Your TKD Sparring Gear...Choose it Right...Wear it Right

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We describe how to choose the right tkd sparring gear for you so you don't make expensive mistakes.

We tell you the right way to put your taekwondo sparring gear on so you are properly protected.

And we explain how to care for your gear.

WTF Sparring Gear

A taekwondo chest protector or hogu is essential for WTF sparring.

If you plan to compete, you need a chest protector with shoulder padding. And it MUST be approved by the WTF or whichever organization runs your tournaments.

When you first start out, a reversible chest protector like this one is ideal.

Choose ties (rather than velcro) at the back so you can adjust it to fit you perfectly.

Most women will be fine with the medium size. For men choose a large or extra large.

Here's more detailed information on sizing and wearing your taekwondo chest protector.

Taekwondo shin guards protect the front of your shins.

Make sure they're not too long. You need to be able to bend your ankles and knees fully.

Many taekwondo beginners make the mistake of doing their shin guards up too tight. This cuts off the circulation to your calf muscles and you get cramp! (We did this and it's very painful!)

Most shin guards come in S,M,L and XL.

Choose small for kids, medium for most women and large for most men.

It's good etiquette to pull your dobok trousers down over the top of your leg guards.

Taekwondo foot protectors are like gloves for your feet. The padding on the top is designed to protect your foot if you accidentally kick your opponent's elbow (a very common injury).

Foot protectors are by no means essential when you start out, but they can save you some bruises!

Ideally you want your toes and the front and back part of your sole are exposed underneath so you don't slip.

Lots of taekwondo players use these in sparring training to prevent injury. The downside is that you do lose some of the sensitivity in your foot when you kick.

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We've noticed a recent addition to tkd sparring gear ranges...

... a combined shin and instep protector.

On the face of it this looks like a good idea. But our concern with this product is that the instep protector is quite bulky and might restrict your ankle movement.

Also we think you might lose some of the sensitivity in your feet you need when you are sparring.

Our vote is to go with the separate shin and foot protectors we describe above.

Arm protectors are another essential part of your tkd sparring gear.

When you block a kick they help protect the bone running down the outside of your forearm (your ulna).

To protect your whole forearm you need a good fit. Ideally choose ones that are wider at the top than the bottom. This means they fit the shape of your arm and protect you properly.

There are 4 sizes. Small for children and then M, L and XL for adults.

Put your arm guards on so your ulna (the outside of your forearm) is protected. The tapes go round the inside of your arm.

It's good etiquette to pull your dobok sleeves down to cover your arm guards.

Hand protectors have become a popular part of tkd sparring gear in the past few years.

They are compulsory in some tournaments.

For club sparring it's unlikely you'll need gloves, so most beginners can safely save a few dollars and skip these.

Head kicks are part of WTF sparring so a good head protector or head guard is an essential part of your tkd sparring gear.

It's best to choose white - if you go for blue or red you'll need one of each if you compete.

Make sure you choose a quality, shock absorbing design.

It's important to wear your guard in training so you get used to it.

And for beginners... lots of people put their head gear on back to front by mistake. If you're not sure look at the shape of the ear guards for a clue.

Groin guards are of course essential for any taekwondo sparring!

Male groin guards have more of a cup shape. And female groin guards are flatter.

To put your groin guard on step into it. The elastic goes round your waist and round the back of your legs to hold it in place.

For taekwondo tournaments you need to wear your groin guard underneath your dobok.

For female groin guards choose a size bigger than you think you'll need because the waist band sits on your hips which tend to be a bit wider than your waist.

Mouth guards are an vital part of your tkd sparring gear.

The best ones cover your top and bottom teeth. You need to mould your mouth guard to fit in hot water.

Taekwondo kids need new mouth guards every few months because their teeth and jaw size change quickly as they grow.

Make sure your tkd mouth guard is not too long. If you feel like you are gagging trim the back edges.

It's worth spending a bit of money on a good quality mouth guard. In our experience cheap ones are hard to mould properly and are usually uncomfortable.

ITF TKD Sparring Gear.

In ITF taekwondo players don't wear a chest protector.

Instead foot pads are usual in ITF taekwondo sparring.

The best ones are moulded to fit around your foot to protect the sides of your foot and your ankle as well as the top.

The strap system of this style means the entire ball of your foot is in contact with the floor - very important for balanced movement.

Sparring mitts or gloves are also commonly used in ITF taekwondo.

Like the foot pads they come in S,M,L and XL. Go with your T-shirt size if you're not sure which size to order.

And once you're bought all that expensive gear you need to look after it! Here's all the help you need to care for your taekwondo sparring gear.

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