Can You Get Cauliflower Ear from Judo?

Can You Get Cauliflower Ear from Judo lg

A lot of martial arts are prone to injuries, including misshapen ears from blows to the head. In Judo, they are repeatedly hit, thrown, and smashed to the ground again and again. So, can you get cauliflower ear from Judo?

Here’s what I know from having practiced it a bit:

Some Judo practitioners do get cauliflower ears, a bruised ear coupled with single or multiple blood clots. This may not result from being thrown and smashed to the ground but rather from chokeholds in which you are trying to escape from an opponent’s clutches.

Luckily, it’s not every Judoka that gets it.

It’s more common amongst high-intensity practitioners who are gung-ho about practicing almost every day and without headgear to protect their ears.

So, if you protect yourself, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

I’ve never had it happen, despite years of Judo and BJJ training. But some of my instructors have had it.

In this article, we’ll check out some key facts about cauliflower ear so that you can protect yourself from getting it.

Let’s get started…

Why do Judo players have weird ears?

The weird ears Judo players have are from bruises incurred while grappling or enforcing certain holds. The flow of blood to the ear has been obstructed, leading to deformation, a swelling that could be permanent if not treated early.

It’s simply a bruise that is not healing.

When the outer ear is being hit often or is rubbed in a rough manner, its skin can separate from the cartilage resulting in a blood clot.

The damaged cartilage can become swollen and sore. And has to be treated quickly if the permanent deformity is to be avoided.

It’s common among Judo players because of the nature of the sport. It’s a contact sport where you’ll get hit or bumped as a normal part of the game.

In a sense, it comes with the territory. The only way to avoid it is to use headgear.

If you decide not to, make sure you see a doctor immediately if you suspect you’ve got cauliflower ear so that the deformation is not permanent.

Judo and Aikido are similar, but they are different in many ways too.

In a recent article, I explored 9 key differences. I showed that Judo is more offensive and is mainly fought on the ground.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Where does cauliflower ear come from?

Cauliflower ear is a bruise that is not healing. The ear is delicate, made of cartilage, so when it is hit or smashed in a rough way, blood flows into it and becomes stuck in it.

So, cauliflower ear comes from the ear’s exposure to trauma repeatedly. If it is hit and smushed often, it can become bruised.

It’s also known as perichondrial hematoma and is simply the swelling of the ear caused by a blood clot.

This blood clot triggers tissue damage which leads to a slight deformation of the ear. In its lumpy state, the ear now looks like a cauliflower.

Unless you wear headgear, there’s a high likelihood of having it.

But that’s only if you spar a lot, do a lot of tournaments, and practice hard on multiple days per week.

This is because the ear is a highly delicate and vulnerable part of the body, and it protrudes from the head.

The ear’s shape is supported by the skin covering the cartilage and blood being supplied to it.

The pressure being applied to the ear makes it swell. And the consequent clots can prevent the supply of blood to the ear. This can result in the affected part dying off unless it’s treated as soon as possible.

It can also come from an ear infection.

Say you’ve got to choose between Judo or Wrestling for self-defense, which one do you think is better?

In a recent article of mine, I compared both and showed which one’s better. Of course, there’s a lot of similarities. But one is clearly better if you end up in a real fight.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What happens if you don’t drain your cauliflower ear?

A cauliflower ear should be drained as soon as possible. If this is not done, it could trigger complications such as headaches, ringing in the ear, and even hearing loss and blurred vision.


If it is not drained fast, it would simply get worse. And, that’s the last thing anybody needs.

If the cauliflower is not drained, the blood can thicken, and when you go to see a doctor, he’ll probably have to cut it open to get the blood out.

That is likely to leave the ear scarred and deformed!

On average, there’s a two-day window to ensure the ear is drained before it’s late. But it’s actually better to get it drained the same day.

Cauliflower ear is the result of trauma.

It follows, therefore, that it’s not going to be a pleasant pain-free experience. The best proactive step to take is to ensure you use headgear or to get it treated fast if you get it. But headgear is also helpful if you have braces.

Do cauliflower ears hurt?

Cauliflower ears hurt as they are essentially bruises. They are painful because the ear is a delicate body part that’s made of cartilage. Ringing in the ear and headaches are some of the painful symptoms. Loss of hearing, swelling, and blurred vision are others.

Left untreated, it would only become more hurtful, leading to:

  1. Pain
  2. Swelling
  3. Bruising
  4. Deformity of the curvature of the ear
  5. Loss of hearing
  6. Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  7. Headaches
  8. Blurred vision
  9. Facial swelling


Some folks are convinced that BJJ is better than Judo when it comes to self-defense.

Are they right? I explored this in a recent article of mine. I compared and showed which is better. Ironically, both were born from the original Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, so there’s a lot of similarities. But for me, there’s no question as to which is better.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What martial arts give you cauliflower ear?

Martial arts such as Judo, BJJ, MMA, wrestling, boxing, and rugby can lead to practitioners developing cauliflower ear, as the ear is exposed to trauma repeatedly through constant hitting and being smushed.

And, this, as you’ll agree, is a lot of martial arts.

Willingly or unwillingly, an opponent is going to hit or smash against your ears. It could be when you’re struggling to get out of their grip. Or it may be a nasty kick straight to your delicate ears.

As hurtful as they are, not every martial artist sees it in a negative light.

In fact, some martial artists erroneously see it as a badge of honor. You know, kind of like a sign that you’re tough and have paid your dues. It’s not. It comes with a host of painful effects.

And it is not unique to Judo. So, protect yourself. Or maybe practice at home, at least initially. In fact, my current BJJ teacher, a black belt from Brazil, does indeed have a cauliflower ear (thankfully not both).

Can you learn Judo at home?

Interestingly, the answer is yes, as you can find out in a recent article of mine. In it, I also shared some cost-effective and actionable strategies that’ll help you.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How Not to Get Cauliflower Ears


We looked at the reason why some Judo players have weird ears. They’re called cauliflower ears.

We checked out what causes them. It’s the hits they take to the ears. Now, not every Judoka has them. It’s more common with the hyper-intense folks who train and fight almost daily or at intense paces.

It’s important to use protection for the ears because cauliflower ears are not only hurtful, they also come with some really nasty side effects that include headaches, blurred vision, and loss of hearing.

We called it a day by checking out other martial arts where the odds of getting it are high. But do Muay Thai fighters get cauliflower ear too?

Check out a recent article to find out! Just click that link to read it on my site.

Photo which requires attribution:

Still image taken from video – Cauliflower Ear Draining! by PusCam is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped with a text and graphic overlay added.

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