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Taekwondo Gear: What Do You Need to Get Started?

Taekwondo Gear Lying on the ground

So, you’ve decided to start this beautiful sport. Good for you, I myself have trained this Korean martial art for two years (although more as a sport rather than martial art) and have quite enjoyed it. As a Taekwondo practitioner, there are a few pieces of gear that are essential for your training and well, for looking like you know what you’re doing. But let’s be real, having the gear doesn’t make you a pro, only practice and dedication does.

Nevertheless, there are a few things that are mandatory and other that are optional or that you can acquire ‘on the go’. The following Taekwondo gear can be obtained quite easily in most countries.

The Dobok – A.K.A The “I’m a Serious Martial Artist”

The traditional uniform worn by Taekwondo practitioners is called a dobok. It’s a fancy name for a pair of pants and a top that makes you look like you know what you’re doing. But in all seriousness, a dobok – which is quite similar to a Japanese karate kimono – should be lightweight, breathable and most importantly, should fit you well. Because let’s be real, you don’t want to be doing roundhouse kicks with pants that are too tight or too loose.

By default, the materials used are quite stretchy and I can confirm from my own experience that fighting in dobok is very comfortable. There are a lot of websites where you can order one, but I’m sure your trainer has some kind of discount for his student practitioners – so before you head online or retail, ask him/her.

Protection is Key – Naked Yoga-man or Full Armored Knight?

Taekwondo is a contact sport, and as such, it’s essential that you protect yourself from accidental injuries. No matter what you think, you will get kicked, punched and taken down – don’t think you won’t.

This is where sparring gear comes in. A good quality helmet (headgear), mouth-guard, hand and foot pads, and chest guard are essential to keep you safe during sparring and drills. Well, maybe not every piece is essential, but they will certainly help in the long run. If you can afford all this equipment, good for you.

A helmet (headgear) is designed to protect the head and face from impact, while a mouth-guard protects the teeth and jaw. Hand pads and foot pads protect the hands and feet from impact and abrasions. If you can afford to get only one item, I’d say go for mouth-guard and/or foot pads, but ask your trainer as well – he/she might tell you otherwise.

Lastly, a chest guard protects the chest and rib area from strikes. It’s important to invest in high-quality gear that is comfortable and fits well, to ensure maximum protection and performance during training. And as an added bonus, it also makes you look like a pro, who’s ready for the ring.

I must admit that when I started I had only dobok and foot pads, nothing more. But when I got head-kicked and fell down knocked out cold, I decided to go for mouth-guard immediately. No, I didn’t get the headgear – although it was recommended to me if I was going to be serious about the sport.

Shin Guards – This Isn’t Muay Thai

Shin guards are another great layer of protection during sparring – not only do they protect your shins from impact and abrasions during kicks, but they also provide support for the joints. Plus, they also make you look like you’re ready to take on the world, or at least, a couple of kicks. Shin guards are not only part of Taekwondo gear family, but are rather vastly used in various sports and martial arts, but I felt it was right to include them.

With that being said, there are arguments that your shins should be trained on their own and this can be done only if they take certain amount of damage (this is especially true for Thai box practitioners). Best to discuss this with a professional or your trainer.

Training Weapons – Yes or No?

There are quite a few weapons that can be used in Taekwondo, although it also varies from a sub-style that your trained is teaching. My trainer didn’t really approve of them, at least not from the start, however, in most cases, you should encounter at least these two weapons:

A bō staff is a traditional martial arts weapon that is typically made of wood and is about 6 feet (about 180 cm) long. It can be used for striking, blocking, and sweeping techniques.

Nunchaku is a traditional martial arts weapon consisting of two sticks connected by a chain or rope. It can be used for striking, blocking, and trapping techniques.

Fair to say, every one of was wanted to be a ninja with these cool weapons at some point, right? Training with weapons like these can also help to improve focus, precision, and timing.

It’s important to note that before training with weapons like bō staff or nunchaku, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the techniques and proper handling of the weapon. However, the above knowledge is required only if you decide to train on your own, normally your trainer should know whether you can train with either weapon and to what degree.

Additional Training For Improvement

Looking for a good ‘all-around’ training addition? Good. I see that you like to be ahead.

Jumping rope and hand weights are great training aids that can help to improve cardiovascular fitness and build strength and endurance. Jumping rope is a simple and effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness, coordination, and footwork.

Hand weights can be used to increase strength and endurance in the arms, shoulders and upper body. They are also helpful in improving power and speed in strikes and kicks. This has been proven time and time again. Simply hitting the gym with your buddies can help a lot, you’ll see.

Conclusion on Taekwondo Gear

This should summarize most pieces of gear that are used in this beautiful sport and martial art. Eventually, it comes down to your own preferences and the style your master/trainer is teaching. Armoring yourself might be needed if you intend to spar a lot and use weapons.

Additionally, as they say, you can never go wrong with mouth-guard.

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in martial arts (karate). I've trained with one of the best trainers in my home country.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from calisthenics to weight lifting to Taekwondo and everything in between. While I do love all kinds of sports, my passion still lies in martial arts.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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