Minimum required sparring gear

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,579
Reaction score
2,586
I asked this a while ago in General. Got some good answers, but some not really relevant to TKD (i.e. "handwraps and 16 oz. gloves"), so I wanted to make a thread in the TKD forum. What is the requirements you would recommend for a school? Keeping in mind....
  • This is for low-level colored belts and kids. (Higher belts may have stricter or laxer requirements, depending on how I see things going).
  • The rules at this level would be kicks to the body are allowed, kicks to the head or legs are not. Punches are only allowed to the body.
  • Chestguard would be required (just to protect the kicker from the sweat of their opponent). I'm also assuming groin cup (if applicable) and mouthguard.
Should the feet and hands be padded for strikes?
Should the shins be padded for when folks knock shins? How about knees?
Should the forearms be padded for blocks? How about elbows to protect insteps?
Should a helmet be worn if there's not supposed to be head contact? I'm in Texas, so it can get pretty hot (but I'll probably have AC).

Overall, I'm not really worried about superficial bumps and bruises. I'd like to keep abrasions to a minimum (more to protect the cleanliness of the school), as well as major injuries.

I can see requiring as little as chestguard, mouthguard, and groin protector, to as much as everything up to knees and elbows and helmet. And lots of options in between.
 
Our minimum is headgear, mouthpiece, gloves, shins, and feet.
 
Right now what I'm thinking is:
  • Mouthguard
  • Chestguard
  • Groin protector (if applicable)
  • Handguards
And then at upper belts when headshots are allowed, include helmets. Rule is if you both have helmets, headshots are on the table. If one or both do not, then headshots are off.

Reason for handguards (over everything I didn't include) is to protect fingers.

Everything I don't require is cheaper on the students (or their parents) and is less time spent putting gear on or off. I've also had issues with foot and shin guards fitting right or staying in place, and sometimes even an issue with traction.

That's not to say I'm settled or completely decided on this. It's just what I'm thinking at the moment is the best balance of safety, cost, and comfort.
 
Would you folks consider foot pads necessary if all legal targets are already padded?

I ask because personally, I've always had trouble finding foot protection (and shin protection) that provides the right coverage and stays put.
  • Dipped foam kickboxing shoes tend to roll on me
  • Cheap TKD cloth pads tend to either be too big (cover my toes, lose traction) or too small (a few inches of instep unprotected)
  • WT-style footpads don't offer much protection, single-loop versions tend to pop off, sometimes the toes don't stay on right. They also take the most time to put on.
  • Vinyl style pads I haven't had stay on very well. They tend to turn around my shin.
  • Muay Thai style pads are thicker, and most of them I haven't stayed on very well.
 
Redman suit.
TN118_1500_1.jpg

That's pretty much the only way to pad everything that might get kicked.
 
That's pretty much the only way to pad everything that might get kicked.
Gotcha.

Well, I was thinking of legal targets. Which as I stated in my OP, for the belt and age range I'm considering is just the area that would be covered by the chestguard.

Reasons I would consider more than just hands and feet is:
  • Shins: Because even if the shin isn't the scoring tool, it's often involved. Also, people knock shins.
  • Knees: Because people knock knees.
  • Forearms: Because people block.
  • Elbows: Because people kick elbows and it hurts your instep.
I don't know that there's as much case for protecting upper arms, neck, and upper legs in this particular style of sparring.

In every school I've been in from 1995 to 2023 (only 3 schools, but different eras) required gear was the same: head, mouth, chest, groin, hand, forearm, foot, shin. I also opted at my second school (probably 5-8 years ago) to add knee pads because I kept knocking knees, and it really helped. So I can easily see the case for going with near-full-redman and going more than what I've been required in the past.

But in my Muay Thai, it's just mouth, gloves, foot, and instep. We usually don't even bother with head or groin. So I can see a case for going much lighter.
 
I asked this a while ago in General. Got some good answers, but some not really relevant to TKD (i.e. "handwraps and 16 oz. gloves"), so I wanted to make a thread in the TKD forum. What is the requirements you would recommend for a school? Keeping in mind....
  • This is for low-level colored belts and kids. (Higher belts may have stricter or laxer requirements, depending on how I see things going).
  • The rules at this level would be kicks to the body are allowed, kicks to the head or legs are not. Punches are only allowed to the body.
  • Chestguard would be required (just to protect the kicker from the sweat of their opponent). I'm also assuming groin cup (if applicable) and mouthguard.
Should the feet and hands be padded for strikes?
Should the shins be padded for when folks knock shins? How about knees?
Should the forearms be padded for blocks? How about elbows to protect insteps?
Should a helmet be worn if there's not supposed to be head contact? I'm in Texas, so it can get pretty hot (but I'll probably have AC).

Overall, I'm not really worried about superficial bumps and bruises. I'd like to keep abrasions to a minimum (more to protect the cleanliness of the school), as well as major injuries.

I can see requiring as little as chestguard, mouthguard, and groin protector, to as much as everything up to knees and elbows and helmet. And lots of options in between.
I think if you're allowing kicks to the body, you want to protect those legs (the leg protection, IMO, is to protect from blocks and mis-kicks). I never used knee protection, so can't speak to that.

I didn't require hand protection if we were sparring open-hand (even for beginners, who would be with someone more experienced - usually me for a while). If any punches are allowed, I'd always require gloves of some sort for beginners.

We never used forearm pads, but we don't kick as much as you do, nor generally as high, so I can't speak to the utility of those.

If there's meant to be zero head contact, and kicks are kept low (because beginners suck at controlling them), I'd be okay with no headgear. But you'd have to monitor really closely (I had very small classes, and everyone started their sparring with me, so I knew what to expect).

With any kicks involved, I'd always require groin protection. The only time I didn't was with hands-only sparring (and even then, I'd probably require it for harder contact, just so folks are mindful).
 
Right now what I'm thinking is:
  • Mouthguard
  • Chestguard
  • Groin protector (if applicable)
  • Handguards
And then at upper belts when headshots are allowed, include helmets. Rule is if you both have helmets, headshots are on the table. If one or both do not, then headshots are off.

Reason for handguards (over everything I didn't include) is to protect fingers.

Everything I don't require is cheaper on the students (or their parents) and is less time spent putting gear on or off. I've also had issues with foot and shin guards fitting right or staying in place, and sometimes even an issue with traction.

That's not to say I'm settled or completely decided on this. It's just what I'm thinking at the moment is the best balance of safety, cost, and comfort.
You can get gear really cheap for your students, if you're not concerned about profit on it. I had a resale account with AWMA, and sold for a tiny markup (to cover my time ordering and such). Just remember if you go that route, you'll have to pay sales tax on those sales.

One advantage of that is students could sell back to me (at a lower price, depending on how used it was), and I could offer it at that same price (plus tax) to another student.
 
Redman suit.
TN118_1500_1.jpg

That's pretty much the only way to pad everything that might get kicked.
As a side note, a handy thing to have if you want folks to be able to go hard on an "attacker" in some drills. But pricey. I never had enough students to be able to add one. Certainly not a necessity, but it adds some options.
 
No, not as a minimum. If someone wants to wear more, they certainly can.
I think this is the route I want to go. Right now I'm thinking: mouthguard, chestguard, gloves, groin, instep, and shin mandatory. Knee, forearm, and elbow optional (as well as anything else that might arise).

Upper levels may have more or less depending on what we're doing. Most of that is going to be future decisions.
 
Would you folks consider foot pads necessary if all legal targets are already padded?
With the young kids, I sometimes see as many kicks to the legs / groin as to the body. I don't see kicks to the head. So I would favour shin/foot protection more than head/mouth protection.

(It's not my school where I see this, so I can't stop the leg kickers and tell them to spar in a month when they are a little more controlled.)
 
My viewpoint is protection on the areas that, if an injury occurs, would be problematic. So that would be mouthguard (dental work is expensive), cup (obvious reasons), and gloves (jamming/breaking a finger can put you out for a while).

Footpads just end up being more annoying than protective. Especially since they can slip around, not actually protect the toes and increase the chance of rolling an ankle from stepping weirdly.

Shinpads...yeah, a shin clash hurts, but it's easily recoverable. And the pain from it is useful to teach you to avoid shin clashes. I'd consider it in drilling where the shins are going to take a beating, so you can train longer, but that's it.

I've never used chest protectors, or had kids use them, and in 20ish years being/working with kids, seen an injury result from it. Not even sure what they would do. If a kid had some heart condition or something I'd probably recommend it, but outside of that it doesn't seem necessary. Unless it's required in tournaments and you want them to be used to sparring for sport.

Headgear...thats definitely an area that needs protection, but modern headgear doesn't actually help. Might be good for parents ease of mind though.

Elbow and knee pads i can see being useful, if they're thrown a lot in your sport. Its pretty easy to accidentally lacerate with an elbow. If they're illegal it would depend on how much i trust my students not to throw them.
 
Headgear...thats definitely an area that needs protection, but modern headgear doesn't actually help. Might be good for parents ease of mind though.
IMO the main benefit of headgear is if a person "Goes Down" whether it be caused by a slip or a blow, and the head hits the floor- this is where the head gear offers greatest protection.
 
I've never used chest protectors, or had kids use them, and in 20ish years being/working with kids, seen an injury result from it.
I firmly believe that hogu is for kumdo.
Not even sure what they would do. If a kid had some heart condition or something I'd probably recommend it, but outside of that it doesn't seem necessary.
You may be thinking of commotio cordis, but that is purely a matter of wrong place wrong time, and there are no known risk factors. It's incredibly rare. I've never seen a case, and after the football players event, I asked a whole bunch of other people in cardiology and the ER and nobody else had either. It's purely textbook knowledge for virtually all of us.
[Edit - I looked it up. In any given year, there are less than 30 cases worldwide.]

If you DID manage to find a student who had been diagnosed with CC, their risk of a future even it exactly the same as everybody else in the class.

There are certainly conditions that would lead me to tell someone not to spar. None of them would be made safe if they wore a chest protector.
 
Last edited:

Latest Discussions

Back
Top