Whether you are interested in martial arts as a form of fitness, a method of self defense, or a combat sport, the most popular styles require participants to invest in key pieces of gear. However, the equipment you purchase for one style might not meet the needs of the other, and some require a much higher financial investment when it comes to getting everything you need.
If cost is a factor in your decision regarding which martial art to choose, it is important to review the gear requirements before you commit to classes. To help you decide which option may be right for you, here is a basic overview of the commonly required equipment for some of the most popular forms of martial arts.
Karate and Taekwondo
Karate and Taekwondo rely heavily on traditional strikes, such as punches, kicks, elbows, and a range of open hand techniques. However, the exact techniques and motivations behind each art vary.
While being separate martial arts, both Karate and Taekwondo have similar requirements when it comes to gear. Typically, each requires students to invest in uniforms, called gis. The gi is designed to allow the student to move freely, and are made of durable fabrics for longevity. They also help to increase discipline in classrooms as appearance standards for class participation are often fairly strict. Additionally, they keep participants on level ground as far as appearance.
Since practicing many of the skills require contact with punching bags, training dummies, and other class members, varying amounts of padding are also required. Traditionally, this includes protection for the hands, feet, chest, and head. However, the precise pieces needed may vary slightly by school.
Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo
Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo are focused more on grappling than strikes. Often, these martial arts feature a wide range of throws and submissions designed to prevent injury to yourself while allowing for control of the opponent.
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Just as Karate and Taekwondo are different, these three martial arts also have differing techniques and priorities. However, gear requirements are similar. Generally, students can participate in these martial arts as long as they have suitable gis.
Gis designed for these martial arts often have a different construction than those used by striking arts, as they need to hold up to being grabbed and pulled on a regular basis. So, a gi designed for Taekwondo may not last long in an Aikido class.
Wrestling is another martial art that requires limited gear. Instead of gis, wrestlers wear singlets, a variant of a unitard that helps prevent friction-related injuries due to skin to skin contact. Additionally, head gear is worn to protect the ears during matches and practices.
Unlike many other martial arts, wrestling is commonly practiced in high schools as a competitive sport. When that is the case, the school may provide access to the needed equipment, eliminating the need to invest on your own.
Boxing and MMA
Boxing and MMA are striking arts, but the classes lack some of the formality of traditional martial arts. General attire for classes just needs to provide suitable movement. Often, just a suitable pair of shorts can meet the requirements, though participants may be able to wear other items during practice.
One of the biggest gear requirements for both boxing and MMA is the proper gloves. Boxing gloves are highly padded. This helps ensure participants can practice for suitable lengths of time with limited risk of injury, as the only attack in boxing are punches.
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MMA allows strikes and grappling, so the gloves designed for this sport are different than those in other martial arts. MMA Gloves allow the fingers to be exposed so that participants can successfully grapple. However, the knuckles are covered to help protect both the person doing to the striking and the person being hit.
Other padding may also be required, such as head protection, for the purposes of practicing against other students are instructors.
Contact Schools for More Information
Each school or gym may have slightly varied requirements. If the cost associated with gear is a concern, feel free to ask questions before signing up for any classes.
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