Essential Combat Sports Equipment

Combat sports in any variation from high school wrestling to ancient Japanese dojos, is the expression of precision bodily mechanics within specific rules of engagement to stimulate a form of real combat. As the sport has evolved from bare knuckle bouts to modern day, equipment has advanced to protect and assist the athletes on both ends of a punch or submission. The use and implementation of proper essential equipment allows athletes to train with reduced risk of injury, develop proper form and protect their training partners. This is basic and recommended equipment that mixed martial arts athletes from the fitness to professional level must use to properly excel, and protect themselves.

Tom Molineaux vs Tom Cribb in a bare knuckle rematch for the heavyweight championship of England (1811)

1) Mouthguard- Within the combat sports world, intentional and unintentional blows, and blunt force trauma to the head are the norm and endanger the athlete tremendously. A mouthguard allows protects the teeth, jaw and brain. Teeth can chip and break very easy considering the forces exerted during training and competition. The buffer and energy absorption of the mouthguard allows for an athlete to preserve their teeth while still training and competing at any intensity. Additionally, the mouthguard acts a buffer between the teeth dissipating the impact between the lower jaw and the brain. By wearing a mouthguard, you will save yourself a potentially very expensive dental ordeal, and potential brain damage.

2) Hand Wraps-Hand wraps have existed since the dawn of combat. The ancient greek statue ‘boxer from Quirinal’, from the 1st century B.C. shows intricate leather hand wraps designed to protect the athletes hands. When a punch is thrown, the force of the impact stresses the multiple bones in the hand and flexes the bones of the wrist. Hand wraps support and align the hand in order to prevent structural damage to the hand.  Hand wraps come in various forms, lengths and consistencies, depending on the preference of the user. From ancient leather to modern hybrids, hand wraps are an essential piece of equipment.

Boxer of Quirinal's leather hand wraps

3) Gloves and Shin Guards- Gloves and shin guards allow a layer of padding over the hands and legs protecting the user and their opponent to a certain degree. All combat sport gloves, and shin guards serve the same purpose of dissipating the impact over a broader surface area thus providing protection. The blow of the impact still causes trauma and damage, but it is broadened and therefore prevents trauma to be directed at a smaller area that can cause bone breaks, and cuts. When hitting the bag, the gloves prevent cuts and the entrance of potentially fatal bacteria into the body. Inversely, during sparring, the gloves protect transmission of bodily fluids, bones, and cuts. Gloves and shin guards will allow you to train consistently and safely.

4) Headgear- As aforementioned, blunt trauma to the head a inherent element within combat sports and must be mitigated to help ensure the health of all athletes involved. Headgear is padding that is worn in a similar manner to an open faced helmet, and allows for the reduction trauma to the head and helps to prevent cuts by protecting the sensitive areas of the face. Headgear comes in a vast variety of styles which depend upon the users preference and level of protection desired. When sparring, it is very important that an athlete examine all factors and choose a headgear that fits their needs in order to provide the best level of protection.

5) Attire- Due to the intensity and contact involved with contact sports, an athlete must choose attire that is not only durable and comfortable, but provides adequate protection. Rashguards and dryfit clothing are essential for keeping sweat and moisture to a minimum, which is not only essential to gym etiquette and hygiene, but reduces the risk of the transmission of bacterial by helping to prevent scratches and cuts. Shorts must be strong enough to withstand the extreme abuse of combat sports, while functionally providing a greater freedom of motion for the athlete’s legs.

These are the basic general essential equipment within the combat sports world. While various disciplines require the use of various specific equipment, these are the foundation of safety and proper training.

Go Train.

-Papa Swole

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