Better Martial Arts and Combat Sports


Only 27% of martial artists are female.


70% of martial artists stop training between the ages of 16 and 55.


There are 0 national criteria for martial arts coaching qualification. In most cases, a blackbelt alone is enough.

Evidence-based research bringing modern science to traditional arts

We want to create a safer and more inclusive recreational sport for people across a lifetime, by reducing the risk of preventable injuries, increasing female participation and leadership, and developing a culture of innovation and professionalism.

Take Part In Our Research

About the Researchers

We are a consortium of researchers, martial artists and industry leaders who aim to use scientific research methods to support safer, more inclusive recreational sport for people across a lifetime. Our expertise ranges from health science to sociology, from physiotherapy to athletic wear. 

This initiative first started with a conversation between Open University lecturer (and Taekwondo instructor) Wendi Bacon and physiotherapy clinical lead Rowan Wilson. They realised the warm-up practices in martial arts training often did not align with modern physiotherapy knowledge. If they could apply modern knowledge in this traditional field, could they improve martial arts? Thus, Better Martial Arts was born. Since its inception in 2021, the consortium has received numerous grants from the Open University, the Higher Education Innovation Fund, and the Private Physiotherapy Education Foundation.

Wendi Bacon and Rowan Wilson
  • Wendi Bacon, The Open University | Health science researcher & martial arts coach-athlete
  • Rowan Wilson, PhysioFit Cambridge | Physiotherapist 
  • Nichola Kentzer, The Open University | Coaching education & sports psychologist
  • Caroline Heaney, The Open University | Psychology of injury
  • Rosie Lindsay, Anglia Ruskin | Physical activity epidemiology
  • James Brighton, Canterbury Christ Church University | Inclusivity in sport
  • Jill Shaw, The Open University | Human-data interaction & data ethics, rugby coach-athlete 
  • Tamsin Davis, Taekwondo4all | Martial arts instruction & uniform development 
  • Vicky Taylor, The Open University | Female metabolism researcher & martial artist
  • Kath Woodward, The Open University | Boxing & gender sociologist
  • Joe de-Lappe, The Open University | Gender studies
  • Jo Horne, The Open University | Psychologist & martial arts coach-athlete
  • Jennifer Hayward, The University of Cambridge | Communications & martial arts coach-athlete
  • Matt Hughes, Milton Keynes University Hospital | Physiotherapist
  • Blaine Price, The Open University | Digital Health
  • Riasat Islam, The Open University | Wearable rehabilitation technology 
  • Jess Pinchbeck, The Open University | Female Participation & Sport Sociologist