More than 6.5 million kids throughout the country take taekwondo, karate or another form of martial arts. While the classes help boost kids’ fitness, mental and motor skills and emotional development, some moves come with a high risk for injury. While most are minor, like sprains and bruises, more serious injuries include concussions, fractures and neck trauma suffered during sparring competitions. 

Injury rates vary from 41 to 133 for every 1,000 activities depending on the martial art form, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  And protective equipment isn’t proven to prevent concussions.

What should you know if your kid is in a martial arts program? Consider a discipline like no-contact karate since it’ll lower the risk of injury, suggests a recent report in Pediatrics. Don’t sign your kids up for sparring competitions and contact training until they’re emotionally and physically mature enough to handle it. And make sure to talk to them about never engaging in practices that can cause direct blows to the head or choking, which raise concussion and suffocation risks.

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