If you've been reading my articles for a while, then you know that a large theme of them is “I do dumb things so you don't have to" – I love martial arts, I love learning new styles, and I love integrating things from different styles into jiu jitsu and the softer forms of Dragon Style Kung Fu, while holding on to the striking elements of Shao Lin Kung Fu.
Well, right now, I'm going to tell you about something dumb someone else did, so that you can avoid his mistakes. I love martial arts, my wife puts up with my martial arts, and so on and so forth, but sometimes I need to touch on the basics. The most basic thing about studying martial arts is proper training gear.
I'm going to focus on the essential Shao Lin Kung Fu training gear here, because of something I saw in the dojo that really upset me. We had a new student come in, who'd studied at another school before moving to Las Vegas, and was all excited about showing off at a new school. I take partial responsibility for what happened next – I wasn't paying attention; I'd seen some experienced students showing each other some moves, doing a throw or two, and went back to talking to the parents who were considering signing their son up for classes.
I didn't see everything that happened, but the new student was showing a block-and-punch combination he'd learned, and slipped, and one of my students did HIS counter-block and punch combination – and both of them landed full shots. With no protective hand gear or mouth guards. One set of badly bruised ribs, three shattered teeth and one EMT visit later, I'd had the parents take their son out (their son thought it was cool…), and had to give a really stern lecture about the essential kung fu safety gear to the class I was teaching. I'm still hoping this won't raise the dojo's liability insurance rates.
So, here it is for you: You want clothing that lets you move freely. A gi or training jacket, or even a bright yellow jogging suit will work for this. If you're a guy, you want a cup. You want footwear that will keep you from bruising or breaking bones in your feet when you kick. You absolutely want a mouth guard – Bennie, the new student who got broken teeth – would've been unhurt if he'd been wearing a mouth guard.
When you're sparring, you absolutely want hand protection. You don't need full on boxing gloves, but anything that will allow you to move full speed without hurting someone is essential. You're making a lot of sudden moves with a lot of power behind them, and it's possible for someone to get hurt.
Until next time, whatever your style – tae kwon do, muay thai or shaolin kung fu, take the time to do it safely and learn it well!
Yoshi E Kundagawa is a freelance journalist. He covers the mixed martial arts industry. For a free report on shaolin kung fu training gears visit his blog.
Yoshi Kundagawa is a freelance journalist covering the martial arts world. Too much time at his computer eating donuts reduced him to couch potato status. He's on a quest to recapture his youth and fitness. You can read his blog at http://www.martialarts3000.com