Martial arts sparring gear is carefully designed and crafted to meet the demands of martial artists and the martial arts they train in. Gear makers like ProForce take the latest technological advances and apply them to centuries’ worth of martial arts wisdom to make sparring equipment that enables martial artists to get the most out of their training. The gear keeps martial artists and their opponents as safe as possible during sparring and contact technique training. This keeps everyone involved healthier, more effective, and more able to focus on refining their skills in sparring sessions.
But just because they’re designed for one purpose—and they’re great at it—doesn’t mean that sparring gear can only be used for that purpose. Sturdy, well-made, and well-fitting gear that guards your bones and soft tissues can be extremely useful outside of the dojo, too.
Here are five alternate uses for martial arts sparring gear:
1. Strength and Conditioning Workouts
If you’ve ever taken a Boxing, Muay Thai, Karate, or Tae Kwon Do lesson—or if you’ve ever taken a cardio Kickboxing class—you know what a great workout striking practice can be. Throwing punches, kicks, elbows, and knees builds muscular endurance and tone, and improves your balance, core stability, agility, and mobility/range of motion. When you put a number of those strikes together, you’re also getting a great cardio workout.
But you don’t have to train in martial arts or combat sports to get the benefits of a striking-based workout. With a few pieces of sparring gear, you can put together a challenging and effective at-home workout. A product like the ProForce® Deluxe Abdomen Body Shield is versatile enough to be adapted for a wide range of exercises. If you have a training partner, you can alternate wearing and punching it for timed rounds. If you’re alone, you can use it like a strike shield for solo exercises.
Body shields and strike shields can also be used to hone your self-defense skills.
2. Stress Relief
Martial arts is a great way to work off some excess energy. But not everyone who could benefit from that kind of stress relief has the time and energy to attend regular training. Some people don’t even have the energy to put together and do the kind of workouts mentioned above.
For them, we have another option. Think of it like a higher tech, grownup version of punching a pillow when you’re frustrated. Invest in a strike shield and sparring gloves. Throw the gloves on when you’ve got a spare moment and you’re feeling wound up. Hit the strike shield until you start to calm down a little bit. (If you’re hitting hard, we also recommend investing in a pair of handwraps to cover your hands and wrists and make sure that injuries don’t become a new sources of stress in your life.)
3. Chores and Daily Activities
If a piece of martial arts equipment can guard your bones, skin, and soft tissue from the wear and tear of full contact sparring, it can cover you from the demands of all sorts of other physical tasks, too. A set of kneepads can make kneeling on the ground to clean or garden much more comfortable. A set of forearms guards can provide a solid level of coverage against scratches or worse during outdoor activities like weeding and trimming hedges.
Sparring gear is also a good choice for anyone who is dealing with minor injuries or annoyances that don’t require medical attention but don’t feel perfect, either. If you’ve rolled your ankle and it doesn’t feel quite right, an ankle sleeve can help you feel more stable while you’re walking around. If you’ve tweaked your wrist but you know it’s not serious enough to require a medical brace, a set of handwraps can offer good makeshift support for weightlifting and any other activities that require you to put some pressure on the joint.
4. Sensory Issues
Martial artists wear compression gear to improve their athletic performance and reduce discomfort during and after intense workouts. But there’s another population that can benefit from this type of sparring gear: people with anxiety and sensory issues. In addition to supporting joints and muscles, encouraging blood flow, and potentially improving post-workout recovery, compression appears to be able to calm your central nervous system, and help people who have anxiety, ADHD, autism, and PTSD relax and soothe themselves.
5. Behavioral Health Concerns
We’re not suggesting that sparring gear should be used as a replacement for medical grade equipment. If a trained professional recommends specific equipment for specific purposes, then you should follow that advice. But if you or someone you care for is struggling with behavioral health issues, sparring gear like headgear and forearm guards can help to guard the person and their carers from kicks, punches, slaps, and other potentially injurious actions.
Want to know more about getting the most out of your martial arts gear? Check out 5 Alternate Uses for Martial Arts Uniforms.