PART 2: Train­ing Gear

Black Belt - - SCREEN SHOTS -

Body Op­po­nent Bag

You can use it for most hand strikes, some kicks, even some tech­niques with train­ing weapons — what­ever will ben­e­fit from mak­ing con­tact with a hu­manoid tar­get. There’s no bet­ter way to learn pre­ci­sion than with BOB.

RE­LATED! A suit com­posed of pads that cover most of the body is great for mak­ing con­tact, pro­vided you have a train­ing part­ner and the cash. It will en­able you to fine­tune your pre­ci­sion with the added ex­cite­ment of a live tar­get.

Heavy Bag

This is a time-tested way to teach your body how to hit hard. Your work­outs will strengthen your wrists and toughen your shins. The tra­di­tional ver­sion of the heavy bag hangs from the ceil­ing, and that’s great if you have a suit­able area. Other­wise, look for a free-stand­ing model with a wa­ter-filled base. Bonus: This type of bag can be moved from room to room fairly eas­ily. RE­LATED! If punches are your go-to tech­niques, you can ben­e­fit from buy­ing a speed bag. The work­outs will im­prove your hand speed, tim­ing, rhythm and pre­ci­sion.

Light­weight Uni­form

If you’re a striker, this is what you’ll wear for every­day train­ing. You don’t have to spend a ton of money, but don’t scrimp if you want dura­bil­ity and com­fort.

RE­LATED! If you spend a lot of time on the mat, get a grap­pling gi, too. Skip this pur­chase and roll a few times with your light­weight gi, and you’ll be in the mar­ket for a new light­weight gi. You’ll be shred­ded, and not in a good way.

Mar­tial Arts Head­gear

This prod­uct will help pro­tect you in case of ac­ci­den­tal con­tact with your op­po­nent or the floor. Most, how­ever, are not de­signed for full-con­tact fight­ing.

RE­LATED! If you’re feel­ing full con­tact, you need to pur­chase the ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tion. FWIW, this type of head pro is nor­mally cat­e­go­rized as “box­ing head­gear.”

Box­ing Gloves

Sim­i­larly, dipped-foam hand pro­tec­tion is not de­signed for full­con­tact spar­ring with an­other per­son — and nei­ther are those more sub­stan­tial-look­ing gloves that bear the la­bel “bag gloves.” The eas­i­est way to be sure you’re get­ting gloves meant for sus­tained hu­man con­tact is to search for “box­ing gloves.”

RE­LATED! If you’re go­ing to spend a lot of time at point tour­na­ments, grab a pair of com­pe­ti­tion gloves, as well. They’ll help pro­tect you and your op­po­nent dur­ing oc­ca­sional con­tact.

Mats for Your Home

You should con­sider get­ting mats for your home only if you have the space, of course, but keep in mind that most peo­ple can rear­range their spare room or garage to make space. Hav­ing mats at home doesn’t elim­i­nate the need to train at a dojo, but once you get used to the con­ve­nience of be­ing able to work out on a soft sur­face any­time you want, you’ll won­der how you got along with­out them for so long.

RE­LATED! Whether you spend most of your time on the ground or on your feet, you’ll ben­e­fit from en­hanced flex­i­bil­ity. An ef­fi­cient way to get there is with a stretch­ing ma­chine. Some are high-tech de­vices that do a won­der­ful job, espe­cially for kick­ers, but peo­ple who lack the space or the funds can opt for a more eco­nom­i­cal model.

Train­ing Weapons

Whether your fave is a sword, a kali stick, a three-sec­tional staff or a kama, you should have a safe and prefer­ably soft ver­sion of it. Why? So you can fine-tune your tech­nique on a live hu­man be­ing. Will it make you score bet­ter in your next

tour­na­ment? Maybe. Will it aug­ment your un­der­stand­ing of the weapon and how it was meant to be wielded? Def­i­nitely.

RE­LATED! If your weapon of choice is a hand­gun, con­sider buy­ing an iden­ti­cal Air­soft ver­sion of it. Air­soft guns fire small plas­tic pel­lets that won’t break the skin if they hap­pen to hit a hu­man. (They can take out an eye, though, so al­ways wear eye pro­tec­tion.) An Air­soft gun will en­able you to hone skills you should never prac­tice with a real weapon — like force-on-force train­ing and gun dis­arms.

Train­ing Knife

Even if you don’t in­tend to carry a knife, it’s worth buy­ing a trainer be­cause us­ing one is the only safe way to prac­tice knife de­fense. To pre­vent in­jury, think soft and dull. If you carry or plan to carry a live blade, get a trainer that’s iden­ti­cal, ex­cept for the dull edge and tip, to your carry knife.

RE­LATED! Many ex­perts will ar­gue that car­ry­ing a knife can even the odds in a street fight. If you’re on board, buy one that matches your trainer. Then you won’t have to think about whether it’s be­ing car­ried tip-up or tip-down and whether your thumb should search for an open­ing-as­sist stud or an open­ing-as­sist hole. Be sure to check your lo­cal laws be­fore you carry and make sure you know the regs in other states you fre­quent. Fi­nally, get one that’s prac­ti­cal for every­day use be­cause you’ll be open­ing pack­ages with it way more of­ten than you’ll be fight­ing.

Mouth Guard

En­gag­ing in con­tact spar­ring with­out one of these is ask­ing to have a tooth chipped or knocked out — or worse. So get a good mouth guard and use it. The bet­ter ones are de­signed to be dipped in hot wa­ter so you can bite down on them for a bet­ter fit to your chop­pers.

RE­LATED! If you can af­ford it, con­sider a cus­tom-made mouth guard. These are crafted from a mold of your teeth and, con­se­quently, fit like a glove — which makes breath­ing a whole lot eas­ier. And they won’t pop out by ac­ci­dent in a match. They will, how­ever, cost you, usu­ally sev­eral hun­dred bucks.

Shin Pads

If you train pri­mar­ily for com­pe­ti­tion, you can get away with foot pads, but if your goal is hard­core self-de­fense, you’ll want shin pads. Then, when you strike with na­ture’s base­ball bats, your part­ner will re­main func­tional.

RE­LATED! As im­por­tant as pro­tect­ing your shins is, you’ll also want to guard your groin if you en­gage in any type of spar­ring. Even though al­most ev­ery­one tries to avoid groin shots in train­ing, ac­ci­dents do hap­pen.

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