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Karate Supplies: Don't Forget the Most Important Ones!

In today’s world, you can’t afford to be injured—you need safety gear. It’s one of the first things you look for in karate supplies.


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Karate Supplies

by Bob Ellal

Safety may not be the first thing on your mind when you shop for karate supplies. Generally, a karate gi, or uniform, is the first thing you purchase. You start out as a white belt and you’re ready to learn the fundamentals and your first kata, or prearranged fighting form.

But soon enough you’ll need to think about more karate supplies, because you’ll gain the confidence and competence to spar with an opponent. Then you’ll need safety gear—and it’ll be time to get on the ‘net and look at some karate supplies. In most karate dojos, the “good old days” of bare fist full contact sparring (no direct punches to the head) are over. That style of fighting ended up in too many injuries. And let’s face it--it’s hard to go to the office with a black eye or broken teeth from being kicked barefoot in the face. It just doesn’t look good in business meetings. No, today safety gear is a priority when buying karate supplies.

Karate Supplies and Safety Gear: What to Look For
There are three main body parts that need safety gear for no-contact/semi-contact sparring: the head, the hands, and the feet.

Headgear: The most important of karate supplies, for obvious reasons: You have to protect your face and your brain. Headgear should be made of at least ¾” foam padding and provide coverage for the top, back, sides of the head and forehead. Make sure there’s plenty of protection at the back of the headgear because if you get knocked down or swept, you want plenty of protection to cushion your fall on a hardwood dojo floor. Also, look for the sides of the headgear to extend down to cover the back of your jawbone—not all headgear does. Make sure your ears are adequately protected but well ventilated—you must be able to hear when sparring. All senses must be razor sharp!

Handgear: Foam padding should be ½” thick and provide coverage for wrist, back of hand, thumb and knuckles. Extra foam should be located over the knuckles, as those reverse punches can be nasty! Make sure the gear is able to accommodate both closed hand and open hand techniques—remember, this is karate, not boxing or kickboxing, and karate supplies should be for karate practitioners.

Footgear: Footgear naturally should have an open bottom to prevent slippage on dojo floors while sparring. Also, look for Velcro closures around the ankles along with a strip across the ball of the foot to ensure a good fit. All equipment should be made of smooth vinyl for easy cleanup.

Mouth gear: One thing many people didn’t use in the “good old days”--which defies explanation--is a mouth guard. It’s just too easy to chip or break a tooth from a punch or kick that’s inadequately pulled—a mouth guard is essential! Football, soccer, hockey, every sport that emphasizes contact—demands mouth guards. They’re dirt cheap—but might be the most important of karate supplies to purchase.

Karate is many things: an incomparable system of self-defense, a great fitness method, and a sport. But the art is based on fighting, and in today’s world, you can’t afford to be injured—you need safety gear. It’s one of the first things you look for in karate supplies.


Bob Ellal is a freelance writer living in Norwich, Connecticut. He currently practices aspects of various internal kung fu systems, which helped him defeat four bouts of cancer in the early 90’s. He’s written a book about his experiences using chi kung, ancient Chinese mind/body exercises, to help beat the disease. He’s been clear of cancer for eight years. He was an avid hard-style martial artist in his youth, when he had cartilage between his joints.


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