Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that features in the Olympics. It’s mainly a striking fighting style and the aim of the sport is to land as many kicks and strikes to the permitted target areas of your opponent.
Sparring is a core component of the training regime and unless you have the necessary kit you’re likely to end up injured. When I trained I used some very old, worn out protective gear and I certainly ended up feeling sore the next day.
When considering which gear to purchase, it’s important that it’s approved by the World Taekwondo Federation as only this this equipment is approved for use in a competition.
In actual competitions, the sparring headgear and Hogu is likely to feature electronic components but for training purposes the items I’ve listed below are some of the best taekwondo sparring gear.
This is the largest item of equipment that you wear and protects the body region, and in particular, the rib area. Believe me you don’t want to suffer a cracked rib from wearing sub-standard body protection.
These are typically made from a foam rubber padding encased inside a durable vinyl shell.
When sparring, one fighter will wear a red hogu and the other a blue coloured one. The Addidas Hogu (shown here) can actually be reversed to display both red and blue colours. I purchased one for about $55, but you can check the latest price on Amazon here.
I soon realised that a key piece of kit to invest in is the forearm protectors. The forearms are heavily involved in blocking both strikes and kicks. As a result they absorb a lot of impact. If you’re not careful, your forearms will end battered and bruised.
This set from Adidas are particularly good. I paid about $25 but you should check the price on Amazon here.
These adidas shin protectors are really light; something I really like. It may be psychological but I never want to feel weighed down – I want to feel light on my toes and fast.
They’re padded to absorb the impact of any heavy blows and have elastic velcro fasteners to keep them in place. I paid about $35 but you can see the current price on Amazon here.
This is perhaps the most important piece of kit because it protects your head.
The adidas helmet is a favourite of mine as it offers all round protection whilst also allowing good visibility. The ear protectors are a good touch. I paid about $50 but a more accurate price can be seen here on Amazon.
I’ve worn these adidas gloves and, as well as offering great hand and wrist protection, they’re also super comfortable.
I’ve also noticed that they wick away sweat and dry really quickly. The important thing for me was the wrist protection as it’s easy for the wrist to crumple on impact causing a sprain. I think I paid $35 but, again, the price can be seen here on Amazon.
These help protect your toes and instep from the impact created when you land a solid kick.
These ones from Adidas have the heel area and the ball of your foot exposed to allow for better grip. They’re about $30, but you can see the up to date price here on Amazon.
I invested in a pair of knee guards. Whilst not permitted in actual competitions, I did notice that they were invaluable during my training sessions. I noticed my knees were frequently clashing into my opponent, particular if I was trying to learn and practise a new technique. These provided a level of protection without impeding my mobility.
The sponge padding also insured that I didn’t injure my opponent.
I think they were only about $11, but you can check the price on Amazon here.
Taekwondo is a contact sport and so this is an essential bit of kit to protect your teeth and reduce head trauma from a strike. I really like the shock doctor mouth guards: they’re easy to mold, very comfortable and provide a high level of protection. You can see the price here on Amazon.
I keep mine in a small case (example here on Amazon) so it doesn’t get lost.
For men, this has to be the number one item. Believe me you don’t want to receive an unprotected strike to the family jewels. Being struck in the groin can also be painful for women too.
I invested in a compression short and cup design by Diamond MMA (check the price here on Amazon).
These are really comfortable and provide an outstanding level of protection. They were also recommended by Joe Rogan (UFC fight commentator):
I hope this give you a useful summary of what I think are the best bits of gear for taekwondo.