DON’T BUY MARTIAL ARTS GEAR (FROM ANYWHERE) UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THIS!
A Complete Guide to Beginners Martial Arts Equipment (From some Expert people)
Whether it's MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ or one of many others, If you are new to fight sports then start here!
Why do we say Fight Sports?
At Fightstorepro we differentiate between “traditional martial arts” such as Judo, Karate, Tae Kwon do etc and the modern breed of combat or fight sports such as MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai etc. Fightstorepro is dedicated to Fight Sports and largely does not cater for traditional Martial Arts. We use the term “Fight Sports” as an all encompassing term.
Who is this guide for?
If you are starting in martial arts then chances are you don’t have any equipment at all, even if you do, have you got the right gear for your sport or the quality level of equipment you need to avoid injuries early on in your martial arts journey.
This guide is designed for one of three groups of people:
People about to start a Fight sport or having just started.
Someone buying equipment for a friend, partner or family member
Beginners to a sport who know they need some advice on the right gear for them.
Step 1 - Know Your Sport!
I know it sounds obvious, but after many years of selling Fight Sports equipment you would be surprised at how many people actually do not know the difference, especially early on, between one martial art/Fight Sport and another. This is especially true if you are in group 2 and are buying for someone else.Tip #1 KNOW EXACTLY WHAT SPORT YOU ARE STARTING/DOING
Many martial arts appear to be the same or at least so similar that a beginner can fall into the trap of assuming they are the same. Japanese Ju Jitsu, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can all appear identical to the untrained eye, whilst many exclusively No Gi Jiu Jitsu schools refer to their sport solely as “Jiu Jitsu” this can be confusing for beginners.
Muay Thai and Kickboxing have literally hundreds of forms, some are extremely similar in the gear they use, some are not similar at all.
Mixed Martial Arts, or rather MMA has become a term used for a whole host of martial arts classes. Often absolute beginners will think they are doing “MMA” when in fact they are kickboxing or doing No Gi BJJ, sometimes something different altogether. The marketing success of the term has led many schools to advertise the idea of doing MMA when the basis of their sport is something very different. This can lead to confusion when selecting the right gear.
Step 2 - What gear does your club recommend?
Some clubs are very loose about the gear you need, others are very specific. It is wise to speak to your instructor or the gym you are joining before you go out and start buying equipment.
Sizing of gloves is a common issue. Different clubs have different ideas and different contact levels even within the same sports. Some MMA clubs only spar using MMA Sparring gloves, some use boxing gloves, some even use 4oz competition gloves. There is no way for a store like ours to know this so you must check with the club you are going to.
Sizing is very important, especially with boxing and mma gloves, so let’s get this right first time!
If your club does not specify exactly what you need then read the beginners guide on our Website HERE.
Step 3 - Buy Cheap, Buy Twice and worse, probably get injured too.
It is not uncommon for clubs to have a banned list consisting of brands that make poor quality gear they have seen before or alternatively a recommended list of gear they know and trust.
If you go and buy gear from Amazon or Ebay because it was cheap and had great “reviews” (Often marketing reviews or the opinions of uninformed users) then you might be filling out a returns slip as quickly as you managed to buy the gear should your instructor spot the gear you bought. It's not that you cannot buy good gear from Amazon and Ebay, it’s the fact they are not the vendors and have no way to regulate what is sold from their websites. The service level in terms of customer support etc on these sites can be excellent, but they are not expert services and are very much user driven.
I ran a few searches on Amazon and found some highly questionable products, often with 1000's of positive reviews...
TIP#2 Avoid Amazon, Ebay or similar unless you really know what you are talking about!
Fight Sports can be dangerous if you do not use not only the right fight sports equipment, but also the right quality level of equipment. The rise of shopping channels like Amazon and Ebay have seen hundreds of sellers, often direct from the factories, produce sub standard gear for fight sports often with absolutely no knowledge of how the gear should be made.
Should we have a more regulated sport, many of these would be banned from use or labelled as toys not for sports use.
Even some reputable fight sport brands, sometimes produce sub standard gear to fulfil a price point. Brands sold under license such as Adidas & Everlast, may have completely different lines made in different regions. Therefore one of these brands' products may be completely different in terms of quality and use than another. This can prove confusing for even seasoned Fight Sports participants.
The best option for a Fight Sport beginner is to utilise someone else's knowledge and to use a specialist store (such as this one) which upholds quality standards and refuse to stock brands or gear that regularly fall below acceptable use standards in Fight sports.
Reputable brands such as Fairtex, Revgear, Twins, Union, Venum will not risk their reputation on sub standard gear, reputable “Pro” stores such as Fightstorepro will not risk their reputation and stock sub standard gear . This is a good guarantee of avoiding expensive and painful mistakes.
Find out common injuries caused by poor quality or poorly chosen Fight equipment here!
Step 4 - Decision nearly made;
It really doesn’t matter how funky it looks, what matters is how well it performs. Hopefully you can find both in the same package but as a rule its vital you choose something that does the job it is designed to do long before you worry about how cool it looks.
Tip#3 - Choose function over fashion EVERY time!
An example which might throw you a little is with a BJJ Gi. Don’t buy the funkiest looking thing only to find it's a super light weight gi made for competitors. These gi’s are not designed to last that long, they are designed to help you weigh in for a match. Another example would be boxing gloves. Many gloves on the market are designed to look funky but as a result have a dumb design flaw such as stitching across the striking area which can cause cuts to a training partner. Some brands have big embossed plastic labels stitched onto areas such as wrists or the brow on a head guard, again dangerous in some circumstances.
Beware of over design on products which are there purely to look good not perform well!
Step 5 - Brass Tacks - You get what you pay for - But you may pay more than you think!
Every day I hear the same thing “Well I’m just starting so I don’t want to spend much”.
This is frankly the reverse of what you should be thinking which is:
“I don’t have much skill yet and I need to avoid getting hurt whilst I learn my craft”
Every coach knows the person most likely to injure them is a beginner who may do things a more experienced practitioner would not, or be unable to regulate their power or speed.
Beginners may use poor technique with a heavy bag or pads, they may mistime shots or not hold pads well. A beginner who buys cheap gloves and pads may not realise the pain they start to feel in their hands and wrists is being caused by the poor design of their equipment whereas an experienced martial artist will immediately ditch such items knowing the problems they can cause. Many times when I’ve had to select pads at a gym I’ve rooted through what's there to find something I’m prepared to use with a partner. As a beginner you do not have this knowledge.
Replacing poor equipment is easy but fixing the damage it can do is not.
Lastly this can also be true in reverse. Some brands are unduly expensive. Certain items make little difference in use no matter how expensive they are. A £200 BJJ Gi will not perform much better than a decent quality £60 BJJ Gi. Some boxing gloves for £200+ are no better than £100 gloves.
If you want to spend a few extra £/$/Euros then perhaps get the expert opinion and give us a call. We’ll make certain you get maximum bang for buck!
Tip #4 - Ignore (Most) REVIEWS! - They can be misleading
The age of peer written reviews and marketing reviews (Advertorial) has brought the idea that research gives a true indication of the product. Truth is a high percentage of the reviews written on sites whether they be social media or dedicated review sites are actually highly biased or worse, completely misleading.
Reviews written by true industry professionals are different. When I write a review, even based on a brand I like, I have a reputation within the industry to preserve therefore my credibility is worth more to me than any allegiance to a brand. Most coaches are the same and whilst will give an honest opinion might also be quick to point out that's exactly what it is, their opinion, albeit an informed one.
E Commerce websites pay exterior writers, often with zero actual practical knowledge of the sports they are writing about, to write articles for SEO or marketing. Don’t expect a really expert opinion from these people.
The other issue with reviews is the type written by totally uninformed people. I’ve seen 5* reviews of products I know are garbage and 1* reviews on quality items that are based more on the person reviewing's ignorance than the product's merits or issues.
Beware of these opinions, they could mislead you.
One other type of review is the opinion of ill informed training partners. A pair of gloves that works for person A might be unsuitable for person B. The enthusiasm of a person about their purchase might obscure the fact the product is not right for the next person.
Try to apply the same logic as you would a house, whilst a 2 bedroom bungalow overlooking a river in the countryside might delight one person it might be entirely wrong for a family of 4 who need to be close to work and to get their kids to school early in the morning. EG not everyone has the same needs and requirements!
Summary on buying Fight sports Gear.If you buy quality gear from an expert store you won’t go too far wrong. Most of the issues are simple knowledge based things and on many items it doesn’t make too much difference what you buy as long as it's the right type of gear for your sport and its quality is good. Price can be an indicator but there is some good gear which is inexpensive and some bad gear which is expensive. Therefore don’t use it as a principle guide.
Above all else utilise EXPERT opinion from informed people. Whilst they may have their own biases they will not be too far wrong most of the time. At Fightstorepro not only have all of our staff got a solid, indeed in some cases expert knowledge of the sports we cater for, but we have a whole host of friends and customers who know these sports better than anyone. Brad Pickett, Dan Hardy, Robson Gracie, Angel Lopez, Juan Cervantes, Andy Thrasher, Rich Cadden and many, many more have all tipped in their thoughts on making this a truly expert place to buy the right fight gear for you!