Some of my friends got long term knee injuries because of sparring (and some of them because of motorcycle accident). It makes them can't fully do footwork like before, e.g. doing high kick or jump.

My question is, how does one prevent knee injury like this in sparring?

By sparring, I mean in level promotion test and competition. I think there is nobody breaks other's knees on purpose. So what I want to prevent is accidental knee injuries.

Should I use such knee protectors or knee support sleeves? Are knee bands enough, or should I use those with hard material like knee protectors used by biker?

  • 1
    What kind of sparring are you planning?
    – mattm
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 3:50
  • @mattm level promotion test and competition
    – Areef
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 11:22
  • Is the knee an allowed target? Is this point sparring or full-contact?
    – mattm
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 12:23
  • @mattm it seems allowed, however, assuming all the students are friends there's nobody do it on purpose. I don't really know what you mean by point sparring. The sparring is not paused when someone is considered hit successfully, it continues.
    – Areef
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


In sparring, knees are rarely damaged by direct hits. This is because just about everyone trains to hit the thigh and not do any of the shots that would really wreck knees - you don't want to destroy your training partners. You'll note that most martial arts do not use knee protection for this reason.

The usual threats to knees are bad twisting motions while weighted -falling and throwing, though bad form with roundhouses and other movements could do it too. (Exception: playing around with heel hooks in grappling before people have control...) The typical protection worn for that is usually tight cloth/spandex knee braces - same as many other sports.

However, that alone isn't the answer. Better training of form, and solid stabilizer muscle training reduces the odds of taking those bad twists. Muscles stabilize joints, and the point of failure is always whatever muscle is either the weakest, or too poorly coordinated to activate in time. In those cases, it's not just "more weight/power", but rather a lot of work on unstable surfaces and shifting directional weight. Some traditional martial arts include some of this in their forms (especially all the stuff around balancing on one leg and slow kicks), but you'll get the most from working with wobble boards and any kind of modern stablizer work under a trainer.

This is months of work in the process, however, not a quick fix. If your group is incurring regular knee injuries, you are training unsafely and I would get in contact with better instructors and someone with sports medicine background.

  • I don't know which answer is correct, so I accept the most voted :D
    – Areef
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 11:27
  • 1
    @Areef - If you don't know which is correct, then you should research it on your own a little more. Simply blindly accepting an answer because it has votes doesn't really do much for anyone.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 14:34

No protective equipment has been scientifically proven to protect against knee injuries in martial arts sparring/competition.

The #1 preventative measure one can take to protect their knees is building leg strength. Squats, deadlifts, and all the smaller stuff like lunges, kettlebell swings, etc. More dense leg muscle makes it harder to move your knees in directions you don't want them to move. It makes it safer to make explosive lateral movements, and twisting movements, which are top causes of knee injuries. Resistance training also strengthens tendons and ligaments. An added bonus is your new meaty legs will feel like getting hit by a truck to your opponent. Pat Barry was obviously a technical expert, but having tree trunks for legs certainly didn't hurt in his kickboxing and MMA run, having the most leg kick knock outs of all time.

You can wear knee support sleeves and all that stuff if you want to, just know that there's no evidence to suggest they will help you. They're designed for expected movements, like what a powerlifter might do. Sparring is too random, and too high impact for a sleeve to do any good.

Moral of the story: you're doing a combat sport. You need to build muscle to protect yourself from injuries.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – slugster
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 4:03

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