Combat Sports Buying Guide

Combat sports provide an aerobic workout and help to develop discipline, self-esteem, and self-defense abilities. This guide will help get you started in the sport of your choice.

Combat Sports 101

Having the right gear is key to preventing injury and getting the most out of your combat sport training. There is a wide array of combat sports equipment available so it’s important to research which items are necessary for your experience level and your sport. With the booming popularity of the various mixed martial arts (MMA) disciplines such as boxing, wrestling, judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, muay thai, karate and kick-boxing, training gear is becoming more standardized. Safety equipment should always be your main consideration. Apparel and other accessories can be purchased later as you progress.

Types of Combat Sports Gear 1


Boxing and Sparring Gloves

If your sport is boxing, you'll need a pair of boxing and training gloves to protect both yourself and your opponent. These gloves are suitable for all types of boxing training, from working the speed bag to live sparring in the ring. For real fighting in competitive events, you're required to wear an exact size related to your weight class. However, during workouts you can choose a size you're comfortable wearing. These gloves are available in leather or durable leather-like vinyl. Most models have a thumb-lock option to protect the thumb, plus a foam wrist support and adjustable wrist closures for a snug fit. 

MMA Fight and Grappling Gloves

MMA fight gloves are recommended for mixed martial arts fighting. Compared to boxing gloves, MMA gloves are lighter with less padding. The design protects the wrist and knuckles, while leaving the fingers free so the fighters can grapple.

Training Gloves

Each sport has a specific type of glove designed to protect hands during workouts and training. They have half fingers or are fingerless and, depending on the sport, are padded in the knuckles and/or the palms. Gloves can also be weighted and have added wrist support. There are also standardized training gloves available, which means you can take part in more than one sport but train using just one pair of gloves.

Cardio Gloves

Cardio gloves are used for cross training and taking your aerobic workout to the next level. They carry a pound or two of extra weight, which helps you to burn more calories and strengthens the muscles of the upper body. Cardio gloves are fingerless and feature Velcro closures for easy on and off. 

Kick-Boxing Shields

A kick-boxing shield is used in strike and kick training to help hone your punching and kicking styles. Typically covered in a strong vinyl material, they're filled with about five inches of protective padding and have several handles for a firm, stable grip. Kick-boxing shields are designed to stand up to even the most rigorous workout.

Focus Mitts

Focus mitts are basically padded targets attached to gloves worn by a coach or trainer. The trainee punches the target to improve precision and work on combinations. Focus mitts are lightweight yet provide outstanding shock absorption.

Hand Wraps

Hand wraps help protect your hands during punching by providing support for the wrists, fingers and knuckles. The standard hand wrap is a long fabric strip that is wrapped around the hand in a specific way. There are also gel-filled models that look a bit like fingerless gloves. They're easy to don and doff but don't fit quite as well.

Heavy Bags & Speed Bags

Punching bags are stuffed or inflated bags used for practicing punching and kicking. Typically suspended from a ceiling hook or stand, they're covered in leather, vinyl and other durable materials to withstand wear and mildew. There are a number of different types of punching bags, and your choice depends on your specific training requirements. For example, heavy bags, which can weigh in at 75 to 100 pounds, have little give when hit. Speed bags, which are smaller and lighter, help fighters fine-tune their speed and accuracy.


Mouthguards are essential equipment for combat sports. Without a mouthguard, you risk chipping and loosening teeth or even breaking your jaw. There are three types of guards. Stock mouthguards are pre-formed and ready to use. The most popular type of mouthguard is the boil-and-bite variety. Before wearing one for the first time, you boil it in hot water to soften it. Then you place it in your mouth and shape it around your teeth using your finger and tongue pressure. The resulting fit is customized to your mouth. The third type is the custom-fitted guard, typically made in a dental office.

Shin Guards

Shin guards or sparring shin guards are one-piece shin and instep guards that keep your lower limbs safe during training and sparring sessions. The guards feature soft, polyurethane foam padding with gel lining for extra shock absorption. Sparring styles have leather, plastic or hard leather-like covering on the front with the padding against the leg. Hook and loop straps fasten the guards around the legs and elastic straps secure the insteps over the feet.

Types of Combat Sports Gear 2


Knee Pads

Further protection comes from knee pads that are available in two basic designs, one being soft rubber knee caps that are attached with adjustable straps. The other design is a one-piece neoprene sleeve that fits over the leg. Both offer good protection so choose whatever feels best. 

Jump Ropes

Fitness jump ropes usually feature grips and rotating handles to assist in building speed during regular workouts. Some also have weighted handles that enable you to build hand and wrist strength during cardio workouts. Jump ropes can be easily adjusted according to height.

Combat Sports Benefits:

• MMA helps condition your body’s balance, flexibility and endurance
• Learning MMA is quite complex so it enhances analytical thinking, logic and decision-making
• Different types of karate and judo provide a hard workout but also involve a lot of aerobic-type movements
• For a more gentle style, consider tai chi to build strength, learn how to block blows and throw kicks

Combat Sports Gear Features

Combat Sports Uniforms +

Combat sports require strength, discipline, and agility. They also require specific apparel that must adhere to strict guidelines. The uniform also signifies the skill level, rank, and the sport practiced. Uniforms for karate, judo, and jujitsu are very similar. Uniforms for kung fu, taekwondo, and mixed martial arts are very different and include using protective gear.

Karate and Judo Uniforms +

Karate and judo uniforms, called gi, are usually 100% cotton canvas because it’s breathable and absorbs sweat. The uniform is comprised of a loose-fitting V-neck shirt and loose-fitting pants with either a drawstring or elastic band at the waist.

Jui jitsu Uniforms +

A jui jitsu uniform is similar to a judo gi but smaller, lighter in weight, and more form fitting with shorter sleeves. Judo uniforms can be worn to practice jujitsu, but not the other way around due to stricter judo rules.

Taekwondo Uniforms and Gear +

Taekwondo uniforms, sometimes called doboks, are similar to those used for judo. Beginner uniforms are white. Those that are coloured or have black collars designate black belt status and different skill levels. Other gear required includes a chest guard, or hogu, to protect vital organs, plus headgear and a mouth guard.

Kung Fu Uniforms +

Kung Fu uniforms are more ornate than those for other martial arts. They are usually cotton or silk in various different cuts and colours. Cotton is best when training. Traditionally the uniform includes a jacket with knot-style buttons, wide cuffs, and pants with elastic ankle and waistbands. Shoes are slipper-like with cotton or plastic soles.

MMA Uniforms +

MMA students usually wear either a karate or taekwondo uniform. Depending on the training, protective gear can consist of headgear, mouth guards, fist protectors, knee guards, shin guards, groin guards for males and females, and chest guards for females.

MMA Footwear +

MMA footwear can be found in a variety of materials including leather, foam and cloth. Leather sparring shoes are the most durable and comfortable, but offer less traction than foam-dipped footwear. Foam-dipped footwear is durable and provides more protection than cloth but it’s not as secure.

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Combat Sports Gear Maintenance Tips:

• Don’t leave gear in your sports bag after training: it won’t dry and will start to get moldy
• Don’t wash your equipment in a washing machine because it will damage the padding
• Wipe boxing gloves inside and out with disinfectant after use: spray inside with a disinfectant spray and then stuff the gloves with newspaper to absorb the moisture
• Flip head gear inside out to expose the padding, and spray with a disinfectant cleaner

Combat Sports for Children

In combat sports, the safety of your child is of the utmost importance. Training sessions can get quite intense so ensure they are properly protected. Talk to the instructor if you are unsure about the type of equipment needed for the classes, because it will vary from sport to sport. For example, headgear may not be needed for the first few months of karate lessons but headgear is required right away for jiu jitsu and aikido. Mouth guards are important equipment for children who are involved in MMA. Double mouth guards are also available: they offer full protection, but they do restrict breathing more than a single guard.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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