The first thing you need to consider when buying head guards for any combat sport is comfort. It’s also important to ensure that the headgear fits perfectly. Nothing is as distracting as headgear that moves around and has to be nu...
The veteran fighter’s way to pick head guards…
The first thing you need to consider when buying head guards for any combat sport is comfort. It’s also important to ensure that the headgear fits perfectly. Nothing is as distracting as headgear that moves around and has to be nudged back into place as you fight. Now, I’m not saying that you need a custom-made headpiece – not at all.
The regular models work just fine – but within reasonable limits, your headwear certainly should be a perfect fit. As a matter of fact, you’ll find that many advanced fighters will often prefer comfort to protection, because being focused and relaxed as you fight is often better protection for your head than headgear that distracts you.
In many case, fit and comfort are both just about the same thing.
The headgear should comfortably conform to the contours of your head and face. If your headwear squeezes the side of your head, or the back, you should change it. Another aspect of fit is how well your headgear ‘grips’ your head. If the inner surfaces of your headwear are too slick, it will tend to move around, and we’ve already discussed how distracting that can be.
This will be accentuated in sparring or competition, as you take punches. However, this is a matter of preference. Many people do prefer slick lining to furred or gripping lining, and a slick interior can be countered if the headgear fits on snugly enough, so in the final reckoning, you should go with what ‘feels’ right to you.
This means that you must pay particular attention to the chin strap.
Head guards with chin straps that don’t tighten properly cannot function correctly in training or combat, but at the same time, a sportsperson shouldn’t feel that the chin strap of his headgear is choking him.
Your headgear should also give you adequate protection.
There’s no point in wearing headgear that doesn’t protect – you might as well do without it entirely. Your headgear should block a good amount of the force of the punches, but at the same time, you shouldn’t rely upon it entirely to do that.
This means that, especially with heavy protective headgear, you should take the trouble to evade as you train, just as you would if you were NOT wearing headgear.
This doesn’t at all mean that protection isn’t important, because of course it is. I’ve found that the softest padding often doesn’t perform well against hard punches, but is good at fending off lighter punches. I recommend headgear that has layers, soft cushioning over harder cushioning. If you can’t find headgear like this, buy headgear with tougher padding, and ‘break it in’ with some intense practice sessions in the ring.
Visibility is also something that is crucially important.
You can’t evade what you can’t see. Good headgear should allow you to actually see your opponent’s attacks coming so that you can evade them. It’s better that you see the punch, even if you’re hit by it, than if you’re hit by punches that you can’t even see, but which your headgear protects you from.
Sure, it might feel like you’re training, but if you can’t see the punches coming in, and can’t avoid them, you’re not really training at all. Padding is protection. It is safety. But developing a good defense will make you a good fighter.
Most good brands will have an excellent selection of guards for the head – Top King and FTB have their own line, and I saw a good leather guard by Ronin. Any good online boxing shop or MMA shop should provide you with lots of options.