- Nov 14, 2013
- Reaction score
The helmet on the left is what's been used in Taekwondo in my experience, both for sparring and competition. The helmet on the right is more typical of sparring in boxing or MMA, but is not used in competition.
I've used both, and personally prefer the MMA helmet. However, I wanted to see what others think about the two. I'm open to data showing the safety of one over the other, or personal anecdotes of where one style of helmet failed or succeeded, and the other would likely have succeeded or failed, respectively.
The TKD helmet is often cheaper than an MMA helmet. Aside from name brands, you're probably looking at $10-$20 for a helmet. They offer great protection on the ears and on the sides of the head. There's also pretty good peripheral vision and breathability. The ear protection is also a good spot to store your mouthguard during rest periods. The chin strap means it is quick and easy to take on and off.
There's also the logistics that this is likely the helmet required for tournaments, and so having this helmet and having trained in this helmet would prepare students for tournaments.
However, I feel the protection on the face is lacking. There's a ton of wasted padding on top and on the back, areas where the skull already provides protection, and areas where you're not as likely to be hit in Taekwondo sparring. The helmets are sized and fit by the chin strap, which means sometimes they're not a great fit.
You can find boxing or MMA helmets in the same price range as a TKD helmet, but most are going to run you more. In my experience, the padding is much thinner than a Taekwondo helmet. However, more expensive boxing helmets appear to offer more padding. Peripheral vision is obviously worse.
However, these helmets have more adjustments and are a better fit once sized. They cover much more of the cheek and jaw, and some even cover the chin. I don't know if the thickness of padding matters too much, since a helmet isn't going to do much to prevent concussions. So I would prefer coverage over thickness. And students can always get a thicker, more expensive piece of headgear if they choose (I would not want to require this unless absolutely important).
As a hopeful future school owner, I will be responsible for setting the requirements for sparring gear. I can pick one or the other, or I can simply mandate that "padded headgear" be used and leave it up to the student. I believe the MMA helmet to be safer and would lean towards requiring that. Since both can be bought for cheap, I would not feel like I am gatekeeping by doing so. Similarly, if we do need specific gear for a tournament, it's not very expensive to get tournament-approved gear.