Are you getting ready to start taking MMA lessons and wondering what you need to bring to the gym for your first class? We’ve put together the following guide to assembling MMA gear necessities. Whether you’re brand new to martial arts or have decided to expand on your background in other disciplines by adding MMA to your training routine, these tips will help you find the gear that will keep you safe and strong for those first few steps into the cage without breaking the bank… or breaking yourself.
1. Ask your new instructors or a gym representative about what MMA gear you will need to start.
While you’re in the process of deciding which MMA gym you want to join, or which classes in your current gym you’d like to start taking, don’t be afraid to ask questions about what you need to bring along to those first classes. Any good gym that invests time and energy in their students will be happy to help you with every step of your new journey, including telling you how you should prepare — both in terms of fitness background and actual MMA gear you’ll need to purchase — for those first few MMA classes. Most gyms will have loaner boxing gloves and MMA gloves and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gis available for people who want to try a class or two without committing to purchasing hundreds of dollars’ worth of MMA gear right away. But there are some essentials that can’t be shared and the staff at your new gym should be able to help walk you through the process of acquiring them before you start.
2. Safety first.
Before you start thinking about what kind of MMA gear will improve your performance, you’ll have to focus on what gear you’ll need to keep you safe and healthy. For hygiene and for maximum effect — protective gear and sparring gear work best when they’re custom fit for you — these pieces of MMA gear are the very first that you should buy for yourself. A mouthguard is essential to protect your teeth and your brain. Cups, chest protection, and shin guards are also sound investments if you need them. Most gyms will have head gear on hand for sparring purposes, but you might feel more comfortable — and maybe smell a little better — if you invest in your own.
3. Invest in the basics.
Beyond safety and sparring gear, the other MMA gear that you’ll likely want to purchase for yourself as soon as possible is clothing. While you can train in fitness clothing that hasn’t been designed specifically for martial arts, you’ll likely feel more comfortable in products that have been created to cater to — and endure — the unique demands of MMA training like rash guards and MMA shorts. A good rash guard will also help protect you from mat burn and related skin injuries and infections in a way that your average t-shirt can’t.
4. Test the rest.
Once you’ve invested in the personal MMA gear that you really shouldn’t be sharing, you can take more time figuring out what you want to do about the rest. Most MMA and martial arts gyms will have loaner training gloves and MMA gloves on hand for people just starting out or testing the waters, as well as loaner gis if gi-based jiu-jitsu and/or judo are part of their offerings. Unless you’re really not comfortable using those communal pieces of MMA gear to begin with, we recommend taking full advantage of them for a few classes. See how training feels. Think about what you want from your MMA gear. Ask your training partners about their gear, what they like about it, and why they like it that way. Once you’re armed with this information, you can start to research different brands and different models of training gloves, MMA gloves, uniforms, and other MMA gear and find the perfect fit for your training goals and needs.
5. Go shopping.
Once you develop a better understanding of who you are as a mixed martial artist, what your training goals are, what your budget is, what kind of gear works best for you, and what your preferences are, you’ll be better equipped to start assembling the collection of MMA gear that will best enhance your growth as an MMA fighter. Make a list of what you want and need (here’s a handy checklist of the best MMA gear for beginners if you’re still not sure), head over to AWMA.com, place an order, and then get ready to test all of that new MMA gear out on the mats!