It is important to wear practical sparring gear, due to the fact that you don’t want excessive injuries because this could interfere with training. You don’t want to spend a lot of time healing when you could be training. For this reason, it is necessary to be conscious of your training partner and, going hand-in-hand with that, conscious of yourself and what you’re doing. The point of sparring is to learn and not to do damage to each other.
So, it is important to use the proper protective equipment. Bare minimum, you need a cup and a mouth guard. Next, you will need head gear, gloves and shin and instep guards.
The mouth guard is to protect you teeth and your partners’ hands. The cup is obvious, a kick to the groin is painful and interrupts training for a good long while. Head gear protects the body’s computer, the brain. The nerves on the face are sensitive. Obviously most strikers are “head-hunters” for a good reason. A shot to the face is debilitating and painful; broken noses, busted lips, sharp pain in the philtrum and cheek nerves and damaged eyes can put you out of commission if the damage is bad enough. Also, you just don’t want to jar the brain too much. Nobody wants to be punch drunk.
Gloves for the hands are crucial, they cushion the shocks to the body and head and also protect your hands. Many street fighters know the misery of digging teeth out of their knuckles. You get the point.
Finally, it is very painful to get an elbow to the shin. To ensure you can go on with your training session, you’ll want pads for your shins and insteps.
You also want gear that will ensure you are still mobile and have as much use of your body as possible. We will take this into consideration here for determining what sparring gear is best for your training.
I don’t really like the light-weight head gear. It doesn’t do much for protection and it flies off easily. Nothing like getting into a heated sparring session and your head gear goes flying across the room. For this reason, I like the head gear with a face guard. This cushions the brain and face, and if the session somehow goes full-contact (it happens), you have much better protection. It slips on well and tends to stay in place.
Some headgear are very well-cushioned, thick and they protect the face without obscuring vision and doesn’t slip off. This product from RDX is of high-quality and offers such safety. I highly recommend it.
Basically, you want gloves that are well-padded to protect you and your partner but do not interfere with your grappling technique. So, I prefer gloves with open fingers, but well-padded at the same time.
If you are looking for a nice fit and extra padding and the ability to punch and grapple, Combat Sports offers an excellent pair of gloves.
Everlast offers some decent gloves for some straight boxing; of course, they also have very high-quality MMA gloves too. Sometimes you want to pick up the pace and go at it.
Shin and Instep Guard
As stated before, it’s painful to get your shin banged up. The small bones in the foot also are vulnerable to elbow and even palm heels. So, you want gear that will pad and protect your shin and instep.
It’s a problem when the pads keep slipping off the shin or the straps keep coming loose. For this reason I like the shin and instep guard that’s one piece that just slips on. They are easier to put on and they won’t come off. Again, Everlast always offers top-quality gear, which they’ve been doing for about century now, in the old days for famous boxers, nowadays their line-up of products includes gear for MMA fighters, like their shin and instep guards.
For protecting the groin, I prefer the athletic supporter that’s fitted like a pocket for the cup. There are ones which are not like a pocket and the cup easily slips out of those; the cup just kind of goes behind a piece of cloth. One thing you don’t want is to lose your groin guard in the middle of sparring. Accidents do happen and they can be painful. So, I prefer the cup and supporter in which the cup slips into a pocket in the supporter.
I’m not too picky about the mouth guard, I usually buy the cheap ones that are plastic and you boil in water and form to your teeth. They cushion the blows well enough.
So there you have it. It is important to observe the safety of yourself and your partners during training so that you can go on training for as long as possible. Of course, the proper equipment and protection is crucial for healthy and prolonged martial arts training.
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Featured image: By David Maiolo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons