Cuts and Bruises : Judo Injuries

Participating regularly in any contact sport can increase your chances of cuts and bruises, but when the emphasis is on fighting your opponent like in judo, this can be a nonstop hazard. Luckily most cuts are not too serious, and bruises also tend to heal relatively quickly, but this is not always the case.

Superficial Cuts

These are the most common and minor cuts you are likely to sustain. A normal cut can be caused by grazing against your opponent at close range, e.g. while grappling, or from your opponent hitting or accidentally scratching you with average force. Cuts of this sort are expected to arise on the face, hands, arms and legs. They should not be worth worrying about as long as the cut does not bleed profusely and appears to be shallow and small. Generally these require no attention other than cleaning and covering the cut for safety. Most athletes take little notice of superficial cuts during activity. We are used to identifying these everyday cuts by sight, so it is probable that you will notice if there are any abnormal features that could indicate a deeper wound.

Deeper Cuts

A hard blow can cause a cut that goes deeper into the epidermis. Complications with a judo throw or grappling manoeuvre may also lead to such wounds. The deeper the cut, the greater the risk of serious bleeding, which can lead to dizziness and occasionally fainting. These cuts can require stitches or other medical attention, and therefore should be reported to a professional if they do not soon stop bleeding profusely. A doctor’s intervention will allow proper healing of the wound. Occasionally this sort of cut can leave a scar due to the depth or breadth of injury. If stitches are necessary then you should stay away from judo until they have been removed. If the cut only requires bandaging you may be able to continue with the activity, but please check with your doctor.


Bruises are the product of bleeding beneath your skin. In judo they will be more common than cuts, with any impacts from your opponent’s arms or legs liable to cause bruising. They discolour the skin to a purple tinge, and this changes colour to shades like brown and yellow as the bruise heals. Some creams on the market can help to speed up this healing. Bruises can be tender and painful to the touch, but rarely interfere with your activities. The exception is when a major incident has given rise to a bruise that extends along a body part, e.g. over the chest or down the leg. These may require rest.

Healing Time

Most regular cuts heal in no longer than 1 to 2 weeks. A deeper or more serious wound that requires stitching can take more time, especially allowing for the time while the stitches are in place. Very bad wounds can be lacerations, which have the potential to damage underlying tissue and result in a slower recovery (see our article for further details).

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