For many martial arts styles tournament sparring is the pinnacle of the sport. Within a few square metres of mats you have an opportunity to express all of the skills you’ve acquired over years of training and to pit them against another fighter. It takes courage simply to reach that point, to bow to the judges and step forward into the competition arena.If you've ever been in competition - wondering whether your skills would stack up, wondering if you were ready, wondering if you might receive an injury at the hands (or feet) of your opponent - then you know how important confidence is. Maybe you've paced beside the mats watching other team members fight. You've adjusted your gloves for the twentieth time, fixed your headgear, thrown some warm-up kicks to ensure you're moving freely, and lastly adjusted your chest guard so that it's comfortable. But once your feet are on the mats you want to leave all of that behind. On the mats it is time to breathe, focus, and trust your training. But you must have the same trust in your equipment - and that's where choosing the right kind of chest or breast protection comes into play.
Trusting your martial arts protection
It’s small things when you’re in competition that can turn the tide. Small injuries that can rob you of flexibility, small doubts that can rob you of speed and decisiveness. Any lack of confidence in your equipment is something you can do without. You want to be able to compete hard, and stay fit enough that you can compete again. Injuries can rob you of that. By the time your opponent’s round kick is coming at your head it’s too late to choose a new mouthguard. Likewise, their foot thumping into your chest is a bad time to wonder if a better quality chest protector should have been on your Christmas wish list.That decision has to happen during training. Wearing the same gear in training that you’ll wear in competition helps you to build confidence, and also familiarity with, the limits of the equipment. You begin to understand the range of motion, the amount of force the gear will absorb, and whether it will be comfortable when used under pressure. This is far better data for you as a fighter than any online review.
How to choose the best chest guard, breast guard, or any other protective equipment
When evaluating gear it's important to look at the following factors:
- Comfort - is the gear comfortable, so that it won’t distract you while you're fighting?
- Freedom of movement - can you still perform all of the techniques you want to use, from kicking, to punching, throwing, and joint locks?
- Protection - crucially, will it protect you from serious harm?
- Certification - Is it certified safety equipment? Many brands claim to be, but it's important to read the fine print .
- Quality - and finally, is the product durable, and will it last a reasonable amount of time in both training & competition?
The best sparring protection is the gear you forget you’re even wearing, the gear that allows you to express your skill and courage without fear, restriction, or distraction.