Sunday, January 17, 2010

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for the dojo

Kenwa Mabuni sensei wearing make-shift PPE for kumite

At a well established karate dojo there will be kumite (sparring) sessions where there is lots of contact, these sessions will occur at least once a week in an advanced class that is by invitation only and generally for black belts and above.

Personally I’m a big believer in personal protection equipment (PPE) during a hard sparring session; my perspective is you should wear them when you have to and not because you can, that is blows to the body and head.

If shots to the head are allowed in these sessions, I’m a big fan of the amateur boxing head guard with the open face. This way the combatants cannot get too complacent wearing the head guard and may still receive a bloody nose if they don’t concentrate.

Hypothetically if it was my dojo and someone didn’t bring their head guard then no sparring session for them.

For the hands I really like 6 oz mma gloves these gloves are the closest thing to being bare knuckled and because of their design allow you the freedom to grab and use your fingers.

By the way mma gloves are also fantastic for heavy bag and pad work outs.

Mouth guard, groin guard and shin pads should also be compulsory and for the ladies chest plates.

So here is my essential list of PPE for hard dojo sparring,

1. Head Guard
2. Mouth Guard
3. MMA gloves for the hands
4. Groin Guard
5. Shin Pads
6. Chest Plates (women)

At the end of the day you want to be just as functional when you leave these sessions as when you started them, hard sparring on a regular basis does toughen you up but is an environment for injury.

There will always be bumps and bruises but with PPE and the dojo safety rules in mind it shouldn’t be of a very serious nature.

Some hard ass instructors prematurely put their students through all sorts of unsafe training methods where the students maybe rendered unconsious and receive serious injuries, thinking that the hardness of the task will enable them and give them the ability to defend themselves on the street.

To me this just proves that even though the instructor in question maybe a good fighter he really doesn’t have a clue about safe self defence practice and methods.

These bad ass instructors also have limited knowledge on how to nurture and build up the students skill and confidence base for a real encounter, sparring prematurely without establishing a good grounding in basics will always be counter productive.

Good self defence training doesn’t mean injuring your body and leaving you vulnerable and at a disadvantage through unsafe training methods.

If you end up with a broken body through unsafe self defence training methods and your ability to defend yourself for real is inhibited, how valuable has your self defence training really been.

If we observe the photo above of the old masters they too used make-shift PPE back then when sparring and I’m sure with all the advancements we have made today, if they were still around they would definitely take advantage of them.

Safe training to everyone.

Head Guard
MMA gloves