Sparring gear...to buy or not to buy. Plainfield MA
Posted: November 14, 2019
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Here are sparring gear recommendations from our very own Stephen Bough, 3rd Degree Black Decided, Level 2 Instructor.
Sparring. The thing some of us joined Martial Arts to do, the thing that some of us dread at the end of class time, the thing that some of us devote our time, money, blood, sweat, and tears to. Sparring and combat are two of the most entertaining events that the ATA has to offer.
“But, there are so many options, what do I choose?” Well, I do not know everything (wish I did, but I don’t) but I do know a little bit about sparring gear.
Here are my personal choices for sparring gear.
Your headgear is the most important piece of equipment you have; it protects your beautiful face. For training, and for recreational purposes, the Champ Foam Headgear is your #1 choice. Featuring lots of ventilation while not compromising protection, the Champ Foam Headgear can easily have a face shield (which is required) strapped to it.
For more intensive use in champions competition or for longer training sessions, the Tegu Headgear will be your friend (this is my personal headgear of choice). With a moisture wicking material against the skin, the sweat you generate will be absorbed and not leave you looking like you just came out of a sauna. After the cloth layer, there is padding, followed by hard plastic plates that will absorb the impact of a strike very well. On the exterior, there is more padding along with an outer layer of cloth. This helmet is very adjustable, featuring straps and clamps, and a chin strap. One concern we initially had with this headgear was that it would not protect the user. This was quickly debunked as we grabbed State Champion Sparrer Ian Skidmore and asked him to hit the headgear with me wearing it as hard as he could. The kicks landed right on the earpiece, and I was surprised at the helmet’s ability to disperse the shock of a kick.
For protection for the face, I can suggest the Dyna face shield. There are different ones out there, but many of them are under review, discontinued, or just not safe to rely on. The Dyna has been the tried-and-true face shield for years. It melds well with both the Tegu headgear and the Champ Foam headgear, and offers good visibility and breathing. For the best all around face shield, buy a Dyna face shield.
The Chest Gear
While you’re in the ring, you’re going to get hit, and nothing hurts more than getting hit in the chest in the right places. That is why a good chest guard is imperative. I use an ATA Pullover Chest Protector with Elastic Shoulder Straps. When in class, or at tournament, being able to get your gear on fast is often a daunting task, but with this chest protector, you can throw your gear on quicker. The protector features adjustable velcro straps on the sides, and has a little flap for attaching tags at tournament or testing. The padding on the front wraps all around the legal target areas for ATA sparring, and it includes some bonus padding in the back along the spine, to protect from accidents or sneaky combat weapons sparrers.
The Hand Gear
Next up we have the diverse, multi-function hand gear, which can be used for bag work, sparring, or combat sparring: ATA’s Power Vinyl Punch glove. This glove has adequate padding for bag work, and has a natural curl to the fingers, aiding in giving the user a solid fist, as well as padding that extends down the wrist helps keep your wrist straight upon impact. This glove features padding on both sides of the glove, meaning that you can spar hands open, or hands closed, whichever style you choose. The Power Vinyl gloves also has finger slits and little tabs available so that you can have your fingers outside of the glove while still having complete control over how the glove moves. These are my personal gloves of choice for tournament or testing settings.
For Combat Sparring, the Official ATA Combat Gloves are the newest options available. These gloves are lightweight, offer incredible protection, and are secured by a huge strap that is wound around your wrist multiple times.
The Foot Gear
Songahm Taekwondo is 80% feet, and 20% hands. So, a lightweight, but well padded, footgear will inevitably serve you well. The Power Vinyl Kick will be the best way to go. Special material keeps excessive sweat off your feet, and adjustable Velcro straps keep the foot gear firmly on your foot while your sparring.
In combat sparring, the most important piece of equipment a sparrer can have is their weapon. I have used, at one point or another, every single combat weapon that ATA has released to be bought. I tested them all, and competed with most. The best of the lot, without a doubt, is the Action Flex Combat Bahng Mahn Ee. This weapon is light, delivers powerful strikes, and is very durable. The weapon’s bendable nature makes it great for people with powerful strikes, since the thing literally cannot break like all other combat weapons. As a general tip, if you want to compete in the champions division, have two of the same combat weapon, one for training only, and the other for competition only. This will preserve your competition weapon’s structural integrity, which is very important, as all combat weapons are checked before the competition.
Getting a mouth related injury in martial arts can be messy. You could bite down on your tongue so hard you can cut it open with your teeth. It is important that we have good mouthguard that protects us, that don’t make us feel like we are suffocating, or that don’t trigger a gag reflex as we take them out. For recreational competition or for general testing and training, I suggest the Shock Doctor Gel Max mouthguard. It features easy to mold gel that keeps its form once molded to your teeth. It is very comfortable, and makes for a good mouthguard at a decent price.
For champions competitors or for people who want the best of the best for their mouths, I recommend a Shock Doctor Ultra 2 STC Mouthguard. This mouthguard is the best mouth guard I have ever worn. You may have to order it online, as these fly off the shelves and can be hard to find in-store. I put it into my mouth to mold, and the gel layers press into my teeth. The coverage on this mouth guard is very extensive, and it has done very well when put to the test (The tests were unintentional, but stuff happens at tournament...)
(FOR MEN) “Where Protection is Most Crucial”
Which cup and supporter to use is a very important spot of information for male sparrers. For supporters, I suggest anything Shock Doctor, they have a variety of different supporters, briefs, boxers, and compression shorts with cup pouches sewn in. For the cup itself, the Shock Doctor Ultra Pro Carbon Flex is an amazing option if you are looking for maximum protection.
If you are looking for a cup with less weight, there is also the Shock Doctor Aircore Hard Cup.
Hope this helps your sparring choices! Look for more emails with more opinions on different purchase choices!