Having an understanding of injury prevalence is of great importance to athletes and coaches, as well as medical and performance specialists working with those particular sports. This study contributed to the growing body of combat sports injury prevalence literature through a questionnaire based study of injury rates in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).


A 67-question online survey was completed by 1140 BJJ athletes, detailing injury history over the preceding 3 years. Injuries were defined as episodes that resulted in an absence from training for >2 weeks. 


Over a 3 year period, 31.2% of athletes stayed injury-free, 48.7% suffered 1 injury, 16.6% 2 injuries and 3.5% 3 or more, for a total of 308 injuries per 1000 athletes/year. 


27.1% of injuries occurred to the knee, 14.6% to the shoulder. The most common specific injuries were ACL tear, ankle ligament tear, MCL tear, meniscus injury and rib injury.


In terms of mechanism, 29.7% occurred during submission, 26.4% during takedown and 24% during guard pass. Of the submissions, the most common techniques causing injury were armbar (22.4%), kimura (12.6%) and heel hook (11%).


Contrary to previous research in BJJ and other sports, 77.6% of injuries were cited to occur in sparring and only 9.6% in competition. 


Age was a significant predictor of injury, although average weekly training time was not. Brown belts had the highest incidence of injury, white belts the lowest. 


Although a major limitation of this study is that it is based on retrospective data that was not confirmed by a medical professional, the large sample size provides a valuable contribution to the knowledge base in regards to injury epidemiology in this sport. 


#bjj #grappling #brazilianjiujitsu #thescienceofstriking #combatsports #mma #ufc #bellator #onefc

Hinz, Maximilian, Benjamin D. Kleim, Daniel P. Berthold, Stephanie Geyer, Christophe Lambert, Andreas B. Imhoff, and Julian Mehl. “Injury Patterns, Risk Factors, and Return to Sport in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: A Cross-sectional Survey of 1140 Athletes.” Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine 9, no. 12 (2021): 23259671211062568.

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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By Sam Gilbert