You do not need expensive gear to be a serious martial artist

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,201
Reaction score
3,703
Location
Michigan
Every time I find an online discussion forum for martial arts, I inevitably seem to find the endless discussion about gear. The general consensus seems to be that if you don't "invest" in the best gear (and everyone has their own preference and only theirs is correct), you cannot be a good / serious martial artist.

I fell for that nonsense when I was starting out. Ooh, Shureido or Tokaido? $300 tonfa? $600 sai?

Fortunately, I couldn't afford any of that. Did I envy it? Yes! That gear is sweet! But is it necessary?

Maybe if you're serious about competition, you want every edge to make you look your best, and there's no doubt that high end gear is, well, great to use as well as see. But that's not me. I competed for awhile, did err, ok-ish, and lost interest as I got older.

All I really need is a durable gi that fits and moves well, and weapons and protective gear that protects me and doesn't fall apart. Big money is just money I don't need to spend.

Over the years, I've found that the basic middleweight Century brushed cotton gi with elastic waistband works well for me. It lasts about three years before I wear it out. In the summer, I like the Tiger Claw diamond weave lightweight gi, also with elastic waistband. They seem to last forever and they're cheap.

For belts, Amazon. I like thinner material for an obi anyway, they stay tied and lay flat. I've never worn one out; I've ended up buying 3 because gaining and losing weight.

Sparring gear? Any cheap foam stuff. I experimented with some 'better' gear. It just costs more, that's all.

I bought a Shock Doctor cup 15 years ago and it's still fine. Wedding tackle intact.

Weapons? Amazon bamboo bo, cheap sai, etc. Beater bo seem to be far superior to me when I can afford to throw them away after they start to splinter.

Now maybe that makes me a less serious martial artist. My obi is not embroidered with my name in Kanji or my dan rank. Sigh. Oh well. I'll somehow live with the shame.

I guess all I'm saying is by all means, buy whatever gear you like. But if you can't afford or don't want a $300 gi, don't feel badly. Kit doesn't make your punches harder or your kicks faster. You can be a serious martial artist without the high end gear.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
6,739
Reaction score
2,089
This comes up in nearly every hobby I do. Guitars? You don't need a $3000 signature series guitar to sound good. You can sound good on a $200 entry-level guitar. Guns? You don't need a $3000 custom series 1911 to shoot well. Jerry Miculek can easily hit targets with a $200 hi-point.

But, what I've found is there are three reasons why gear can make you better: quality control, fitting your needs, and the excitement means you're probably going to practice.

The first is the quality control. In both of the examples above, the $200 versions are typically very cheaply made, with a lot of corners cut. The gun may jam quite a lot, or have a really stiff trigger pull that makes it hard to shoot when you're NOT Jerry Miculek. The guitar may have a tough action and be relatively difficult to play.

If you go up to the $500 range, you're probably going to find something that's much easier to use, or that's much easier to find the sound you want. For example, a $500 guitar is much more likely to stay in tune longer than a $200 guitar, because the guitar will use better tuning hardware. It's also less likely to have intonation problems due to sloppy fretwork. A handgun in that $500 price range is likely going to be something that has at least put some effort into making the gun accurate and ergonomic, at least enough that you would need to be comfortable shooting a target 10-15 feet away.

As you move up in price, typically you can go up in one of two ways. The first is quality ($1000 guitar instead of a $500 guitar). The second is in accessories. For example, instead of buying a $1000 gun, buying a $500 gun and having it fit with a trigger kit, a red dot sight, and a flashlight, so that it's easier to see and put rounds on target.

To bring this back to the martial arts discussion, I'll take this line:

Sparring gear? Any cheap foam stuff. I experimented with some 'better' gear. It just costs more, that's all.

Sparring gear, especially for the legs and feet, is something that I think everyone has different opinions. When I did Taekwondo, I tried pretty much every style. I had:
  • Connected cloth shin and foot guards
  • Cloth shin guards with coated foam "shoes"
  • Vinyl greaves
  • Cloth shin guards with World Taekwondo style foot gloves
Of the four, the last was the only one that I felt comfortable sparring with. The cloth shin and foot guards were either too short for my feet or too long for my legs, and I didn't like the coverage. The next two options had a tendency to move around while I was sparring. The last option stayed in place.

(I call them foot gloves because they have a slot for each toe).

With that last option, there was the $10 foot gloves that had a small velcro snap at the back, and the $20 foot gloves would snap, but had another band that would wrap around with a much bigger velcro strip to hold it in place. The $10 versions were basically useless, because they would not stay snapped. The $20 version was perfect. In this case, the extra money helped.

The third reason is simply that when you get a new toy, you tend to want to play with it. Buying a new toy can help bring you out of a slump. If I'm not practicing guitar as much as I should, buying a new digital pedal that's got 100 different settings means I'm going to play with it for at least an afternoon, and that will get me back into the groove. I'm not saying you should buy equipment every other day, but those times where you need to light a fire, that can be one way to do it.
 
OP
Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,201
Reaction score
3,703
Location
Michigan
All good reasons. If that's your use case, or if you simply want the high end gear, then by all means. But if a person doesn't want or need the top end kit, that's fine too.
 

KenpoMaster805

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 14, 2016
Messages
693
Reaction score
127
Location
Oxnard California
i have a used sparring gear i ddint have to buy any sparring gear all i need to buy was my mouth peace and my Kali Stick is cheap too i bought it in china town my Gi is not embroidered but i have patches and the only thing i want embroidered is my black belt when i get my black belt this year i want my black belt to be embroidered with my name and my karate studios name
 
Last edited:

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
33,375
Reaction score
8,201
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
Every time I find an online discussion forum for martial arts, I inevitably seem to find the endless discussion about gear. The general consensus seems to be that if you don't "invest" in the best gear (and everyone has their own preference and only theirs is correct), you cannot be a good / serious martial artist.

I fell for that nonsense when I was starting out. Ooh, Shureido or Tokaido? $300 tonfa? $600 sai?

Fortunately, I couldn't afford any of that. Did I envy it? Yes! That gear is sweet! But is it necessary?

Maybe if you're serious about competition, you want every edge to make you look your best, and there's no doubt that high end gear is, well, great to use as well as see. But that's not me. I competed for awhile, did err, ok-ish, and lost interest as I got older.

All I really need is a durable gi that fits and moves well, and weapons and protective gear that protects me and doesn't fall apart. Big money is just money I don't need to spend.

Over the years, I've found that the basic middleweight Century brushed cotton gi with elastic waistband works well for me. It lasts about three years before I wear it out. In the summer, I like the Tiger Claw diamond weave lightweight gi, also with elastic waistband. They seem to last forever and they're cheap.

For belts, Amazon. I like thinner material for an obi anyway, they stay tied and lay flat. I've never worn one out; I've ended up buying 3 because gaining and losing weight.

Sparring gear? Any cheap foam stuff. I experimented with some 'better' gear. It just costs more, that's all.

I bought a Shock Doctor cup 15 years ago and it's still fine. Wedding tackle intact.

Weapons? Amazon bamboo bo, cheap sai, etc. Beater bo seem to be far superior to me when I can afford to throw them away after they start to splinter.

Now maybe that makes me a less serious martial artist. My obi is not embroidered with my name in Kanji or my dan rank. Sigh. Oh well. I'll somehow live with the shame.

I guess all I'm saying is by all means, buy whatever gear you like. But if you can't afford or don't want a $300 gi, don't feel badly. Kit doesn't make your punches harder or your kicks faster. You can be a serious martial artist without the high end gear.

early, very early actually, a gentleman that worked with my mother was a Karate guy and my mother was talking to him about me starting Jiu jitsu (Japanese), he made me a dumbbell out of a piece of iron rod and some rubber gasket things and a thing for grip strenght out of a set of breaks off of a 10 speed bike. I still have the dumbbell. Apparently he made all his own training gear, but this was the early 70s too. Also if you look at old pictures, and some new pictures too, of Shauijiao guys in China, they made most of their training gear, much of it using concrete, or simply concrete blocks
 

mograph

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 10, 2008
Messages
1,628
Reaction score
776
Look at those old guys in the construction industry: bricklayers, roofers, and so on. They are so tough because they lift heavy sh*t all day, every day. My late uncle, the sheet metal man, was a monster because he carried roofing materials on his shoulder all the time. I see kettlebell exercises that look like what these guys did all day.
As for clothes, in a martial context, we wear street clothes. Nothing fancy, but not too tight.

But I get it. If you put stress on the gear, and the long-lasting stuff is expensive, then go for it. I'd rather buy something expensive that lasts rather than something cheap that I have to replace a lot.
 
OP
Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,201
Reaction score
3,703
Location
Michigan
Look at those old guys in the construction industry: bricklayers, roofers, and so on. They are so tough because they lift heavy sh*t all day, every day. My late uncle, the sheet metal man, was a monster because he carried roofing materials on his shoulder all the time. I see kettlebell exercises that look like what these guys did all day.
As for clothes, in a martial context, we wear street clothes. Nothing fancy, but not too tight.

But I get it. If you put stress on the gear, and the long-lasting stuff is expensive, then go for it. I'd rather buy something expensive that lasts rather than something cheap that I have to replace a lot.
At this point in my life, I'm not going to buy a roof for my house with a 30 year warranty, you know? Why should I pay for a roof for the next owner after I kick off? Joking, but only kind of. I don't have to think in the long term; I don't have one.
 

mograph

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 10, 2008
Messages
1,628
Reaction score
776
At this point in my life, I'm not going to buy a roof for my house with a 30 year warranty, you know? Why should I pay for a roof for the next owner after I kick off? Joking, but only kind of. I don't have to think in the long term; I don't have one.
Well, yeah, we went for the middle option on the roof: about 20 years, if I recall. Our neighbours went with a cheaper contractor, and shortly after installation, during a rainstorm, found water gushing out of their wall outlets.
 
OP
Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,201
Reaction score
3,703
Location
Michigan
Well, yeah, we went for the middle option on the roof: about 20 years, if I recall. Our neighbours went with a cheaper contractor, and shortly after installation, during a rainstorm, found water gushing out of their wall outlets.
I think that is more about the installation than the quality of the shingles or lack thereof. No roof should do that, regardless of how long it is guaranteed for.
 

MetalBoar

Brown Belt
Joined
Jun 23, 2018
Messages
436
Reaction score
398
Every time I find an online discussion forum for martial arts, I inevitably seem to find the endless discussion about gear. The general consensus seems to be that if you don't "invest" in the best gear (and everyone has their own preference and only theirs is correct), you cannot be a good / serious martial artist.

I fell for that nonsense when I was starting out. Ooh, Shureido or Tokaido? $300 tonfa? $600 sai?

Fortunately, I couldn't afford any of that. Did I envy it? Yes! That gear is sweet! But is it necessary?

Maybe if you're serious about competition, you want every edge to make you look your best, and there's no doubt that high end gear is, well, great to use as well as see. But that's not me. I competed for awhile, did err, ok-ish, and lost interest as I got older.

All I really need is a durable gi that fits and moves well, and weapons and protective gear that protects me and doesn't fall apart. Big money is just money I don't need to spend.

Over the years, I've found that the basic middleweight Century brushed cotton gi with elastic waistband works well for me. It lasts about three years before I wear it out. In the summer, I like the Tiger Claw diamond weave lightweight gi, also with elastic waistband. They seem to last forever and they're cheap.

For belts, Amazon. I like thinner material for an obi anyway, they stay tied and lay flat. I've never worn one out; I've ended up buying 3 because gaining and losing weight.

Sparring gear? Any cheap foam stuff. I experimented with some 'better' gear. It just costs more, that's all.

I bought a Shock Doctor cup 15 years ago and it's still fine. Wedding tackle intact.

Weapons? Amazon bamboo bo, cheap sai, etc. Beater bo seem to be far superior to me when I can afford to throw them away after they start to splinter.

Now maybe that makes me a less serious martial artist. My obi is not embroidered with my name in Kanji or my dan rank. Sigh. Oh well. I'll somehow live with the shame.

I guess all I'm saying is by all means, buy whatever gear you like. But if you can't afford or don't want a $300 gi, don't feel badly. Kit doesn't make your punches harder or your kicks faster. You can be a serious martial artist without the high end gear.
I mostly agree with this sentiment. I think it's physical, intellectual and emotional, rather than financial, investment that makes someone a serious martial artist or not. I've never spent much on gear for my MA classes, with the exception of fencing (some don't count that as a MA).

I think that competition is where spending more can make a real difference in performance and sometimes you can't even train the same way without it. Of course it depends on the MA you're practicing. I don't know if a high end rash guard makes you a better BJJ competitor, for example, but I do know that better fencing equipment makes you a better fencer. I got by with an old, dry, french foil, loaner mask and jacket and I just wore whatever athletic shoes I had available for a long time. When I switched to better gear it made a huge difference.

When I got really serious about wanting to compete in sanctioned tournaments, not just the little standard (non-electric) competitions that the local colleges put on, but actual USFA events, I had to upgrade whether I wanted to or not. Those tournaments required an electric foil and accessories, lame, underarm guard, and mask and jacket that met the current safety standards. I decided that if I was going to have to spend real money I might as well spend a little more and get better stuff, so I got the nice pistol grip electric foil with the better tip, I got a semi-tailored jacket and knickers, and a mask that fit really well. Maybe best of all, I got real fencing shoes, though I didn't splurge to get the asymmetrical ones that were new at the time and crazy expensive. It all made me a better fencer and the shoes, fitted jacket and properly fitting mask made an amazing difference in how good the equipment felt to use. The shoes in particular shocked me with how much more agile and quick on my feet I became.

Not only were some version of these things required to compete, at least the basics were required to even train. Electric foil is a lot different than dry (non-electric) foil. It's much faster. Hits that the human eye can't even see are registered by the scoring equipment and if you've never fenced electric, your first electric bout will be a revelation. Training with standard gear was a good starting point, but you weren't going to be successful in competition unless you trained regularly with the electric stuff, and much like skribs said above, spending more (up to a point) did get you significantly better results.

So I guess to some degree another question might be, if you are participating in a competitive martial art and you compete, how serious are you about winning those competitions? I was very serious about fencing before I bought my own gear, but I couldn't be serious about competition without something at least nearly as good as what I got. You can be very serious about an art and not care about winning competitions, but if you are serious about winning and don't want to be at a disadvantage to your opponents, better equipment may be required.
 
OP
Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,201
Reaction score
3,703
Location
Michigan
So I guess to some degree another question might be, if you are participating in a competitive martial art and you compete, how serious are you about winning those competitions? I was very serious about fencing before I bought my own gear, but I couldn't be serious about competition without something at least nearly as good as what I got. You can be very serious about an art and not care about winning competitions, but if you are serious about winning and don't want to be at a disadvantage to your opponents, better equipment may be required.
I absolutely agree with your statements. However, I think sometimes (and not by you, this is not an accusation), people conflate 'serious about competition' with 'serious' in a more general sense. I am a serious martial artist. I do not compete. How can that be? Because I am serious about other aspects of my art. Neither is better than the other; they are merely different.

I've met a few folks who think if you don't compete, if you don't "test yourself in the ring," if you're not a champion fighter, then you're a dabbler, not a real martial artist, and certainly not worthy as a martial artist. To them, if you do not compete, you do not matter. Others think if you do not go out and "test yourself on the street" then your martial arts training is worthless; you're not serious about self-defense.

I'm not going to tell anyone what 'real' martial arts is or is not. Not many are interested in my path, and that's cool. But since I do not follow those paths, I do not need that gear. I have nothing against those who do. I fully support someone who wants those things.
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
33,375
Reaction score
8,201
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
Well, yeah, we went for the middle option on the roof: about 20 years, if I recall. Our neighbours went with a cheaper contractor, and shortly after installation, during a rainstorm, found water gushing out of their wall outlets.

I had a new roof put on last year.... it wasn't tin...and it was not cheap..was not the most expensive estimate I got......but still cost $$$......but at least it doesn't leak
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,948
Reaction score
4,524
Location
San Francisco
I agree with your sentiment Bill, but would add some comments.

When training with implements, including heavy bags, safety equipment, weapons, etc., quality matters. Quality improves the training itself, and often improves upon safety. However, quality doesnt automatically equate to expensive. I think Xues example of the implement made by the karate guy in the 1970s is a good example. It is a device that has lasted decades, but cost very little to make. Sometimes commercially available equipment can be expensive and NOT durable, and that sucks.

My own personal expertise in this discussion is in weapons. In the traditional Chinese martial arts, many of us train with a variety of weapons, including swords, staffs, spears, chains, double weapons, flexible weapons, a variety of pole-arms, etc. Much of what comes out of China in this stuff is of poor quality. Often it is meant for competitive Modern Wushu, and is built extra-light so the competitors and performers can move with lightning speed. But those weapons are simply stage-props at best, and toys at worst, and are in danger of flying apart (I saw that actually happen at a tournament, years ago). They would never stand up to the rigors of real combat, and their light build undermines the quality of the training. They allow you to cheat on your technique and get away with cutting corners. Hey, whatever it takes to win a competition based on showmanship.

A real weapon with appropriate balance and weighting (neither too light, nor too heavy) feels very different, makes you work much harder, and does not let you get away with cheating your technique, which transfers into your empty-hand training as well. It vastly improves your overall training experience.

Real weaponry is more expensive than junk weaponry, but is often surprisingly affordable. And if you take care of it, it will last your lifetime and your kids and grandkids can use it too. A lot of people are not interested in making that investment, which I have a hard time understanding, if they are otherwise serious about their training. The experience of training with real (realistic) weaponry is just so much better than training with a toy.
 
OP
Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,201
Reaction score
3,703
Location
Michigan
I agree with your sentiment Bill, but would add some comments.

When training with implements, including heavy bags, safety equipment, weapons, etc., quality matters. Quality improves the training itself, and often improves upon safety. However, quality doesnt automatically equate to expensive. I think Xues example of the implement made by the karate guy in the 1970s is a good example. It is a device that has lasted decades, but cost very little to make. Sometimes commercially available equipment can be expensive and NOT durable, and that sucks.

My own personal expertise in this discussion is in weapons. In the traditional Chinese martial arts, many of us train with a variety of weapons, including swords, staffs, spears, chains, double weapons, flexible weapons, a variety of pole-arms, etc. Much of what comes out of China in this stuff is of poor quality. Often it is meant for competitive Modern Wushu, and is built extra-light so the competitors and performers can move with lightning speed. But those weapons are simply stage-props at best, and toys at worst, and are in danger of flying apart (I saw that actually happen at a tournament, years ago). They would never stand up to the rigors of real combat, and their light build undermines the quality of the training. They allow you to cheat on your technique and get away with cutting corners. Hey, whatever it takes to win a competition based on showmanship.

A real weapon with appropriate balance and weighting (neither too light, nor too heavy) feels very different, makes you work much harder, and does not let you get away with cheating your technique, which transfers into your empty-hand training as well. It vastly improves your overall training experience.

Real weaponry is more expensive than junk weaponry, but is often surprisingly affordable. And if you take care of it, it will last your lifetime and your kids and grandkids can use it too. A lot of people are not interested in making that investment, which I have a hard time understanding, if they are otherwise serious about their training. The experience of training with real (realistic) weaponry is just so much better than training with a toy.
Better is better. I don't think that there is any doubt about that. You often get what you pay for. I've handled $300 sai, and although I do not want to buy any that cost that much, there is no denying that they are works of art and feel wonderful in the hand. Do they make the user a better martial artist? I think you could make that argument. But do they make that martial artist a 'serious' martial artist? If a martial artist chooses a less impressive or expensive bit of kit, does that mean they are less serious about their art? That really was the only point I was making.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,948
Reaction score
4,524
Location
San Francisco
Better is better. I don't think that there is any doubt about that. You often get what you pay for. I've handled $300 sai, and although I do not want to buy any that cost that much, there is no denying that they are works of art and feel wonderful in the hand. Do they make the user a better martial artist? I think you could make that argument. But do they make that martial artist a 'serious' martial artist? If a martial artist chooses a less impressive or expensive bit of kit, does that mean they are less serious about their art? That really was the only point I was making.
I see your point, sure. I imagine it comes down to pure economics for a lot of people. If they simply dont have $500 for a quality sword, there is no getting around that. If that is the case, then do the best that you can with what you can afford.

But you can spend $500 for a quality sword, and you can spend $5000 on a quality sword, and while they $5000 sword may be better quality, and I doubt it is measurably 10 times superior. Sometimes it is a matter of a continuum. You can get quality at a reasonable price, or you can spend what might be way too much for similar quality, and anywhere in between.

Often (not always) from what I have seen, people like the idea of training much more than they like the hard work of training. Often those are the people training with the cheapest, lowest quality equipment, and it seems they dont realize it. They can be incurious and dont even investigate the issue. They saw the sword was available at a price that equated to little more than pocket money, so they bought it so they could now learn sword from their Sifu. I think those people are not very serious about their training, but that is my judgement from what I see.

The blame may be on their Sifu, for not educating them.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
14,948
Reaction score
4,524
Location
San Francisco
I just realized this issue is similar to what is seen in amateur astronomy and skywatching. I have posted photos here in the forums, of celestial objects taken through my telescope. My telescope is rather large for an amateur, but it is a configuration that makes it still affordable as such. It simply lacks certain bells and whistles that are available on smaller models, that would drive the price significantly higher if they were on a model similar in size to mine. That is the compromise that I made, when I bought it.

However, I am absolutely adamant that nobody needs to buy a large telescope, in order to become a skilled amateur astronomer or to see all kinds of wonderful things. You can see a whole lot of great stuff with the naked eye, or with a pair of decent (not high-end and expensive) binoculars, particularly if you have access to a dark-sky area away from city lights. I have seen the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, deep star fields, annd sunspots (with special filters that are inexpensive, and designed for safely viewing the sun), all with binoculars.

If you want to buy a telescope, you do not need a large one. A small one can see much much more than binoculars, and it really opens the doors. However, if you choose to buy a telescope, I advise that you need to be willing to buy a certain baseline of quality, or the money is wasted. You can get a telescope for under $100. However, they have a very small aperture which captures a small amount of light and gives dim, fuzzy images, they often have cheap tripods that wobble and do not hold the scope steady which destroys the viewing experience, and the quality of the optics is bottom baseline which is still functional, but not impressive. All of this contributes to a disappointing and frustrating experience. The views are dim and unimpressive, and the work to get an object into the field of view on a rickety tripod with a small aperture telescope can make you really grind your teeth. Those telescopes that you see in scientific toy stores typically display these features and they can do more to destroy a childs newly formed interest in astronomy, than anything else. You are better off not buying such an instrument at all, and just sticking to naked-eye observations.

I see parallels here with Metalboars example of fencing. You dont need to spend a lot of money on fancy equipment. But, if you want to engage the activity on a certain level, then there is a minimum level of quality that you need to be willing to invest in. With telescopes, I would say that baseline is about $350-$500.
 
Last edited:

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,143
Reaction score
5,089
Location
New York
For most martial arts, I haven't seen a need to pay extra. A cheap gi is fine, I've got one thick one for grappling arts and the rest are fairly light. The thick one was a gift from an old sensei. mouthguard is a mouthguard, I learn what gloves I need for a specific art/sport, and am fine borrowing til I can find some on sale. Not that I can't spend the money, it just doesn't make a difference to me.
The only instance where I spent money was in fencing, where I was competitive. Even there, the 'armor' I didn't spend much on-no real point. I even used an old mask that I found in our storage area for the first year or so, until it failed inspection at a tournament (for a non-dangerous reason), then I bought another mask, and used my original just for practice. It was slightly the wrong size, and discoloured, but in terms of efficacy there was no difference.

I did buy a more expensive epee and foil at one point, because the ones that I used would break about once or twice a season. The issue is the new ones were less stiff/more flexible-which most people like, but I built my style around having a stiff sword (heh). So after a few tournaments, I switched back to the stiffer/cheaper ones and just carried three with me at any one time.

So no, expensive gear is not needed. It's a poor workman who blames his tools.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,143
Reaction score
5,089
Location
New York
Better is better. I don't think that there is any doubt about that.
If you read my above post, better actually isn't always better. Most of the time, yes. But people can absolutely prefer/do better with the cheaper stuff, depending on what it is.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
6,739
Reaction score
2,089
Better is better. I don't think that there is any doubt about that. You often get what you pay for. I've handled $300 sai, and although I do not want to buy any that cost that much, there is no denying that they are works of art and feel wonderful in the hand. Do they make the user a better martial artist? I think you could make that argument. But do they make that martial artist a 'serious' martial artist? If a martial artist chooses a less impressive or expensive bit of kit, does that mean they are less serious about their art? That really was the only point I was making.
In many cases, I think there are different "tiers" where you get different amounts that you pay for. The difference between them is going to depend wildly on what item we're talking about, as well as the current climate.

Cost-benefit is typically depicted as a logarithmic curve or an S-shaped curve.

1674359312253.png

Typically, if you're at the bottom end, you can spend a small amount more to get something that is significantly better. You can usually spend a little bit more for a huge gain. The opposite is true at the other end of the chart. The difference between an $1800 guitar and a $3000 guitar is going to be very little.

It also depends on what it is. If you find something that works for you at a lower price, there often isn't much reason to go up in price.
 

Gyakuto

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
1,187
Reaction score
924
Location
UK
For unarmed martial arts, where some sort of keikogi is the only real equipment required, it makes little difference. Yes, a heavyweight keikogi has more impressive snap and perhaps durability but didnt the original Okinawan teachers just wear ordinary, everyday clothes to practise?

For armed martial arts, it does make a difference. I naturally bought cheap swords to start off with, heavy with poor balance and as a beginner it really made things difficult and it was only when trying a dojo mates good quality sword did I realise this. Then began the inexorable and progressive purchase of better and better swords costing me a lot of money over the years. Ironically, as one gets more experienced, crappy equipment gets easier to use.

I think this applies to all pursuits where gear is the central part of the discipline. When I started playing guitar, I bought a guitar with egg-slicer string action (thats not good, incidentally), and a cheapo, tinny amp. Ten plus guitars later, and a lot of money, I have guitars that are effortless to play (PRS and J Custom Ibanez) which, over the years, wouldve made my learning much easier. Interestingly I bought a great amp early on (EVH 5150 original amp) and havent had to invest in another one.
 

Latest Discussions

Top