A Hogue (Chest Protector)
For those wanting to compete, your chest protection must include shoulder padding. Generally, chest protectors are secured with either ties or velcro in the back. This allows them to be adjusted for size. You want the protector to fit securely without slipping.
To size shin guards, you need to consider the height of the person wearing them. The guards are designed to protect the front of your legs. However, do not get them too long. You do not want them to impede your ability to bend at the ankle or the knee. Proper Tae Kwon Do etiquette is to put the guards on under your uniform.
Padding for your feet comes separately or in combination with the shin guards. Foot pads are not required but after one kick to an elbow, you will appreciate their worth. Only the top of the foot is covered so that you don’t slip during sparring.
Like the shin protectors, the arm pads are worn under your uniform. They cover the lower, outside portion of the forearm. This prevents bruising or worse injury when blocking. Make sure the pads fit securely and are the proper length. They should not touch either the wrist or the elbow.
For some competitions, hand gear is mandatory, however inside the dojang it is optional. If you plan to compete, check the individual competition rules to see if you need hand protectors.
A Head Protector
This is probably the most important piece of Tae Kwon Do sparring gear. Your head gear should fit securely and be fastened with a chin strap. They come in multiple colors and sizes. Find the size that feels the most comfortable and covers the entire back of the head without moving around.
One might argue that the groin guard is just as important as the head gear. It certainly prevents a number of painful injuries during sparring. Like the arm and shin gear, the groin protection is worn under your uniform. There is a cup design for men and a flatter design for women (yes, women need it too). A woman’s guard sits on the hips, so take that into account when choosing your size.
A guard that sits over teeth is required for all Tae Kwon Do sparring. Most mouth guards are made of a material that molds to an individual’s mouth. They fit right over braces. As a child’s mouth changes (e.g. new teeth grown in) a new mouth guard must be purchased. If the mouth guard feels too large, trim the back edges with a sharp knife.
Having the proper gear prevents unnecessary injury during sparring. You can get what you need at Vortexic, or you can find it at your local sporting goods store. If you come to us, we can help you find the exact fit you need. Let us outfit you for your next sparring tournament.