuss indirect, systemic load, and like direct systemic load, will separate this into physiological and psychological.  PHYSIOLOGICAL The factors we consider this bucket are sleep and nutrition. If a fighter lacks sleep, they will be under-recovered, have reduced capacity to tolerate training loads, and at a higher chance of injury. For athletes with busy lives outside sport with work, study, family, etc., who are struggling to fit in adequate sleep, training loads should be adjusted to allow optimal benefit from their training. Athletes struggling with sleep quality need to address their sleep hygiene

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 4 – Direct, Systemic Load

The last two posts discussed tissue-specific load. This post will discuss direct systemic load, and we will break this into physiological and psychological. PHYSIOLOGICAL We’ve discussed previously how training load can cause overuse in the injured tissue and lead to pain. However, a rapid increase in overall training load may also lead to injury in an area not specifically related to increased load. Let’s say for example an athlete is 8 weeks out from a fight, and they introduce swimming 3 times per week to their S&C program as additional energy systems work. Following this they develop lower back pain

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 3 – Indirect, Tissue-Specific Load

In the last post we discussed the impact of direct tissue specific load on back pain. In this post we discuss indirect tissue-specific load, which basically refers to biomechanics, technique and equipment.  BIOMECHANICS In this context, we use the term biomechanics to describe the movements at joints and the force produced by muscles around the injured area. If we use the example of a fighter who experiences pain with large volumes of punching, we can break down the biomechanics of that technique to ascertain what may be increasing stress on the lower back. When we perform a punch, we need

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 2 – Direct, Tissue-Specific Load

In the first post we discussed how different types of load can contribute to an athlete’s back pain. In this post we will discuss the first of these, direct, tissue-specific load.  Tissue-specific load essentially refers to the actual tissue that has been identified or hypothesised as the origin of the pain. In some areas of the body, the specific tissue can be easily identified. If we land an odd punch and feel sharp pain in a specific area of the hand and imaging reveals a fracture in that area, we know specifically which tissue is causing the pain. With the

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 1

Low back pain (LBP) is the most common orthopedic complaint in general practice and is also extremely common in sporting populations, including combat sports athletes. There are countless methods of treating LBP described in the research, clinical practice environments, and lay media. We approach the treatment of LBP, as with any musculoskeletal issue, with an analysis of relevant load. Load is essentially any type of stress that is applied to the system (i.e. the human being who is affected by their condition) that has the potential to influence pain. You can see from the first figure the different types of

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MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE vs MAXIMUM RECOVERABLE VOLUME

When considering the greater purpose of the training process, we should be aiming to make sustainable, long-term improvements over the lifespan of the individual athlete. Because of this, the training stimulus needs to be appropriate for their chronological age and training age. When we are working with a relative novice athlete, we want to use the minimum effective dose to elicit adaptation. The further a person progresses into their training journey, the greater the stimulus required to produce gains, until, at a very high level, progress will essentially plateau. So essentially the return on investment from training decreases over time.

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UPPER LIMB BONE STRENGTH

Let another reason to encourage martial arts participation in children! Bone density and bone strength is a critical component of musculoskeletal health, and becomes increasingly important as we age. We know that activity, and in particular high intensity weight-bearing activity such as jumping, has a positive impact on bone density, and that the window for optimal bone deformation is in the pre-pubescent period (Kannus et al., 1995). We also know that these changes can last for decades after the individual has ceased that particular activity (Warden et al., 2005). Many of these activities, however, involve primarily loading of the lower

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THE IMPORTANCE OF CROSS EDUCATION

I am a big fan of the cross education effect, and use it often in the rehabilitation setting.  Past research has shown that resistance training on one limb may enhance strength levels on the other, and that when the other limb is immobilized (which would usually lead to a decrease in strength and muscle mass), strength and size is maintained.  This study sought to investigate the differences in the cross education effect between eccentric-only training and eccentric-concentric training. 18 men and 12 women underwent immobilisation of their non-dominant arm for 4 weeks. The participants were randomly assigned to 3 groups;

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WEIGHT CUTTING IN SAMBO ATHLETES

Russian sambo was the official sport of the USSR prior to 1940, and has produced a long list of high-level mixed martial arts performers, none more notable than current UFC P4P king Khabib Nurmegomedov. This was the first study to date looking at rapid weight loss (RWL) practices specifically in sambo athletes, and was based on rapid weight loss questionnaire data from the 2020 world sambo championships in Serbia. 199 (132 male, 67 female) athletes participated in the study. The athletes on average cut weight 4.14 times in the last season, cut on average 5.27kg (8% body mass), regained on

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COGNITIVE IMPACT POST-CONCUSSION

Head injuries are arguably the most serious injuries in mixed martial arts (MMA). Recurrent head trauma is thought to be associated with an increased risk of the development of neurodegenerative disease, and is the primary cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). As MMA as a sport is still in its relative infancy, research into long-term brain health of athletes is scarce. This systematic review looked at 30 studies of head injuries in MMA and their relationship to cognitive impairments/brain damage. Head injuries accounted for 58-78% of all injuries, with between 29.1 and 34% of athletes reporting having been KO’d/TKO’d in

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EARLY WEIGH-IN IN MMA – EFFECTIVE OR NOT?

Weight cutting in combat sports, including mixed martial arts (MMA), is a huge issue of debate due to the health risks to the athletes undergoing this practice. In 2016 the California state athletic commission changed their weigh-in process to allow athletes to weigh in 30 hours prior to their bout, rather than the customary 24 hours. This was termed the Early Weigh-in Policy (EWIP). Other measures included banning the use of intravenous rehydration, and allowing physicians to assess the athletes for signs of dehydration. The aim of these changes were to decrease the use of severe hydration techniques, ensure healthy

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CAFFEINE SUPPLEMENTATION IN GRAPPLING

Caffeine supplementation has been shown to be effective in improving performance in strength, endurance and repeat high-intensity exercise. Although the use of caffeine supplementation in combat sports has increased since it was removed from the WADA prohibited substance list, the effects of caffeine specific to combat sports have yet to be investigated.  Caffeine is thought to improve performance by increasing calcium release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, increasing motor unit recruitment, increasing glycolytic energy system contribution, as well as acting on adenosine receptors to decrease perceived exertion.  10 national level judo and BJJ athletes underwent two separate, randomized testing trials, in

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WHY DIAGNOSTIC LABELS MATTER

When athletes present to us with orthopedic-related pain, it is our duty to provide them with the most thorough and appropriate explanation of their problem, in order to facilitate the optimal management plan. Part of this involves providing a working diagnosis with which to classify the problem, base our interventions, and effectively communicate with other medical and health professionals.    Older, more biomedical models of pain focused on structural diagnoses, given the best information available at the time. Unfortunately, the science behind many diagnostic labels has been questioned, and in some cases, disproven, however such terms have remained commonplace in

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HOW EFFECTIVE ARE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Many individuals use the early part of the year to set goals for the year ahead. The goal setting process can be conducted in a number of different ways. A recent study looked to assess the effect of different types of goal setting on desired outcomes. ⅔ of the goals were related to health, fitness, weight loss or nutrition.  1,066 Swedish participants were separate into groups based on the degree of support provided: No support Some support, who were given information about the importance of social support, and provided with monthly follow-ups. Extended support, who were, in addition, provided with

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HEADGUARDS IN OLYMPIC BOXING

In 2013 the international boxing association (AIBA) prohibited the use of headguards for male olympic boxing competitions, claiming that the use of headguards promoted a false sense of security and risk taking behaviour, and may actually lead to greater head injuries. However, there is still the possibility that headguards decrease direct impact and help protect against cuts and haematomas.  The aim of this study was to summarise the current literature regarding the impact of headguards on injury risk in boxing. 39 papers were included in the review.  Across the studies there was a large discrepancy in reported concussion rates, making

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ALTERED VESTIBULAR FUNCTION IN COMBAT SPORTS ATHLETES

Combat sports such as MMA, boxing, and other striking sports involve a high incidence of traumatic impact to the head, which can result in acute alteration in function, as well as the possibility of long-term negative sequelae. Altered vestibular function is thought to be a common factor in the symptoms of acute concussion. The vestibular system is important for perception of head movement, and stabilization and orientation of the body in response to this, as well as being involved in autonomic regulation of heart rate.  In this study, researchers used electrical vestibular stimulation (EVS) to measure vestibular contributions to balance

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BRIEF REVIEW: COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN DIFFERENT COMBAT SPORTS ATHLETES

Preparedness for sport depends on a number of different cognitive factors, and it is believed that the manifestations of athlete’s readiness for sport may be different among athletes from different combat sports backgrounds. This study sought to identify links between neurodynamic and cognitive functions among athletes practicing different martial arts. 28 wrestlers, 34 judokas, and 23 boxers underwent tests to identify nonverbal intelligence, comparison of numbers and speed of perception. Wrestlers demonstrated the greatest visual analysis ability as well as the lowest processing time, followed by judokas. Impulsiveness (the ability of the nervous system to quickly shift during excitation and

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BRIEF REVIEW: The Effect of Long Haul Travel on Athletic Performance

Elite athletes often have to travel long distances to compete, and many times have to perform with little time to recover. This review looked at the research regarding the effect of long haul travel on athletic performance. 14 studies were identified relating to soccer, skeleton, gymnastics, wheelchair basketball, rugby league and rowing, and assessed psychometric markers, physiological markers and performance markers.  Whilst most athletes reported feeling jet lagged following long haul (LH) flights, measures such as wellness, mood and recovery-stress questionnaires were not affected.  Some studies showed disturbances in heart rate variability, salivary cortisol and melatonin levels, blood pressure. In

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BRIEF REVIEW: STRENGTH TRAINING FOR JUNIOR JUDO ATHLETES

Judo is a martial art/sport consisting of repeated bursts of high-intensity effort over a relatively short (4 min) period of time (more in the case of an extension). As such, improvements in muscular strength and power are likely to improve judo performance. Many different types of physical preparation programs have been used to improve performance in Judo in adults, however this study sought to look at the effects of strength and conditioning programs on judo performance in cadet athletes.   16 experienced judo athletes aged 15-17 were randomised into a control group, which completed an average of 360 minutes/week of judo

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BRIEF REVIEW: SUBMISSION RATES IN MODERN MMA

Joint lock submissions and strangulations/chokes account for a large number of finishes in mixed martial arts (MMA). The percentage of UFC matches ending in submission between 1993 and 2002 was 30%. This study aimed to review the statistics from recent MMA events.  The fight outcomes from a total of 1903 bouts from 167 UFC events between 2014 and 2017 were analysed. From this data, it was observed that 47.7% (male)/62.9% (female) of bouts ended in decision, 17.3(male)21.1%(female) by submission, and 32.2%(male)/15.4%(female) by KO/TKO. The most submissions occurred in the male fly, bantam and light and female straw weight divisions and

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POTENTIATION AND RECOVERY STRATEGIES IN BOXING

Both pre-conditioning and recovery strategies are frequently utilised by athletes from a large range of sports, however minimal research exists in terms of their prevalence amongst boxers.  The authors of this paper administered a questionnaire to 101 boxers of 2 different levels (senior elite and senior development) regarding their pre-conditioning and recovery habits.  Pre-competition priming may consist of acute (e.g. low-volume high neural demand exercise, up to 15 minutes prior to the event) or delayed (more moderate volume, 6-48 hours before) potentiation techniques.  Common recovery strategies include massage, compression, cold water immersion, mobility work, sleep optimisation, supplementation and active recovery. 

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BRIEF REVIEW: BOXING PERFORMANCE OVER A 4-DAY TOURNAMENT

Amateur boxing events, like other martial arts events, are often conducted over the course of several days, with weigh-ins being conducted on each day of competition. For optimal outcome within the event, it is important that athlete performance is maintained throughout this time. This study assessed power-related measures of 14 (8 male/6 female) Brazilian international level boxers over the course of a 4-day tournament. Each athlete participated in 3 matches over the 4 days, and following each match countermovement jump, as well as bench press and half squat maximal power were assessed. These power-based assessments were chosen due to the

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BRIEF REVIEW: Weight classes in wrestling

The NCAA instigated the wrestling weight management program (WMP) in 1998 in response to the deaths of 3 collegiate wrestlers. Under this program, athletes are permitted to lose a maximum weight of 1.5% off-season body mass per week. There have been concerns over the intertester reliability, measurement validity and appropriateness of the prediction equations.  This study sought to compare measurements taken using the currently approved methods of  skinfolds (SF) and air displacement plethysmography (ADP), with the currently non-approved methods of dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and ultrasound (US). 31 male athletes were assessed with all four methods, then, using 5% BF

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BRIEF REVIEW: ANALYSIS OF CHOKES IN THE UFC

Techniques aimed at rendering an opponent unconscious due to restriction of blood flow to the brain, are commonly utilised in mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. These techniques are commonly described as “chokes”, but are more technically “strangulations”. A knowledge of these techniques is important for both athletes and coaches, as well as medical professionals working in the field.  This study analysed strangulation techniques in UFC events between 1993 and 2020. In 5834 bouts there were 1186 grappling-related submissions, including 904 chokes/strangulations, comprising 15.5% of all fight outcomes.  9% of these submissions resulted in a loss of consciousness, with the remainder

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SHORT REVIEW: DISORDERED EATING IN COMBAT SPORTS ATHLETES

Given that most combat athletes compete in weight divisions and are often forced to adjust dietary habits in order to make weight, the risk of developing disordered eating behaviours is elevated. This study sought to identify trends between sport-specific self-confidence, pre-competition weight loss, and disordered eating.    Elite and sub-elite MMA (n=47) and BJJ (n=64) practitioners were recruited via survey, and their current body mass in comparison with intended competition weight was noted, The participants also completed the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), as well as the Trait Sport Confidence Inventory Test (TSCI).    As expected, MMA athletes cut more

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BRIEF REVIEW: RECOGNITION OF CONCUSSION IN COMBAT SPORTS

Concussions are a major issue within combat sports and can lead to serious and long-term negative health consequences. Within many combat sports, a bout may be stopped due to a TKO, where the athlete is determined to not be in a position to safely defend themself, or at risk of harm should the bout continue. A fight being stopped too late may result in serious damage, unnecessary concussion, or an increase in the severity of concussion symptoms. In many cases, it is the responsibility of the referee to determine the point at which a fight is stopped.    In other

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Aerobic Exercise for Post Concussion Syndrome

Concussion is common in contact sports, especially combat sports, and can result in an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury, as well as further concussion. The latter can have serious consequences.    Whilst concussions typically resolve in 1-2 weeks, in some instances symptoms can persist for much longer (Post Concussion Syndrome), in which case secondary effects such as headache, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, vestibular sensitivity and altered mood may occur. Therefore, strategies aimed at speeding up the recovery of persistent concussion symptoms are advantageous for athletes, coaches and medical professionals working in the field.    This symptomatic review looked at 12 studies

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BRIEF REVIEW: Injury rates in olympic combat sports

A knowledge of injury epidemiology in specific sporting populations is important in understanding injury risk and instigating preventative measures.    Injury rates from the last 3 summer olympic games (Beijing, 2008, London, 2012, and Rio De Janeiro, 2016) were compiled for boxing, wrestling, judo and taekwondo. The data was collected using the IOC injury & illness surveillance system. For the purposes of this study, injury was defined “as a new or recurring musculoskeletal complaint, concussion or other medical condition incurred in competition during the Olympic Games receiving medical attention, regardless of the consequences with respect to absence from competition or

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BRIEF REVIEW: THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE IN THE MANAGEMENT OF ACUTE INJURIES

Language has been a major focus in recent times in regards to chronic pain management, however its relevance to acute injuries is often under appreciated. This editorial proposes 8 recommendations in terms of language used in the case of acute injury.   In the absence of trauma, do not assume that pain indicates tissue damage Assuming the presence of tissue damage may cause an athlete to adopt overly protective behaviours, possibly leading to altered movement patterns and unnecessary deloading.   Do not refer for imaging unless it will directly influence care, or when there is suspicion of serious or specific

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BRIEF REVIEW: ELBOW MUSCLE IMBALANCE IN BJJ ATHLETES

The sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) requires both fast, explosive actions, as well as maximal force contractions, often at ends of ranges. An imbalance between elbow flexor and extensor strength may predispose the athlete injury in this area, due to reduced joint stability.   In this study, 23 male BJJ athletes first underwent strength testing of the elbow muscles in an isokinetic dynamometer. They performed 5 second maximal force isometric contractions into elbow flexion and elbow extension at 45, 60, 75, 90, 105 and 120 degrees. They then performed isokinetic strength testing on the same device through 30-130 degrees,

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BRIEF REVIEW: A Novel Test for Assessing Kick Capacity in Taekwondo

As Taekwondo (TKD) competition is primarily composed of a succession of short-duration, high-intensity interactions, it is important for tests designed to measure the repeat effort ability of its athletes to assess these characteristics.    Previous TKD-specific tests, such as the Frequency Speed of Kick Test (FSKT) have used metrics such as the total number of kicks in a certain amount of time. The authors of the current paper felt that these tests lacked the specificity to detect small changes in improvement following training interventions.   This study sought to test the reliability of a novel TKD-specific test, with a triaxial

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BRIEF REVIEW: WHAT IS ANIMAL CONTEST THEORY

WHAT IS “ANIMAL CONTEST THEORY”? Animal contest theory assumes that animals possess accurate information about their own fighting ability or resource-holding potential (RHP) and, under some models, that of their opponent. In the animal model, defeat is often indicated when one animal surrenders and retreats. RHP may also be applied to humans, and in a combat sporting environment is not just only interpreted by the individual athlete, but also by judges and spectators.   This study was an interesting application of the animal contest theory to MMA. Results from all UFC matches between Feb 2019 and March 2020 were analysed

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BRIEF REVIEW: What are the odds of the “puncher’s chance”

THE PUNCHER’S CHANCE In combat sports, the puncher’s chance refers to the scenario whereby a combatant who is thought to be inferior in ability prior to a bout, or who is being outclassed during a bout, still has the ability to win the bout via KO or TKO.   Researchers in Australia analysed the statistics from all UFC bouts between 1997 and June 2020 that ended in KO and TKO. These statistics were correlated to equate an odds ratio for a fighter who is losing a match, based on the proportion of significant strikes landed.    Where a fighter is

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BRIEF REVIEW: Beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation in combat sports

Due to the repeat high intensity burst nature of combat sports, they are highly reliant on glycolytic mechanisms for energy production. Glycolysis results in intramuscular H+, which needs to be buffered via intracellular (phosphates, carnosine) and extracellular (bicarbonate) buffers and a dynamic buffering system.  Supplementary Sodium Bicarbonate and Beta Alanine have both been shown to increase intermittent high intensity exercise performance in other sports. Sodium bicarbonate acts as an alkalizing agent, and helps attenuate exercise-induced decrease in intracellular pH. Beta alanine is an amino acid, the ingestion of which has been shown to increase muscle carnosine content, which helps in

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BRIEF REVIEW – Weight Cutting in Muay Thai

Within the process of rapid weight loss (RWL)/rapid weight gain (RWG) to make weight for combat sports, there is always a trade-off between the advantages of being heavier than the opponent, and the disadvantages of impaired performance and potentially serious negative side effects.  21 competitive male (16) and female (5) Italian Muay Thai athletes underwent a supervised RWL/RWG protocol to observe changes in health markers and hormone concentrations. The protocol consisted of a 3-day RWL followed by an 8-hour rapid weight gain. The RWL intervention involved a 1000 Kcal/day deficit, with a macronutrient breakdown of 30g carbohydrate, 2kg/g BM protein

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BRIEF REVIEW: Energy Systems in BJJ

Physical preparation for any sport requires a thorough understanding of the specific physical demands and dominant energy systems. BJJ is a sport consisting of repeated, intermittent, high-energy bursts of activity, and as such, requires contribution from all energy systems.  This study sought to investigate the relative energy systems contribution using a sample of 10 male international-level (Purple-black belt) BJJ athletes. Preliminary assessment involved an incremental treadmill VO2 Max test, and a time-to-exhaustion treadmill test at 110% of VMAx.  They then underwent 3 sessions of BJJ assessment with a partner of similar body mass, each consisting of one set each of

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Brief Review: Mouthguard Measurement of Head Impact in MMA

Concussion is an extremely prevalent condition in contact sports and is one with potentially serious long-term consequences. In other sports where concussion has been identified as a major issue, such as American Football, head kinematics has been studied with the use of helmet-based accelerometry.  An alternative for measuring head impact in MMA athletes, who do not wear helmets during competition, is a specially designed mouthpiece/mouthguard. In this study, 13 professional/semi-professional MMA athletes were analysed during 19 sparring sessions and 11 competitive bouts, while fitted with the stanford instrumented mouthguard, which contains a triaxial accelerometer.  In the second part of the

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Lower Limb Power is Correlated with Punching Speed in Karateka

Previous studies have shown correlations between lower limb force and power outputs, and punching speed and power in individual strikes from a static position. This study sought to investigate whether such correlations exist with punches thrown in combination, and also with punches thrown from more dynamic, fight-specific positions.  10 national-level male Italian karate athletes underwent 3 separate testing sessions, where smith machine squat and bench press peak concentric power was measured at 40, 60, & 80% 1RM using a “FreePower” triaxial inertial measurement system. Punching velocity was measured using HD video recording at 50 frames per second, where the athletes

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Affect of Training Area and Sparring Partners in Taekwondo

Changing the spatial characteristics of a sporting environment may change the demands on the athlete, and potentially influence the outcome of the competition. Specific reduced competition size training drills (i.e. small-sided games in soccer) have long been utilized as a training means in other sports. Researchers in Italy compared the physiological (heart rate, blood lactate) and psychological (mood states questionnaire, RPE) responses of match-simulation sparring sessions between 24 competitive junior taekwondo athletes, in a standard 8x8m fighting area to 6x6m and 4x4m fighting areas. A second aspect of the study compared the same responses in matches with 1 sparring partner

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Grippin’n’Grapplin

Grip strength is an important physical characteristic of successful grappling athletes from all disciplines, with higher handgrip measurements seen in high-level, compared to lower-level athletes in BJJ, judo and wrestling. Furthermore, grip strength may also be seen as an important factor in injury reduction in these sports.  The high-intensity nature of gripping actions in grappling is primarily governed by peripheral, as opposed to central fatigue, and there are a number of factors that contribute to this, including: Impaired Ca 2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum.  Waste product accumulation from anaerobic glycolysis Impaired blood flow delivery due to intramuscular pressure from

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 14 – Hand and Wrist Strengthening 

Grip strength was discussed in part 11, and if there are deficiencies here then they should be addressed. The power grip can be trained with a simple gripper, and if an adjustable gripper is available, this can allow for a more incremental progression of load. Using a thicker grip, such as a towel, or a fat gripz handle, while performing traditional resistance training exercises can also be effective.    The plate holds that were described in the assessment section may also be used as exercises to train the pinch and key grip. The gripping exercises can be performed with a

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 12 – Load Tolerance Assessment 

Another useful test for wrist and hand injuries is a measurement of load tolerance. In the general population we typically measure the load taken through the palm, however with combat athletes, we also need to measure the amount of pressure tolerated through a fist.  A simple, low-tech way of assessing this is with the use of an analogue scale. With the scales placed on a bench or table, and maintaining a constant angle at the wrist in all planes, lean in to the scales and measure the weight at which the athlete first experiences pain.  

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 11 – Grip Assessment

Grip strength is an important functional measure in both diagnosis and evaluation of progress. A 10% difference in grip strength between sides is within the limits of normal, however more than a 20% difference between sides may indicate either a strength deficiency that could have contributed to the development of the injury, or more commonly a loss of strength secondary to the injury. A 50% or greater loss in strength is usually suggestive of a more serious injury.  We typically measure grip strength in 3 different positions; the power grip, pinch grip and key grip.  The power grip is what

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 10 – Wrist ROM assessment

Special tests for hand and wrist injuries will be specific to the injured area. However all hand and wrist injuries will likely require assessment of range of motion. One of the common methods of measuring joint range of motion is with the use of a goniometer. However, whilst this may be optimal for larger joints such as the knee, because of the small size and intricacy of the wrist, as well as the dual axis of movement around the capitate bone, at both the radiocarpal joint and the midcarpal joint, goniometer measurement can sometimes be difficult and inaccurate.  An alternative

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 13 – General management principles

While the management of hand and wrist injuries will depend on the specific injury, there are some basic management principles that will apply to most cases.  The first is one of specific load management. Most injuries will require a degree of off-loading/de-loading. For fractures, this de-loading will be in the form of immobilisation and often surgical intervention. For joint sprains, we usually want to allow the joint area to settle, before loading back up, whereas for a less severe boxer’s knuckle, we can often modify the force in the specific area with padding etc. to allow the athlete to continue

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 9 – Finger Dislocations

Dislocation of the proximal interphalangeal joint (closest joint of the finger) is also very common. Dorsal (to the back) dislocation may lead to volar plate and ligament damage, and therefore requires proper diagnosis and follow up. If the dislocation is stable, only buddy taping (where the 2 fingers are taped together) is required, followed by early mobilization to avoid stiffening of the joint. If unstable, the finger should be braced in 30 deg. of flexion and slowly extended over 3 to 4 weeks. Volar dislocations (to the front) are less common, but usually involve ligament damage and disruption of the

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 8 – Finger Fractures

Fractures of the fingers are more common in combat sports where a full boxing glove is not worn (karate, taekwondo, MMA, etc.) and are also common in grappling. The type of management will depend on the location of the fracture.  Fractures of the proximal and middle phalanges (the closest and middle bones of the finger) are often accompanied by avulsion (where a fragment of bone is pulled away by other tissue) of the volar plate (a fibrocartilage reinforcement of the joint capsule that restricts hyperextension). These injuries should be pinned for a short duration (3 to 4 weeks max) to

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 7 – TFCC injury

The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) consists of a cartilaginous disc that lies between the ulnar and the triquetrum and lunate bones, the ulnar meniscus, the sheath of the extensor carpi ulnaris (one of the muscles responsible for extending and ulnar deviating the wrist), and several ligaments of the wrist and hand. The complex is loaded in movements that involve axial compression in a position of ulnar deviation (i.e. punching with the hand bent slightly towards the ulnar (inside bone of the forearm). Pain in this condition is usually isolated to the ulnar side of the wrist, and is worsened with

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 6 – Thumb ligament injury

  A common joint injury observed in boxing is a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (ULC) of the 1st ray metacarpophalangeal joint, the ligament that lies on the inside of the thumb (1). This ligament is often damaged when the thumb is caught and bent back during punching or defending. This is commonly referred to as a “skiers thumb” (when occurring acutely), or a “gatekeepers thumb” (when occurring chronically).   Athletes will often report localised pain around the thumb, particularly with bending the thumb back, and will typically have difficulty gripping.   Less severe cases of this injury can

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 5 – Bennett’s Fracture

A Bennett’s fracture refers to a fracture of the base of the 1st metacarpal, the long bone that articulates with the thumb. As this is an intra-articular (occurring within the joint capsule), the injury often involves damage to the structures around the adjacent joint and the adjacent bone (the trapezium) (1). This injury typically occurs with excessive axial compression (compression down the line of the bone), causing the 1st metacarpal to be driven down into the hand, or by direct impact to the bone.  Most athletes will report localised pain around the area, often accompanied by swelling and malalignment, as

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 4 – Carpal Bossing Carpal bossing refers to disruption of the carpometacarpal joint (the joints between the second row of wrist bones and the long bones in the hand). This injury is typically caused by axial loading of the metacarpal bones. The joints of the wrist are very precise, like a lock and key, and excessive load in even a slightly less-than-optimal position may expose them to overuse and deterioration. This overuse results in a painful mass of increased bone over the joint. This mass is oftentimes mistaken for a

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 3 – The Boxer’s Fracture

The boxer’s fracture is a fracture of the 5th metatarsal (little finger side). As this is obviously not the target area of contact with a punch, this injury is often caused by suboptimal punching technique. In a typical punch, the knuckles of the 2nd and 3rd rays should make contact, allowing for a smooth transfer of force across the joint. However, when contact is made with the 4th or 5th rays, it causes a bending force through the bone.  Boxer’s fractures occur acutely, and the athlete will experience localised pain to the area, which will frequently be accompanied by swelling

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 2 – The Boxer’s Knuckle

The boxer’s knuckle refers to an injury to the extensor mechanism of the fingers (the musculo-tendinous unit that allows the finger to extend) and is one of the more serious musculoskeletal injuries in boxing. During a punch, the metacarpophalangeal joint (the joint of the knuckle) is rapidly forced into flexion, stretching the surrounding soft tissue to its maximum tolerance. Over time this may result in a chronic breakdown in the surrounding tissue, although injury to this area may also occur acutely. A structure called the sagittal band crosses over the top of the tendon, and this may be damaged in

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 1

Due to the frequency of hand contact, the impact with which this contact occurs and the complexity of the region, injuries to the hand and wrist are by far the most documented injuries in striking combat athletes. The impact related to punching results in a positive remodelling of bone and soft tissue over time, causing the tissues to become stronger and more resilient. We refer to this process as wolf’s law, which states that bone will respond to direct stress by remodelling to become more resistant to stress. Long-term karate practice has been shown to have a positive effect on

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BRIEF REVIEW: FORCE AND VELOCITY OF UPPER LIMB STRIKES

The force with which an upper limb striking technique such as a punch is delivered with is a major determinant of the impact of the strike and its potential for damage and effectiveness. Previous research has shown greater levels of mean and maximum punching force in winning vs. losing boxing contestants. A great variety of different upper limb striking techniques exist across a range of different combat disciplines. The use of different strikes within a sporting environment may be governed by the rules and tactical requirements of the individual sport, aside from sports such as MMA, where most striking techniques

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BRIEF REVIEW: TIME TO LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS FOLLOWING A STROKE

Combative choking techniques (more accurately described as strangulations) are commonly used techniques in a wide range of combat sports and arts, as well as in law enforcement. The goal of a strangulation is to cause bilateral compression of the carotid artery and jugular vein, decreasing the cerebral perfusion pressure and leading to a loss of consciousness (LOC). An understanding of the likely time to LOC is important both for athletes looking to maximise the effectiveness and safety of their technique, as well as for law enforcement officers looking to minimise potential harm. Previous research in compliant (not defending/resisting the technique)

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BRIEF REVIEW: VELOCITY MEASUREMENT IN BOXING

Linear Force Transducers (LFT) are devices designed to measure the displacement and velocity of movement via a tethered cord. They have been utilised extensively in a variety of different sports, and have been shown to be more reliable than accelerometers in measuring linear kinematics. At present, the effectiveness of LFTs in analysing punching technique has only been used in non-trained subjects, whose kinematics are likely to be very different to that of a trained boxer. The purpose of this study was therefore to assess the reliability of two different measurement devices in assessing the velocity of a punch.  18 junior

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BRIEF REVIEW: TAPERING IN MMA

Tapering refers to a systematic decrease in training load leading up to a competition, and is a common practice in most competitive sports. The goal of a taper is to dissipate fatigue while maintaining fitness, therefore maximising preparedness for the event. In most combat sports, the tapering process is confounded by the period leading up to an event also being a period of body mass reduction in order to make weight. The purpose of this study was to examine the physiological and psychological responses to a taper.  6 male professional MMA athletes were assessed during the last 5 weeks prior

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BRIEF REVIEW: Time Motion Assessment in Judo

Visual, non-automated time-motion analysis has been used as a method of analysing performance in both competition and training conditions in a variety of sports, including combat sports, and is thought to have some utility in detecting change in performance as a result of training interventions.  Two separate studies were conducted on high-level Brazilian judo athletes. The first study had 25 male athletes perform 2 5-minute simulated matches, one week apart, and compared performance in these matches with measures of blood lactate and heart rate. The second study had 12 male athletes perform 4 5-minute simulated matches, 72 hours apart, and

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BRIEF REVIEW: VELOCITY AND FORCE OF UPPER LIMB STRIKING TECHNIQUES

The force with which an upper limb striking technique such as a punch is delivered with is a major determinant of the impact of the strike and its potential for damage and effectiveness. Previous research has shown greater levels of mean and maximum punching force in winning vs. losing boxing contestants.  A great variety of different upper limb striking techniques exist across a range of different combat disciplines. The use of different strikes within a sporting environment may be governed by the rules and tactical requirements of the individual sport, aside from sports such as MMA, where most striking techniques

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BRIEF REVIEW: The physical demands of mixed martial arts: A narrative review using the ARMSS model to provide a hierarchy of evidence

Christopher Kirk , David R Clark , Carl Langan-Evans & James P Morton Journal of Sports Sciences 2020;23-1 BACKGROUND The optimal preparation for any sport depends in part on the known determinants of success and the methods employed to achieve these determinants. As mixed martial arts (MMA) is a relatively new sport, the research base related to its performance factors is still in its infancy. The Applied Research Model for the Sports Sciences (ARMSS) was proposed by Bishop in 2008 (1) as a method of structuring the evidence-gathering process. It consists of eight interacting stages that guide the logical progression

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BRIEF REVIEW: Hip & Lumbar Range of Motion and Lower Back Pain

BACKGROUND Most musculoskeletal injury is multifaceted, with biomechanics, i.e. the way we move, one potential aspect that may lead to the occurrence of either a gradual-onset or acute-onset injury. It is thought that suboptimal biomechanics (tightness, weakness, impaired motor control etc.) in certain areas of the body may lean to increased mechanical load in other areas.  The prevalence of lower back pain in judo athletes has been reported to be as high as 62% (1). The sport requires a high volume of rapid rotation, particularly into internal rotation of the hip of the supporting leg. Decreased hip rotation range of

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BRIEF REVIEW: Sport Psychology in Mixed Martial Arts

BACKGROUND  The effectiveness of sports psychology interventions, or “psychological skills training” has been demonstrated in many sports. The aim of this study was to perform a review of studies directly related to sports psychology in MMA.  METHODS The terms “mixed mart arts” and “ultimate fighting” were searched in combination with: “Psychology”, “Sport Psychology”, “Exercise Psychology”, “Mood”, “Mood States”, “Anxiety”, “Stress”, “Motivation”, “Mental Training”, “Mental Toughness”, “Coping”, “Burnout”, “Emotions”, “Aggressiveness”. 8 studies were included in the final review. Most of the participants in the studies were male professional athletes aged between 20 and 30.  FINDINGS Whilst all under the umbrella of

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Measurement of Wrist Motion in the Punch

BACKGROUND  Hand and wrist injuries are the most commonly reported injuries in boxing. Previous studies have looked at shoulder and elbow joint angles in punching, but none have investigated movement at the wrist METHODS An 6-degree-of-freedom electromagnetic tracking system was used to measure wrist movement during punching, which was compared to a mechanical surrogate and static wrist angle measurements. The electromagnetic system was deemed more appropriate than other commonly used systems such as those using reflective markers (difficult due to the presence of boxing gloves) and electrogoniometers (prone to technical errors).  29 national-level british boxers (23 male, 6 female) were

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SHORT REVIEW: How Effective is Rapid Weight Loss in MMA?

BACKGROUND  Rapid weight loss followed by rapid weight gain strategies are commonly employed by combat sports athletes of all disciplines. The amount of weight lost and subsequently gained is generally greater in MMA athletes than other combat athletes  Previous studies have shown the amount of weight regained to be predictive of success in judo, but not in boxing. One small study in MMA athletes also identified a potential advantage to greater levels of regained weight, however the small sample size in this study indicates the need for further investigation.  METHODS The researchers in this study took advantage of the fact

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SHORT REVIEW: Anatomy of a Strangulation

BACKGROUND  Vascular neck restraint (VNR) is a common method of both submission in combat sports such as jiu jitsu and MMA, as well as a controversial restraint technique used by law enforcement officers. The ultimate objective with VNR is to induce a loss of consciousness (LOC). The common understanding in terms of mechanism of LOC is that the internal branches of the carotid arteries on each side are compressed, causing a decrease in blood flow to the brain. The objective of this article was to clarify some of these common misconceptions and add some other potential theories. FINDINGS Cerebral perfusion

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SHORT REVIEW: Ocular Injury Model in Boxing

  BACKGROUND  Due to the nature of boxing and other combat sports, structural damage to the facial region, including the eyes, is common. Because of this, it is thought that boxing poses a high risk of altered visual acuity. Whilst epidemiological studies have investigated the occurrence of facial and eye injuries, there have not yet been any studies recreating the biomechanics of punching utilizing a facial model.  METHODS Models were created using a structured symmetry mesh, based off of CT/MRI recreation of the human face. A deformable glove model was used to deliver punches at a speed, force, and contact

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SHOULD REHABILITATION BE PAIN-FREE

The rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions is a multi-faceted process that needs to be tailored to the individual patient and needs to take into account personal factors as well as address all relevant contributing factors to the condition. As the primary goal of most patients undergoing rehabilitation is to decrease pain levels, it appears logical that the modalities and intervention utilised should therefore be pain-free. There has been a notion present amongst healthcare providers, as well as researchers, that the presence of pain during rehabilitation may impede the long-term reduction of pain, through increased sensitivity of the peripheral and central nervous

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SHORT REVIEW: ACCELEROMETRY MEASUREMENT IN MMA

BACKGROUND  The ability to pace oneself in any physical activity (whether in training or competition) is critical to achieving successful competition results, as well as training in a fashion conducive to optimal outcomes and minimising the risk of overtraining. For endurance training modalities, developing a pacing strategy is fairly straightforward. In multi-faceted activities such as combat sports, however, the recording activity loads presents a significant challenge. The use of accelerometry is one proposed method of recording activity athletes and subsequently guiding pacing strategies. METHODS This current study involved re-analysis of a previous study. Whereas the previous study provided data by

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SHORT REVIEW: THE ROLE OF CREATINE IN COMBAT SPORTS

BACKGROUND  Creatine is one of the most well-researched and commonly used athletic ergogenic aids. It is known to positively benefit singular and repeated high intensity bouts of exercise, muscular endurance, and hypertrophic and strength adaptations to resistance exercise.  METHODS The authors of this study primarily applied findings of creatine research in related topics  to discuss potential application to mixed martial arts FINDINGS The primary findings of the authors were: The small number of laboratory studies on combat sports athletes failed to demonstrate a significant effect. However, given the large body of evidence demonstrating benefits of creatine in repeated bout sports,

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RESEARCH REVIEW: Effects of Two Different Recovery Postures during High-Intensity Interval Training

Effects of Two Different Recovery Postures during High-Intensity Interval Training (1)​ Michaelson, J; Brilla, L; Suprak, D; McLaughlin,W; Dahlquist, D. TRANSLATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE February 15, 2019 – Volume 4 – Issue 4 – p 23-27 BACKGROUND Combat sports, like many other sports, alternate between periods of physical activity and periods of recovery, both during rounds of combat, and the rest intervals in between. The ability to recover in these periods of non-activity can have a profound impact on the effectiveness of the subsequent periods of activity. The respiratory system has a large degree of

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RESEARCH REVIEW: Body Composition of Elite Olympic Combat Sport Athletes

Body Composition of Elite Olympic Combat Sport Athletes (1) Reale​, R;​ Burke​, LM;​ Cox​, GR &​ Slater​, G. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SPORT SCIENCE Volume 20, 2020 -​ ​Issue 2 BACKGROUND We jump from the previous study looking at a far less common performance trait in the form of genetic characteristics, to a more commonly measured and understood measure in terms of body composition. When analysing frequently observed and optimal body composition in sports, at either end of the physiological performance spectrum there are obvious advantages to different body types in different athletic activities, These have been supported empirically, with low

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RESEARCH REVIEW: The “Warrior” COMT Val/Met Genotype Occurs in Greater Frequencies in Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Relative to Controls

The “Warrior” COMT Val/Met Genotype Occurs in Greater Frequencies in Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Relative to Controls Tartar, J; Cabrera, D; Knafo, S; Thomas, JD Antonio, J; Peacock, C. JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCE AND MEDICINE (2020) 19, 38-42 BACKGROUND The body of sports science research pertaining to predictors of success in different athletic activities is immense. The ability to utilise factors known or hypothesised to be related to sports performance in the assessment of athletes for team or development program selection or talent identification can be extremely valuable to sports scientists, coaches and sporting organisations. Factors may include everything from

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RESEARCH REVIEW: Understanding Concussion Knowledge and Behavior Among Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai Athletes and Coaches

Understanding Concussion Knowledge and Behaviour Among Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai Athletes and Coaches (1)​ Follmer, B; Varga, AA;. & Zehr, EP. THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE 1–7 (2020) BACKGROUND Combat sports are unlike other contact sports, in that trauma to the brain is not only a consequence of the competition, it is one of the primary aims of the contest. As such, the risk of brain injury both in competition and training is inherently higher than other categories of sports. Sport-related concussion carries with it the risk of subsequent further concussion, which poses serious health risks, and

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RESEARCH REVIEW: The Safety of Sportive Chokes: A Cross-Sectional Survey-Based Study

The Safety of Sportive Chokes: A Cross-Sectional Survey-Based Study (1) Stellpflug, S; Schindler, B; JCorry, J: Menton, T; LeFevere, R THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORT MEDICINE, PUBLISHED AHEAD OF PRINT. BACKGROUND Choking, or sporting choking, as it is referred to in the literature, is common in many grappling sports/arts. The goal of application of a choke is a medial to lateral compression of the jugular vein and carotid artery, causing syncope; loss of consciousness from decreased cerebral blood flow. Previous studies have attempted to investigate the effects of volunteer choking to the point of unconsciousness on physiological measures such as heart

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RESEARCH REVIEW: Effects of Rapid Weight Loss on Judo Athletes: A Systematic Review

Effects of Rapid Weight Loss on Judo Athletes: A Systematic Review (1) CLakicevic, N; Roklicer, R; Bianco, A; Mani, D; Paoli, A; Trivic, T; Ostojic, S; Milovancev, A; Maksimovic, N;Drid, P. NUTRIENTS. 2020;12(5):1220. BACKGROUND The practice of weight-cutting for sports, in particular its safety and effectiveness, has been cause of a great deal of debate and controversy, as well as scientific investigation. As most combat sports are contested in weight categories, manipulation of body weight in order to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent is commonplace as a strategic intervention. Whilst most combat athletes and coaches consider having a

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RESEARCH REVIEW: Physical Response to Pad- and Bag-Based Boxing-Specific Training Modalities

Physical Response to Pad- and Bag-Based Boxing-Specific Training Modalities (1) Finlay, Mitchell J.; Greig, Matt; McCarthy, Jake; Page, Richard M. JOURNAL OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING RESEARCH, APRIL 2020 – VOLUME 34 – ISSUE 4 BACKGROUND Pad-based and bag-based training drills are among the most commonly used training modalities amongst striking combat athletes. The duration and prioritisation of each is often times guided by personal preference of the athlete/coach, logistics in terms of availability of coaches and training partners, as well as specific aims and objectives of individual training sessions. Most coaches and athletes intuitively understand the need to incorporate both

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RESEARCH REVIEW: Relationships Between Punch Impact Force and Upper- and Lower-Body Muscular Strength and Power in Highly Trained Amateur Boxers (1)

Relationships Between Punch Impact Force and Upper- and Lower-Body Muscular Strength and Power in Highly Trained Amateur Boxers (1) Dunn, E; Humberstone, C; Franchini, E; Iredale, K; Blazevich, A. JOURNAL OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING RESEARCH, PUPLISHED AHEAD OF PRINT BACKGROUND It is a given that punching power is one of the most important characteristics in striking combat sports. Despite a large focus on strength and power development in many athletes as a means to improve punching power, there isn’t a large amount of research showing the effectiveness of such training interventions, or even correlations between independent measures of strength and

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RESEARCH REVIEW – The Countermovement Jump Mechanics of Mixed Martial Arts Competitors

The Countermovement Jump Mechanics of Mixed Martial Arts Competitors James, L.P; Connick, M; Haff GG; Kelly, V.G; Beckman, E.M. JOURNAL OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING RESEARCH: APRIL 2020 – VOLUME 34 – ISSUE 4 BACKGROUND Explosive force development in the lower limb is a critically important characteristic in mixed martial arts (MMA), and in part influences the performance of both lower body and upper body striking techniques, takedowns and grappling exchanges, as well as footwork patterns. Most readers will be familiar with the countermovement (CMJ) both as a training exercise and as a method of testing for explosive power. For those

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BRIEF REVIEW: RECOGNITION OF CONCUSSION IN COMBAT SPORTS

Concussions are a major issue within combat sports and can lead to serious and long-term negative health consequences. Within many combat sports, a bout may be stopped due to a TKO, where the athlete is determined to not be in a position to safely defend themself, or at risk of harm should the bout continue. A fight being stopped too late may result in serious damage, unnecessary concussion, or an increase in the severity of concussion symptoms. In many cases, it is the responsibility of the referee to determine the point at which a fight is stopped.    In other

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BRIEF REVIEW: PREVALENCE OF KNEE INJURIES IN BJJ 

  The knee is a common site of injury in many sports, including combat sports. Due to the direct stress to knee structures during submission attempts, the prevalence of knee injury in Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ) is thought to be high. This study aimed to evaluate the epidemiology of knee injuries in BJJ and compare this to other sports.    198 BJJ athletes answered a mixed questionnaire based on the Referred Morbidity Instrument. A musculoskeletal injury was defined as any event that causes absence from training or competition for > 1 week, change to training habits for >2weeks, or results in

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BRIEF REVIEW: PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSES AND BOUT ANALYSIS IN KICKBOXERS

Analysis of physiological responses during actual competition provide a more accurate representation of the demands of the sport, and as such are more useful in guiding training interventions. This study measured the heart rate and lactate concentration of 15 international-level athletes during 3x2min kickboxing bouts conducted under K1 rules. A technical analysis of each match was also performed.  Average heart rate was 97.5 bpm at baseline (after warm up), rose to between 178.2 after round 1, 182.1 after round 2, and 185 after round 3. Heart rate failed to return to baseline 8 minutes after the bout.  Average lactate concentration

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BRIEF REVIEW: OPTIMAL AROUSAL FOR FIGHT PERFORMANCE

In any competitive activity, an athlete must have an optimal level of psychological arousal to facilitate ideal performance. It is thought that higher anxiety and harm avoidance is associated with poorer performance in combat sports. It is also thought that certain genetic psychological traits, in particular the behavioural response to stress, are associated with greater sports performance. In this study, 46 italian karate athletes underwent genomic DNA 5HTTLPR polymorphism testing, as well as a personality questionnaire (TPQ). They then participated in a match, with cortisol levels (used as a proxy for anxiety levels) measured 10 minutes before and 10 minutes

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Brief Review: Mouthguard Measurement of Head Impact in MMA

Concussion is an extremely prevalent condition in contact sports and is one with potentially serious long-term consequences. In other sports where concussion has been identified as a major issue, such as American Football, head kinematics has been studied with the use of helmet-based accelerometry.  An alternative for measuring head impact in MMA athletes, who do not wear helmets during competition, is a specially designed mouthpiece/mouthguard. In this study, 13 professional/semi-professional MMA athletes were analysed during 19 sparring sessions and 11 competitive bouts, while fitted with the stanford instrumented mouthguard, which contains a triaxial accelerometer.  In the second part of the

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BRIEF REVIEW: METHODS OF MEASURING PUNCHING POWER

As striking power is a key characteristic for success in combat sports involving striking, measurement of this quality is useful for assessing the outcome of training interventions. The authors of this paper conducted a review of the current literature pertaining to assessment of punching force.  9 papers between 2000 and 2021 were included in the review, totalling 160 participants. Although all of these methods were shown to be reliable, due to the significant differences in methodology, results from the different methods cannot be compared. Therefore, future research should look into a comparison of different methods.  Akbaş, Anna, Anna Brachman, Bartłomiej

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BRIEF REVIEW: LONG-TERM HEAD IMPACT – EFFECT ON BALANCE

A history of sports-related head trauma may be associated with long-term neurological deficits. As such, methods to monitor certain aspects of neurological function in combat athletes could provide useful information and optimise the integration of protective strategies.   This was another great study from @  ‘s group out of Victoria University in British Columbia. 67 participants, including 19 striking combat sports (MMA, kickboxing, muay thai) athletes, 25 athletes from non-striking combat sports and other sports, and 23 active controls, underwent testing on an electronic balance board. Participants who had sustained head trauma in the prior 3 days or had been

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BRIEF REVIEW: Injury rates in olympic combat sports

A knowledge of injury epidemiology in specific sporting populations is important in understanding injury risk and instigating preventative measures.    Injury rates from the last 3 summer olympic games (Beijing, 2008, London, 2012, and Rio De Janeiro, 2016) were compiled for boxing, wrestling, judo and taekwondo. The data was collected using the IOC injury & illness surveillance system. For the purposes of this study, injury was defined “as a new or recurring musculoskeletal complaint, concussion or other medical condition incurred in competition during the Olympic Games receiving medical attention, regardless of the consequences with respect to absence from competition or

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BRIEF REVIEW: Hip & Lumbar Range of Motion and Lower Back Pain

BACKGROUND Most musculoskeletal injury is multifaceted, with biomechanics, i.e. the way we move, one potential aspect that may lead to the occurrence of either a gradual-onset or acute-onset injury. It is thought that suboptimal biomechanics (tightness, weakness, impaired motor control etc.) in certain areas of the body may lean to increased mechanical load in other areas.  The prevalence of lower back pain in judo athletes has been reported to be as high as 62% (1). The sport requires a high volume of rapid rotation, particularly into internal rotation of the hip of the supporting leg. Decreased hip rotation range of

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BRIEF REVIEW: HEAD AND NECK INJURY IN JUDO

Having an understanding of injury epidemiology in a specific sport is important for athletes, coaches and medical professionals. The authors of this paper conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of the rates and nature of injuries in competitive judoka.  Due to the diverse nature of the studies and the types of injuries included, it was difficult for the authors to reach a consensus around the rates of different types of injuries. However, whilst less severe injuries such as strains and sprains were commonly reported, an alarming finding was that head and neck injuries were described as the most commonly

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BRIEF REVIEW: FORCE AND VELOCITY OF UPPER LIMB STRIKES

The force with which an upper limb striking technique such as a punch is delivered with is a major determinant of the impact of the strike and its potential for damage and effectiveness. Previous research has shown greater levels of mean and maximum punching force in winning vs. losing boxing contestants. A great variety of different upper limb striking techniques exist across a range of different combat disciplines. The use of different strikes within a sporting environment may be governed by the rules and tactical requirements of the individual sport, aside from sports such as MMA, where most striking techniques

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BRIEF REVIEW: Energy Systems in BJJ

Physical preparation for any sport requires a thorough understanding of the specific physical demands and dominant energy systems. BJJ is a sport consisting of repeated, intermittent, high-energy bursts of activity, and as such, requires contribution from all energy systems.  This study sought to investigate the relative energy systems contribution using a sample of 10 male international-level (Purple-black belt) BJJ athletes. Preliminary assessment involved an incremental treadmill VO2 Max test, and a time-to-exhaustion treadmill test at 110% of VMAx.  They then underwent 3 sessions of BJJ assessment with a partner of similar body mass, each consisting of one set each of

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BRIEF REVIEW: ELBOW MUSCLE IMBALANCE IN BJJ ATHLETES

The sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) requires both fast, explosive actions, as well as maximal force contractions, often at ends of ranges. An imbalance between elbow flexor and extensor strength may predispose the athlete injury in this area, due to reduced joint stability.   In this study, 23 male BJJ athletes first underwent strength testing of the elbow muscles in an isokinetic dynamometer. They performed 5 second maximal force isometric contractions into elbow flexion and elbow extension at 45, 60, 75, 90, 105 and 120 degrees. They then performed isokinetic strength testing on the same device through 30-130 degrees,

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BRIEF REVIEW: COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN DIFFERENT COMBAT SPORTS ATHLETES

Preparedness for sport depends on a number of different cognitive factors, and it is believed that the manifestations of athlete’s readiness for sport may be different among athletes from different combat sports backgrounds. This study sought to identify links between neurodynamic and cognitive functions among athletes practicing different martial arts. 28 wrestlers, 34 judokas, and 23 boxers underwent tests to identify nonverbal intelligence, comparison of numbers and speed of perception. Wrestlers demonstrated the greatest visual analysis ability as well as the lowest processing time, followed by judokas. Impulsiveness (the ability of the nervous system to quickly shift during excitation and

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BRIEF REVIEW: BOXING PERFORMANCE OVER A 4-DAY TOURNAMENT

Amateur boxing events, like other martial arts events, are often conducted over the course of several days, with weigh-ins being conducted on each day of competition. For optimal outcome within the event, it is important that athlete performance is maintained throughout this time. This study assessed power-related measures of 14 (8 male/6 female) Brazilian international level boxers over the course of a 4-day tournament. Each athlete participated in 3 matches over the 4 days, and following each match countermovement jump, as well as bench press and half squat maximal power were assessed. These power-based assessments were chosen due to the

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BRIEF REVIEW: Beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation in combat sports

Due to the repeat high intensity burst nature of combat sports, they are highly reliant on glycolytic mechanisms for energy production. Glycolysis results in intramuscular H+, which needs to be buffered via intracellular (phosphates, carnosine) and extracellular (bicarbonate) buffers and a dynamic buffering system.  Supplementary Sodium Bicarbonate and Beta Alanine have both been shown to increase intermittent high intensity exercise performance in other sports. Sodium bicarbonate acts as an alkalizing agent, and helps attenuate exercise-induced decrease in intracellular pH. Beta alanine is an amino acid, the ingestion of which has been shown to increase muscle carnosine content, which helps in

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BRIEF REVIEW: ANALYSIS OF CHOKES IN THE UFC

Techniques aimed at rendering an opponent unconscious due to restriction of blood flow to the brain, are commonly utilised in mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. These techniques are commonly described as “chokes”, but are more technically “strangulations”. A knowledge of these techniques is important for both athletes and coaches, as well as medical professionals working in the field.  This study analysed strangulation techniques in UFC events between 1993 and 2020. In 5834 bouts there were 1186 grappling-related submissions, including 904 chokes/strangulations, comprising 15.5% of all fight outcomes.  9% of these submissions resulted in a loss of consciousness, with the remainder

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BRIEF REVIEW: AEROBIC AND ANAEROBIC PERFORMANCE IN BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a sport that relies heavily on both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Having population-specific data in terms of athletic performance variables can aid in designing and implementing sports performance programs.  12 BJJ athletes (including national and international level competitors) were assessed using:  Squat jump, countermovement jump, plyometric push up Lower (running) and upper (cycle ergometer) body graded aerobic test Lower and upper body wingate anaerobic test  Average results from the tests were as follows: Squat jump 37.8cm Countermovement jump 41.5cm Plyometric push up 15.7cm Lower body anaerobic peak power 11.9 W/kg Upper body anaerobic peak

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BRIEF REVIEW: A Novel Test for Assessing Kick Capacity in Taekwondo

As Taekwondo (TKD) competition is primarily composed of a succession of short-duration, high-intensity interactions, it is important for tests designed to measure the repeat effort ability of its athletes to assess these characteristics.    Previous TKD-specific tests, such as the Frequency Speed of Kick Test (FSKT) have used metrics such as the total number of kicks in a certain amount of time. The authors of the current paper felt that these tests lacked the specificity to detect small changes in improvement following training interventions.   This study sought to test the reliability of a novel TKD-specific test, with a triaxial

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BRIEF REVIEW – Weight Cutting in Muay Thai

Within the process of rapid weight loss (RWL)/rapid weight gain (RWG) to make weight for combat sports, there is always a trade-off between the advantages of being heavier than the opponent, and the disadvantages of impaired performance and potentially serious negative side effects.  21 competitive male (16) and female (5) Italian Muay Thai athletes underwent a supervised RWL/RWG protocol to observe changes in health markers and hormone concentrations. The protocol consisted of a 3-day RWL followed by an 8-hour rapid weight gain. The RWL intervention involved a 1000 Kcal/day deficit, with a macronutrient breakdown of 30g carbohydrate, 2kg/g BM protein

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 5 – Indirect, Systemic Load

This last post in the series will discuss indirect, systemic load, and like direct systemic load, will separate this into physiological and psychological.  PHYSIOLOGICAL The factors we consider this bucket are sleep and nutrition. If a fighter lacks sleep, they will be under-recovered, have reduced capacity to tolerate training loads, and at a higher chance of injury. For athletes with busy lives outside sport with work, study, family, etc., who are struggling to fit in adequate sleep, training loads should be adjusted to allow optimal benefit from their training. Athletes struggling with sleep quality need to address their sleep hygiene

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 4 – Direct, Systemic Load

The last two posts discussed tissue-specific load. This post will discuss direct systemic load, and we will break this into physiological and psychological. PHYSIOLOGICAL We’ve discussed previously how training load can cause overuse in the injured tissue and lead to pain. However, a rapid increase in overall training load may also lead to injury in an area not specifically related to increased load. Let’s say for example an athlete is 8 weeks out from a fight, and they introduce swimming 3 times per week to their S&C program as additional energy systems work. Following this they develop lower back pain

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 3 – Indirect, Tissue-Specific Load

In the last post we discussed the impact of direct tissue specific load on back pain. In this post we discuss indirect tissue-specific load, which basically refers to biomechanics, technique and equipment.  BIOMECHANICS In this context, we use the term biomechanics to describe the movements at joints and the force produced by muscles around the injured area. If we use the example of a fighter who experiences pain with large volumes of punching, we can break down the biomechanics of that technique to ascertain what may be increasing stress on the lower back. When we perform a punch, we need

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 2 – Direct, Tissue-Specific Load

In the first post we discussed how different types of load can contribute to an athlete’s back pain. In this post we will discuss the first of these, direct, tissue-specific load.  Tissue-specific load essentially refers to the actual tissue that has been identified or hypothesised as the origin of the pain. In some areas of the body, the specific tissue can be easily identified. If we land an odd punch and feel sharp pain in a specific area of the hand and imaging reveals a fracture in that area, we know specifically which tissue is causing the pain. With the

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Biopsychosocial Approach to Managing Back Pain in Combat Athletes – Part 1

Low back pain (LBP) is the most common orthopedic complaint in general practice and is also extremely common in sporting populations, including combat sports athletes. There are countless methods of treating LBP described in the research, clinical practice environments, and lay media. We approach the treatment of LBP, as with any musculoskeletal issue, with an analysis of relevant load. Load is essentially any type of stress that is applied to the system (i.e. the human being who is affected by their condition) that has the potential to influence pain. You can see from the first figure the different types of

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Basic method of testing and comparing athletes – Executive Fight Night

The highlight of Tokyo’s social calendar is undoubtably Executive Fight night (EFN), a white collar boxing event held annually by the Ginja Ninjas (www.executivefightnight.com). At Club 360 we get to see the see the participants as they go through their gruelling 3-month training camp in preparation for the event. This year we thought we would do something a little different and put the participants through a very basic physical testing battery to gain an idea of how they compare to each other in terms of physical characteristics. As we were testing a large number (28) of participants and with limited

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Applying the Acute vs Chronic Workload Ratio to Combat Sports: Part 3

In the previous post we discussed calculation of training load using training minutes and RPE (http://www.thescienceofstriking.com/training/applying-the-acute-vs-chronic-workload-ratio-to-combat-sports-part-2/). Whilst this works well as a base, it is possible to be even more detailed with our quantification of training load using some slightly more advanced methods. As discussed in the last post, compared to sports involving primarily cyclic activities (e.g. running), training load in combat sports training is significantly more difficult to calculate. However, with the advent of recent technologies, it is possible to gain a fairly accurate reading of both number of punches thrown, as well as the power and velocity of

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Applying the Acute vs Chronic Workload Ratio to Combat Sports: Part 2

In the last post we discussed the importance of consistency in training loads, and introduced the acute vs chronic workload ratio (ACWR)(http://www.thescienceofstriking.com/training/applying-the-acute-vs-chronic-ratio-to-combat-sports-part-1/). Initially popular with team sports, the acute vs chronic ratio is now widely used in reference to resistance training and endurance sports. Whilst we don’t presently have any studies referencing its use in combat sports. It makes sense that regulation in terms of training load would be equaling important in decreasing injury risk within this population. Quantifying Training Load For those not mathematically minded, The Science of Striking worksheet is a freely available resource that makes calculation of

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Applying the Acute vs Chronic Ratio Workload to Combat Sports: Part 2

In the last post we discussed the importance of consistency in training loads, and introduced the acute vs chronic workload ratio (ACWR)(http://www.thescienceofstriking.com/training/applying-the-acute-vs-chronic-ratio-to-combat-sports-part-1/). Initially popular with team sports, the acute vs chronic ratio is now widely used in reference to resistance training and endurance sports. Whilst we don’t presently have any studies referencing its use in combat sports. It makes sense that regulation in terms of training load would be equaling important in decreasing injury risk within this population. Quantifying Training Load For those not mathematically minded, The Science of Striking worksheet is a freely available resource that makes calculation of

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ALTERED VESTIBULAR FUNCTION IN COMBAT SPORTS ATHLETES

Combat sports such as MMA, boxing, and other striking sports involve a high incidence of traumatic impact to the head, which can result in acute alteration in function, as well as the possibility of long-term negative sequelae. Altered vestibular function is thought to be a common factor in the symptoms of acute concussion. The vestibular system is important for perception of head movement, and stabilization and orientation of the body in response to this, as well as being involved in autonomic regulation of heart rate.  In this study, researchers used electrical vestibular stimulation (EVS) to measure vestibular contributions to balance

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Affect of Training Area and Sparring Partners in Taekwondo

Changing the spatial characteristics of a sporting environment may change the demands on the athlete, and potentially influence the outcome of the competition. Specific reduced competition size training drills (i.e. small-sided games in soccer) have long been utilized as a training means in other sports. Researchers in Italy compared the physiological (heart rate, blood lactate) and psychological (mood states questionnaire, RPE) responses of match-simulation sparring sessions between 24 competitive junior taekwondo athletes, in a standard 8x8m fighting area to 6x6m and 4x4m fighting areas. A second aspect of the study compared the same responses in matches with 1 sparring partner

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Aerobic Exercise for Post Concussion Syndrome

Concussion is common in contact sports, especially combat sports, and can result in an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury, as well as further concussion. The latter can have serious consequences.    Whilst concussions typically resolve in 1-2 weeks, in some instances symptoms can persist for much longer (Post Concussion Syndrome), in which case secondary effects such as headache, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, vestibular sensitivity and altered mood may occur. Therefore, strategies aimed at speeding up the recovery of persistent concussion symptoms are advantageous for athletes, coaches and medical professionals working in the field.    This symptomatic review looked at 12 studies

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ACROMIOCLAVICULAR JOINT PART 3 – REHABILITATION

As with most orthopedic conditions, the rehab process involves settling the area down, then building back up. So once symptoms have settled, we need to reintroduce painful movements gradually, being guided by pain response after training.  With our resistance training, we want to ensure that we have an adequate balance between pushing and pulling exercises. This is essentially to avoid exposing the joint to excessive loading in each direction, and also to maintain strength balance around the joint. Initially we want to avoid exercises crossing the midline of the body, which tend to strain the AC joint. Pressing options such

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ACROMIOCLAVICULAR JOINT PART 2 – Pain management

Acute management of AC joint pain resolves around relative deloading. This may be in the form of decreased training volume and/or intensity, or training modification. Athletes may need to avoid techniques/angles that cause the greatest aggravation. Body shots (where the arm is at a lower height than the shoulder upon impact), and hooks in particular can place stress on this area. A change in equipment (i.e. changing from mitts to paddles, changing to a lighter bag/water bag, even using large gloves) may also help allow the area to settle, before building loading back up again.  Taping of the area may

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ACROMIOCLAVICULAR JOINT PART 1 – CAUSES

The acromioclavicular joint (where the acromion, the tip of the shoulder blade (scapula) articulates with the collarbone) is a common area of pain in the sporting population. The AC joint consists of 3 ligaments; the inferior and superior acromioclavicular (AC) ligaments, and the coracoacromial (CC) ligament (which consists of the conoid and trapezoid ligaments). The joint essentially acts as a pivot point to aid in scapular and shoulder motion.  Whilst acute injuries to this area are typically associated with direct trauma (falls onto the shoulder, collisions in contact field sports), AC joint pain in combat sport athletes, particularly striking athletes,

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5 exercises to improve forward pressure in fighting

For many stand-up combat sports, the ability to move forward against the resistance of an opponent may is critical in the success of scoring a decision win, or optimising position for a knockout blow. Some fighting styles, Kyokushin Karate for an example, are scored heavily on the ability to move forward (or inversely not move back), and demonstrate aggression and control of a bout. The ability to sustain this forward pressure is a multifactorial skill, and relies on your relative anthropometrics in comparison to your opponent’s (obviously not a modifiable factor), skill and technique, as well as psychological factors such

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COMMON HAND AND WRIST INJURIES IN STRIKING SPORTS – PART 4 – Carpal Bossing Carpal bossing refers to disruption of the carpometacarpal joint (the joints between the second row of wrist bones and the long bones in the hand). This injury is typically caused by axial loading of the metacarpal bones. The joints of the wrist are very precise, like a lock and key, and excessive load in even a slightly less-than-optimal position may expose them to overuse and deterioration. This overuse results in a painful mass of increased bone over the joint. This mass is oftentimes mistaken for a

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