What does a beginner martial artist need to pack for their first training session? We’ve come up with this checklist to help martial arts rookies prepare for the big day.
Starting a new martial art can be an exciting but intimidating time. You’re about to learn a new skill. You’re going to strengthen your mind and body in all sorts of new and exciting ways. And you’re going to grow. But you’re also entering the unknown and that can be scary. What challenges are you going to face in your training? How will you fare in competition, if you choose to go that route? What martial arts and gym etiquette rules do you need to learn and follow? What is that first class going to be like? And what martial arts gear are you even supposed to bring to it?
If you’re really unsure, you can always ask an instructor or gym representative from your new dojo. Any good gym should have some basic information in place to welcome new students and prepare them for the beginning of their martial arts journey. It also can’t hurt to check in with them to see if there’s anything specific that your school would like their brand new students to bring along. But if you’re just looking for a general idea of what gear to invest in before you start, we can set you on the right path.
Here’s a checklist of essential equipment that every beginner martial artist should pack to make their first training day as safe, gainful, and fun as possible:
1. A gear bag.
Before you can start packing for your first martial arts training session, you’re going to need a gear bag to put all of your new equipment in. A good martial arts gear bag will be big enough to carry all of the gear that your particular martial art requires, including uniforms, protective gear, gloves and/or footwear, a water bottle, and other accessories. It should have pouches to keep everything organized and keep important personal items like your wallet and keys safe and easily accessible. Ideally, it should also be well-vented to keep your martial arts gear as fresh as possible when you’re transporting it between the gym and home. ProForce has a wide range of backpacks, duffle bags, mesh bags (which are always helpful for giving sweaty gear some extra time to air out), and pro bags that can address whatever martial arts gear setup you might require.
2. A uniform, or other appropriate workout gear.
The type of clothing you’ll need to pack for your first martial arts session will depend on the martial art. Some martial arts and combat sports like MMA and boxing are usually flexible about what clothing you can train in, especially when you’re just starting. Most martial arts that involve uniforms will have their own type of outfit that has specifically been designed and evolved to meet the needs of the discipline, though. Karate, for example, has a Karate uniform. Kung Fu has a Kung Fu uniform. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo have their own takes on the gi.
Depending on where you train, there might also be some leeway or crossover in what uniforms are considered appropriate. Some Taekwondo students can train in Karate uniforms. BJJ beginners with a judo background can often be found training in the Judo gis. In any case, it’s best to consult with your instructors and your gym to see what their rules and recommendations are before investing in your first martial arts uniform.
Most gyms will have a few sets of loaner uniforms on hand for people taking trial lessons. But if you’re not comfortable wearing shared martial arts gear — or if you’re really eager to start building your martial arts gear collection right away — you’ll want to purchase a martial arts uniform of your own.
Visit AWMA.com for information on how to select the right martial arts uniform for you. And for a wide selection of martial arts uniforms in multiple types, sizes, shapes, colors, and weights.
3. A mouth guard.
Purchasing a mouth guard might not be the most exciting or glamorous way to start your training journey, but it’s a solid investment in your health and wellbeing as a martial artist. This small but important piece of equipment is obviously a necessity for any sparring you plan to do as you progress in your training, but it’s wise to start wearing one and getting used to it as soon as possible. Accidents can happen in technique training, too. A properly fitted mouth guard will protect your head — and everything inside it from your teeth to your brain — which will keep you safe, healthy, and strong enough to pursue all of your martial arts goals.
4. A white belt.
The majority of martial arts use some form of grading system, and most of those are represented in belts. While each martial art has its own variation on the progression of colors that represent each rank and each step in your progress as a student, almost all of them start with white. If you’re training in a martial art with a belt grading system — including Karate, Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo — you will need a white belt to represent the very beginning of your journey as a student in your new martial art.
Much like uniforms, martial arts belts are often made to withstand the specific demands of their discipline. BJJ belts, for example, are often thicker than Karate belts. So if you’re not sure about what size and type of white belt will be the best for you, it’s a good idea to check in with your new gym.
5. A water bottle.
It’s important to stay hydrated while training! Invest in a good water bottle. Get in the habit of filling it and putting it in your gear bag before you leave for class. This will help to keep you at your physical and mental best during martial arts training.
6. An open mind.
A positive attitude, a humble nature, and a willingness to learn are the most important things you can bring to any martial arts class. Great martial arts gear is valuable, and will help you perform and feel your best as you continue on your martial arts journey. But you don’t need to be perfect and have the perfectly stocked gear bag right away. Your instructors and classmates will help you figure out what works best for you and what you need. You’ll grow and test out different gear and see what works best for you as your own martial artist. As long as you’re ready to train and have your basic safety needs met, you’re good to go!