Taekwondo is a martial art and sport participated in all over the world, as well as at the Olympic Games. Taekwondo focuses on kicking and jumping moves, not solely punching or wrestling techniques. Competitors want to land kicks or punches to their opponent's body, earning points for specific moves or sequences. Fighters compete for three rounds and the competitor with the most points will win the match. Taekwondo takes training, discipline, and agility to master.
One way to score points in taekwondo is to kick or punch your opponent in the torso, which is covered by a chest protector, or hogu. The hogu is a vest that covers your entire torso so you will not be injured during competition or practice.
When looking for a chest protector, it should be very durable so it can protect you, and also be snug. You do not want it to be moving around during competition or training. Some hogus are made with an electronic scoring system attached to the inside. This is how competitions are scored.
They cost between $30 and $50.
In taekwondo, kicking is a great way to score points on your opponent because of all the momentum that is drawn from the hips. However, all that force makes your feet susceptible to injury, so foot protectors help prevent these injuries during competition and training.
When looking for foot protectors you should pay attention to the style and adjustability.
There are two main styles: boot and form fitting. Boots are shoes that have open bottoms and are made from dense foam. Form fitting protectors are like a glove for the foot. They have a sleeve for each toe and have light padding on the top.
Adjustability comes from the hook and loop and the elastic strap. The hook and loop is exactly what it sounds like. A strap starts on one end of the boot, then it is looped around the bottom to make a "X" on the top, and it is attached to the other side. The elastic strap just wraps around the top of the ankle.
Lastly, the protectors must have World Taekwondo Federation approval so you can use the equipment during competition.
Foot protectors can cost $20 to $40 depending on the style.
Defending yourself is a part of any combat sport. In taekwondo, you often use your forearms to guard kicks and punches. Forearm guards are used to reduce the impact that those strikes make.
The most important factor to consider when buying a forearm guard is how the product fits. It needs to be tight enough to remain in place, but not to the point of cutting off your blood circulation. You should also look at the material. The thicker the material, the more shock it absorbs. However, there this means you have to find a middle ground between thickness and comfort. Studies show that it is highly recommended to have a double layer material on the forearm to prevent bones and muscles from injury.
A good taekwondo forearm guard can cost $22.
Accidents happen, and sometimes in taekwondo an opponent will kick you in the groin. To relieve some of the pain this causes, it is advised to wear a groin guard during competition and training.
You should prioritize protection and fit when searching for the right groin guard.
The two styles of groin guards: hard cups and soft cups, and they offer different levels of protection. Hard cups offer the most protection because they are made of rigid plastic. They can be uncomfortable at first, but when participating in any combat sport you want full protection.
Soft cups are made of gel and wrapped in silicone. They can be extremely comfortable because they are flexible. They are often worn in sports that do not have a lot of contact.
Both of these cups can be either stored in compression shorts or jock straps. They can cost $18 to $45.
In taekwondo, punches can be delivered to your opponent's body and head to score points. In order to protect yourself and your opponent, you should invest in some hand guards.
There are two types of handguards: World Taekwondo Federation competition gloves and sparring gloves. WTF gloves are light, compact, and have sleeves for each finger. They almost look like MMA gloves and have light padding on top. Sparring gloves are much thicker and are made of foam. They have holes at the end of the glove where you can place your fingers and have straps on the wrists that secure the glove.
World Taekwondo Federation gloves are about $14 to $20 while sparring gloves are $7 to $32.
Training can take a toll on your hands and wrists, that is why many fighters use hand wraps to prevent injuries. Hand wraps are usually made out of cloth and are used to wrap a fighters wrist and hands. This prevents the skin from being cut and prevents the wrist from bending in awkward positions when punching.
Most hand wraps are about 15 feet in length. This seems like a lot, but some wrapping techniques require even more than that. Some wraps also have a thumb loop. This is used as a starting point in any style of wrapping.
The most common material for wraps is cotton and elastic blend. This allows the wrap to stretch and create more tension, making the wrap significantly tighter. It is also not uncommon to just have 100% cotton wraps.
Protecting your brain may be the most important precaution you can take as a fighter. Although some competitions do not require headgear to be worn by fighters, it is a necessity to prevent injury.
For competitions, you should get headgear that is approved by the World Taekwondo Federation. Headgear has padding that covers the entire head and even the ears, all while having holes to provide ventilation. They are made of spongy material that serves as a great shock absorber and are covered in urethane. It also has an elastic strap to secure it tight. In competitions, you will wear either a blue or red headgear, so having one of each color is not a bad idea.
These can cost between $21 and $60.
Training is an essential part of any sport, so athletes need different types of equipment to help improve their game. For taekwondo, it is the heavy bag. The heavy bag allows you to train by yourself so you can work on your kicks and punches without being hit by your sparring partner. It helps you develop your technique, endurance, and strength.
When looking for a heavy bag, you should consider the adjustability, durability, and materials.
The first thing you want to find out is how you are going to set up the heavy bag. Most hang from the ceiling, so you should follow directions on where it can and cannot be placed.
Durability is also important because you are going to be wearing out the bag with punches and kicks, so you want a bag that lasts.
Finally, you should pay attention to the materials before buying a heavy bag. Most bags are filled, but some are not, so they leave it up to the consumers to fill it up with whatever they want. Whether it be sand or fabric.
Heavy bags can cost between $115 and $400 depending on the brand, style, and weight.
In taekwondo, your strikes need to be extremely precise and powerful. To train for precision, you need to have some kicking paddles handy. Here is how they work.
A training partner holds paddles in both hands and places them where they want you to kick. You can even perform combinations to work on speed. If you hit the paddle precisely, it will make a loud sound. Kicking paddles should be extremely durable. Most are made out of synthetic leather so they are durable and flexible.
A good kicking paddle costs about $15.
During some training sessions, you want to put your kicking power to the test. You can try and go all out on a training partner, but you risk them checking your kick with their forearm or knee. This is where kicking shields come into play.
They are hand held pads made out of foam and gel, and they are covered in leather. This makes the shield incredibly shock-absorbent and durable.
While your training partner holds the shield, you deliver a variety of kicks with as much force as you can while still maintaining proper technique. The shield helps prevent you from injuring yourself or your partner.
Prices range from $30 to $100.
The last thing you want while having a training session is to slip and fall on a hard floor, so having a proper floor mat is necessary for your protection. Not only do taekwondo mats protect you when falling down, they also give you stability so you are less likely to fall.
The thickness, firmness, and quality of the foam all play into having a good mat. Taekwondo mats are about 1 inch thick, which makes them firm and allows you to be more stable. They also have foam inside and are covered in vinyl.
A quality mat can be about $130.
If you are in any contact sport, a mouthguard is a must have. It protects you from losing teeth and biting your tongue. There are different types of mouthguards.
The boil and bite mouth guard is the most common type. The mouthguard is made with a material that softens when it is put under boiling water, so when you take it out, you bite down on the guard and mold it to your teeth. It will eventually harden so it can slip right on and off.
The other kind is the custom mouthguard. These are much more expensive and can require you to sometimes see a dental professional to get them made. This offers the most protection because it is the most customizable.
Boil and bites can cost about $20 and customized ones are about $85.
A common practice in taekwondo is board breaking. It can be used to build force and power, or used as an artistic expression by breaking multiple boards at once. Instructors often use them to test their students before moving on to a higher belt. For this reason, rebreakable boards are used.
They are made out of high impact molded plastic, which allows them to be broken and remolded hundreds of times and saves you a lot of money.
You should pick the thickness of the board based on your skill level, so here is a reference that compares rebreakable boards with wooden boards.
A set can cost about $80.
Continuous kicking can cause your shins to bruise up and even fracture, so it is important to invest in some shin guards to prevent that.
In order to wear shin guards during competition, they need to be approved by the World Taekwondo Federation. These are made of a dense foam that protects your shin by dispersing the impact.
You should also look for how they attach. Many are equipped with hook-and-loop closures that give it a snug fit. When choosing a shin guard you should also make sure it is snug to begin with, or else it will move around during competition and training.
A good shin guard can cost about $38.
It is extremely common to see taekwondo being practiced barefoot, but some instructors or schools may require you to wear shoes.
When looking for shoes, they should have a non-slip rubber sole. This will prevent you from slipping during training.
The upper material is also important to pay attention to because a rigid one can cause discomfort. Upper materials are usually made out of soft leather, canvas, or synthetic materials. Soft leather shoes are more durable while canvas shoes are very breathable.
Shoes can also be lace up or slip-on. They can cost between $25-95.
Most taekwondo equipment is protective. Taekwondo is a physical and dangerous sport without proper protective gear and competitions will not let you compete without the necessary padding! Equipment like kicking paddles or kicking shields are used for training and help you build up your taekwondo skills. A taekwondo mat is also necessary, since it provides a safe surface for athletes to compete on barefoot.
Since taekwondo is a very physical sport, most of the equipment necessary is just for protection of each competitor's body. Unlike many major sports, taekwondo does not require special equipment to compete with that is not protective. Competitors use only their bodies and skills to compete with!
The most important taekwondo equipment for you to have are pieces of protective gear. The following pieces of equipment will help you stay safe and allow you to compete in any competition:
All of these pieces of equipment will protect a different part of your body, keeping you safe from injury.
The only taekwondo equipment you will actually need to purchase is the protective gear you wear while competing or training! Each individual piece of protective gear typically costs between $10 and 30, making it a reasonably affordable sport. Higher-end gear may cost you a bit more, but it should last you a longer time than cheaper gear would. Keep in mind that you may need to repurchase gear as you wear it out or grow out of it and need larger or better equipment.