OBJECTIVE: To document the injury rate in three British Shotokan karate championships in consecutive years. In these tournaments strict rules governed contact, with only "light" or "touch" contact allowed. Protective padding for the head, hands, or feet was prohibited. METHODS: Prospective recording of injuries resulting from 1770 bouts in three national competitions of 1996, 1997, and 1998. Details of ages and years of karate experience were also obtained. RESULTS: 160 injuries were sustained in 1770 bouts. The overall rate of injury was 0.09 per bout and 0.13 per competitor. 91 (57%) injuries were to the head. The average age of those injured was 22 years, with an average of nine years of experience in karate. CONCLUSIONS: The absence of protective padding does not result in higher injury rates than in most other series of Shotokan karate injuries. Strict refereeing is essential, however, to maintain control and minimise contact.
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