How to choose, wear and care for your taekwondo chest protector
Your taekwondo chest protector, chest guard or hogu is the most expensive part of your tkd sparring gear.
On this page we explain
How you choose your perfect hogu.
How to put your taekwondo hogu on.
And how to care for your tkd chest protector
We also talk about additional chest guards for female taekwondo players.
choosing your perfect taekwondo chest protector
...do you plan to compete in taekwondo sparring?
If the answer is yes... you need to choose a hogu brand recognized by your tkd governing body.
Officially recognized sparring gear has a logo on it to confirm that it's OK to use.
Chose a hogu that is all red on one side and all blue on the other.
Make sure you avoid older style taekwondo chest guards that have no protection over your shoulders (these are still on the market). These older style chest guards often have colored dots on a white background to mark the scoring areas.
You can see the older and newer style of chest protector in this photo.
Your taekwondo chest protector is fastened at the back. This can be with velcro. Or ties which do up like a shoe lace.
Either is fine- but the ties give you more flexibility when you do your hogu up. (We prefer the ties!)
Hogu sizes sometimes start at 0 for a very small child and go up from there. Leah is an 11 year old - she is in a size 2. Deb wears a 3. And Neil, a tall man, wears a 4.
Other times they are sized S,M,L etc. Go for your T-shirt size if you're not sure.
If our taekwondo chest protector is a size too big we find that this makes it too long in the body. And it's hard to lift our knees to kick properly.
And if your hogu is too small?... you will feel every hit!
Putting on your taekwondo chest guardWhen your instructor asks you to put on your sparring gear here's some dojang etiquette you might like to try
- put your shin, groin and arm guards on first
- put your hogu on your front but don't do it up
- grab your head gear and mouth guard
- then offer to do up a senior grade's hogu for them
In many dojangs it's traditional for everyone to form a line so that you do up the tkd chest protector of the person in front of you. While the person behind you does your hogu up. As a junior grade head to the back of the line! (and as you progress up the taekwondo belts- it's still polite to head to the back of the line!)
And our top tip...
...don't let anyone do your hogu up too tight.
If your taekwondo chest protector is too tight it restricts your breathing. And you take every hit! If your hogu is looser the hits bounce off and around it more easily.
And what's the latest?...
...taekwondo chest protectors with electronic sensors inside.
The idea is that each kick to the body is measured electronically rather than by judges. (Head kicks are still scored manually.)
Officials hope the system will be more accurate.
We should be getting a chance to test the new hogu out in the next few months so we'll let you know. The word on the ground is that you have to kick very hard to score a point!
additional chest guards for women
Your breasts are very sensitive and trauma in this area has been associated with the development of tumors later in life.
I protect myself with an additional female chest guard.
I find if I don't wear my chest guard I get breast pain during full contact sparring.
I wear this over the top of my sports bra.