Are you in the market for new dojo equipment and not sure where to begin? This list of essential martial arts gear will get you started. From training equipment to sparring gear to karate uniforms for kids and adults, these basics can help you open the most well-prepared gym on the market — or add some new offerings to a well-established martial arts institution.
They don’t just look great in movie training montages. They’re also an important developmental tool for martial artists and combat sport athletes. If your gym provides instruction in striking arts like boxing and Muay Thai, you’ll want to provide them with training equipment that they can practice and do drills on. A good selection of heavy bags, speed bags, and possibly some freestanding bags will allow your students to work on their conditioning, timing, speed, and power when there are no training partners readily available to hold pads or spar with them.
If the martial arts that you’re teaching contain any grappling or ground work — or even if you’re teaching a purely standup art but you want to keep your students as safe and comfortable as possible — one of the most important pieces of martial arts supplies that you can buy is a set of good quality mats.
This dojo equipment is an investment in your gym, because high-end mats that can stand up to large classes of martial artists running, jumping, and falling on them will save you money in the long term. It’s also an investment in your students, because they’ll stay healthier and safer if they can do all of the above on mats that have been specifically designed to cushion those blows. Mats are an especially important part of kids’ karate equipment, as beginner, intermediate, and advanced students have varying degrees of competency and comfort in the studio.
For items that can be shared, it will be beneficial to have a selection of shared sparring gear on hand to make sure that any sparring component in your classes and training sessions is as safe and responsible as possible. Head gear for any striking-based sparring is a necessity. Sparring chest gear can also be beneficial to have on hand for both sparring purposes and technique training.
Sparring Gear for Kids
Once a child has reached a high enough rank — which varies from school to school — there comes a time when they begin to spar and need safe sparring gear, including:
Chest guard: Particularly important in Tae Kwon Do, this piece of equipment keeps the torso safe from kicks thrown in a typical sparring session.
Shin instep guard: For kids that are sparring, a good pair of shin guards is critical. Having these pieces of children’s sparring gear is like a boxer having a great pair of gloves. They will not have to be as concerned about feeling the blow and can practice with a bit more intensity.
Head gear: Not only is headgear one of the most important parts of your dojo equipment, but is required in all Tae Kwon Do tournaments. The impact that kicks have on kids — and adults, for that matter — should not be taken lightly. So, whether it’s a youth program for beginners or a class with more advanced students, reliable headgear is a must.
Fist and forearm guard: It’s important to protect kids from getting hurt either at your school or at a tournament. Imagine a child is sparring with another child, and during the session, one of them punches the other and their knuckles or fingers are in the wrong position. With a guard, it may hurt or sting, but the guard will absorb most of the blow. Now imagine this without the guards!
Most fist/forearm combination guards have padding over the fist area and an elastic sleeve to ensure it fits securely. Typically, combination guards are open-palm, which enable better grabbing and punching technique.
Martial Arts Uniforms
If you are looking to provide a friendly and accessible environment for potential new students in gi-based martial arts, one great way to appeal to new students is to have some loaner martial arts uniforms available in a variety of kids and adults sizes, so that they can try a few classes in the proper gear before committing to a membership and a martial arts uniform of their own.
Having some spare uniforms on hand can also help out long-term students, because, let’s face it, we’ve all forgotten to pack all of our martial arts gear at least once over the course of our training. Having different colored belts and belt accessories are vital pieces of kids’ and adults’ karate equipment to have at your dojo.
On a similar note, if you offer classes that require boxing gloves, MMA gloves, karate gloves, or punch gloves, having at least a few spare pairs of shared gloves on hand for new students is a great way to help them try a class or two before they commit to your and their own pairs. And again, these pieces of dojo equipment can also help out any regulars who have forgotten to pack their own but still want to train.
For many individuals, and especially kids, karate may be a once-or-twice a week affair. They may not put too much thought into purchasing a pair of karate mitts, and may opt for the first set they see, commonly springing for the cheapest.
However, investing in high-quality gloves from tried-and-tested brands for kids and adults is integral in outfitting your dojo with karate equipment that is dependable and keeps all practice within your dojo safe.
Focus Pads and Kick Pads
Once you have the gloves and training bags in order, it’s time to add focus training equipment to your shopping list for any striking-based training you’ll be doing at your gym. For boxing (and for boxing for MMA), this selection of training aids should include focus pads and possibly an abdomen shield and other hand focus targets. For kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA, Thai pads, and foam shields and other body focus targets should also be included. For other martial arts that require some level of precise striking training, like Karate, hand focus targets like paddles and the squeaky thing should also be added to your dojo equipment.
Boards and Other Accessories
Once you have the fundamentals covered, you can start to look into other martial arts gear and small training equipment that fits in with your class selection and training style. A selection of breakable —and rebreakable — boards, for example, wouldn’t do much for an MMA-focused gym, but is a great idea for a dojo that specializes in karate for kids and adults. Depending on what kind of strength and conditioning training you offer, you might also want to have small, affordable, and incredibly effective gym gear like jump ropes, medicine balls, and resistance tubing to enhance your training options.
Karate Equipment You Should Encourage Kids and Adults to Invest In
While having the right dojo equipment is crucial for your establishment, there are plenty of kids’ and adult karate accessories that students should invest in, including:
Mouth guards and other personal use items: In terms of personal safety gear, it’s more effective and more hygienic to ask students to bring their own mouth guards, cups, etc.
Gear bag: Depending on the student’s level, a gear bag may include:
- Large pocket for shin guards, headgear, chest guard, etc.
- Small pockets for mouth guard and sports tape
- Compartment for sports bottle
- Separate compartment for wet clothing
Belt display: A commemorative piece of karate equipment great for kids and practical for adults as well is a belt display, which lets students showcase their martial arts belts while storing them between use as they progress ranks.
Contact Us for All of Your Dojo Equipment
While far from an exhaustive list, this overview of dojo equipment is a roadmap for essentials of your establishment — whether you’re opening its doors for the first time or looking to grow its programs. AWMA is proud to be a one-stop-shop for all of your dojo equipment needs, offering training products, sparring gear, accessories, and more from world-renowned brands since 1972.
For more information about dojo equipment, everything you need for kids karate, accessories to outfit your gym with, and beyond, turn to our team today!