Often when beginners start, one of the first things needed is protective equipment such as karate sparring gear and a mouth guard. Through researching, they get bombarded with so much information. To add to this, it is oftentimes hard to tell quality sparring gear from garbage that will fall apart in a few months.
In essence, karate sparring gear is just thick foam dipped in a layer of plastic to prevent tears. However, it plays a vital function in the prevention of injury to you and your fellow training partner.
This list of the best karate sparring gear came as a result of many frustrations that both beginners and advanced students of karate have experienced. Because finding rips and tears in gear you bought recently, or discovering your headgear’s chinstrap lost all elasticity, causing it to slide and shift when you spar can be disheartening.
To add to that, separating the best gear from the rest can be confusing because of the similar features and materials they are made of.
At last, in an attempt to make your life easier and save some time, trial, error, and especially money, we compiled a list of the best karate gear sets from 1000’s of reviews and firsthand experience.
Please note, the following list is about standard karate sparring gear sets and not designed for kumite in WKF (traditional style sparring with it’s own rules and limited techniques that can be used).
Also, if you are a beginner and looking for a karate gi (uniform), we do an in depth review and guide for that as well. Click here to see our review of The Best Karate Uniforms
Macho Dyna 7 pc Sparring Gear Set
Macho Dyna 8 pc Sparring Gear Set
ProForce Lightning Bundle 5 pc Set
- What Is Sparring In Karate?
- What Is The Purpose Of Sparring?
- What Size Karate Sparring Gear Set Do I Need?
- General Karate Sparring Gear Set Sizing Chart
- The 7 Best Karate Sparring Gear Sets
- How Do You Put On Your Karate Sparring Gear?
- How Do You Clean Your Karate Sparring Gear Set?
What Is Sparring In Karate?
Sparring, or “kumite”, is a controlled fight and one of the three main sections of karate which includes kihon and kata. Also, under no circumstances do the combatants have intent to hurt each nor anger and hard feelings.
To start with, the main reason to spar is to sharpen various skills that other areas of karate don’t teach you. Of course, respect is shown at the beginning of the match by bowing and shaking hands or touching gloves.
Once proper courtesies are exchanged, the two combatants use the techniques they have learned in a simulated fight scenario.
Not only is sparring essential in karate because of this, but for many other reasons as discussed below.
What Is The Purpose Of Sparring?
First, karateka (karate practitioners) learn how to keep a cool head and think under pressure.
Generally, there is a fight or flight response that is common in humans and animals. This can cause you to let your emotions overcome you and cloud your thinking, causing bad judgement. So therefore, sparring can be a good way to learn self control and execute your moves when it matters most.
Another key point is the techniques you have been learning have no use if you can’t land them on a live opponent. As an illustration, there is an elegant quote from Mike Tyson that goes, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.
Clearly, the rules prevent punching in the mouth but accidents can and do happen. Also, a punch anywhere can cause a brain freeze effect for an inexperienced fighter.
Thirdly, sparring teaches timing and distancing. These are possibly the most important skills if you want to be effective in kumite. Furthermore, timing simply can’t be learned through any other way than a real life opponent that is also trying to land his or her techniques.
For instance, when to side-step, strike or block can be just as important as where or how. Along with timing, distancing can also be the difference between landing that kick, or missing because your opponent was further than your reach.
What Size Karate Sparring Gear Set Do I Need?
When buying new karate sparring gear sets, there can be nothing quite as disappointing as putting on your new headgear and it not being able to slide over your ears. Then, looking down and realizing you accidently got Shaquille O’Neal’s foot pads.
Yet, there are some ways you can help prevent this issue entirely.
First, you want to get yourself a soft tape measurer like that used in sewing. After that you just need to measure a few parts of your body.
General Karate Sparring Gear Set Sizing Chart
*Karate sparring gear set manufacturers use these measurements to size their gear.
First, measure starting from the middle of the forehead to the back of the head around 2.5″ above the ears.
|X-Small||18-19 in. / 45-49.5 cm|
|Small||19.5-20.5 in. / 49.5-52.0 cm|
|Medium||21-22 in. / 53.3-56 cm|
|Large||22.5-23 in. / 57-58.5 cm|
|XL-Large||23.5-24 in. / 59.7-61 cm|
|XXL-Large||24.5-25 in. / 62.0-63.5 cm|
Next, lay your hand flat on top of the measuring tape and measure the length across your knuckles.
|Child X-Small||under 2.6 in. / under 6.6 cm|
|Child Small||2.6-2.9 in. / 6.6-7.3 cm|
|Child Medium||2.9-3.1 in. / 7.3-7.9 cm|
|Child Large||3.1-3.25 in. / 7.9-8.25 cm|
|Adult Small||3.25-3.4 in. / 8.25-8.6 cm|
|Adult Medium||3.4-3.6 in. / 8.6-9.1 cm|
|Adult Large||3.6-3.75 in. / 9.2-9.5 cm|
|Adult X-Large||3.75-3.9 in. / 9.5-9.9 cm|
|Adult XX-Large||4-4.1 in. / 10-10.4 cm|
Apart from the other gear, foot pads are measured by men’s shoe sizes.
For this reason, women’s sizes typically run 1 to 1.5 sizes smaller.
|Size||Shoe Size||Foot Length|
|Child X-Small||Ch12-Ch 13||6.9"-7.4"|
|Child Small||Ch 13.5 - Ch 2||7.4"-7.9"|
|Child Medium||Ch 2.5-Ch 3.5||7.9"-8.4"|
|Child Large||Ch 4 - Ch 5||8.4"-9"|
Shin/ Forearm Measurement:
Last, measure from the bottom of the knee to the ankle or the edge of your elbow to the wrist.
|Child||10 in. / 25.5 cm|
|Short||11 in. / 28 cm|
|Medium||12 in. / 30.5 cm|
|Long||13.5 in. / 34.3 cm|
|Extra-Long||15 in. / 38 cm|
*please note that manufacturers have their own chart. For this reason theirs may differ from the general sizing chart we provide. Therefore if provided you should follow that one instead.
The 7 Best Karate Sparring Gear Sets
Available in White, Blue, Red or Black
Sizes: child s, m, l, adult S, M, L or XL.
Macho Martial Arts is known for being the only karate sparring gear company to perform safety tests on every piece of gear they produce. Not only that, but independent researchers have published their results, proving that Macho karate sparring gear sets beat the competition in frontal and lateral impact protection. Here is the full study if you wish to read more
This 7 piece set comes with headgear, hand, foot, and shin gear that feature holes in the design to allow maximum airflow.
There are a couple things that shine about this option. First and foremost, you get some of the top rated gear in terms of safety all bundled up in one convenient package. To add to that, it has a very competitive pricing in the sparring gear market. Also, take in to account that this karate sparring gear has tests that back up it’s impact protection and you have an easy pick for our number one spot.
In spite of the safety rating, one thing you should not do with Macho sparring gear is leave it out in the sun or your car on a hot day. This is because this type of foam is very soft and not heat resistant, causing it to potentially melt or damage the integrity in extreme temperatures. Nevertheless, if you stick to the intended purpose of sparring, the durability will hold up for a long time. Therefore, if you want safe and durable karate gear at an affordable price, we recommend giving this set a look.
Available in White, Blue, Red or Black
Sizes: child s, m, l, adult S, M, L or XL.
If Iron Man did karate, he would wear this gear! This is the same Macho Dyna product and comes with all the quality of design and function mentioned earlier. As such, this gear features industry leading safety, holes for air circulation, and durability well above what most karate gear sets have to offer.
Because this is the 8 pc Macho Dyna Karate sparring set, it comes with headgear, hand, foot, shin, and face protection.
With this bundle you get an included face shield that is made for your Macho Dyna headgear. However, it can fit other headgear as well. Although not necessary, there are various reasons one might want to consider a face shield in martial arts…
One reason is that it is designed to prevent facial injuries, so if you are a beginner that is one less thing to worry about when you are getting used to sparring. To add to this, face shields can be a great help for those with braces as a misplaced punch can easily lead to a bloody lip if you don’t have a mouth guard designed for braces.
Also, more and more karate tournaments have made wearing face shields mandatory. So therefore if you compete in martial arts tournaments, it can be a great idea to get used to this trend. So to recap, you get all of the gear of our top choice with an added face shield in this set.
Because the shield adds to the cost, we put this as our premium pick. However there is just no getting around industry leading safety, so we believe this set of karate gear is also very much worth a consideration.
Available in White, Blue, Red or Black
Sizes: child s, m, l, adult S, M, L XL, or XXL
Century is the worlds largest supplier of martial arts equipment. They have been making martial arts products since 1976 and was started by one man in his parents garage. Since then, the quality and number of different products rose as well as their popularity. Their karate sparring gear sets are no exception.
To add to that, it is endorsed by martial arts greats such as Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, Herb Perez, Bill Wallace, and many more! Clearly this is not a factor we took in to consideration, just a cool fact.
This 7 pc Century Karate sparring gear set includes headgear, hand and foot pads, and shin guards.
This sparring equipment has great attention to detail as can be seen in the seamless plastic coating. Also, it is designed with durability in mind. Because of this, Century has redesigned their gear to address key fault areas such as the feet pads and thumb area of the glove. These are areas that tend to show wear and tear first by the plastic layer peeling back, causing reduced functionality.
Not only that, but being the worlds largest martial arts supplier has the perks of a great size return policy. For example, you can just email their support staff of any questions you may have. Furthermore, you can change sizes after purchase or return with no hassle for a new size!
This is a great option to consider as you are getting a durable karate fighting gear set with none of the typical worries of sizing issues, and for a relatively low price.
Available in White, Blue, Red, Black or Silver
Sizes: child m, l, adult S, M, L, XL
ProForce Martial arts is a relatively new name in the industry. With that being said, they do have some good products that deserve a mention. The ProForce Lightning 8 pc karate sparring gear sets they make are a very beginner friendly option for reasons we will get to below.
This set comes with everything you require to get you started: headgear, hand and feet pads, shin guards and even a mouth guard. And, you may be surprised at the price they have bundled all of these products for! As of this writing, it is the lowest 8 pc set on the market we could find.
One thing we really like about the ProForce lightning lineup is that the equipment comes with air ventilation holes. Because of this, it will allow you to stay cooler during your intense sparring. However, the durability comes in to question at times, especially for more experienced karate fighters that place more stress on the gear.
Even so, we believe this is a good starter option for beginners as it is very affordable, has all the protection you need, and even comes with a mouthpiece which you otherwise need to buy separately.
Available in White, Blue, Red, Black or Pink
Sizes: child s, m, l, adult S, M, L, XL
The Macho Warrior karate sparring gear design is similar to the Macho Dyna lineup. So therefore it also features industry leading protection. Moreover, this specific brand of headgear even beat the Dyna in impact tests. Out of all of the karate sparring gear sets tested, the Macho Warrior was judged safest, and the Macho Dyna was a close second in headgear!
This set includes headgear, sparring gloves and foot pads. But, unlike the other options of Macho in our list, shin guards or a face shield will not be included. So, if you already have those items or don’t wear them to begin with, this will be a great choice to look at.
In addition, the 5 pc set is convenient if you just want to upgrade your current fighting gear. As you will notice, many advanced karateka don’t wear shin pads or a face shield when they spar. They have either learned how to effectively mitigate damage or are accustomed to not wearing it in the first place.
Although not providing the most complete protection as the other Macho choices, you still get the quality and durability expected!
Available in White, Blue, Red
Sizes: child s, m, l, adult S, M, L XL
Century makes the list again as their quality and durability deserves high marks. Identical to the Century karate 7 pc sparring set mentioned earlier, but lacking the shin guards. Furthermore, this set has also reinforced the key areas of the hand pads and foot pads that are known to have wear and tear.
This is a standard bundle that includes headgear, hand pads and foot pads. Nevertheless, because this set is lacking in shin guards you may find you want those too down the road. For this reason, Century sells all of their gear separately as well and is known for their customer service if you have any issues.
With all this in mind, this is a great choice for quality and durability at a low price. There is a reason Century continues to dominate the market!
Available in Black, Silver, Blue and Red
Sizes: child s, m, l, adult S, M, L XL (varies based on availability)
Same as the Lightning ProForce karate sparring set we mentioned earlier, this bundle has Headgear, hand and foot pads.
Featuring the same air holes for air circulation. Therefore this set will help keep you cool in long sparring sessions. You won’t be getting the mouthpiece, or shin protection that the 8 piece karate gear sets provide. Yet, what you do get is inexpensive, and covers your basics of protection while sparring.
While this sparring gear should last you a while, you may need to upgrade once you get more advanced or put in the time. For this reason, we believe that the Lightning ProForce brand is a great beginner choice. Although with this particular set you don’t get the extra bells and whistles, you do get the essentials to get you started.
How Do You Put On Your Karate Sparring Gear?
When you first try to put on karate sparring equipment it can be a daunting task. Hopefully, your sensei or fellow kohi (students) can help you but that is not always the case. So here is our breakdown with an attached video for reference.
To start, take out your feet pads and look at the natural curve and angled straps on the bottom. This will tell you which one is for your left foot and which one is for your right.
First, put on one foot pad and wrap the velcro strap to the top of your foot pad. Be careful not to cover the velcro on the back by wrapping the wrong way. Next, wrap it under your foot one time and loop bag around to form an “X” on the top. Then, wrap it back around to where the velcro starts on your heel and secure it using that velcro. Repeat on other foot.
After that, slide your head through your headgear, making sure that the logo is facing forward. Then, secure your headgear by wrapping the strap under your chin to the other side and attaching to the velcro.
Next, look at the top of your handpads and determine which one is your right and left hand by looking at the thumb. After that, slide your thumb and fingers through the loops on the bottom and secure by wrapping the elastic strip around your wrist and attaching to the… you guessed it.. velcro.
Last, repeat this for the other glove and you are all done.
How Do You Clean Your Karate Sparring Gear Set?
Glad you asked. It is very important to regularly wash your karate sparring gear. There are a few different ways to clean your gear. With that being said, the simplest and most efficient is simply soap and water. First, take a wet rag and lather with soap. Next what you want to do is evenly scrub all areas of your gear including the inside. To finish up, simply rinse and air dry.
Protective gear is the most important thing you should use to not only protect yourself, but others as well. Therefore, after going through the most popular (and least popular) karate sparring gear sets on the market, we put together these reviews and guide. Our goal is to help you choose the karate gear by providing inside information from testing and thousands of reviews. Furthermore, we hope you find value in this guide and find your perfect set!