Prevalence and patterns of injury sustained during military hand-to-hand combat training (Krav-maga)

Uri Farkash, Daniel Dreyfuss, Shany Funk, Uriel Dreyfuss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Krav-Maga (KM) is a unique Israeli hand-to-hand combat system, designed to teach soldiers self-defense in true-to-life situations. With the increase in military Israel Defense Force (IDF) units participating in KM training in recent years, the number of injuries incurred in KM has also increased. The purpose of our report is to describe the prevalence and pattern of these injuries. Methods: Instances of KM injury were taken from IDF patients’ computerized clinical records over a 1-year period. Data pertaining to the type, location, and severity of the injury, as well as data relating to soldier’s gender and age were collected from the charts. “Moderate” injury was defined as injury necessitating absence from military activity for more than 1 week; “major” injury was defined as injury necessitating surgical intervention. Findings: During the year 2014, 916 soldiers complaining of 946 traumatic injuries sustained during KM training were evaluated in IDF clinics. The vast majority of injuries (95%) occurred in male soldiers, and most injured soldiers (92%) were between the ages of 18 and 22. The upper limbs were the most frequently injured body parts, with the fingers, hands, and wrists being the most involved regions (31%) followed by the shoulder (16%). Injury severity was mild in most cases. However, 64 soldiers (6.7%) were moderately injured and major injuries necessitating surgical treatment occurred in 33 cases (3.5%). Discussion: KM involves both striking and grappling elements, and we assume that injuries result from both fighting forms. With striking styles, such as boxing and kickboxing, hand and wrist are the prevalent injury locations; with grappling styles such as wrestling, strain and sprain injuries of large joints are most prevalent. Head and neck injuries, a major concern in martial arts sports, were not identified as significant problems in KM. To minimize participant injury, preventative measures should focus on improving protective equipment, especially of the hand, as well as warm up and training technique modifications, and shoulder strengthening exercises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2005-e2009
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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