Unlike other sports, martial arts is accessible to many because you don’t need loads of expensive equipment. At first, you need a uniform, also known as a ‘gi’ (depending on your discipline). But as you start practising more, you need other equipment to ensure you excel at the sport.
Here’s our checklist of important martial arts equipment.
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The clothing you need depends on the form of martial arts you practise. For example, you need a specific type of ‘gi,’ which differ in style and weight, if you’re practising karate, judo, or jiu-jitsu. On the other hand, you need a ‘dobok’ when practising Tae Kwon Do and shorts if doing Muay Thai. You’ll also require a belt for graded martial arts, which represents your ranking in the discipline. As a beginner, you start with a white belt, and your sensei or martial arts coach then decides which belt you should wear.
A well-fitted mouthguard is an essential piece of protective martial arts equipment. Injuries such as tissue gashes, jaw dislocation, and fractured or displaced teeth are common in many disciplines, as is head trauma. A moulded mouthguard will not only prevent your teeth from getting knocked out, but it will also ensure your jaw stays in the correct position to avoid dislocation.
It’s a good idea to get a custom-made mouthguard to ensure you get the best protection. This way, you know it’s the best fit. You can get a mould made by your dentist, or you can do it with companies like Opro, Funky Gums, and SafeJawz, which send you a kit in the mail for you to use at home.
Gloves and wraps
Martial arts gloves are the most important piece of equipment for MMA and boxing. Padded boxing gloves prevent injury while punching, and MMA gloves protect your hand but don’t cover the fingers so you can grapple.
Wrapping your hands is also essential for striking sports in order to create a protective barrier for your hands. Hand wraps protect your wrist, tendons, and muscles while keeping the joints in place. Plus, they’re inexpensive and easy to carry around. Wraps include the RDX Hands wraps (£9.99), the Blitz Hand Wraps (from £3.99), and Adidas Hand Wraps (£5.99).
Here are 3 ways to wrap your hands for martial arts:
Shin guards are vital for protecting your bones and joints from injury.
You can get different types of shin guards depending on your discipline, as well as the intensity and frequency of your training. For example, MMA shin guards tend to be more padded than others, and some shin guards protect your feet and shins, whereas others solely protect your shins. They vary drastically in price, from the high-end Venum Elite Shin Guards (£97.98) to the Bytomic Padded Shin Support (£7.99) for beginners.
It’s vital to protect your ears and head with a good head guard, but this also depends on your discipline. They can be used in practice or during matches and should always be worn when sparring.
You should get a head guard designed specifically with your discipline in mind, whether it be boxing or MMA. That said, all head guards shield the head and absorb shock in high-impact areas. Popular head guards include the Blitz Scorpion Head Guard (£50.99), the Adidas Aiba Licenced Headguard (£69.99), and the Bad Boy Training Series Impact Full Head Guard (£32.99).
Groin guards are essential for martial artists. Some don’t like to wear a groin guard because it can dig into the leg and restrict movement. However, if you pick one ideal for your discipline with both strength and flexibility, restricted movement shouldn’t happen.
For boxing, a padded groin protector is best, but for intense hitting arts like MMA and Muay Thai, a solid protective cup is ideal. Groin guards include the Adidas Women’s Karate Groin Guard (£21.99), the MMA RDX M2 Metal Cup Groin Guard (£20.99), and the Boxing Top Pro groin protector (£29.99).
You can use a foam roller to release tight muscles and loosen the soft tissue that connects to the muscles (fascia). It stretches the muscles to improve range of motion and mobility, which allows the muscles to perform better and recover quicker. So, if you want to train harder and improve in your discipline, using a foam roller is the way forward. You can get grooved foam rollers like this from Core Balance (£9.99), smooth ones such as this from Myprotein (£11.99), or vibrating foam rollers like this from Pulseroll (£99.99).
Here’s how to foam roll to improve fight mobility:
Liniment oil has been used in martial arts for centuries. Originally, liniments helped the monks recover from injuries sustained during training or fighting. Essentially, liniment oil helps the muscles relax and improves blood circulation to aid recovery.
You can use it to warm up and relax your muscles before exercise to prevent strain and stress injuries. Or use it post-exercise to relax your muscles and shorten your recovery time. It’s so strong that it can even soothe your fatigued muscles and relieve pain. If you’re serious about martial arts, liniment oil is essential.
Once you have all the above protective gear, extra clothes, and perhaps a towel for after training, you need a big sturdy bag in which to keep it all. You want a bag that’s breathable and easy to carry from the dojo or gym.
There’s the inexpensive Blitz drawstring duffle bag (£8.99) with a martial art style motif printed on the front, but you might struggle to fit everything in it. In this case, we recommend the large and breathable Tatami Meiyo duffle bag (£38) and the 900 Combat Sports rucksack (£39.99).
As well as the essential martial arts equipment, you need to have specialist martial arts insurance. It covers a range of fighting disciplines, from Karate and Judo to Kendo and Taekwondo. You can see the full list of what it covers here.
Not only does specialist insurance protect your equipment if it’s lost, damaged, or stolen. It also protects you if you accidentally injure someone else or damage someone’s property, you sustain an injury, or if you are held responsible for someone else’s injury.
Find out how our martial arts insurance for individuals and coaches can benefit you by clicking the link above, or get an online quote within minutes.