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Review of Sparring Equipment for Contact Karate P3 - Before the Pads

Updated on December 5, 2012

Pre-sparring training is a necessity.

This image is a child. But he probably knows as much about sparring as any other beginner.

When it comes to that portion of martial arts training called sparring or semi-free sparring, and instructor and student must consider many things, before a student faces an opponent. In other words, its not just "put on the pads and have at it." There will be boring, grueling hours of non-contact training for the purpose of developing basic techniques, both defensive and counter offensive, as well as reflexes.

There will be even more training if a weapon is employed. Again, Cha Yun-do is a weaponless form of karate developed for use in the social setting as opposed to the fighting circuit. Although it has been employed in those arenas with much success, it was developed and taught as an "everyday-every person" form of self-defense. It uses only the weapons, very powerful weapons, that God infused in the natural man. It is therefore properly termed "karate."


Last, before the pads are put into use, there are several important issues to learn, starting with BFR; balance, focus and relaxation.

Our "student" at the right is a bit ahead of himself. He has hours of training to go before those pads will do him any good. He must learn proper foot and hand positioning, transfer of weight and movement, in any direction. And they must learn, and be reminded of, the value of proper breathing. With the rudiments of these tools set to memory, they begin working on the basic mechanics of various techniques.

Next one will tackle the non-contact drills with opponents. These teach how the body moves, both your own and that of your opponent. Even thought you will train with people of all sizes and both genders, the body will move and react similarly. These are learned "hands-on" but without pads as contact is light to non-existent, and there are not counter moves.

Next one will learn their own personal attributes, characteristics and ability in the development of techniques. In this area, one will find that certain techniques work better than others for your personal use. Though you must always stay within your own personal ability level, you should learn to learn to execute all techniques with certain dexterity. One never knows when an injury or the like will hamper favorite techniques and call for substituting them with other no-so-favorite techniques

Along with the above, one has to have a system of regimented training to develop personal attributes and timing, timing being a major factor in training for contact drills and sparring.

All of these things are a necessity before one considers "putting on the pads." Then, especially when padded-up, students, and instructors, must be vigilant at all times as contact sports become dangerous when not properly addressed or supervised.

As one can see, there is more to sparring than putting on pads and running after each other.

With this background, we begin looking at the various pads/padding available and employed by CMAF in its training programs. We will be looking mainly at padding that is standard for use in CMAF as well as several others that are used, but with particular purpose. We will also review certain other equipment that we do not recommend, for stated reasons.

Pad Criteria

Christian Martial Arts Fellowship’s basic standard criteria for all equipment is three part; 1) material and workmanship, 2) cost to the student, and 3) health/sanitary considerations.

The consideration of the material used if first, for apparent reasons. We do not require students to use any certain brand or configuration. They may use previously purchased equipment purchased from other quality suppliers, of which there are several. However, we do require equipment used to meet the quality levels of the recommended CMAF equipment.

The basic foot, hand* and helmet structure must be ½ to 3/4 inch of foam padding dipped in vinyl and contoured to cover the appendage. Variations are acceptable as long as they are not less than this criteria in product and durability. The following is our review and reasoning for chosing the pads acceptable to CMAF. With each item, we will review the recommended piece before discussing the variables.

*The foot and helmet pads, as described are the standard. The hand pad, above, is for our Advanced level students. All beginning students are required to wear "boxing gloves." We will cover this a bit more when we get to the hand pad section.


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