Inevitably both to the chagrin of the parents and to the joy of the children, once your child has reach a high enough rank, which varies from school to school, there will come a time when they start to spar, and there will a need for some safe sparring gear for them.
Each school will have its own requirements as far as what is needed and what isn’t but its safe to say that most of them will want what is a called a “full set of pads”.
This will generally include gloves for arms and wrists, foot pads that cover the top of the foot, shin and ankle guards and of course, a helmet to protect the head and chin areas.
You may or actually probably will be able to buy this from the school itself, however that convenience does come at cost of higher price than what you maybe offered online and you will be relegated to buying the brand that the school is selling.
In case you would like to do some research on your own to decide which is the better avenue for you and your children I have come up with list of the 7 essential gear items that I think your child should have and with a recommendation for each.
The list is NOT in order of importance but its just the way I decided to list them. Be sure to check with your school to see what they require.
The chest protector is of particular importance in Tae Kwon Do as it keeps the torso safe from numerous kicks that are thrown in a typical sparring session. This protector as well as most of the others not only does a great job in easing the blows to the chest, it also helps with the ribs, stomach shoulders and back.
When looking for the ideal protector there are a number of factors to consider such as weight, maneuverability, the areas covered, whether it has a open or closed back and also the material it made of.
With this in mind I would recommend you look at the Adidas WTF TaeKwonDo Solid Reversible Chest Protector as it checks all the boxes. You may be able to find them locally or on Amazon.
We need to keep the pearly white and having a mouth guard will go a long way in doing that. A lot of schools dedicate a particular day for sparring or for the more advanced students they may have special classes if they are going to be going to tournaments.
If you are just doing sparring in class, they will probably not require that you have a mouth guard but its a nice “extra” to have, however if your child is going to be going to tournaments, then it will be a requirement.
The reasons to have your child use a mouth guard are obvious and many but a few of the key reasons that I think they are imperative are:
1) Braces teeth for impact
2) Helps to protect the neck
3) Safeguards the Jaw Joint
4) Safeguards Soft Tissue
5) Adds to head protection
Since most if not all the sparring done in school will not be of high intensity or even if they are doing tournaments, I would get a simple what they call a boil and bite mouth guard ( as opposed to the custom, which are much more expensive).
I am sure you have seen these boil and bite mouth guards as they are the type that have been around for a while and will work well for what you will need.
Just make sure that follow the instructions well as a proper fit is important. For one that works for most kids check out the Shock Doctor Gel Max which, of course, you can find on Amazon!
Shin Instep Guard
For kids or anyone for that matter sparring in TaeKwonDo a good pair of shin guards can be vital. Since Tae Kwon Do is a kick oriented martial art having a great pair of shin guards it like have a great pair of gloves for a boxer.
When wearing the shin guards your kids will not have to be so concerned about feeling the blow as and they can practice with a little more intensity.
Also by wearing the shin guards they will not be so hesitant of kicking in anticipation of any pain that may follows. Needless to say that this is not good for training for a tournament or for good technique.
There are alot of options out there in a wide variety of price ranges but you should look at the Meister MMA Elastic Cloth Shin & Instep Padded Guards as an option that can be seen on Amazon
Needless to say, having a head guard when sparring is not only one of the most important pieces of equipment you can invest in, but is required in all Tae Kwon Do Tournaments, and I don’t know of a school that will allow to spar without one.
I can also not understate the impact that kicks have on a kids (or adults) head and that is not something you should take lightly. So whether your kid is a beginner or more advanced you are going to have to get headgear.
When looking for headgear there are a few important things to look out for and your child is going to be doing tournaments than you need to make sure whatever you get, conforms to the competition guidelines.
Thankfully these guidelines are usually universal so the head gear you get will be good for all. The best headgear will do the job in:
- Guarding your face during the sparring and will reduce, notice I did not say eliminate, bruising
- Protect your child’s nose and chin
- Protect your kid from getting cuts
However a good set of headgear is not a panacea there are some downsides to wearing it, but not nearly enough to warrant not wearing it at all.
For example , I have seen kids who put on the headgear and then they feel safer than are and therefore think they are impervious to any kicks or strikes from their opponent.
They soon learn, sometimes the hard way, that the aren’t. It also makes them a bigger target and they can see as well as they can without it, which takes a little getting used to but these minor points when it comes to the overall benefits.
So now that you getting all this gear for your kids, you now need a place to store it and also where you can easily pick it up on the way out. And so what should you look for in a gear bag? Some of the criteria that I use is:
- Shoulder carry sports bag
- A large pocket for shin guards, headgear, shoes, chest guard etc.
- Smaller pockets for my mouth guard & maybe some sports tape
- A compartment for a sports bottle
- A wet clothing compartment! this one is very important
With this in mind, the one I like the best, although its states its a “Jiu Jitsu” bag, is the Gold BJJ Duffle Bag as its solidly built and will work for any Martial Artist. Because of its good quality you should not need another bag for as long your child is in TaeKwonDo.
Yes we all know that kids are very flexible and if they aren’t it doesn’t take much to get them there. However it in order to keep that flexibility you need to keep at it not to mention that it a great habit to get into.
Now I don’t want to get too technical here but there are two types of stretching there is what is called dynamic in other words, flexibility while in MOVEMENT, like a high kick for example.
There is also what called static flexibility and this is where you want to do splits and what is normally done in warming up for class.
A good stretching machine will greatly help in static stretching which will give your child more time to work on his dynamic stretching.
For a good stretching machine you might want to take a look at the Pro Leg Stretcher on Amazon. .. Keep in mind that although you may be getting it for your kids there is no reason you can’t use it yourself!
Fist and Fore Arm Guard
Although punching takes a back seat to kicking in Tae Kwon Do, it is still important to protect them from getting hurt weather at the school or at a tournament. Not to be overly or use scare tactics here but I think this example may make my point on the importance of a good set of Fist and Forearm blocks:
Imagine your child is sparring with another kid, and during a sparring session he punches him and his knuckles / fingers are in the wrong position. If he has a guard on it may hurt or sting but that will be the end of as the guards absorbs a lot of it. Now imagine it without the guards
Most fist/forearm combination guards will have padding over the fist area, and an elastic sleeve to ensure a secure fit.
Normally, combination guards are open-palm, for better grabbing and punching technique and the less expensive but more than adequate will be those made of cloth. You can check the lasted prices on one of the better brands, the Victory Fist and Forearm Guard on Amazon
The right gear can make sparring in Tae Kwon Do quite safe and enjoyable for your kids. All it takes is a getting the right equipment and the right fit.