What protective gear do you wear while sparring?

Emanuelle

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I was talking to a friend of mine in the UK about my upcoming Karate tournament, and she was shocked when I told her that we use nothing but gloves, even for tournaments. She then presumed it was no-contact sparring, but that's not the case either, all strikes are above the belt except for sweeps, contact is permitted to the head and face, and force, although not excessive, is used.

What kind of sparring do you do? And, what protective gear do you use?
 

rframe

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Standard for our club is:

Karate Mitts, WKF style open finger and palm with no forearm padding.
Mouth guard, cheap boil-to-form single sided.
Groin cup.

Optionally, the cheap sock-style shin/instep guards.

Our instructor doesn't want any more padding than this because he feels it causes people to use poor form and rely on padding to do the work.
 

sfs982000

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The standard gear we use for our organization is; hand and foot pads, chest protector, mouth guard, head protection and cup, shin guards are optional but not required. The contact varies depending on what type of sparring we're doing. Light contact for point sparring and heavier contact during free sparring.
 

Manny

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Well, all depends.... what I like to use in the tkd dojang is shin/instep pads and forearm pads, don't like to use cup, hogu and head helmet, this is for doing free sparring that's full contact sparring, I am a little square and the pads is use are the ones (not the same just new ones) that I used since the begining, back in the 80's inside the dojang my master only allowed shin/instep das and a cup nothing else so that's why I use only the arma and foot pads.

Now, during testing I MUST (dojang regulations) the pads I named before plus the hogu and head helmet, don't like it but must do it.

Tournaments, I do not compete in tournaments but if I will I will use all the protection I can, TKD kicks can be nasty I've seen broken arms, hands and ribs in tkd torunaments.

Manny
 

Bill Mattocks

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EDIT: In-dojo sparring is whatever Sensei says. Could be anything or nothing. If there is going to be much contact, at least hands and feet protection. Otherwise, it's up to you.

Tournaments:
We don't have an organization that spars officially, or a 'team' for tournaments. They're not required in our dojo. However, there are lots of open tournaments around the SE Michigan area, and I've also taken part in a number of open and strictly Isshin-Ryu tournaments in other states. All of them had the same requirements for point-sparring.

Padded headgear.
Open-finger hand guards.
Mouth protector.
Groin guard / cup for men.
Feet protectors.

Shin guards are optional. I wear them because I have a bone bruise on one shin that's over a year old - going on two years old - from when a guy blocked my kick with a kick and our shins smashed together. If people want to go through that, yay them; I don't.

Chest protectors are also optional; I see a lot of kids and some adults wearing them. Personally I don't own one. I've never taken a punch or kick to the chest or stomach in sparring that I could not handle.

Black belt sparring typically allows stikes to the face (light touch as they say). Underbelt sparring typically disallows direct face contact, but the side of the head or the top of the head is OK. Rules tend to vary and I've also noticed enforcement is a bit spotty. Some tournaments give 2 points for head shots, some only 1 point. The 2-point head shot tournaments makes it a head-hunter's game.

Generally no kicking to the back of the opponent, and no supporting-leg sweeps. Front leg sweeps are OK. I seldom see any sweeps at all, of any kind.

No throws, no 'blind' techniques; that is, no 'no look' reverse kicks or strikes. If you knock an opponent down, you generally have the count of two seconds to deliver a simulated technique (no hard punching to a downed opponent, just pretend you did it) and you get the point. If you don't deliver a simulated technique, no point for knocking him down.

I know of one dojo that requires all their karateka to wear groin protection; even females. And it's not a 'cup', it's a full-on wrap-around hard plastic thing that covers from top of groin to rear, uh, ventral fin. Must be very uncomfortable. That's just a dojo thing, though; I've never seen a tournament require it.

I also wear my prescription eye goggles under my helmet. I haven't yet been told I could not have them, and I need them to see.

I have also seen a couple of tournaments require different gloves for continuous sparring; closed-hand. I haven't tried that yet and don't have any closed-hand gloves anyway. Most tournaments I've been to do not require closed-hand gloves for continuous sparring though, so that may be a new thing.

Most tournaments that I have been to also state they require all competitors to wear a clean traditional karate gi; but many show up in sweat pants and t-shirts with a sash or belt tied around the waist and they're allowed to compete anyway. Judges are required to show up in a gi; many do not. Again, rule is commonly not enforced. Personally, I think that takes away from the tournament's class and prestige. If it's a karate tournament, wear a gi like a karateka or stay home.
 

jks9199

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I have also seen a couple of tournaments require different gloves for continuous sparring; closed-hand. I haven't tried that yet and don't have any closed-hand gloves anyway. Most tournaments I've been to do not require closed-hand gloves for continuous sparring though, so that may be a new thing.

Most tournaments that I have been to also state they require all competitors to wear a clean traditional karate gi; but many show up in sweat pants and t-shirts with a sash or belt tied around the waist and they're allowed to compete anyway. Judges are required to show up in a gi; many do not. Again, rule is commonly not enforced. Personally, I think that takes away from the tournament's class and prestige. If it's a karate tournament, wear a gi like a karateka or stay home.

Among other companies, Macho makes a close fingered version of their hand guard. I've come across tournaments that require "no exposed fingers" and seen them prohibit the standard punch design.

As to uniforms... In an open tournament, it can be hard to rule out those not wearing a gi. If a particular school's uniform is, for example, a black pair of sweats and a school t-shirt -- that's their uniform. I often wear sweats instead of "formal" gi pants; it's just a matter of convenience. That said -- I usually wear a formal gi if I go to a tournament, especially if I'm judging or competing.
 

Zenjael

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I carry a full compliment. Where it is acceptible to use no gear, but say im required to even strap the groin on, I've got that. I keep 3 sets of gloves, foam, mma, and heavy gloves. I carry a small chestguard, two helments, and two mouthpieces, one cheap and one form fitted. I carry 3 sets of kicks, 1 foam, one century cloth, and a very nice set of leather kicks I found in a korean store. I love them things cause they're read. Virtually the rest of my gear is black.
 

Tez3

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I carry a full compliment. Where it is acceptible to use no gear, but say im required to even strap the groin on, I've got that. I keep 3 sets of gloves, foam, mma, and heavy gloves. I carry a small chestguard, two helments, and two mouthpieces, one cheap and one form fitted. I carry 3 sets of kicks, 1 foam, one century cloth, and a very nice set of leather kicks I found in a korean store. I love them things cause they're read. Virtually the rest of my gear is black.

I find the idea of strapping a groin on quite entertaining! I didn't realise you could buy kicks though, perhaps I've wasted a lot of years learning them.
 

Bill Mattocks

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As to uniforms... In an open tournament, it can be hard to rule out those not wearing a gi. If a particular school's uniform is, for example, a black pair of sweats and a school t-shirt -- that's their uniform. I often wear sweats instead of "formal" gi pants; it's just a matter of convenience. That said -- I usually wear a formal gi if I go to a tournament, especially if I'm judging or competing.

I don't disagree; there are clearly lots of organizations that do not wear a gi. However, when the rules state clearly that a clean traditional karate gi is required, then that is what is required. If the organizers of the tournament want to make exceptions, they certainly can; it's their tournament.

What I've noticed happens instead is that there is a 'rule', but the rule is broadly ignored. Which really begs the question; do any of the rules matter in that case? Why have a rule you're not prepared to enforce?
 
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Emanuelle

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Most tournaments that I have been to also state they require all competitors to wear a clean traditional karate gi; but many show up in sweat pants and t-shirts with a sash or belt tied around the waist and they're allowed to compete anyway. Judges are required to show up in a gi; many do not. Again, rule is commonly not enforced. Personally, I think that takes away from the tournament's class and prestige. If it's a karate tournament, wear a gi like a karateka or stay home.

Wow, you show up at any tournament here without clean, neatly pressed white gi without any patches and they'll send you packing!

Although, I do wish we were allowed shin guards, my shins are pretty banged up and even the lightest of contact makes them swell up.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Wow, you show up at any tournament here without clean, neatly pressed white gi without any patches and they'll send you packing!

Well, the tournaments I have been in that require a gi (nearly all of them so far) do not prohibit patches; which is good since I have a few on mine. And they don't generally require a white gi, just a 'clean traditional gi'.

But hey, the rules are the rules! If I wanted to attend a tournament that required a clean white gi with no patches, I'd either wear that or not attend!
 

Tez3

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The uniform rules for the comps I did were Gi's for kata and you could wear T shirts and Gi bottoms for sparring. The Gi's could be any colour, the group I was with allowed any colour you wanted so I'd always go for black. Sparring was gum shield, karate mitts and shin guards for sparring, men had groin guards though they weren't checked. Now in MMA it's 4oz gloves and gum shield, groin guards for men.
 

Instructor

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Standard for our club is:

Karate Mitts, WKF style open finger and palm with no forearm padding.
Mouth guard, cheap boil-to-form single sided.
Groin cup.

Optionally, the cheap sock-style shin/instep guards.

Our instructor doesn't want any more padding than this because he feels it causes people to use poor form and rely on padding to do the work.

This is almost exactly what we use as well. Our contact is light to medium with throws encouraged in addition to striking. I also encourage head gear (the foam kind). Not so much to protect from getting hit but in case somebody falls down and hits their head.
 

jks9199

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I don't disagree; there are clearly lots of organizations that do not wear a gi. However, when the rules state clearly that a clean traditional karate gi is required, then that is what is required. If the organizers of the tournament want to make exceptions, they certainly can; it's their tournament.

What I've noticed happens instead is that there is a 'rule', but the rule is broadly ignored. Which really begs the question; do any of the rules matter in that case? Why have a rule you're not prepared to enforce?

Part of it, I think, is very simple: Money. Tournaments aren't cheap to put on, especially with the huge trophies and dozens of divisions that seem to have become popular.
Going off loose recollections, you're talking something on the order of $5 to $10 thousand to put one on, depending on local rates and some of the details. And many barely break even... so, especially if the paying competitors say "this is our traditional uniform"... it's hard for the tournament director/promoter/host to say no.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Part of it, I think, is very simple: Money. Tournaments aren't cheap to put on, especially with the huge trophies and dozens of divisions that seem to have become popular.
Going off loose recollections, you're talking something on the order of $5 to $10 thousand to put one on, depending on local rates and some of the details. And many barely break even... so, especially if the paying competitors say "this is our traditional uniform"... it's hard for the tournament director/promoter/host to say no.

You're probably right. However, it bugs me when I follow the rules and other people choose not to; and nobody cares anyway. I think it's just one of my hot buttons. I don't lose my **** over it, just kind of annoying to me.

Similar situation; a local military air base hosts an air show every couple years. The rules are posted on their website; no pulled wagons, no coolers, no umbrellas, no towed luggage; it's all security stuff and this is a working military base. I get that. They have a security line everyone must pass through. But they ignored all the people who showed up with all of the above; let them right through. One year I was there and it rained like hell for several hours. There I am like an idiot, huddled over my digital cameras and lenses and trying to keep them dry by shielding them with my body, and the families with umbrellas just popped them up and sat out the storm in comfort. That's what I get for following the rules. Nice. Anyway, sorry for the off-topic rant. If the rules say clean white traditional karate gi, that's what I wear. I don't just do whatever I please and expect the world to make exceptions for me 'cause I'm so wonderful. I guess that makes me the idiot; I should be a selfish thoughtless moron just the guys who can't or won't read the rules. Heck, I should start popping guys in the face when we spar, so what if it's against the rules, it's not against MY rules, hurr durr durr derp derp derp.
 

searcher

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It depends on what type of sparrign we are doing and if it is in my school or one of my instructor's schools.

My school:

Juniors(5-12YO) wear shin, gloves, headgear, mouthpiece, cup for guys, with foot and chest optional. The kids spar using semi-knockdown rules.
Adults and teens wear cup for guys, mouthpiece with all other gear depending on what type of sparring we are doing. Most of the time it is shin, headgear, and gloves(boxing or open palm). We also spar quite often with only cup and mouthpiece. The sparring is knockdown or Kudo style.
We have done kickboxing in the past and other types of sparring as well, but we have been going semi-knockdown or knockdown for quite a while now andit has been great for the school and the students.

Chest protectors are optional, but usage tends to be very, very low.

Gear for us, along with hwo we spar, will vary greatly by what we are training for and by what results we are trying to get.
 

Zenjael

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I wear a mouthguard. A carry a complement of full fear from helmet and faceguard to groin protector, but I only wear them when asked by the other, or if say a tournament mandates I do so. I also carry foam, and leather, depending on the rules. I try to carry equipment which will allow me to compete anywhere.
 
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