Pads and protective gear are required for sparring and combat training. The minimum amount of protection that should be taken is hands, head, and groin. Protection should be of performance grade quality for athletics or otherwise and should be able to protect from injury at full speed and power. In addition, shoulder, arm, leg and neck protection is recommended as well as being mandatory for TPLA competitions or full contact play.
Requirements for protective equipment are as follows:
Head/face: The fighters must have their heads and faces protected from concussion and penetration. Fencing helmets are ideal and provide the perfect amount of protection without limiting one’s vision. Hockey and lacrosse helmets also work well, but will often require additional protection for the eyes and mouth. Officials have the last word as to if a fighter is well protected enough.
Hands and wrists: These areas are the most commonly struck parts of the body. It is recommended that thick padded gloves like those for hockey or lacrosse. Fencing gloves provide little protection but are still better than nothing. MMA or fingerless gloves that leave the tips of the fingers exposed are not legal in competition.
Groin: Any athletic cup graded for contact sports are suitable and inexpensive.
Shoulder/neck/chest/body: There are many options for shoulder and neck protection. Sports pads work well, although some will get bulky. Historical fencing and other sports like motor-cross also produce good body armor. Some martial art sparring gear is useful for chest and rib protection. What ever the type, it must be able to protect from full force blows with heavy grade blades to be considered legal in the Saber Lab.
Limbs: Arm and leg protection is most important at the knee and elbow as well as ankle and wrist. The joints of the limbs are more prone to serious injury than the limbs themselves. Joints or any boney surfaces that can break under force take the priority in protection.
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