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

_Simon_

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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.
BUT I WAAAAAANT IIIIIIIIIT!!
 

Gyakuto

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BUT I WAAAAAANT IIIIIIIIIT!!
Go for it!

I don't have a family, drink or socialise much, so I have lots of spare money that goes on my hobbies - expensive swords, expensive guitars and expensive synthesizers! 戊
 

skribs

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Another related thing is the more popular something is, generally the more support there is. For example, when I first started getting into guns, it was right around the time Springfield had first released their XDm series, and Glock had existed forever already. There was a small h handful of accessories and aftermarket parts for the XD series. There were tons and tons and tons for glocks. Gunsmiths were just starting to work on the XDs, but had tons of experience with Glock. And if you wanted how-to's, there were a few that were written or recorded for the XD, and there were tons and tons and tons for Glock.

Glock being as popular as it is, there was a market for guides, gunsmithing, and parts, that just didn't exist with a lot of other firearms. Glock being popular made it better.

Of course, that's as long as a company doesn't decide that they're popular enough they can cut corners, which is what eventually happens with a lot of companies over time. You have a popular product because of it's quality, and then a new owner comes in and starts seeking profit over reputation, and loses both. But in general, the more popular something is, the more likely you can support it.
 

Gerry Seymour

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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.
For most of my time training, I used whatever "student" gi my instructor was selling. Even for our grappling, those held up okay. I'd patch it a few times over the 3 years or so each one probably lasted me. Somewhere around brown or shodan, I picked up a $150 gi. It was okay, I guess. Since then, I've mostly chosen either that middleweight Century gi (for visiting other schools, mostly), or a basic, inexpensive (maybe $60 retail) judo gi, because I like the feel and will probably never wear one out.

Do I like the expensive stuff? Sometimes. I honestly didn't like my more expensive gi as much as I liked the "student" uniform or my current cheap judo gi. With weapons, if you're not making contact, then quality has marginal impact (assuming they don't just fall apart or have improper weight, etc.). But the expensive ones do feel niiiiiiiiice.
 

Gerry Seymour

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My obi is not embroidered with my name in Kanji or my dan rank.
Mine is embroidered. But only with the stripes, because the ones I ironed on didn't look nice. So I took them off and embroidered them on my own machine. They're almost straight, too.
 

Buka

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Mine is embroidered. But only with the stripes, because the ones I ironed on didn't look nice. So I took them off and embroidered them on my own machine. They're almost straight, too.
Mine is embroidered in Japanese. Loosely translated it says "Rank is meaningless, Bushido is the true path."

As for equipment.....when building a school I found the best made, quality heavy bags. And immediately became a distributor for that company. Any schools that wanted one/some I only charged them the wholesale cost. It helped foster great relationships between a lot of schools. The only catch was they had to come down and get what they ordered, because sometimes there'd be ten bags in cardboard bag boxes and I had a small car.

As for personal equipment, I never bought cheap junk because it wouldn't last. Became a distributor for quality gear and did the same thing I did for bags.

Martial Arts is difficult enough, and time consuming enough, to have to worry about gear.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Mine is embroidered in Japanese. Loosely translated it says "Rank is meaningless, Bushido is the true path."

As for equipment.....when building a school I found the best made, quality heavy bags. And immediately became a distributor for that company. Any schools that wanted one/some I only charged them the wholesale cost. It helped foster great relationships between a lot of schools. The only catch was they had to come down and get what they ordered, because sometimes there'd be ten bags in cardboard bag boxes and I had a small car.

As for personal equipment, I never bought cheap junk because it wouldn't last. Became a distributor for quality gear and did the same thing I did for bags.

Martial Arts is difficult enough, and time consuming enough, to have to worry about gear.
Man, I love the idea of someone doing that to help out other schools in the area. I wish I'd been around for that.
 

Buka

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Man, I love the idea of someone doing that to help out other schools in the area. I wish I'd been around for that.
It was a perfect scenario, all by luck.
A big, inexpensive rent dojo, thirty fellow students waiting for it to open (we had been homeless for three years, visiting friends dojos) in a densely populated area of many young men, many of them already signed up as we gutted the place and rebuilt it for three months. Those rebuilding were in the trades and did it for cost, they just wanted to train.
(Opening day we had twenty blackbelts and tons of students.) Like @Dirty Dog, I didn't open it to make money (sure as hell made that goal, had to go get a job, became a cop of all things)

Anytime a new dojo opened in the surrounding towns, we always stopped by, gave them a quality heavy bag, kicking shields and sparring gear (again, we got everything wholesale) made great friends, new ideas about training and had a ton of fun doing it.

It was all luck, good fortune really, that everything fell into my lap. Perfect scenario.

I'm pretty sure anyone here would have done the same thing. And would have been really happy with the results.
 

jks9199

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Thrift or frugality is about spending money where it matters. Whatever the endeavor -- learn where the money spent on the items will have a meaningful impact. Things not to go cheap on -- safety gear, and things that will become dangerous should they fail. Get that quality cup and mouthpiece. If your hitting with a stick, make sure it'll hold up. Don't use a wallhanger sword-like object that's going to fall apart as you swing it. That also doesn't mean it has to be expensive -- learn the difference between quality and cost. Are you paying for a name or the equivalent of an alligator patch on a shirt that's equivalent quality to the shirt without the alligator? Unless the alligator matters -- why pay for it?
 

GreenieMeanie

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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.
You need gear, that stays on, and takes punishment. Cheap ****, does not necessarily stay in place.

Things like shin guards? You gotta pay up if you don't want them shifting with every well-placed kick.

BBJ? You need a heavy jacket, belt, and pants that don't restrict your mobility. Where that comes from, doesn't matter.

If doing RBSD-specific stuff, like weapons-retention, you options are limited. Trainer blades with a good sheathe are often made by the company that makes a particular blade. Finding a company that makes a generic trainer kit at a reasonable price, isn't so easy. Only SIRT makes SIRT, then there's UTX.

The harder you train, the more specific and better-made your gear needs to be for results.
 

Gerry Seymour

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You need gear, that stays on, and takes punishment. Cheap ****, does not necessarily stay in place.

Things like shin guards? You gotta pay up if you don't want them shifting with every well-placed kick.

BBJ? You need a heavy jacket, belt, and pants that don't restrict your mobility. Where that comes from, doesn't matter.

If doing RBSD-specific stuff, like weapons-retention, you options are limited. Trainer blades with a good sheathe are often made by the company that makes a particular blade. Finding a company that makes a generic trainer kit at a reasonable price, isn't so easy. Only SIRT makes SIRT, then there's UTX.

The harder you train, the more specific and better-made your gear needs to be for results.
I agree with parts of this. But as someone else pointed out, some of us have found our favorite sparring gear in the low-mid price range. I've had very good results with the relatively cheap stuff I have used. Granted, I went through a few iterations of trying other stuff to find what worked well, but I think there's a lot of personal "feel" in what works best for a given person. I have outsized calves, compared to most of my body, so some things that stay in place on me might not do so on someone with a thinner lower leg. And conversely, some things others might really like might feel constricting on my calves.

As to the uniforms, yes in some arts (like BJJ and Judo), you need tough material that can hold up to the tugging. That can be had relatively cheaply. I do really like the styling of some of the more expensive BJJ uniforms I've seen, but I don't think they are more utlitarian than my $60 Judo gi.
 

Jared Traveler

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One area where buying quality pays of is with Muay Thai pad holding gear. Certainly you can get buy with garage sale garbage gloves. But likely already stink or will shortly. But solid leather gloves are great for holding together and not smelling bad.

When you hit/kick, or hold with a variety of different pads, certain ones certainly stand out as quality. This quality manifests itself in shock obsorbing capabilities, durability, grip, and the ability to manuever the pads efficiently into position.

Belly pads in particular range noticably and greatly in their protection against full force knee strikes.

Cheap Muay Thai training gear is money foolishly spent in my opinion. Buy quality, if nothing else to save your body a lot of abuse.

With that said in most other equipment categories, I agree high end is overrated and not needed. But if you have cheap Muay Thai equipment or don't purchase all of the training equipment, it will be harder on the body and be an obstacle to quality training.
 

GojuTommy

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Ive been on a lot of martial arts forums and have never seen any large groups of people claiming expensive equipment is necessary to be a serious martial artist.

What forums are these?
 

Steve

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Ive been on a lot of martial arts forums and have never seen any large groups of people claiming expensive equipment is necessary to be a serious martial artist.

What forums are these?
you know. This is a good point. Ive been around here for a really long time and never seen anyone suggest that you arent serious if you dont by the most expensive gear. Huh. Maybe its an urban myth. Its one of those things thats so ubiquitous that I didnt think to question it.
 

GojuTommy

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Unfortunately the best gloves Ive had are fairly cheap but they company is really trashy, and I dont want to support them.
 

Gyakuto

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you know. This is a good point. Ive been around here for a really long time and never seen anyone suggest that you arent serious if you dont by the most expensive gear. Huh. Maybe its an urban myth. Its one of those things thats so ubiquitous that I didnt think to question it.
Consumers are easily influenced by advertising. Cryogenic guitar strings, Magnetic motor oil, nitrogen gas filled tyres, punch bags filled with moon dust (I made that one up).

Its down to two factors: robustness and aesthetics. Will the item youve bought last a reasonable length of time after reasonable use? Do you desire gold tread stitching or blue/white keikogi canvas? Some people dont give a hoot about aesthetics, for others, its important and they can afford to pay for beauty.
 

Gyakuto

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Unfortunately the best gloves Ive had are fairly cheap but they company is really trashy, and I dont want to support them.
Unless the company is using child-labour sweatshops, isnt that biting your own nose off to spite your face?
 

GojuTommy

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Unless the company is using child-labour sweatshops, isnt that biting your own nose off to spite your face?
They rip off content creators, stealing marketing and advertising from them.
They promise to pay people for promotion, and then they never pay.

I will not support a company that engages in such shady tactics.
I ran a shitty blog and luckily I was plenty happy with just getting free gear for doing a review for my 200-300 readers.
 

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