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Best BJJ Rash Guards in 2023: Enhance Your Bjj Experience

Jiu Jitsu is a pretty young martial art and combat sports discipline, and it has developed quite a huge following in recent years, as it takes details and customs from traditional martial arts, and also adopts practices from this modern day and age.

Best BJJ Rash Guards: Editor’s top picks

One of those such practices is the diversion from “pure” Gi training, which uses a training uniform that is quite similar to the one used in Judo, in order to adopt a No-Gi approach, which means, wearing shorts and a shirt instead, to make practice closer to what would happen if you were to enter combat in any day to day situation.

The No-Gi Jiu Jitsu practice has had quite a push over the years, and it is due to how much ground Jiu Jitsu has taken in the sport of MMA, which requires the fighter to only wear combat shorts, and also, how much grappling has grown, by facing Wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu practitioners with a uniform that is neither the Gi, nor the wrestling singlet.

When it comes to the legs, BJJ and Grappling has resorted to combat shorts, which can go from the styles seen in MMA fights, to Board shorts, which are prominent in surfer culture.

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For the top, they have also borrowed another item from the Surfer community, and that is the Rash guard; a type of compression shirt that is tight and keeps one’s body temperature, and has been used for surfers to feel warm in cold waters.

Taking and placing our focus into the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu rash guard, this gardment is lighter than the surfer’s version, but it allows total mobility due to being pretty light, and it could come with either long sleeves or you can opt to use short sleeve rash guards for bjj, according to your preferences.

As both an active BJJ practitioner, an instructor and a competitor, I have tested a lot, and I really mean, A LOT, of different rash guard brands, and I believe I have learned a thing or two on how to easily tell the quality that you can get from your rash guard, and what you need to look into depending on whether you need one for training, or competitions.

I currently have a big collection of rash guards for bjj, but I also use them for mma training, muay thai, wrestling sessions, and even just to hang out around the house, as they are quite comfortable to wear, and big BJJ figures like John Danaher, for example, have switched to only wearing rash guards in their every day life for practicality.

One of my current favorite rash guards made it into this list, and that is the Gold BJJ camo rash guard, which not only features both the short and long sleeve options, but also come in as Ranked rash guards for those who want to showcase their belt when not using the Gi, or for those who are active competitors and need an IBJJF approved Rashguard.

If you are interested in starting your Jiu Jitsu journey and are looking forward to find the best rash guard to bring over to your training sessions, or are looking to add some of the best jiu jitsu rash guards into your closet, then keep reading, as we will be taking the time to point out all the details you’ll need to know when going shopping so that you can always bring a top quality rash guard to roll.

Best BJJ Rash Guards Complete list

  1. Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard BJJ Rash Guard – Top Premium Pick
  2. Elite Standard Long Sleeve Rash Guard BJJ Rash Guard – Top Budget Pick
  3. Revgear Solid Rash Guard BJJ Rash Guards – Best “Right into it” Pick
  4. Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Rashguard – Camo Rash Guard Compression Shirt for No-Gi, Gi, & MMA BJJ Rash Guard – Best Overall
  5. 5. RDX T15 Long Sleeve Rashguard BJJ Rash Guard
  6. Hayabusa Fusion Long Sleeve Rashguard BJJ Rash Guard
  7. Revgear Bionic Compression – LONG SLEEVE BJJ Rash Guard
  8. Sanabul Funk Strike Long Sleeve Compression Training Rash Guard for MMA BJJ Wrestling BJJ Rash Guard
  9. Gruff Combat BJJ Rash Guards Grappling MMA Jiu Jitsu No Gi UFC Shirt Fight Wear, Short Sleeves BJJ Rash Guard
  10. LAFROI Men’s Long Sleeve UPF 50+ Baselayer Skins Performance Fit Compression Rash Guard-CLYYB BJJ Rash Guard

1. Best Premium BJJ Rash Guard

Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard BJJ Rash Guard

The Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard is designed to take your Jiu Jitsu game to new heights. Its geometric design represents the calculated measurements and analytical decisions Jiu Jitsu demands. Made with performance fabric, this rash guard shields you from the mats, regulates body temperature, and allows unrestricted movement. Perfect for No-Gi or Gi Jiu Jitsu, MMA, boxing, kickboxing, and cross-training. Machine washable and durable for long-term use.

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  • Comfortability
  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Shields skin from mat burns, scratches, and cuts


  • Expensive
  • May leave stains on white clothing
  • May not look exactly like the photos depending on body type
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Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Jiu Jitsu Rashguard


Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard


Hayabusa is an excellent brand when it comes to martial arts fightwear and gear; Founded in 2006 and based in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Hayabusa is a direct-to-consumer, high-growth, industry-leading pioneer that keeps offering high quality gear for every practitioner.

They have a lot of options and there are actually two that made it into this list of best rash guards, and the first one we are touching on is one of my personal favorites.

The Geo Long Sleeve version is quite a stylish rash guard, as it keeps a simple design but showcases a ton of personality, while offering all the rash guard features one should be looking for.

The Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard conforms to your body and fits like a second skin, just like all rash guards should. It feels quite comfortable from the moment you put it on, and it will help to regulate body temperature by keeping you dry during strenuous training, be it on No-Gi classes or if you use it as an under gi rash guard.

Its geometric design symbolizes the calculated measurements and analytical decisions Jiu Jitsu demands of you every time you roll. Made with performance fabric that shields you from the mats and stays locked in place with a silicone waistband

Some of the key features which make this one of the the top pick is that it covers everything that you need, but as the top premium pick, you should expect to pay a little more than the rest of the options in the list; it however, is worth it.

First, we need to take the look at their reinforced stitching, which adds some excellent durability, it protects the skin from mat burns and potential infections, it comes with multi-way stretch fabric that never restricts movement, with long sleeves to give some good uv protection, and the anti slip waist band makes this the perfect rash guard to add into your collection.

2. Best BJJ Rash Guard for Budget

Elite Standard Long Sleeve Rash Guard BJJ Rash Guard

The Elite Standard Long Sleeve Rash Guard is the perfect addition to your martial arts training. Made with breathable and tear-resistant fabric, this BJJ rash guard provides non-chaffing, 4-way stretch comfort. Its sublimated graphics won’t crack or fade, and anti-slip waistbands keep it in place during training. Honeycomb design under arms and back adds strength and boosts performance. Suitable for any martial arts tournament, this rash guard is perfect for MMA, BJJ, Jiu-Jitsu, No-GI, Boxing, Kickboxing, and more.

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  • Breathability
  • Comfortability
  • Durability
  • Anti-slip waistbands prevent riding up


  • The lightweight and breathable material may not provide enough warmth in colder training environments
  • The flatlock stitching may not withstand the rigours of constant grappling and friction with rough mats.
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Elite Standard Long Sleeve Rash Guard [BJJ Rash Guard]


Elite Sports Jiu Jitsu BJJ Rash Guard


Now we turn into Elite Sports, which is another brand that has taken the time to bring great uniform offers into the table for multiple disciplines like mixed martial arts, traditional arts, and of course, Jiu Jitsu.

A bjj rash guard is not only a layer of protection for a BJJ Practitioner, it is part of the jiu jitsu lifestyle, and you can see most practitioners wearing their rash guard beneath the Gi in the regular class, or being the official uniform for any no-gi grappling competition and as such, you will require to have an IBJJF approved option to compete in.

Most rash guards offer the some crazy and awesome designs that you can show off, but when it comes to competition, you will need to look into ranked rash guards, which basically showcase your belt rank and that is one of the things that make the Elite Sports offer great.

Not only did Elite Sports design a simple and good rash guard that will get the job done, but they offer them as belt ranked rashguards, which is a requirement for IBJJF official competitions.

You can check out the multiple options and select what could easily become your favorite elite bjj rashguard, or just pick up a bunch for every situations, as they are our budget pick being sold at only 22 USD a piece.

These long sleeve rash guards give you great uv protection, offer stretch fabric, and are basically great compression shirts that cover just what you need them to do.

3. Best “Right into it”

Revgear Solid Rash Guard BJJ Rash Guards

Experience ultimate comfort and protection with Revgear Solid Rash Guard. Its anatomic long-torso fight-fit reduces rolling up and sliding, while hydro-wicking technology keeps you dry. Made from abrasion-free super stretch material, it protects you from cuts, scrapes, and skin irritations. Engineered with high-tech compression material that boosts blood flow and recovery time. With 4×4 nylon flat stitched seams, it’s the perfect gear for intense training or competitions.

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  • Comfortability
  • Durability
  • Versatility
  • It features a moisture-wicking fabric that draws sweat away from your skin, which helps to regulate your body temperature and prevent irritation.


  • The sizing for the Revgear Solid Rash Guard can be a bit tricky
  • It is a bit more expensive compared to other rash guards in the market
Check price

Revgear Solid Rash Guard [BJJ Rash Guards]


Revgear is another brand that has taken the time to push martial arts training by offering a plethora of options for boxing, striking arts, and other options, including of course Bjj gear and what seems to be our favorite pick for no-nonsense mma rash guards.

Their Revgear Solid Rash is simple, reliable and it simply can’t go wrong, as there is not really much going on, which makes it a good option for anybody who needs to get right into training with little to worry about.

There is something that non-bjj focused brands are starting to do right, and that is focusin on simplicity with their product offers; if you can keep everything simple and steady when you make a rash guard for bjj, you can get an excellent product, and there is no need to pull out a crazy rash guard design, as the performance will talk for itself.

They offer a good option, where you don’t have to worry for stretch fabric stretches that make it feel like it gets loose on the long run, and it has an extra long cut to prevent it from riding up, even though it is a short sleeve rash guard.

It is quite a good rash guard for bjj training, but you are not getting something flashy or vibrant. This may not be quite the Unique Rash guard, but it certainly can be the right rash guard for anybody that focuses on their mat time and nothing else.

At 30 USD, you get a reliable mma rash guard with four way stretch fabric that you can wear consistently for all your martial arts sessions, including no gi jiu jitsu, and even as an under layer for gi jiu jitsu practice.

4. Best BJJ Rash Guard Overall

Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Rash Guard – Camo Rash Guard Compression Shirt for No-Gi, Gi, & MMA BJJ Rash Guard

Our Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Rashguard is the ultimate training partner for gi, no-gi, MMA, and more. Featuring underarm vents, a slightly longer cut, and smooth flatlock stitching, this rashguard provides maximum comfort and focus. Plus, our fully sublimated digital printing ensures the graphics won’t fade or crack. Available in all BJJ belt rank colors, pair it with our no-gi gear for the ultimate training setup. Backed by the Gold BJJ guarantee.

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  • Comfortability
  • Breathability
  • Smooth, flatlock stitching ensures that you can focus on your training without any distractions
  • Slightly longer cut prevents the rashguard from hiking up during training


  • Some may find the price point to be higher compared to other rashguards on the market
  • May not be suitable for those who prefer a looser fit during training
  • Limited availability in terms of sizes, which may not accommodate all body types
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Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Rashguard – Camo Rash Guard Compression Shirt for No-Gi, Gi, & MMA


Gold BJJ, unlike most of the other brands on this list is a bjj focused brand, and as such, it offers some of the best bjj gear around the market.

When it comes to gear that you can take to any training, competition or simply wear around to showcase, Gold BJJ can’t do things wrong, and I could back the claim that they are one of the best bjj rash guard brands, offering high quality and reliability in all the products they sell.

To be honest, I personaly fell in love with their camo rash guard design, so I was more than excited to see that they do not only offer it on both long sleeve and short sleeve, but they also make them in all the ranked colors, so you can be ready to use them in competition or showcase you belt rank in your academy mats when you are not wearing the Gi.

This is one of the items that I simply support and would recommend to anybody who wants to put some extra money in and get something worth their investment, as I simply believe that they offer the best bjj rash guard in the price range, and they cover all the requirements that any serious bjj practitioner needs covered.

I have been practicing Jiu Jitsu for over 9 years, and in the most recent years, I have switched my preferences from long sleeve rash guards, into short sleeve options, and I was so happy to see that unlike most bjj rash guard brands, Gold BJJ managed to offer their same designs both on long and short sleeve, which oddly enough, isn’t as common as one would wish it to be.

Their camo rashguard is fully sublimated and is branded as ultralight, which I can personally back up, and with their smooth stitching, you can be assured that you will forget you are actually wearing anything as you roll your rounds away.

5. Best Plain Rash Guard

RDX T15 Long Sleeve Rash Guard

The RDX T15 Long Sleeve Rashguard is a top-of-the-line thermal compression shirt for athletes of all levels. Made with a polyester-spandex blend, it’s wrinkle-resistant, durable, and perfect for high-intensity activities like BJJ, Muay Thai, and basketball. The 4-way stretchability and extension panels in the underarm sections provide maximum mobility and comfort, while the flatlocked seams and crew neckline ensure a supportive fit. With sweat-wicking and breathable fabric, this compression base layer is perfect for maintaining an optimal temperature during long training sessions. Available in full and half-sleeve versions, the RDX T15 is a must-have for any athlete looking for comfort, durability, and functionality in their workout gear.

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  • Durability
  • Comfortability
  • Breathability
  • Available in both full and half-sleeve versions


  • May not be as lightweight as some other compression shirts on the market
  • Limited color options compared to some other brands
  • May be priced higher than some other compression shirts, but the quality and durability of the product justifies the cost.
Check price

RDX T15 Long Sleeve Rashguard [BJJ Rash Guard]


RDX is another brand that focuses on offering gear for different disciplines, but they have been incursionating in BJJ gear for a while now, and they are getting better over time.

They actually offer a pretty good long sleeve rash guard for bjj that we definitelly are glad we checked out, as this Brazilian Jiu Jitsu rash guard features a four way stretch fabric, and while keeping a pretty simple design, it’s performance is matching some the best bjj rash guards on the market.

At a cost of 27 USD, RDX was pretty close to getting the top budget pick, as not many brands manage to offer great bjj rash guards cheap, and this one simply makes it work, allowing you to be eager to wear it in any combat sports that you get into.

If you are going to get into mixed martial arts or just want to look into other rash guard options to add into your collection, you can’t go wrong with this simple and reliable high quality rash guard from RDX.

As we mentioned before, maybe RDX is not focusing on making some crazy and flashy rash guard designs like some focuse BJJ rash guard brands, but they are offering a pretty solid option for all practitioners to use at a really accessible price, keeping all of their rash guard features great without breaking the bank for any Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner.

6. Best Flair BJJ Rash Guard

Hayabusa Fusion Long Sleeve Rashguard BJJ Rash Guard

The Hayabusa Fusion Long Sleeve Rashguard [BJJ Rash Guard] is the perfect choice for any Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. With its color-shifting fabric and non-restrictive fit, it allows for free-flowing movement. Made from a durable polyester-elastane blend, it protects your skin from infection, scratches, and mat burn while wicking sweat away to keep you cool and dry. Its dynamic design, reinforced flatlock stitching, and anti-slip silicone waistband ensure durability and comfort. Suitable for both Gi and No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, as well as other combat sports, it’s competition-approved and easy to care for with machine wash and hang to dry instructions.

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  • comfortability
  • Durability
  • Moisture-Wicking


  • Some users may find the compression fit of this rashguard to be too tight or uncomfortable.
  • Limited Sun Protection
  • High Price
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Hayabusa Fusion Rash Guard


Hayabusa Fusion Long Sleeve Jiu Jitsu Rashguard


A second contender from Hayabusa made it into our list, so you can expect it to also be on par with and contend with the best bjj rash guards out there.

Unlike the previous product by Hayabusa, this fusion long sleeve bjj compression rash guard is a little more “colorful”, as it offers a dynamic color shifting effect, and four color combinations, including blue/green, purple/green, grey/aqua and black/purple.

Besides some good looking colors, the cost for this option is 50 USD, which you do not have to be worried about, as it is assured that you get a high quality product that is worth it’s cost.

Wearing this rash guard, secure by silicone waistband should keep you comfortable along with the body form fit, the reinforced flatlock stitching and of course, excellent 4 way stretch fabric to allow for great mobility and a good shield from mat burns.

I personally do not get too excited about the rashguards that use the color shifting effect, but I have “faced” them in the mats every now and then, and they are pretty appealing, and if we add Hayabusa’s product quality into this mix, you can expect this option to be quite a good buy if you decide to add it into your collection.

The only thing you’ll have to worry about is that making everybody look at you with a stylish rashguard could possibly make everybody want to roll with you, and make their finishes more flashy, using you as an accesory, so be ready to get into the mats with a target on your back, one stylish and comfortable target

7. Best BJJ Rash Guard Simple Option

Revgear Bionic Compression – LONG SLEEVE BJJ Rash Guard

Train harder and recover faster with the Revgear Bionic Compression Shirt. Perfect for any martial art or cross-training activity, this long-sleeve BJJ rash guard offers full-body compression and moisture-wicking technology for ultimate comfort. TruFlow side ventilation panels keep you cool, while DuraStitch NeverSplit seams ensure durability through even the toughest workouts. With its anatomic fight-fit and ultra-dry fabric, the Bionic Compression Shirt will keep you performing at your best. Available in both long and short sleeve options. Be more than Human.

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  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Comfortability
  • Full body compression for increased performance and faster recovery


  • May be more expensive than other rash guards on the market
  • Some users may prefer a looser fit for comfort during training
  • Only available in a limited range of colors and designs
Check price

Revgear Bionic Compression – LONG SLEEVE [BJJ Rash Guard]


Revgear also managed to sneak a second option into our best bjj rash guard discussion, this time, bringing in something with a little bit more personality.

The brand pushes the Bionec model as a bjj compression rash guard that you can wear for every combat sports or training sessions, including Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts, Krav Maga, obviously BJJ, Kickboxing sessions and even Cross Fit or HIIT training.

Premium BJJ rash guard offering superior comfort and protection. Constructed with top-quality materials, this rash guard ensures a snug fit and optimal range of motion. A must-have for serious Jiu Jitsu practitioners

Like the best rash guards in this list, this one covers all the necessary basics, while also being offered in both long and short sleeve, so it can fit your personal requirements.

They looked into all the extras, like a moisture wicking fabric, which not only will help with dealing the sweat of long sessions, but will help with keeping your body at optimum temperature in those chilly days, while also offering side ventilation panels in order to allow skin to breathe so you don’t overheat on those hard training sessions where everyone is trying to take someone else’s bodyparts home like a throphy.

The Bionic compression shirt is pretty nice, as it keeps a subtle design and covers all the important details, while being offered at 40 USD for long sleeve variants and 35 USD for the short sleeve version.

They are offered in 3 different colors, which are plain black, black and gray, and the black and green, with all of them sporting the American flag on the right shoulder, which covers those that want to feel patriotism as they submit their opponents in live rolls, or simply want to wear their flag high and proud.

8. Best Colorful BJJ Rash Guard

Sanabul Funk Strike Long Sleeve Compression Training Rash Guard for MMA BJJ Wrestling BJJ Rash Guard

The Sanabul Funk Strike Long Sleeve Compression Training Rash Guard for MMA BJJ Wrestling [BJJ Rash Guard] is designed to showcase your skills with a little flair. Tested by pros like legendary coach John Danaher, this rash guard sports a timeless tie dye style that will make you stand out. With Sanabul’s mesh underarms and gradual compression, you’ll stay agile and ventilated during training. Trust in the same grit and performance as the top names in the sport with the Funk Strike series. Protect your skin and look good doing it.


  • Durability
  • Comfortability
  • This rash guard is designed to keep your skin safe during sparring or grappling sessions, preventing rashes and skin irritation.
  • Stylish


  • Limited sizing options: Some customers have reported that the sizing can be a bit tight, so it’s important to carefully check the size chart before purchasing.
  • Price: The Sanabul Funk Strike Rash Guard is slightly more expensive than some other options on the market, which may be a consideration for budget-conscious buyers.
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Sanabul Funk Strike Long Sleeve Compression Training Rash Guard for MMA BJJ Wrestling [BJJ Rash Guard]


It was innevitable that we would arrive at this point, as Sanabul has been known for being a brand that covers all possible martial arts, and of course, we would eventually have to place a Sanabul rash guard in the list, which is perfectly fitting as the brand has spent some time into improving their offer.

I have seen a ton of Sanabul rash guards on the mats in these recent years, as their essentials line is a pretty affordable ranked rash guard that anyone should look into, but the Funk Strike option is a whole other level above.

When you hit the tatami, rash guards show off some extra personality, and these 4 color options on the Funk Strike model really showcase personality while also providing quality.

This line was not made with the same mentality as the essentials, for this one, Sanabul decided to offer professional gear a little extra flair, and I believe they nailed it.

They also offer mesh underarms and gradual compression, which keeps your movility and agility while providing excellent ventilation, which makes every training session more enjoyable.

Sanabul prides in some of the top names in the sport representing their brand, for example, the legendary coach John Danaher. They assure that if some of this legends can put their designs through the ringer and have no issues, then you should be able to trust that their products will be able to perform as well as you need them to.

At a cost of 45 USD, this may be a step up from the essentials line, but the feel and performance it offers is definitely worth the upgrade, so we encourage you to take a look at the Funk Strike Rashguard Line.

9. Best BJJ Rash Guard for Designs

Gruff Combat BJJ Rash Guards Grappling MMA Jiu Jitsu No Gi UFC Shirt Fight Wear, Short Sleeves BJJ Rash Guard

The Gruff Combat BJJ Rash Guards Grappling MMA Jiu Jitsu No Gi UFC Shirt Fight Wear, Short Sleeves [BJJ Rash Guard] is the ultimate combat sports gear. Made from 4-way stretch fabric, with compression form fit and flat-lock stitching, it supports muscles and enhances performance. This rash guard’s features include evaporative cooling, moisture-wicking, and vented underarms to keep you comfortable and cool. It also offers effective protection against irritation and injury, making it ideal for intense sparring and competition. The unique graphics on this shirt will make you stand out on the mat, while the silicon waistband keeps it from riding up. Be fierce and stay safe with Gruff Combat.


  • Durability
  • Comfortability
  • The rash guard’s evaporative cooling and moisture-wicking properties help regulate body temperature


  • some users may find the shirt’s compression fit uncomfortable
  • its sizing may not be suitable for everyone
Check price

Gruff Combat BJJ Rash Guards Grappling MMA Jiu Jitsu No Gi UFC Shirt Fight Wear, Short Sleeves [BJJ Rash Guard]


Gruff combat is a smaller brand that it’s focused on grappling rash guards, and the one that made it to this list is quite an interesting one.

Unlike most of the other models on the list, Gruff Combat decided to assign all their short sleeve models which come at an excellent competitive price at 35 USD each, but they all have different designs.

They offer 10 different designs in these model, and I personally am a big fan of the Butchers Union design, which I could easily wear around the week on the academy and have all eyes on my back.

Just like other products on the list, the Gruff Combat bjj rash guard offers 4-way stretch fabric, along with a compression form fit and flat-lock stitching that conforms to fit the body’s curves, which means you’ll be looking slick on it.

Gruff also prides in how well their rash guards fare in multiple other disciplines besides BJJ, Wrestling and Grappling, and once again, I have to say that their designs are breathtaking and being done with fade resistant colors is a great plus, as you do not have to worry about it losing it’s brightness after rolling and washing the rash guard week after week.

Some people don’t really trust those small brands that are trying to make their way into the market, but if you are one of those that do want to test out different products, I’d recommend you to check out Gruff’s short sleeve rashguards and see if you enjoy them as much as I do.

10. Best BJJ Rash Guard Hybrid Option

LAFROI Men’s Long Sleeve UPF 50+ Baselayer Skins Performance Fit Compression Rash Guard-CLYYB BJJ Rash Guard

The LAFROI Men’s Long Sleeve UPF 50+ Baselayer Skins Performance Fit Compression Rash Guard-CLYYB [BJJ Rash Guard] is the ultimate choice for athletes looking for both performance and comfort. Made from premium fabric that is 80% Nylon and 20% Spandex, it offers a perfect fit and exceptional durability. The elastic closure and machine washability add to the convenience of this rash guard. With UPF 50+ sun protection, this rash guard is perfect for outdoor activities. Whether you are into BJJ, MMA, wrestling, or any other combat sport, this rash guard offers the perfect combination of functionality and style. Order now and experience the confidence and comfort that only LAFROI can offer.


  • Durability
  • Comfortability
  • The elastic closure and machine washability add to the convenience of this rash guard
  • it is a reliable and stylish option for those seeking comfort and sun protection in their training gear.


  • lack of additional features such as ventilated underarms or a silicone waistband may not meet the needs of some athletes
Check price

LAFROI Men’s Long Sleeve UPF 50+ Baselayer Skins Performance Fit Compression Rash Guard-CLYYB [BJJ Rash Guard]


We are coming into the last product of our list, and those are the LAFROI Long sleeve rashguards, which come in pretty close to the lowest price on the list at 23 USD, and offer a TON of diferent eyecatching designs for hose that wat to stand out from the group when they hit the mats.

They may not be the highest quality premium rash guards out there in the market, but they are a pretty solid option, and with 21 design options to choose from at one low cost, they are definitelly a product that you may want to check out for yourself.

You can always also look around on their products and find their short sleeve options, which go out at 21 USD.

There is one thing to be noted, the LAFROI brand was mostly focused on making rash guards for surfers and water-activities, but they actually produced a good option for grappling in the process.

They made it to the list for all these little factors, nice quality, low cost and the flair they bring into the mats when you wear them; so they are quite a nice addition for those growing their personal rash guard collection.

BJJ Rash Guards Buying Guide

How Does a BJJ Rash Guard Work?

A BJJ rash guard is a type of clothing designed to protect the skin during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training and competition. It is typically made of a stretchy, moisture-wicking material that fits snugly on the body.

During training, a BJJ rash guard helps to prevent mat burn, which is a type of friction burn caused by contact with the training surface. It also protects against cuts, scrapes, and other skin injuries that can occur during grappling and ground fighting.

In addition to providing protection, a BJJ rash guard also helps to regulate body temperature by wicking sweat away from the skin. This keeps the body cool and dry, reducing the risk of overheating and helping the athlete to perform at their best.

Overall, a BJJ rash guard is an essential piece of equipment for any serious practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, providing both protection and comfort during training and competition.

In most No-Gi Tournaments, you can not wear a cotton t-shirt, so you will have to get a rash guard, be it either long or short sleeve in order to compete. When it comes to IBJJF tournaments, this rash guard should also be ranked, which means, it should showcase the color of your current belt rank or be either white/black in order for you to be allowed to compete.

The reasons why BJJ Rash Guards are so important


BJJ rash guards are designed to protect the skin from mat burn, cuts, scrapes, and other types of skin injuries that can occur during grappling and ground fighting. They create a barrier between the skin and the training surface, reducing the risk of skin damage.

High-quality BJJ rash guard designed for training and competition. Made with premium materials, this is best rash guard for comfort, flexibility, and durability. This rash guard is  perfect for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners seeking top-notch gear.

The thin layer also protects your skin from your opponents grip, which may not make a huge impact at first but it is definitelly noticeable for those that have spent years on the mats.


BJJ rash guards help to maintain hygiene in the gym or dojo by reducing the amount of skin-to-skin contact between athletes. This can help to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria that can lead to skin infections.

It also helps for those who are not really comfortable with other people’s sweat, as the rashguard will likely help to grip an opponent without actually getting that much sweat on you, making it less awkward for the practitioners, and improving their grips.


BJJ rash guards are made from a stretchy, moisture-wicking material that fits snugly on the body. They help to regulate body temperature by wicking sweat away from the skin, keeping the body cool and dry during training.

They are tailored to allow full mobility while also looking pretty slick, which is an added feature that we are about to get into next.


BJJ rash guards come in a variety of colors, patterns, and designs, allowing athletes to express their personal style and preferences.

From those that like plain designs with some color, to those that want to showcase a color explosion or designs that will make everyone’s heads turn around on the mat.

I personally prefer simple and subtle designs, but there is room for everybody to wear what they feel better, from superhero uniform designs, to psychodelic and colorful patterns, or the old classic plain colored rash guards.

Required for competition

As previously mentioned, many BJJ tournaments require athletes to wear a BJJ rash guard during competition. It is important for athletes to train in the same gear that they will compete in, in order to be comfortable and confident on the mat.

When it comes to the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federations, some extra rules apply, like having to wear ranked rashguards, which means that the practitioner requires to wear a rash guard that is either black/white, or that showcases the color of their current belt rank in it when they get into the mats to fight.

In these tournaments, not having an approved rash guard could result in disqualification.

That Is the Best BJJ Rashguards

In my opinion, there are multiple excellent rash guard options in the list, but when it comes down to preference, my go to choice are the Gold BJJ rash guards, due to them offering outstanding durability, great design and of course, being ranked rashguards that you can definitely take to your go-to tournament and compete in.

The brand has grown over years and they are basically BJJ gear sellers, made by BJJ Practitioners, for BJJ Practitioners, and it simply shows on the quality of their gear, as that is merch that has been made keeping everything you need once you step into the mats in mind.

Types of BJJ Rashguards

Short-sleeved BJJ rashguards

Like the name says, these rash guards are designed with short sleeves and a high neckline, providing protection for the upper body without restricting movement. They are ideal for warmer weather and can be worn alone or under a BJJ gi.

As I Live and train in an area where weather gets excruciatingly hot, the short sleeve rash guard has been my go to option in recent years; as I went from having only long sleeves to going hunting for short sleeve rash guards whenever I go shopping.

They are comfortable, reliable and well, depending on what you prefer to wear, they can get pretty stylish.

Long-sleeved BJJ rashguards.

These rash guards are designed with Long sleeves and a high neckline, providing protection for the upper body without restricting movement. The longer sleeves give some extra skin protection to your arms, and offer some extra space for some exciting and awesome looking patterns.

The Long sleeve rashguard can be used in colder weathers to keep your body temperature, or simply to get some extra protection from getting sweaty and slippery during rolls. You can also ask the No-Gi GOAT, Gordon Ryan, on how successful it is to use a long sleeve rashguard to combat a greased opponent.

Compression BJJ rashguards

Compression shirts are made from a tight-fitting, stretchy material that conforms to the body. They are designed to improve blood flow and circulation, reduce muscle fatigue, and help the athlete to recover more quickly after training. Compression rashguards are especially popular among athletes who train frequently or who compete at a high level.

If we go deep into this category, we have to point out that all Rashguards for grappling arts Should be compression shirts, as any loose clothes could interfere in grappling exchanges.

Women’s Rash guards

Some BJJ brands offer Women’s rashguard options, which offer the same quality as a male rash guard, but are focused on being a second skin for the female body, which means that they are more comfortable and do a better job for females than just using any regular rashguard instead.

When it comes to women’s options, their rashguards usually offer a v-neck cut, as a little improvement to get some extra stretch if it is required in the chest area, while also focusing on emphasizing and fitting on the curves of the female body.

There is a detail to keep in mind, which is how most brands really do little effort on making eye catching designs for women’s rashguard options unlike the regular options.

Sadly, when it comes to designs and such, female rashguards tend to end up flat, as they don’t get half as much love as regular rashguards which are produced for everybody, but over time, I hope that they will start putting just as much love and effort on it.

Features to Look for In a BJJ Rashguards

When choosing a BJJ rash guard, there are several features that you are required to consider to ensure that it will be able to provide the necessary protection and comfort for both training and competition. Here are 5 key features to look for:

Seamless Comfort: The Importance of Flatlock Stitching in BJJ Rashguards

Look for rash guards with flatlock stitching, as they have no bulky seams that can irritate your skin while training.

In addition, this type of stitching reinforces the rash guard, making it more durable. And it is definitely one of those details that make you understand the diference between a brand that has been considering things inside the mat when doing their designs, instead of just making things look good.

Non-slip waistband

Try to look for rash guards with anti-slip waistbands made of silicone or rubber, which keep the rash guard from riding up during drills or rolling.

The non-slip waistband is a really subtle detail but it makes a whole lot of difference, as you can continue to train, roll, berimbolo, slide and basically do anything without worrying about the rashguard riding up and you having to get it back down mid roll.

Vibrant Sublimated Prints

Choose rash guards with sublimated graphics, as the ink is embedded into the polyester fabric using heat and pressure, preventing it from peeling or fading over time.

Look for a rash guard made from a high-quality, moisture-wicking material that will keep you cool and dry during training. Common materials include polyester, spandex, and nylon.

Sublimation is simply the way to go if you really like to use stylish rashguards and do not want to worry about how the colors are fading and it is losing it’s appeal week after week and wash after wash, so make sure that you defnitely get sublimated prints on those complex designs that are going to turn everyone’s heads over.

Stretch with ease: Four-way fabric that moves with you.

Opt for high-quality rash guards made from a blend of polyester and spandex, which can stretch in all directions, allowing for hours of comfortable training. The ideal blend is 80% polyester and 20% spandex, but other proportions are also available.

You are going to want to have this four-way stretch at hand if you, like me, have some extra flexibility on your joints, and that kimura REALLY bends your arms around before it starts to hurt, as I can see it in my old rashguards, those multiple kimura attempts did more damage stretching my rashguards than they did to my arms over the years.

Multi-panel construction

Choose rash guards made up of multiple stitched-together panels instead of larger fabric panels. This feature provides better comfort and mobility during training.

Don’t forget that the best BJJ rash guards should also have attractive designs or artwork, adding style to their functionality and durability. Some brands even collaborate with famous artists to create unique designs.

Common Questions About BJJ Rashguards

Do BJJ rash guards need to be tight?

BJJ rash guards should fit snugly on the body, but not so tight that they restrict movement or cause discomfort. A properly fitting rash guard should be snug enough to stay in place during grappling and other BJJ movements, but not so tight that it constricts blood flow or breathing. The material should also be stretchy enough to allow for a full range of motion.

This is the reason that details like the non-slip waistbands and the 4 way stretch fabrics are such important details for your rashguard. They allow it to be tight but not restrictive.

Yes, BJJ rash guards are designed specifically for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training and competition, while swimming rash guards are designed for swimming and water activities. It is true that BJJ rash guards originated from swimming rashguards as the surfer culture was pretty close to the BJJ culture when the discipline began.

The main difference is that BJJ rashguards are made from materials that are stretchier and more durable than those used in swimming and surfing rash guards, and they typically feature designs and features that are specific to BJJ, such as flatlock stitching, sublimated graphics, and rubber or silicone waistbands.

It doesn’t mean that a swimming rashguard would be useless in grappling training, but it simply would be sub-par compared to BJJ focused gear.

While compression tops and rash guards share some similarities, such as their tight fit and stretchy materials, they are designed for different purposes. Compression tops are generally worn for medical or fitness purposes, such as to improve circulation, support muscles, or reduce muscle soreness.

Rash guards, on the other hand, are specifically designed for water sports or activities like BJJ, and provide protection against chafing, UV rays, and other irritants, which is th reason that you usually see BJJ rashguards being way more expensive than your regular compression shirt.

Rash guards may stretch slightly over time with repeated use and washing, but high-quality rash guards made from durable materials like polyester and spandex should maintain their shape and elasticity for a long time.

To extend the life of a rash guard and prevent excessive stretching, it’s important to wash it in cold water, hang it to dry, and avoid wringing or twisting it.

A Ranked rashguard is a BJJ rashguard that represents the belt rank of a practitioner in competition. When it comes to competition, you are required to wear a rashguard but when it comes to IBJJF tournaments, these ranked rashguards are another requirement.

The colors that are covered in ranked rashguards include White and Black, which can be worn at any belt rank, and then Blue, purple and brown, which could be featured in our rashguard if you are competing at the respective level division.

If you are a brown belt and you show up with a blue rash guard for oficial competitions, you may not be allowed to enter the mat area, so it is always a good idea to look for brands that offer rashguards in your belt color.

Enjoy Your New BJJ Rash Guards

Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard BJJ Rash Guard

The Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard is designed to take your Jiu Jitsu game to new heights. Its geometric design represents the calculated measurements and analytical decisions Jiu Jitsu demands. Made with performance fabric, this rash guard shields you from the mats, regulates body temperature, and allows unrestricted movement. Perfect for No-Gi or Gi Jiu Jitsu, MMA, boxing, kickboxing, and cross-training. Machine washable and durable for long-term use.

best bjj rash guards, bjj rash guards, rash guard, bjj rash guard, jiu jitsu rash guard,  Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard,


  • Comfortability
  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Shields skin from mat burns, scratches, and cuts


  • Expensive
  • May leave stains on white clothing
  • May not look exactly like the photos depending on body type
Check price

Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Jiu Jitsu Rashguard


Hayabusa Geo Long Sleeve Rash Guard


At this point, you should know everything that is required for you to go rashguard shopping, and there are plenty of great options for you to choose from in this list so you do not have to go around into the depths of the marketplace to get something worth your time.

We are expecting you to find not only a rashguard that offers great performance on the mats, but one that also represents and fits your style when you wear it, so have fun looking into the designs offered and find what fits YOU the best.

If this article was helpful for choosing your new addition to your rashguard collection, then we encourage you to share it with anyone else who might also find it helpful, and we hope you are getting ready to show off your brand new rashguard at BJJ class as soon as possible, so have fun and keep rolling.

Humberto Argaez -
Article by

Humberto Argaez

Humberto has a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Activity and Sports; he runs his own Jiu-Jitsu Academy in his hometown and pushes his team as a coach and active competitor. He is a grappling master, focusing on BJJ and how it fuses with biomechanics and human physiology. Still, he also has experience in MMA and Distance Running. Having spent over 9+ years on the mats gathering knowledge, he loves to share what he has learned both inside and outside the mats. Our testing and reviewing method.
UFC Fight Night 222

UFC Fight Night 222 “Pavlovich Vs Blaydes” + Bellator 294/295 + Weekly MMA

UFC took a break last week, but Bellator 293 and PFL Season 1 2023 brought some high-level battles. The main event of Bellator 293 was a banger, where Daniel James miraculously recovered and scored a great comeback stoppage victory over Marcelo Golm. James later called for a title shot. In the co-main event of the evening, the former UFC title contender Cat Zingano out-lasted Leah McCourt for a decision win.

PFL was fun to watch, but the main event was a total one-sided domination of Brendan Loughnane, who stopped the former UFC fighter and WSOF champ Marlon Moraes with nasty leg kicks in the second round. The co-main event was a technical battle, where Rob Wilkinson outlasted the former UFC 205-pound title contender Thiago Santos for a decision victory.

UFC will now travel to sunny Florida. The event takes place in Miami Dade Arena, Miami. The main event brings the rematch between the former UFC 185-pound title owner Israel Adesanya and the reigning defending undisputed division champion Alex “Poatan” Pereira.

Their previous fight was very fun to watch. Pereira has already defeated Adesanya twice in kickboxing, so technically, it was their third bout. Adesanya was up on the scorecards, but Pereira somehow recovered in the fifth round and scored a brutal stoppage in round 5 to win the belt.

Photo: @UFCBrasil Twitter

Adesanya is a very technical fighter with great feinting, superb footwork, and amazing kicks and angles. His counters are outstanding. Adesanya has a degree in Taekwondo, so it is easy to explain his tricky style. The Nigeria-born New Zealander holds notable victories over legendary Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Marvin Vettori, and many other great names. This could be Adesanya’s last chance to reclaim the belt.

Alex Pereira is known for brutal left hook and one-punch knockouts. He scored a vicious knockout in LFA before his UFC debut. Bruno Silva is the only fighter who successfully traded bombs for three rounds with the Brazilian kickboxer. Pereira’s flying knee knockout against Andreas Michalidis is one of the scariest finishes in the history of the promotion. The reigning defending division king is ready to defend his strap by any means necessary.

Prediction: Pereira to win

The co-main event is very fun, as the BMF title owner and one of the most controversial UFC names, Jorge Masvidal, meets a submission expert with tremendous kickboxing skills, Gilbert “Durinho” Burns.

Burns’ ground game is excellent, he is a former ADCC champ with amazing submission wrestling background. Gilbert’s trademark is armbar, but he is comfortable with all kinds of chokes and submissions. In stand-up, he likes to land big hooks and powerful leg kicks. Burns doesn’t move too much and rather chooses to control the central line. He is a pressure fighter with superb angling too.

Masvidal scored notable wins over legendary Nate Diaz and Darren Till, but he has always had problems with good wrestlers. For example, Kamaru Usman defeated him on two occasions. This is a nightmare matchup for Jorge. “Gamebred” will have to keep this fight standing if he wants to win. Burns is way more skillful on the ground, the bout could end before the final bell if the two end up on the canvas. Jorge’s advantage is long-range strikes, especially straight punches. But he’ll have a hard time if the Brazilian all-around fighter presses him against the fence.

Prediction: Gilbert Burns to win

You can check the UFC 287 pay-per-view “Pereira vs Adesanya 2” full fight card below. There are many high-level battles on UFC Miami’s card.

Main Card (ESPN+ PPV, 10 PM ET, 4 AM CET)

UFC Middleweight Title Fight (185 pounds): Alex Pereira (7-1-0) vs. Israel Adesanya (23-2-0)

Welterweight (170 pounds): Gilbert Burns (21-5-0) vs. Jorge Masvidal (35-16-0)

Bantamweight (135 pounds): Rob Font (19-6-0) vs. Adrian Yanez (16-3-0)

Welterweight (170 pounds): Kevin Holland (23-9-0) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-6-0)

Bantamweight (135 pounds): Raul Rosas Jr. (7-0-0) vs. Christian Rodriguez (8-1-0)

Preliminary Card (ESPN, UFC On Fight Pass, 8 PM ET, 2 AM CET)

Middleweight (185 pounds): Kelvin Gastelum (17-8-0) vs. Chris Curtis (30-9-0)

Strawweight (115 pounds): Michelle Waterson-Gomez (18-10-0) vs. Luana Pinheiro (10-1-0)

Heavyweight (265 pounds): Karl Williams (8-1-0) vs. Chase Sherman (16-11-0)

Middleweight (185 pounds): Gerald Meerschaert (35-15-0) vs. Joseph Pyfer (10-2-0)

Early Prelims (ESPN+, UFC On Fight Pass, 6 PM ET, midnight CET)

Strawweight (115 pounds): Cynthia Calvillo (9-5-1) vs. Lupita Godinez (8-3-0)

Catchweight (160 pounds): Trey Ogden (16-5-0) vs. Ignacio Bahamondes (13-4-0)

Featherweight (145 pounds): Steve Garcia (13-5-0) vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (39-10-0)

Strawweight (115 pounds): Sam Hughes (7-5-0) vs. Jaqueline Amorim (6-0-0)

My predictions for the upcoming UFC 287 pay-per-view event are available in the playlist below.

UFC 287 is a very stacked card. Many wars could go the distance, but we might see some big stoppages too. Young gun Raul Rosas Jr. is looking for another submission win, Pereira wants to put Adesanya to sleep again, and Masvidal doesn’t want to lose in his hometown. Will Adesanya reclaim the belt? Can Pereira score another vicious knockout victory? We’re about to see it on Saturday!  

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
11 Best Martial Arts for Self Defense (Ranked)

11 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense (Ranked)

Martial arts training is one of those hobbies which won’t only improve your fighting skills. Training them will enhance your life in many areas, like discipline, physical health, or humility. As a result, they see a worldwide increase in popularity to this very day. 

One of the critical components of martial arts and the reason they were created is self-defense. With the rise of modern MMA competitions like the UFC or Bellator, we can now view almost all martial arts in a quasi-realistic yet still safe environment, pressure-tested. This gave us new and improved insight into their actual effectiveness. 

Based on:

  • effectiveness,
  • duration and steepness of the learning curve,
  • availability of individual martial arts and combat systems

I have come up with a comprehensive list of the best martial arts for self-defense, ranked from least useful to most effective. 

Worth noticing is that martial art can be really effective, but if it is not that available in most parts of the world, I might have ranked it lower than some other martial art that is less effective but more available.

If you are interested in the topic or are trying to choose one to train, this article will help you make an educated and practical decision. It will help you choose the art that is right for you specifically and that you can use the most effective in potential street altercations. If you are interested in learning more, read on!

11. Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art founded by Choi Hong Hi and a couple of army officials and martial artists. It was developed during and after the second world war to solidify the Korean martial arts scene. 

The art is based on Choi Hong Hi’s Theory of Power. This is a set of observations and theories based on rational thinking and Newtonian physics, which he used to describe a martial art that is more effective than any other. 

For example, a central observation of his was that a strike’s power increases quadratically with speed and only linearly with the moving object’s mass, which made him realize that the muscle mass behind the strike isn’t as critical as speed. 

This led to the development of an art based mostly on kicks since our legs can deliver faster strikes and heavier ones than our arms. 

Though this makes TKD unique, effective, and special, it is also what causes it to be less effective than the other arts on this list. When it comes to self-defense, a hypothetical martial art that is to deliver the most potent strikes known is unrealistic. A good jab is more useful in a street fight than the strongest roundhouse kick you can imagine. 

Why is that? Well, there are multiple reasons. The largest of which is that you very often won’t have enough space to do kicks. I don’t only mean a wall blocking your right side off or people walking around. I also mean range-wise. Your average drunkard or mugger will not stand at a reasonable distance away from you so you can kick them. 

This will lead you to be on a constant retreat so you can evade their knife, hands, or clinch, just so you can deliver a solid kick. There are shorter and closer-range kicks in TKD, but they aren’t used frequently, and they also aren’t pressure tested in training circumstances. 

Aside from the range-mismatch that is very likely to occur, TKD isn’t, as mentioned, pressure tested rigorously enough. TKD competitions are about points, which results in practitioners kicking powerfully or confidently, but much rather tapping the opponent here or there with their legs to score a point. 

Also, TKD relies way too much on only kicking, which is a mistake, since, in fights, you cannot rely on knowing only one thing. It can quickly get on to become a grappling or boxing match, and then all your knowledge flies out the window. 

Aside from all the things making TKD a lower-effectiveness art for the street compared to many others, it is still amazing. You will still be able to defend yourself against the majority of people who you ever come across, and you will develop insane flexibility, agility, and power. But that still doesn’t mean it is as effective as many arts. 

Many extremely successful martial artists like Bas Rutten or Valentina Schevchenko started by training Taekwondo, so it is an excellent basis, but it isn’t really effective on its own.

Availability is also a big reason TKD is low on the list. Though it is one of the most popular martial arts on the planet and is available in almost all major cities, the large majority of people will not be able to access proper dojos. 

10. Combat Sambo

The next martial art on today’s list is Sambo. Sambo is a Russian martial art, developed around the 1920s in the USSR to improve the Russian military’s hand-to-hand combat skills. Much akin to modern MMA, it features a combination of strikes, kicks, clinches, throws, grappling, wrestling, and more. 

However, there are a couple of problems with Sambo. One of the main issues is that, as very many people in the international sphere of martial arts conversation agree, it is probably not Sambo but the Russian people who make Sambo so special. 

To elaborate, I will start with the obvious: one of the strongest militaries in the world, the Russian military, has Sambo as their official combat system. This already gives it an insanely good reputation. Besides that, most people training in Sambo are Russians, Kazakhstani people, or people from that general area. 

It is not racist or bigoted to say that quite simply, it matters whether the martial artist is from Russia or not. The country’s socio-economic status, which has been plaguing it for more than a century, has made it completely normal and almost necessary for people to be a lot tougher than people from more comfortable, Western countries. 

Their toughness and hardness translate into extreme discipline and determination in the gym and the ring, which is why Sambo is seen as such fantastic art. This is not to say it isn’t, it is in the top 10 after all, but it is not necessarily because of the art itself. 

Sambo is somewhat like militarized MMA. It takes bits from boxing, wrestling, grappling, and molds them into one art. However, it isn’t as deep in all of them as would be ideal. This is one of the things that puts Sambo so far back on the list, though it isn’t the most important reason. 

The most important reason is actually surprising, and it doesn’t have much to do with the art itself, and not even with the Russian mentality debate. It has to do with availability. Out of all the martial arts on this list, Sambo is probably the worst when it comes to availability. 

There are very few schools in most of the world, and the same is true for even the U.S. There are perhaps no more than a dozen or two functioning schools in the entire country, though exact numbers on this are hard to find. It is very rare to find reputable and successful schools, which makes it a terrible first option to choose. 

If you were given a chance to train Combat Sambo in a Moscow training center for a couple of months or years, you would walk out of there as a person who can most surely defend themselves in a variety of scenarios, even perhaps from other martial artists. However, due to its meager availability, it falls behind many other arts on this list. 

If you would like to learn Combat Sambo, or just improve your existing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Ivan Vasylchuk, former Sambo World Champion:

combat sambo course

9. Karate

The next martial art on our list today is the world-famous Karate. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t Japanese, but rather Okinawan. Though it is a part of Japan today, Okinawa was actually an independent country and is the home for most of what we now know of as Japanese martial arts. 

Though an extensive history of Okinawan Karate is hard to come by, it is estimated that the roots of Karate stem back thousands of years and into the Chinese kingdom and possibly the Philippines. Nevertheless, Gichin Funakoshi is considered the “founder” of the art since he pioneered the popularization and created the most popular style know today, Shotokan. 

Karate is an umbrella term used to describe a large amount of smaller styles and branches, the most prominent of which are Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Kyokushin, Shito-Ryu, and more. This is important to mention because the specific school and branch has quite a large impact on the quality of the training and its effectiveness on the street. 

Shotokan Karate is a very tough and effective martial art and has also evolved to try to combat Western Boxing, but it hasn’t managed. Regardless of its general failure against most Western arts, Shotokan is still a martial art that can provide a solid basis for self-defense for anyone learning. 

It is full of powerful, linear strikes, blocks, and kicks. This linear nature is also what it gets quite a lot of criticism for. It isn’t very natural and also somewhat unrealistic due to its overly formal and linear nature. Nevertheless, it is very useful if trained in a good dojo and with determination. 

However, though it is the most popular branch, Shotokan isn’t the most effective of Karate styles for self-defense. That title is much more often accredited to Kyokushin and less frequently to Goju-Ryu. 

Kyokushin Karate is viewed as the tank of all Karate styles. It isn’t fancy, it doesn’t have very large movements, but it focuses heavily on full-contact sparring, competitions, and body conditioning, making Kyokuhshin fighters “living tanks”. 

Though it is also somewhat unrealistic compared to some Western arts, Kyokushin, just like Shotokan is more than enough to defend you on the street from most people of ill will, it is far from being the most effective one out there if you want to become really good at fighting/self-defense. 

One of the major reasons why Karate is so far behind on the list is quite simple: the popularity of the art gave space to a vast number of so-called McDojos, which are superficial, ineffective, and watered-down Karate schools that exist to earn money and dish out belts as if they were free. 

However, if you do find a good Karate school near you, and chances are you can, do not hesitate to sign up, since it will give you a great basis for fighting should you need it. 

If you would like to learn Karate, or just improve your existing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Lyoto Machida, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion:

karate course

8. Judo

The next martial art on the list is Judo. It is one of the most popular martial arts in the world and been known to be the martial art of choice for a wide variety of people, whether they are MMA fighters or even the president of Russia. 

Judo was developed in Japan by Jigoro Kano and is also considered to be among the first organized, official martial arts in the country. Jigoro Kano’s name is huge in the martial arts world exactly due to this. He founded and helped found many formal martial arts teaching centers and helped Judo reach international fame. 

This grappling-based martial art is comprised of primarily throws, locks, sweeps, and everything that has to do with grappling. Strikes are incredibly rare and are often only used as feigns, not as actual strikes. Many tournaments ban striking since that isn’t the point of Judo. 

In this unidimensionality lies Judo’s biggest asset and biggest mistake. Grappling is an innately human way of fighting; our arms and hands evolved to grasp and hold, not to strike, which makes it more natural. Doubling down on this aspect of humans will undoubtedly create an effective martial art, like Judo and various other arts have proven. 

However, doubling down strictly on one aspect of the human fighting ability is a mistake. The lack of any type of striking makes Judo an imbalanced art, which is why it doesn’t rank any higher. In sweeping and throwing people to the floor, locking their joints, and holding them down, Judo is really near the top in the world, but that doesn’t make it the best out there. 

Even though it is imbalanced, Judo will always be one of the most effective martial arts, for two specific reasons: availability and realistic effectiveness. 

Judo schools can be found everywhere. In larger cities, there are usually multiple Judo schools, and even smaller and medium-sized cities tend to have training opportunities. If you choose to train Judo, it is very likely that you will find a school near you. 

Under realistic effectiveness, I mean a simple idea: the opponents are resisting. Even though the combat is not balanced due to the focus on grappling, the grappling that is being done is against a fully resistant opponent, who is trying to do their best to perform the same or similar techniques on you. 

This means that Judo is pressure tested and is practiced with nearly full realistic force. This type of training is the one that can prepare you to face actual attackers in real life, not point-sparring as is often the case in Karate and many other martial arts. 

Judo, though it does have its faults, is highly effective since very many street fights end up becoming grappling wars. Yes, a couple of punches and kicks are thrown but in seconds, someone will close the distance and from then on, it is grappling time, in which case the Judoka will absolutely dominate in 99% of cases unless the opponent is also trained in some art. 

If you would like to learn Judo, or just improve your existing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Jimmy Pedro and Travis Stevens:

judo course

7. Boxing

Boxing deserves a high placement in any self-defense article and is often not given its due respect. Western Boxing has origins that can be traced back thousands and thousands of years to ancient civilizations, and there was never a specific moment in time when boxing became mainstream.

It is one of the most “natural” aka instinctive ways for humans to fight, as they have done for millennia. Movies like Rocky sparked immense popularity among younger people towards boxing, but it never really suffered from a lack of spectators or fighters. 

Boxing, as most people know, is a punching-only martial art. Even the punching is limited to a given belt-line, which is usually somewhere around the middle-lower part of one’s abdomen. 

Again, what makes boxing incredibly effective is also its major setback: it is unidimensional. It focuses on striking to such an incredible extent, that it creates art around it, but in the process, also forgets about all the other parts and functions of the human body. 

Boxing is effective for self-defense since you learn a myriad of different skills to a very deep level, which will give you a general understanding of how fighting works and also how to knock someone out if need be. 

You don’t only practice punching bags and speed bags. Much of boxing is about footwork, which is arguably one of the hardest parts of it to master. It is what enables you to keep proper range, to switch stances, to “dance around your opponent” like Muhammad Ali. This footwork will make you incredibly agile and, well, quick on your feet (wonder where that saying came from…). 

Hand-eye-coordination, general fitness, cardiovascular health, and more are just a couple of the benefits you can get by training boxing, all of which can come in handy in self-defense scenarios. 

Another really important aspect of boxing is that it is quite stunning. Say, you get attacked by multiple attackers. You take on the first one, since you see no other way out, and realizing that they are completely untrained, you knock the first attacker out cold or perhaps just neutralize them with a strong hook. 

The rest of the attackers will definitely be more cautious in approaching you. This might not really be the case with grappling-based arts, since going to the ground might just be the last thing you want in a fight, and definitely so in multiple-attacker scenarios. 

The reason boxing isn’t higher up on the list is that it doesn’t use the legs, grappling, wrestling, takedowns, ground-and-pound, or basically anything aside from striking. However useful and effective that is, it is still not the absolute best option, exactly due to its one-dimensional approach. 

Nevertheless, if you train in boxing, you will be confident about your skills in 6 months to a year, and what is even better, it is probably the most widespread art in the Western world. You will struggle to find a more common art than boxing. 

Learning boxing is relatively easy at the basic levels, so the learning curve isn’t too steep, at least not until the professional level, which is more than enough for you to defend yourself. 

If you would like to learn the fundamentals of boxing, or just improve your existing boxing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Teddy Atlas, one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time:

boxing course

6. Wrestling

Western wrestling, often referred to as Greco-Roman Wrestling or French Wrestling, is a sport that dates back to perhaps more than 15000 years ago. It is a form of combat that has been depicted in cave drawings, suggesting that it might be as old as humans themselves. 

Many very famous and successful UFC fighters have had their beginnings in wrestling, like for example Daniel Cormier, one of the best heavyweights of all time. 

Wrestling, though it is a category of its own, is a grappling-based martial art that focuses on disrupting the balance of the opponent in any given way (footwork, throws, sweeps, etc.) to put them on the ground and hold them there. 

What makes wrestling highly effective is the speed at which takedowns are possible. There are no strikes in wrestling, but it makes up for that with all the types of takedowns practiced in any regular wrestling gym. 

In a self-defense scenario, which usually happens in places like a darker street or some bar or disco, attackers tend to try to show their “dominance” by posing up for a fistfight, by kicking or trying to knock their opponent out. 

This is where wrestling comes into play. Shooting for a double-leg takedown can happen in the blink of an eye and completely catch the opponent off guard and surprise them. Aside from that, a person not trained in wrestling or other ground- and grappling-based martial arts will have no clue what to do on the ground, so you can decide what happens from then onwards. 

It is also a highly accessible martial art, available in most cities in the Western hemisphere, and in most schools in the U.S. as an extracurricular activity. 

The one aspect of wrestling which forces it behind a couple of other martial arts is that it happens on the ground or very close to it. Though on a one-on-one situation, this is probably the easiest place to subdue an opponent for a skilled fighter, it might not be optimal in actual self-defense scenarios. 

You can never know whether your attacker has some friends around, and if they do, you won’t have luck on the ground. 

Nevertheless, wrestling is one of the most effective martial arts one can train for self-defense, since aside from all the practical and useful skills and techniques, it improves confidence, physical strength, and stability. All of these combined can help anyone overcome a large majority of untrained people. 

If you would like to learn wrestling, or just improve your existing wrestling skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Henry Cejudo, former Olympic Gold medalist and two-division UFC Champion:

wrestling course

5. Muay Thai (and Kickboxing)

The next martial art/s on the list is Muay Thai. Though there are some relatively significant differences, I consider Kickboxing to be as effective as Muay Thai and definitely in the same league, which is why all that I will write in this section represents both of these incredible martial arts. 

Muay Thai, also called Thai kickboxing or Thai boxing, is a martial art with roots dating back hundreds or thousands of years. It is a traditional way of using the entire body to fight in close-quarters combat, developed by the Thai people of Thailand in Eastern Asia.  

Kickboxing, also known as American Kickboxing, actually dates back to around the 1970s, as that was the time it was developed as a combination of several martial arts. It does, however, get its roots from Muay Thai, which is why it is fair to rate them similarly, and why I will consider them to be the same for the sake of the review. 

Muay Thai is also called the art of 8 limbs, which represents the idea of using elbows and knees just as much as fists and feet/shins to strike. This is what makes Muay Thai so deadly and also versatile, and what gives it a really good ranking in terms of self-defense. 

The conditioning of bones together with the rigorous training of the most effective striking strategies of arguably any martial art, Muay Thai is to stand-up fighting what Jiu-Jitsu is to grappling. It is the number one, undisputed striking art. 

Aside from the aforementioned factors, the versatility of the art is also what makes it incredibly effective in a self-defense scenario. Be it a long roundhouse kick or a short elbow strike to the chin, or perhaps a medium-distance jab, Muay Thai has got all ranges covered. 

Muay Thai also works a lot on the clinch, which is the shortest-range stand-up fighting that exists. The opponents are holding each other by their arms, head, and shoulders to try to secure some close-range elbows and knees. Muay Thai is arguably the best stand-up clinch art. 

This versatility, which allows you to fight in any rage without having to resort to getting on the ground is fantastically effective. With throws also implemented, you can really develop a well-rounded understanding of self-defense in all situations. 

There are two factors that stop it from reaching higher rankings on this list: availability and the learning curve. 

Muay Thai, though increasing in popularity by the day, is still relatively uncommon. Every city or town has a boxing or wrestling gym, but Muay Thai gyms are quite difficult to come by. 

Also, the learning curve is quite steep and difficult. There is a lot of pain and conditioning often involved with the traditional Muay Thai path, so the ones who make it to the top need a lot of determination and perseverance. 

If you would like to learn the basics of striking, or just improve your existing striking skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Anderson Silva, one of the greatest strikers in MMA history:

striking course

4. Jiu-Jitsu

At the 4th place on today’s list, we have the favorite martial arts of some of the most popular commentators and practitioners in the world of martial arts and combat sports like Jocko WIllink and Joe Rogan. Jiu-Jitsu is arguably the martial art with the steepest rise to fame, seeing as some of the main founders have just passed away a couple of decades ago. 

At the end of the 20th century, a Brazilian man by the name of Carlos Gracie met Mitsuyo Maeda, a world-renowned Judo champion and practitioner. This is the beginning of what we now know as BJJ or Jiu-Jitsu in most of the English-speaking world. 

After mastering all he could from Judo, Carlos Gracie, with the help of his brothers, developed this modern art, which is the epitome of all grappling arts. It is the pinnacle of ground fighting performance and skill and is very often regarded as the best martial artists of our time. 

Jiu-Jitsu is a highly effective martial art for self-defense since it doesn’t rely on chance, luck, and physical power, but much rather calculated technique and skill. 

In many conversations, Joe Rogan, an advocate of Jiu-Jitsu and also one of the most popular podcasters on the planet, points out that though even the most inexperienced fighter could knock out a champion with one stray hand landing in the right place with the right power. However, on the ground, there is no element of luck to it, it is pure skill. 

The only part that Jiu-Jitsu lacks is stand-up fighting, but that is made up for by the extensive emphasis placed on takedowns. Once an experienced Jiu-Jitsu practitioner gets hold of their opponent, standing up or on the ground, it is very likely game over for the opponent. 

Also, in a strict self-defense context, as Jocko WIllink puts it on multiple occasions: you can run away from a boxer. Maybe you won’t outrun the person, yes, but when somebody squares off on you to fight, you can choose to move away in some way. However, once they grab a hold of you, you have nothing left but to fight your way out. 

This is why he believes it should be the first art everyone should learn, since it is great with handling situations that cannot be avoided in any way, only solved through combat. 

If you would like to learn the fundamentals of BJJ, the course I highly recommend is the one by Bernardo Faria, 5x Black Belt World Champion:

bjj course

3. Krav Maga

The bronze-medal goes to Krav Maga, a military combat system designed to prepare people in the toughest of places to be able to neutralize threats as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It is also the fighting system taught to the Israeli military, which is partly what gives it its good reputation. 

Developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian martial artist living in Czechoslovakia, Krav Maga was meant to be a system that is intuitive and which can help individuals survive the tough atmosphere of pre-World War Eastern Europe. 

What puts Krav Maga so high on this list is, surprisingly, not the depth and expertise one can achieve with the system. Actually, the lack thereof is one of its main cons. Its intuitiveness and realistic approach to self-defense scenario are what gives it its edge. 

Whichever martial art you train in, you will encounter rules. No eye-poking, no groin strikes, no throat strikes, etc. Krav Maga, seeing as it was created with a life-or-death situation in mind, is the opposite. In Krav, these weak points are exactly the parts of the body that are most heavily attacked, in order to neutralize the opponent as quickly as possible. 

This makes Krav Maga one of the best martial art systems to train with self-defense in mind. It is easy and intuitive to learn, with most estimates stating that around 6 months are enough for a person to feel reasonably safe in most street-altercations. This won’t make someone an expert, but they won’t necessarily be in fear when walking home at night. 

Also, Krav schools often focus on verbal de-escalation techniques and a bunch of other survival skills which might be used in order to avoid a physical altercation. Nevertheless, if the soft skills don’t work, a Krav Maga practitioner will certainly take care of any threat. 

The only downsides to Krav Maga are that it cannot be deepened too much, and more importantly, there is no sparring. It provides a surface-level knowledge in the martial arts, which, though enough for 99% of self-defense scenarios, might not be what some individuals are looking for. 

Also, the lack of pressure-testing (aka sparring) is a big issue, since it won’t prepare you for fighting with a fully resisting opponent, which can, in turn, make you falsely confident and can get you in a lot of trouble. 

If you would like to learn Krav Maga, the course I highly recommend is the one by Frass Azab:

krav maga course

2. MMA

On our second spot is arguably the most popular martial art of our times, MMA. MMA is what gave rise to organizations like the UFC and Bellator, and is also what has proven to be the best way to pressure-test different arts. 

MMA, or mixed martial arts, isn’t a singular entity. It is basically a process, within which the given individual tries their best to become the best all-around fighter. This means placing a large emphasis on striking, wrestling, grappling, and more; virtually all the areas of fighting that humans have come up with to date. 

The reason why MMA is the second-best is exactly this well-roundedness. With many martial arts, like boxing or wrestling, I have even mentioned that their one drawback is their unidimensionality. Well, that is simply not the case with MMA, since it clearly focuses on filling all the gaps in one’s fighting knowledge. 

There is literally no area in which MMA is weak. Of course, this means that an MMA fighter will not be the best in a singular area, but that isn’t even the goal of fighting for competition, and especially not for self-defense. 

In self-defense scenarios, you need to know how to handle stand-up fighting and grappling as well. MMA provides the basis for a rock-solid self-defense skillset that is virtually undefeatable in the street by any singular art. If a highly skilled boxer attacks you, you get a takedown and submit them on the ground, and vice-versa. This is the strength of MMA. 

MMA is also available in many places, seeing as the rise of the UFC and other competitions have had people searching for this sort of fighting practice en masse. The learning curve can be customizable and is always adapted to the individual’s needs, which makes MMA all the better. 

If you would like to learn MMA for self-defense, the course I highly recommend is the one by Greg Jackson, the head coach of UFC great Jon Jones:

mma course

1. Krav Maga + MMA

What could possibly come after MMA, you ask? Well, combining it with Krav Maga. Though an MMA fighter will likely beat any single-discipline fighter out there, a fighter who also knows how to use illegal moves and is also an MMA fighter will be an absolute beast. 

What MMA lacks, and it is the only thing it lacks, is illegal moves. In a self-defense scenario, you won’t care for the attacker’s eyeballs or groin area, your goal is to get out of there and save your life and the lives of those around you.

MMA will give you the confidence to handle almost anyone on the street, but if it really does come to a life or death scenario, Krav Maga might just help you out with all the moves which are illegal in MMA. This combination is hands-down the most effective one if your primary goal is to defend yourself or the people around you. 

What Next?

Having in mind that you have searched for the best martial arts for self-defense and stumbled upon this article, I would say that you are probably considering getting into martial arts.

That said, I have written an article about which martial art should you start with. I highly suggest you take a look at it, so you get an even deeper picture of some things that are important when choosing a martial art to start with. If you want to build strength and muscles first, you can always consider personal training.

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Illustration depicting UFC weight classes (divisions), featuring a determined female and male MMA fighter, each demonstrating their respective fighting stance, prepared to compete in their unique divisions.

UFC Weight Classes Unraveled: The Definitive Order of Divisions in Lbs and Kg!

Like all martial arts and combat sports, the UFC has several weight categories called divisions. In mixed martial arts, a weight class is a competition division that matches fighters against each other at their size.

As we know, the primary purpose of weight categories is to equalize the battlefield and enable relatively similar opponents to face each other without anyone having a clear-cut advantage over the other.

You can see MMA (and UFC weight classes or divisions) below:

  • Atomweight 105 lbs (47.6 kg);
  • Strawweight 115 lb (52.2 kg) – UFC female;
  • Flyweight 125 lb (56.7 kg) – UFC female/male;
  • Bantamweight 135 lb (61.2 kg) – UFC female/male;
  • Featherweight 145 lb (65.8 kg) – UFC female/male;
  • Lightweight: 155 lb (70.3 kg) – UFC male;
  • Super lightweight 165 lb (74.8 kg);
  • Welterweight 170 lb (77.1 kg) – UFC male;
  • Super welterweight 175 lb (79.4 kg);
  • Middleweight 185 lb (83.9 kg) – UFC male;
  • Super middleweight 195 lb (88.5 kg);
  • Light heavyweight 205 lb (93.0 kg) – UFC male;
  • Cruiserweight 225 lb (102.1 kg);
  • Heavyweight 265 lb (120.2 kg) – UFC male;
  • Super heavyweight – No limit.

In this article, I will present to you the UFC weight divisions, as well as all the champions for each of them. There are not many – 8 for men and 4 for women – but that does not make it less attractive.

How Many UFC Weight Classes Are There?

To understand the UFC weight divisions, we must understand how MMA’s weight divisions and categories work. Since it would be of no use for us to describe all the categories, I shall present them to you in one table, which is pretty self-explanatory:

Weight Class Maximum Weight
Strawweight 115 lbs (52.2 kg)
Flyweight 125 lbs (56.7 kg)
Bantamweight 135 lbs (61.2 kg)
Featherweight 145 lbs (65.8 kg)
Lightweight 155 lbs (70.3 kg)
Super Lightweight 165 lbs (74.8 kg)
Welterweight 170 lbs (77.1 kg)
Super Welterweight 175 lbs (79.4 kg)
Middleweight 185 lbs (83.9 kg)
Super Middleweight 195 lbs (88.5 kg)
Light Heavyweight 205 lbs (93 kg)
Cruiserweight 225 lbs (102.1 kg)
Heavyweight 265 lbs (120.2 kg)
Super Heavyweight None

Why Do UFC Weight Classes Exist?

The primary purpose of UFC weight classes is to equalize the playing field and enable relatively similar opponents to face each other without having a clear-cut advantage.

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While UFC weight classes determine the appropriate division for fighters, it’s crucial not to overlook another essential aspect of MMA: the quality of your gear. Wearing the best MMA shorts for grappling or kicking can significantly improve performance and comfort during intense fights. Check out our comprehensive guide to ensure you’re equipped with the most suitable shorts for your needs in the cage, including top recommendations for every type of fighter.

When Did The UFC Get Weight Classes?

UFC weight classes were first introduced in 1997. At UFC 12, the first two UFC weight classes were introduced, UFC lightweight division and UFC heavyweight division. At UFC 31, the weight classes were modified to reflect the current MMA standard.

UFC Men’s Weight Classes (Divisions)

As you will soon see, the UFC doesn’t have a division for each weight class category, as presented in the table.

The UFC only has eight divisions, corresponding to eight of the before-mentioned categories.

The oldest one is the Heavyweight Division, founded back in 1997.

The Light Heavyweight and Welterweight Divisions soon followed in December 1997 and 1998, respectively, with the Lightweight and Middleweight divisions being introduced in 2001.

The most recent divisions were the Bantamweight and Featherweight, introduced in 2010, and the Flyweight Division, introduced in 2012.

So, historically, the first-ever weight division UFC champion was Mark Coleman, who won the Heavyweight belt in 1997.

UFC Women’s Weight Classes (Divisions)

The competition format for women is both newer in date and a lot smaller. Women only participate in four categories, with three being the same as men and one specifically for women.

The oldest among them is the Women’s Bantamweight Division, which got its first champion at the end of 2012.

The end of 2014 saw the establishment of the Women’s Strawweight Division, while the remaining two divisions – Women’s Featherweight and Women’s Flyweight division – started in 2017.

So, the first female UFC champion in any category was American Ronda Rousey, who won the Women’s Bantamweight title in December 2012. 

ufc weight classes and all the winners in the weight divisions

UFC Tournaments and the Superfight Championship

Throughout its existence, the UFC has also held numerous openweight tournaments.

Unlike the more-known divisions, openweight tournaments do not have any weight limits, which means that everyone can participate and that there can be a substantial difference in the physique of the fighters, something we’ve discussed at the beginning of this article.

Indeed, that could lead to unfair situations, but if you know the rules beforehand and accept them, the issue is a bit clearer. 

UFC has had two openweight competitions, with just one being active. The now-defunct Superfight Championship was held only twice, in 1995 and 1996, and was envisioned as a tournament determining the ultimate UFC champion.

Ken Shamrock won the first edition, while his challenger from 1995, Dan Severn, became the tournament’s king and final winner. 

The UFC tournaments have been held irregularly since 1999 (until then, they had an annual event, sometimes held more than once a year), from which moment only two tournaments were held – one in 2003 and the most recent in 2012.

These tournaments were initially openweight but have been associated with weight divisions since the UFC 12 edition in 1997.

Of course, I will bring you a list of all of them and the winners in the table below:

Tournament Date Division Winner
UFC 1 November 12, 1993 None Royce Gracie (BRA)
UFC 2 March 11, 1994 None Royce Gracie (BRA)
UFC 3 September 9, 1994 None Steve Jennum (USA)
UFC 4 December 16, 1994 None Royce Gracie (BRA)
UFC 5 April 7, 1995 None Dan Severn (USA)
UFC 6 July 14, 1995 None Oleg Taktarov (RUS)
UFC 7 September 8, 1995 None Marco Ruas (BRA)
The Ultimate Ultimate December 16, 1995 None Dan Severn (USA)
UFC 8 February 16, 1996 None Don Frye (USA)
UFC 10 July 20, 1996 None Mark Coleman (USA)
UFC 11 September 20, 1996 None Mark Coleman (USA)
The Ultimate Ultimate 2 December 7, 1996 None Don Fyre (USA)
UFC 12 February 7, 1997 Heavyweight Vitor Belfort (BRA)
UFC 12 February 7, 1997 Lightweight Jerry Bohlander (USA)
UFC 13 May 30, 1997 Heavyweight Randy Couture (USA)
UFC 13 May 30, 1997 Lightweight Guy Mezger (USA)
UFC 14 July 27, 1997 Heavyweight Mark Kerr (USA)
UFC 14 July 27, 1997 Lightweight Kevin Jackson (USA)
UFC 15 October 17, 1997 Heavyweight Mark Kerr (USA)
Ultimate Japan December 21, 1997 Heavyweight Kazushi Sakuraba (JAP)
UFC 16 March 13, 1998 Lightweight Pat Miletich (USA)
UFC 17 May 15, 1998 Middleweight Dan Henderson (USA)
UFC 23 November 19, 1999 Middleweight Kenichi Yamamoto (JAP)
UFC 39 February 28, 2003 Lightweight BJ Penn (USA) / Caol Uno (JAP) – draw
UFC 41 February 28, 2003 Lightweight BJ Penn (USA) / Caol Uno (JAP) – draw
UFC on FX September 22, 2012 Flyweight Demetrious Johnson (USA)
UFC on FX 2 September 22, 2012 Flyweight Demetrious Johnson (USA)
UFC 152 September 22, 2012 Flyweight Demetrious Johnson (USA)

What Is the Weigh-In Policy in UFC?

Neither fighter must weigh more than the upper limit of their respective division at the weigh-ins.

For non-title bouts, you can come in one pound heavier at the weigh-ins. This mostly happens in fight night events, where the Octagon warriors mostly compete in the bouts where the belt is not on the line.

When the division strap is on the line, missing weight class happens more often, as zero-tolerance exists. So, technically, when you meet your opponent for a lightweight title fight, you mustn’t weigh above 155 pounds (upper weight limit). Even 155.1 pounds won’t be tolerated in lightweight title bouts.

Conversely, there is also “a minimum weight” rule. For example, the fighter is ineligible for light heavyweight combat if he doesn’t weigh at least 185.1 lbs (bottom limit).

What Happens if A UFC Fighter Misses Weight?

If a fighter ‘misses weight’ for a title fight, they will not be eligible to win the UFC belt being fought over (even if they win).

On top of that, a fighter that missed the weight will have to give a 20% (or more) of the fight purse to the opponent.

What About Weight Cutting In The UFC?

As the subject of weight cutting in the UFC (and other combat sports) is complex, I have written an article explaining how UFC fighters cut weight in depth.

The List Of UFC Weight Class Champions And Latest Changes

UFC is a dynamic sport where title bouts occur almost every month. This part of the article will guide you through the world of division champions in the UFC.

UFC weight classes, way of martial arts

Many MMA fighters wore the belt throughout their careers. While legends like Jose Aldo or Jon Jones remain remembered in UFC history forever, the current champion usually doesn’t get too much attention.

We will go through the world of both current male and female competitors. One more info – UFC title bouts don’t happen at fight night events.

Men’s UFC Weight Divisions

The reigning defending UFC flyweight division king is Brandon Moreno, who outworked Deiveson Figueiredo for a TKO (doctor stoppage) win at the UFC 283. In his next fight, he might square off against Alexandre Pantoja or Kai-Kara France.

UFC bantamweight champion (135 lb 61.2 kg) is Aljamain Sterling, who earned the strap with a lovely UFC 280 TKO win over TJ Dillashaw. In his next fight, Aljo is set to defend the belt against Henry Cejudo at UFC 288. This is by far the most stacked division in mixed martial arts – Merab Dvalishvili, Sean O’Malley, and Petr Yan are significant belt threats to the bantamweight champion.

The undisputed featherweight champion (145 lb 65.8 kg) is Alexander Volkanovski. Still, it is a bit complicated here, as Yair Rodriguez is an interim featherweight champion thanks to his win over Josh Emmett. The next logical move would be Yair vs. Volkanovski. The greatest legend of the featherweight division is Jose Aldo, who won the belt in title bouts 11 times.

The lightweight champion is Islam Makhachev, who defended his strap following his very close decision win over Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284.

The welterweight division champion is Leon Edwards. “Rocky” turned the lights out on Kamaru Usman at the UFC 278 via fifth-round TKO, then defended the strap in front of his home crowd at the UFC 286. The welterweight champion from England should have the next fight against Colby Covington. If that fight comes to fruition, we might have a new welterweight champion. Anything is possible.

Alex Pereira is the new UFC middleweight champion. Israel Adesanya ruled the middleweight division for a long time, but the Brazilian striker knocked him out cold at the UFC 281.

The most complicated situation used to be in the UFC light heavyweight division. The former light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka vacated the belt due to his shoulder injury, then UFC set Magomed Ankalaev vs. Jan Blachowicz, which ended in a draw. Dana White then set Jamahal Hill vs. Glover Teixeira for the UFC 283, where Hill won unanimously. He’s the current UFC light heavyweight champion.

Surprisingly, the former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones did the unthinkable and won the belt in the heavyweight division. After a very long lay-off, Jones choked out the former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane with a nasty guillotine choke from the cage seated position to win the belt. Interestingly, Jones is way under the upper weight limit – he weighed only 248 lb at the weigh-ins!

Here are the current belt owners in UFC weight divisions:

  • Strawweight – Weili Zhang;
  • Female flyweight – Alexa Grasso;
  • Female bantamweight – Amanda Nunes;
  • Female featherweight – Amanda Nunes;
  • Male flyweight – Brandon Moreno;
  • Male bantamweight – Aljamain Sterling;
  • Male featherweight – Alexander Volkanovski;
  • Lightweight – Islam Makhachev;
  • Welterweight – Leon Edwards;
  • Middleweight – Alex Pereira;
  • Light heavyweight – Jamahal Hill;
  • Heavyweight – Jon Jones.

Female’s UFC Weight Divisions

There are only four weight classes in the women’s MMA roster, but there are the same rules for the title and non-title bouts – no tolerance for title combats or one pound over the limit for non-title bouts.

The first UFC women’s division is strawweight. The current strawweight champion is Weili Zhang, who scored a dominant rear-naked choke win over the former queen Carla Esparza at UFC 281 to reclaim the belt.

We’ve seen some changes at 125, as Valentina Shevchenko’s title reign is over. The new flyweight champion is Alexa Grasso, who finished the dangerous Muay Thai striker with a rear-naked choke in the 4th round of their UFC 285 match.

We’ve seen drama in the 135-pound women’s division, as Juliana Pena surprisingly destroyed Amanda Nunes with a flurry of punches and finished the fight via rear-naked choke to take the strap at UFC 269. Yet, her first title defense didn’t go well, as Nunes avenged the loss and reclaimed the title at UFC 277 thanks to a dominant decision victory.

There haven’t been changes at the top of the UFC 145-pound female division. The reigning defending champion is Amanda Nunes. Yeah, the Brazilian striker holds the belt in two weight classes.

ufc weight divisions and the champions of all the weight classes

Interesting Numbers And Statistics About UFC Weight Classes

165-Pound Weight Division In The UFC – The Future?

There were a lot of talks recently that UFC will introduce a new weight class with 165 pounds limit.

The reason is that the difference between lightweight (155 pounds) and welterweight (170 pounds) is “too big.” Some fighters are too big for 155 pounds limit but also too small compared to others in the 170-pound division.

The immense talent pool of UFC’s lightweight and welterweight divisions favors making a new 165-pound weight division. Some fighters that could fit here are Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Colby Covington, Nate Diaz, Gilbert Burns, and others.

As per Dana White, UFC has no plans to open this new weight class. [1]

Frequently Asked Questions about UFC Weight Classes

How many weight classes are there in UFC for men and women?

There are eight weight classes for men and four weight classes for women in the UFC.

If a fighter misses weight for a title fight, they will not be eligible to win the UFC belt being fought over (even if they win). Furthermore, they will have to give a 20% (or more) of their fight purse to their opponent.

The primary purpose of UFC weight classes is to equalize the playing field, allowing relatively similar opponents to face each other without having a clear-cut advantage.

Presently, the UFC recognizes eight weight classes for men and four weight classes for women. The organization has evolved over time to accommodate more weight divisions, with new categories introduced as the sport has grown in popularity and attracted a broader range of competitors. Historically, the first-ever weight division in UFC was the Heavyweight division, founded in 1997. Since then, more classes have been added, such as Bantamweight and Featherweight in 2010 and Flyweight in 2012. The women’s UFC weight classes were introduced later, with the Women’s Bantamweight Division established in 2012 and the most recent divisions, Women’s Featherweight and Women’s Flyweight added to the roster in 2017.

Weight cutting in the UFC is a complex and sometimes controversial aspect. Fighters often attempt to gain an advantage over their opponents by losing a significant amount of weight shortly before the weigh-in, allowing them to compete in a lower-weight class. While this practice can provide a competitive edge, it may also negatively affect a fighter’s performance, as extreme weight cutting can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and reduced strength. As a result, the UFC has implemented rules and regulations to mitigate excessive weight cutting and maintain the overall health and safety of fighters across all their weight divisions.

As the sport of MMA continues to evolve, there are ongoing discussions around the potential introduction of new UFC weight classes. One such example is the debate surrounding the creation of a 165-pound weight class. This proposed division aims to bridge the gap between the lightweight (155 pounds) and welterweight (170 pounds) divisions, which some argue is too large. Introducing a new weight class in this range, it would accommodate fighters who may be too large for the lightweight division but too small for welterweight. Although there is considerable interest and support for this idea, UFC president Dana White has stated that there are no plans to open a new 165-pound weight class. However, as the sport continues to grow and change, it is possible that new weight classes may be introduced or existing ones modified to accommodate shifting dynamics within the world of MMA.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
MMA Gear - Wayofmartialarts

MMA Gear Essentials: Must-Have Equipment for Every Fighter

Are you ready to embark on self-discovery and physical transformation through mixed martial arts? As a hero in the making, you know that every great adventure requires the right gear, and MMA is no exception. Whether drawn to the striking arts or grappling disciplines, you’ll need essential tools to protect yourself and maximize your training sessions.

But with so many options, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start. That’s why we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll break down the essential MMA gear you need to begin your training journey and provide insights on why each piece is crucial and how to use them correctly.

As you take your first steps towards becoming a skilled fighter, remember that the right equipment can make all the difference. From gloves to shin guards, mouthguards to headgear, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know to get started on your path to greatness. So let’s dive in and discover the must-have gear for any beginner in the world of MMA.

Our Best MMA Gear Reviews

Protect Your Hands and Strengthen Your Strikes: The Importance of Gloves in MMA

As a beginner in mixed martial arts, one of the first pieces of gear you’ll need is a pair of boxing gloves. These gloves protect your hands and minimize the impact on your training partner during striking practice.

So what exactly are boxing gloves? They are padded gloves that cover your entire hand and wrist, allowing you to forcefully deliver punches without injuring your hands. They also protect your sparring partner from facial injuries that could result from bare-knuckle strikes. Additionally, using boxing gloves in training can help to strengthen your strikes.

Various boxing gloves, including those designed for sparring, training, and competition, are available. Depending on the weight class of the user, boxing gloves may weigh between 10oz and 16oz. However, smaller gloves ranging from 4oz to 8oz are typically used in MMA competitions. For beginners, a 16oz glove is recommended for added protection and to help build arm and shoulder strength.

When choosing boxing gloves, numerous options are available from various brands and designs. As a general rule, higher-priced gloves made of leather tend to offer better protection and durability than those made from synthetic materials like vinyl. Ultimately, investing in a quality pair of boxing gloves will pay off in the long run, providing you with the protection and performance you need to excel in MMA.

Kick with Confidence: Why Shin Guards are Essential MMA Gear for Beginners

If you’re serious about your mixed martial arts training, a reliable pair of shin guards is a must-have piece of gear. Designed to protect your lower legs and feet during sparring and training, shin guards are critical in preventing injuries and allowing you to focus on perfecting your techniques.

So what exactly is a shin guard? Simply put, it’s a piece of equipment designed to cover your shins and feet and absorb the impact of strikes during training. Without proper protection, your shins and feet are vulnerable to injury, which can sideline you from training for extended periods.

There are a variety of factors to take into account when selecting the appropriate shin guards. For MMA training, selecting a shin guard that fits properly and provides adequate leg coverage is essential. Quality and durability are also crucial, as you’ll want a pair of shin guards that can withstand the rigors of regular training sessions. Premium leather shin guards are often a good investment for those planning to train long-term.

Another crucial consideration when selecting shin guards is their protection for the top of your foot. This area contains smaller, softer bones that are particularly susceptible to injury, so make sure your shin guards provide ample padding and flexibility to minimize the risk of harm.

Investing in a quality pair of shin guards can make all the difference in your MMA training journey. With the right gear, you can kick confidently, protect yourself from injuries, and keep pushing yourself toward your goals.

Protect Your Most Vital Asset: The Importance of Head Gear in MMA Training

Regarding mixed martial arts, there’s no denying that your head is one of your most vital assets. Investing in a high-quality head guard is essential for any serious MMA athlete. Suitable headgear protects you from superficial injuries to the face and head and allows you to spar harder and more often with reduced risk of head injuries.

The headgear is protective equipment made from materials like high-density foam that absorbs impact and is designed to cover your head. While headgear is not worn during MMA competitions, it is strongly recommended for sparring and training, especially for striking-focused exercises with a higher risk of head injuries.

The benefits of headgear are numerous. They can help prevent injuries like broken noses, cuts to the eyebrows, and concussions and reduce the impact of accidental headbutts or eardrum damage. There are several essential aspects to remember when selecting headgear for MMA training. First, ensure you get the right size for a perfect fit without affecting your focus or line of sight. Additionally, consider the weight-to-size ratio, as a lighter head guard will be more comfortable and feel like a natural extension of your body.

Visibility is also crucial, as you need to ensure that the opening of your eyes does not obstruct your peripheral vision. Lastly, check the protection rating of your headgear, ensuring that it provides comprehensive protection not just for the front but also for the sides and rear of your head.

In MMA, your head is critical to your overall safety and success. By investing in high-quality headgear, you can train with confidence and peace of mind, knowing you’re taking the necessary steps to protect yourself from harm.

Protect Your Pearly Whites: Why a Mouth Guard is Essential MMA Gear

Protecting your teeth and gums is crucial in the fast-paced world of mixed martial arts. That’s why a high-quality mouthguard is essential gear for fighters at all levels, whether you’re training or competing. Designed to minimize dental fractures, jaw injuries, and head trauma from strikes to the face, a mouth guard is a simple but highly effective way to reduce the risk of injury and keep you in the game.

So, what exactly is a mouthguard? It’s a protective device made of a thermoplastic material that covers your teeth and gums, providing a barrier between your delicate mouth tissues and the hard-hitting strikes that are a fundamental part of MMA. A well-made mouth guard can mold itself to the unique shape of your mouth for a personalized fit that maximizes both comfort and protection.

In top MMA organizations like the UFC, mouthguards are mandatory for all fighters during competition. But even during training, a mouthguard can be a game-changer, protecting you from costly and painful injuries like broken teeth that can derail your progress and sideline you from the sport you love.

There are several important factors to consider when selecting the right mouthguard. First and foremost, make sure you get the right fit to ensure both comfort and safety. Look for a mouth guard that is impact tested, approved, and certified to CE standards. Finally, while style and design are essential, the most critical consideration should always be protected. Investing in a high-quality mouthguard lets, you train and compete confidently, knowing you’re taking the necessary steps to safeguard your oral health and overall well-being.

Protect Your Hands and Amplify Your Strikes: The Versatility of MMA Gloves in Mixed Martial Arts

MMA gloves are a vital piece of fight gear for any serious mixed martial arts athlete. Designed to protect your hands and amplify your strikes, these gloves can be used in various styles of MMA, from grappling to striking. But what exactly are they, and why are they essential for success in this dynamic and demanding sport?

Put, MMA gloves or grappling gloves are smaller and lighter in weight than traditional boxing gloves, with an opening that exposes the fingers for greater flexibility and maneuverability during grappling and clinch fighting. There are two primary types of MMA gloves: sparring gloves, which feature more padding and weigh around 7oz, and competition gloves, which are lighter and have little padding, typically weighing in at 4oz-6oz.

In many MMA organizations, wearing gloves during competition is mandatory. However, gloves are even more critical during training, where they protect your hands during different fighting styles, minimize the risk of injury, and help amplify the impact of your strikes. Some critics argue that padded gloves in MMA may threaten fighters, as they allow more brutal hits to the head without damaging the face or hands.

When choosing MMA gloves for training, a larger grappling glove weighing around 7oz is essential. This will allow for a looser fit if you wear hand wraps, providing protection and flexibility. Additionally, investing in high-quality leather gloves is always wise for those planning to train in MMA long-term, as they offer superior durability and longevity.

Every advantage counts in mixed martial arts’ fast-paced and physically demanding world. Using suitable MMA gloves and incorporating them into your training regimen can enhance your performance, protect yourself from injury, and achieve your goals in this exciting and challenging sport.

MMA Shorts: Unrestricted Movement and Peak Performance for Any Fighter

MMA shorts are not just for professional mixed martial artists – they’re an essential part of any athlete’s wardrobe, whether you’re a seasoned fighter or just starting. Designed to provide unrestricted movement and unparalleled comfort during striking while maintaining peak performance on the mats, these shorts are a must-have for anyone serious about MMA training.

There are three primary types, each with unique benefits and features. First, there are the traditional board-type MMA K1 shorts, also known as “MMA grappling shorts.” These shorts feature a longer leg length and a velcro and drawstring closure for superior hold at the waist. They’re ideal for all mixed martial arts styles, providing ample stretch during striking while safeguarding the legs from scratches during a scrap.

Next are the vale tudo style compression shorts, designed to provide maximum flexibility and unrestricted movement during combat. However, these shorts can’t be worn independently and require a groin guard for complete protection.

Finally, there are hybrid MMA shorts, an evolution of both the board short and vale tudo styles. These shorts come in various designs and cuts, with the Engage MMA hybrid shorts leading the pack in performance, comfort, and style. With a shorter leg length, higher reinforced leg slits, and lightweight materials that eliminate irritation from velcro, these shorts are the ultimate choice for severe MMA athletes.

Compression Rash Guards: More Than Just a Garment

Compression rash guards are more than just a garment – they’re an essential piece of MMA gear that offers numerous benefits to athletes of all levels. Designed to protect the skin from cuts and abrasions during grappling sessions, these garments are manufactured using a combination of polyester, spandex, and other elastic microfibre materials, providing a tight fit that wicks away sweat and evaporates moisture.

In addition to their protective properties, compression rash guards have been shown to offer a range of health benefits. By improving recovery and reducing the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) rate, these garments can help athletes train harder and longer, with less downtime between sessions. They also help reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a potentially life-threatening condition caused by blood clots in the legs.

Compression rash guards are trendy in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (No Gi), where they’re often used to identify different skill levels through belt grading incorporated into competition-graded rash guards. These garments come in various styles, including long and short-sleeve tops, leggings, tights, and shorts, and are available in multiple colors and designs to suit any athlete’s preferences.

Groin Guards: Protecting Your Family Jewels

Let’s face it – no one wants to get hit in the family jewels. That’s why the groin guard, also known as the groin protector or groin cup, is essential training equipment for mixed martial arts. The groin guard is mandatory equipment for amateur and professional combat sports, designed to protect your sensitive areas in the lower body.

While blows to the groin are prohibited in competition, accidents can happen during training. All it takes is one stray knee or errant kick, and you could be in severe pain with long-term damage. That’s why it’s best to wear a groin guard during training, so you can get used to wearing it if you’re planning to compete.

A groin guard is a sturdy material molded into a shape that covers the genital areas, protecting them from severe injuries during striking or sparring. While wearing a groin guard doesn’t give you 100% protection, it significantly lessens the damage, making it an essential piece of MMA gear for anyone serious about their training and development.

Hand wraps: The Unsung Hero of MMA Gear

Hand wraps may not be the flashiest piece of MMA gear, but they’re essential for anyone serious about their training. Designed to protect your hands and wrists during striking, hand wraps provide added support and stability to help prevent injuries and increase your punching power.

Hand wraps are cloth strips around your hands and wrists, providing extra support to your bones and tendons. By distributing the force of a punch across a wider area, hand wraps help to prevent injuries like sprains, fractures, and other long-term damage.

But that’s not all – hand wraps also help to keep your gloves in place, preventing them from slipping or sliding around during training or competition. They absorb sweat and moisture, preventing your gloves from becoming too damp and slippery.

Gear Up for Your MMA Training: The Essential Elbow Pads, Knee Pads, and Focus Pads

While the essential MMA gear we’ve already discussed is critical for anyone starting in mixed martial arts, a few other pieces of equipment can be helpful in certain situations. Elbow and knee pads are handy for fighters with many grappling or takedown techniques, as they can help protect these vulnerable joints from injury. These pads can be made of neoprene or foam and are designed to fit snugly over the joint without inhibiting movement.

Similarly, focus pads can be a valuable tool for improving striking accuracy and technique. These pads are usually handheld by a training partner or coach, who can move them around to provide a target for strikes. This helps fighters work on their timing, precision, and power while building up their endurance and stamina.

While not strictly necessary for all MMA practitioners, these pieces of gear can be helpful for those who want to take their training to the next level or prepare for specific types of competition.

MMA Gear Maintenance: How to Keep Your Gear in Top Condition

MMA Gloves

To keep your MMA gloves in good condition, it is essential to maintain them regularly. After every training session, you can start by wiping them down with a damp cloth to remove sweat and dirt. Allow them to air dry in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposing your gloves to direct sunlight or heat, which can damage the material.

If your gloves smell, use a deodorizing spray or sprinkle baking soda inside them to absorb any odors. Some gloves come with removable inserts that you can wash separately in cold water and air dry.

It is also crucial to check your gloves for any signs of wear and tear, such as ripped seams or loose padding. If you notice any damage, it is best to replace them immediately to avoid injury during training or competition.

By following these simple maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your MMA gloves and ensure they remain in excellent condition for your training sessions.

Shin guards

After each use, wash your shin guards with a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dirt or sweat. Avoid using harsh detergents that can damage the material. Hang them to dry in a well-ventilated area, and never leave them in a damp environment. Storing them in a breathable bag or container can help prevent any odors from developing. Make sure to check the straps and padding regularly and replace them if they become worn out or damaged.


To keep your headgear in top condition, it’s essential to clean it regularly with a damp cloth and mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can cause damage to the padding or the outer shell. After cleaning, let it air dry completely before storing it in a cool and dry place. Inspect the chin strap, ear protection, and padding regularly, and replace any damaged or worn-out parts immediately.

Mouth guard

After every use, rinse your mouth guard with cold water and then soak it in a mixture of water and mouthwash for a few minutes. Avoid using hot water, which can cause the mouth guard to warp. Let it air dry completely before storing it in a clean and dry container. Inspect it regularly for any signs of wear and tear, and replace it every six months or as the manufacturer recommends.

At Way of Martial Arts, we understand the importance of having the best gear for your MMA training. We have covered the essential MMA gear for beginners, including boxing gloves, shin guards, headgear, mouth guards, MMA gloves, compression rash guards, groin guards, and elbow, knee, and focus pads. We believe every piece of equipment is essential to ensure safety, comfort, and performance during training.

Our experts have put together various “best of” reviews for all types of MMA gear, including product-specific reviews to help you make informed decisions when purchasing your equipment. We understand that the quality of your gear can make a significant difference in your performance and safety, and that’s why we have taken the time to review and test the best MMA gear on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions About MMA Gear

What is the purpose of wearing MMA gloves?

The purpose of wearing MMA gloves is to protect the hands when striking and to allow for grappling maneuvers with exposed fingers.

A mouth guard is essential for MMA fighters as it minimizes dental fractures, jaw injuries, and head trauma from strikes to the face.

Compression rash guards are garments worn tightly to the skin that protects the skin from cuts or abrasions during grappling sessions. They also provide extra benefits such as improved recovery, reduced muscle soreness, and reduced Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) risk.

Sparring MMA gloves have more padding weighing around 7oz, while competition MMA gloves have little padding and weigh around 4oz-6oz. Competition gloves are used in MMA fights, while sparring gloves are used in training to reduce the risk of injury.

All MMA equipment is vital in its way, but the essential equipment to buy is the mouthguard. It protects the teeth, jaw, and head from impact and can prevent expensive visits to the dentist. In addition, it is mandatory in most MMA competitions.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
Muay Thai fighters training together - Way of Martial Arts

Muay Thai Equipment for Every Level: Our Expert Guide for the Perfect Gear

You’re making a horrible mistake if you think you can only step inside the squared ring and boost your Muay Thai training with a sparring partner or via shadowboxing. Thai boxing is a complex martial art, and you’ll need a lot of Muay Thai training gear, especially when you decide to become the best.

Muay Thai is one martial art with the most significant number of legal moves. They call it “The Science of Eight Limbs” because you can get knee, elbow, punch, and kick your opponent. The ground game is prohibited, but professional fighters are ready to sacrifice everything to become the best.

This article will focus on all kinds of Muay Thai equipment that will help you put your performance to the next level in your own Muay Thai gym! Let’s get ready to rumble!

Muay Thai Equipment You Must Have For Gym Training

kickboxer, young woman, kickboxing

Muay Thai training gear is valuable due to many reasons, and we will focus on the most important ones:

  • It protects the specific areas of your body from injuries – shin guards, Muay Thai boxing gloves, and mouthguards… I could count the pieces of equipment all day long, your combat sports career would end up quickly because of the lack of added protection, plus you could harm your sparring partner;

  • Muay Thai training gear creates the realistic feeling of the fight – for example, you can train uppercut or overhand accuracy on a heavy angled bag;

  • Thai training gear helps you boost your cardio or work on a specific aspect of the game – for example, you can kick pads for two three-minute rounds or train powerful leg kicks on banana-shaped heavy bags.

Finally, choosing the proper piece of Muay Thai training gear might be rocket science, especially when you wear a critical size. For example, I’ve seen many fighters who can’t decide between size L and XL Muay Thai gloves because of the size of their hands. Of course, you should pick a bigger size because of the hand wraps.

We will try to reveal as many Muay Thai gear secrets as possible in this article. Please read carefully; I assure you that you will never make a mistake again. The great choice of Muay Thai fight gear will help you progress faster and get better at sparring sessions. This is not a joke! Why don’t you create your version of Thailand in your basement, garage, or living room?

Heavy Bag

Technically, heavy bags are designed for Muay Thai training, and every single piece of training gear you put on a heavy bag hanger could help you boost your performance. But wait, slow down now! I will describe the details of the technical Muay Thai training equipment so you can choose the best striking bag according to your needs and skill sets!

You must consider the bag’s fill and, of course, the shape of your Muay Thai training gear.

Let me ask you a question – can your Muay Thai heavy bags create iron shins? What is it made of – leather, synthetic, vinyl, or plastic? Because the leather bag is the roughest material, and you’ll get tougher and more challenging as you strike with or without Thai gloves.

Is the following important parameter filled with sand, foam/stuffing, water, gel, fabric/cloth?

If you want the best Muay Thai equipment for hard hits, I suggest a classic sand-filled one. Again, if you’d like more accuracy and swinging when hit with boxing gloves, the water-filled one will do the job for you. That’s why there are tons of Thai gear in the market – everybody wants to follow his goals!

Muay Thai equipment - heavy bad -

A banana-shaped bag is more prolonged and will help you push your low kicks to the next level, while classic-style Muay Thai heavy bags swing more, and your strikes will be more powerful.

These training gear are designed to boost the power of your strikes. You might be slower with a banana-shaped bag, but when you hit your sparring partner’s leg, he’ll start limping.

Developing the rhythm while hitting is very important. That’s why heavy bags can simulate your partners. You can cut angles, control the space, and land short or long-range strikes, leading to the best performance of your life. Try it out with your training partner; you’ll see what I am talking about!

More osteoblasts will migrate to your soft tissue on the shins, so you’ll develop power while landing hard strikes. Super-hard bones are another layer of extra protection in the match. You’ll last longer against all foes inside the squared ring, even without shin guards. You can turn pro quickly when you strengthen your shins on time.

I’d advise you to spend a few extra bucks on a high-level piece of Muay Thai training gear, which will help you progress faster. Replacing the incorrect Thai gear costs time and money.

For example, a bag filled with cloth/fabric will last longer than one filled with sand, but sand leads to more brutal punches and sounds like an excellent solution for the world of mixed martial arts, where you battle with 6-ounce gloves. Your intentions matter. Please take this note seriously!

My favorite picks in the market are Outslayer, Fairtex, Everlast, Ringside, RDX, and Combat Sports. They have a lot of high-quality models, but I am always giving an advantage to banana-shaped training equipment because it leads to more potent inside and outside low kicks and the dangerous calf kicks from a half distance (if you plan to compete in mixed martial arts).


You will probably ask, “can I use a boxing glove for a Muay Thai training session” right? The true answer is yes, but only if you plan to work on the uppercut bag, teardrop, or classic-style models! Muay Thai and boxing are different types of combat sports. Thai boxing allows leg kicks and more technical punches, so you must adjust.

First, let me ask you a question – are you looking for a pair of Thai boxing gloves for competition, home workouts, sparring partner drills, clinching, or hard strikes? I know this is tough to answer, but before you purchase, make sure you know your intentions!

Expensive models offer some advantages over cheaper ones. Let’s list them now:

  • More excellent choice of designs and colors;

  • Better knuckle protection;

  • Better durability and competition performance;

  • Additional layers of protection when you’re covering up to defend from your sparring partner or when you land big bombs;

  • Shorter break-in period;

  • Better breathability – believe me, you don’t want to put a newspaper into your Muay Thai boxing gloves every two weeks. The odor can be so annoying and irritant.

Now you will say that I am super-complicated, but sorry, I need to ask you a few more questions.

Are you a pressure fighter who enjoys toe-to-toe brawls or a tactical specialist?

Pressure fighters take more damage in the sparring, so they should stick to thicker models in their training sessions.

Do you like angling and lateral moves or keeping the central line and cutting the cage/squared ring?

Fighters with limited skillset should take Muay Thai gloves with better protection for the index and middle fingers. In comparison, the masters of tricky game plans should give the advantage to the equipment with better protection for the lateral areas of the fist.

Do you prefer straight or wide punches?

You can throw straight shots with 8 oz punches all day long, and you’ll hardly hurt yourself during sparring. But try landing weaving overhand with tiny pieces of training gear, and you’ll end up in an emergency after a few training sessions.

Are you a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced practitioner/competitor?

Advanced fighters know their criteria, while beginners can start their Muay Thai sessions with cheaper models.

Do you like to simulate realistic conditions? How many sparring sessions do you have per week/month?

Well, if you have at least one sparring session per week, I kindly advise you to purchase at least two pairs of Muay Thai gloves – one for uppercut or banana-shaped bag workouts and another for one to spar with your training partner.

My favorite picks in the market are Cleto Reyes, Hayabusa, and Winning for maximized layers of protection and injury prevention. At the same time, Fairtex works amazingly for clinching, sparring, and simulating realistic conditions. I’d always pay more for extra protection and better Muay Thai gear because giving money to doctors for surgeries costs way more.

Muay Thai Shorts

Muay Thai shorts are traditional training equipment for sparring sessions, bag workouts, and footwork/conditioning drills. It is a light item that helps you throw kicks and knees with style and make you look much better.

muay thai equipment - shorts

I’d suggest you buy at least a few pairs of Muay Thai shorts, especially if you plan to compete. Here are some other things that you should take into consideration:

  • It’d be awesome if you can purchase an item from Thailand, as the quality has to rock.

  • Pay attention to the brand. I am a fan of Yokkao, but Fairtex, Inside Style, Booster Fight Gear, and Top King are also great models of Muay Thai shorts.

  • I recommend you buy a pair of Muay Thai shorts made of satin or nylon for maximum quality. Of course, Muay Thai shorts are made of cotton, microfiber, or polyester. The nylon model is easier for fast drying but is heavily affected by sweat. Satin Muay Thai shorts are built to last.

  • Design is your personal choice. Do you like retro, simple, or new-era Muay Thai shorts? Answer that question, and you will know which is your perfect pair!

  • Price limits your power, but you can buy solid pair of Muay Thai shorts for fewer dollars. Just look for a proper fit, and the job is done.

Mouth Guard

I assume you will ask if you should choose between a boil-and-bite mouthguard or visiting a dentist and investing in a custom model that adjusts to the shape of your teeth.

Listen, boil and the bite is cheaper, but it might not shape properly. If it falls out of your mouth during the fight, it could lead to numerous problems.

I am a big fan of a custom-made gum shield. It costs more money, but a good mouth guard will protect your teeth well. Your jaw might snap, but your teeth won’t if the dentist does his job properly. The best mouthguard is one made by a professional.

Plus, boil and bite mouthguard doesn’t save you money, as fixing your teeth after hard sparring costs tons. That’s a myth!

Hand Wraps

Any pair of hand wraps will help you protect your arms during bag or pad work. You can mostly choose between 3.5 and 4.5-meter-long ones. I recommend you a longer pair of hand wraps because of extra protection.

Wrist support matters, especially when you land hooks, uppercuts, or overhands. Longer hand wraps lead to better wrist support, decreasing injury chances.

Shin Guards

The great Muay Thai shin guards protect your legs from additional damage after hard sparring. I am a big fan of Fairtex and Top King shin guards, but any model could help your shins survive the dangerous shin-to-shin collisions.

Again, professionals only spar with Muay Thai shin guards. You must strengthen your bones, so hit bags or blunt objects without your Muay Thai gear. It will help you survive professional combat.

Comfortable Clothes

The comfortable t-shirt with Muay Thai shorts and boxers sounds like a great choice for your first Muay Thai session at home or in the dojo. Your t-shirt or trousers shouldn’t be too tight as they will limit your ability to kick or knee.

Extra Muay Thai Training Gear

I’d also recommend you some additional pieces of equipment. A good gym bag helps if you keep your training items stored or when you travel to your dojo.

The greatest piece of advice is to purchase one gym bag big enough to pack one pair of boxing gloves, one pair of Thai gloves, ankle guards, hand wraps, Muay Thai shorts, shin guards, a groin guard, and a mouthpiece. You ALWAYS NEED more protection in the training session!

Every dojo should have head gear and belly pads for a high-level workout session. You’ll need trainers or good and educated sparring teammates for pad work.


When you hurt yourself, the first line of defense is cream (unless you suffered a nasty injury). I like Bio Freeze, but any cream that cools you down works well. It is pretty helpful in gyms.

Skipping Ropes

Skip rope to boost your cardio and footwork and put them to the next level. If you want to make the exercise harder, put your hand wraps, groin guard, ankle pads, and shin guards on, it will lead to more mistakes, but it’ll turn you into a beast inside the ring.

Timer For Rounds

Timers don’t cost much on eBay or Amazon, and you don’t want to turn your stopwatch on and off every time. If you think this is an extra expense, feel free to download the app for your phone, there are tons of them online. It works for jiu-jitsu or other martial arts too. 🙂


It helps you wipe the sweat during breaks, especially if you train in a hot state like Florida or Thailand. Put one towel in your gym bag.

How To Train Muay Thai At Home With No Gear?

I will quote the UFC fighter Yoel Romero – “when you believe, everything is possible.” I’ll be honest – you can work on some aspects of the Muay Thai game without a training partner, but you can’t get into the spirit of things without sparring. Yet, I will describe your options.

Shadow Boxing

Please install a set of mirrors and let your creativity work. There is only one rule – look at yourself in the mirror while working and correct your mistakes. There are tons of videos online. 🙂

Strength Training

You can work core drills on the mats, but if you’d like to put it to the next level, think of buying a power tower or a Smith machine.

Also, you can purchase medicine and Swiss balls for the beginning of your sport strength voyage. You can even pack them in your gym bag. 🙂

Yoga & Stretches

Sometimes you’ll have to stretch and fish for the full range of motion, especially during Brazilian kicks or any kick that targets the opponent’s head.

I advise you to hold the position for at least 20 seconds to create plastic muscle changes. It will skyrocket the levels of your flexibility. Your partner can assist too.


Running laps is an old-school method, but you can also try the interval training method or combine short sprints with moderate or light running. These small businesses can put your stamina to a whole new level.

Muay Thai Equipment Frequently Asked Questions

How do you protect your feet in Muay Thai?

Ankle guards can help you protect your feet. But other than that, you can wear shin guards that cover the area of your feet, but it depends on the model. My advice – protect only during sparing sessions.

Of course, you can train powerful punches and elbows. You can’t base your game on kicks and knees only; you’ll get destroyed in the clinch.

Pads can help, but a punching bag is way more important, especially for beginners and intermediates in the sport.

A good pair of shin guards are very important when you spar. Yet, if you’d like to smash pads or hit the bag, forget about a shin guard.

A shin guard is designed to protect, but you must strengthen your bones first. Don’t listen to me and you’ll be out of the game after two or three collisions.

It is simple, just put on ankle pads, and you’re ready to go. That is the best way.

I don’t support wrapping your legs in bandages as it decreases mobility, but this is a free world, if you’d like to try it out, there are tons of tutorials online. 🙂

Rafael campos -
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Rafael Campos

Rafael Campos is the head coach of Aríete, a Brazilian-Kiwi Martial Arts team. He has over 10 years of experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and over 16 years in Muay Thai. Rafael has trained Muay Thai at two of the best gyms in the world, Phuket Fight Club, where Leo Elias taught him, and Manop Gym, where he was trained by Manop himself, trainer of the legendary Saenchai. After 10 years as a trainer in Brazil, he moved to New Zealand, teaching Muay Thai and studying for a master’s degree program in Applied Health Sciences focused on rehabilitating injuries related to Martial Arts and other sports. Our testing and reviewing method.
Karate conditioning, exercesi to condition your body, strenght, and resistance - Way of martial arts

Karate Conditioning Training: A Comprehensive Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Warrior

Karate is one of the most well-known disciplines out of the traditional martial arts that have evolved over the years up to this day and age. In a world where mixed martial arts are taking center stage, it is a relief to see that interest in the old Okinawan art is still strong.

Talking about strength, if you consider yourself a martial artist, you might want to ensure that you support your Karate training sessions with other training methods and programs to improve your technique and physical performance.

Suppose you are interested in improving your body conditioning to make yourself not only a better competitor for sport karate, but even better prepared for an actual fight in self-defense. In that case, you may want to keep reading and take some notes, as we will dive into multiple details that any karate practitioner might want to check out.

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Definition of Karate Conditioning

As we all know, training karate and progressing through the belt ranks usually focuses on working towards proper technique and learning all the Katas in the curriculum.

For those that compete, karate performance leans into the halfway mark between focusing on karate techniques and physical training, as you need to be both strong and fast while keeping your entire body in shape, as muscular tension and breathing in a controlled manner help both in Kata Performance and during sparring.

When it comes to younger students, you can see it being done in any regular karate training session, as a Sensei regularly approaches kids’ conditioning exercises with basic bodyweight training, like the standard push-up variants for some upper body strength, leg raises, and sit-ups for some essential core strength and maybe some squats to add some leg exercises.

This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg; as a Black Belt who actively competed back in the day and trained around other top-level competitors back in the day, I got to see that their conditioning programs went far beyond just training Karate a few hours per week. Still, they had to add in a lot of good sports conditioning sessions, including running, lifting weights, and other different areas, like medicine, ball work, or even swimming.

Karate conditioning exercises: way of martial arts karate 15

Purpose of Karate Conditioning

Karate itself is an excellent method of getting some conditioning going on, as some positions, like the Shiko Dachi (Horse Stance), help develop and improve your leg muscle strength, other techniques focus on the upper body and, well, some of the explosive moments in Kata training could potentially lead towards the development of explosive power and improvements in your muscle groups, for the sole purpose of improving your performance.

However, if you want to boost things further, you might want to make a complete program, and even though this is not Kung Fu, we could take some advice by looking at Bruce Lee and his training regime.

Accordingly, he had a complete exercise program, including aerobic and anaerobic training. He also lifted weights to develop muscle mass and keep himself at what he considered the peak for the human body, as Kung Fu alone wouldn’t cut it.

When it comes to Karate training, we can take a lot from different conditioning programs for multiple disciplines, taking some specific exercises to get the best results for proper sports conditioning.

Benefits of Karate Conditioning

There are multiple benefits that an excellent conditioning program will do for both your competition performance and your everyday life.

I admit I wasn’t in great sKaratehen I started training in Karate early. Still, it all kicked into high gear after I took things seriously and got into a complete training program after I got to the competition scene once I achieved my green belt and continued on my path to my Black Belt, jumping from the push-up and bodyweight routine into a whole new level.

The Strength training was excellent for both physical and aesthetic results. As I went from some light weights to heavier weights and even using a medicine ball, my bone structure improved; I not only develop muscular strength, but the muscle growth allowed my body to avoid injury when I got hit, as it did not only help to apply strength but also protected my structure.

Sports Conditioning forced me to work my cardiovascular performance, so even if I wasn’t a big fan of jumping rope, going for regular morning runs allowed me to improve significantly during sparring sessions as getting used to the pace allowed me to feel like I had more energy during the rounds.

I even trained with a speed bag back in my karate days to improve my striking game, and it was great for both physical improvement and achieving good form on my punches.

Going to jump rope, going for a jog, or doing a long cardio session (yeah, even if you run slowly) improves the work your blood vessels get done. They also give a substantial positive push to most of your internal organs, like your heart, kidneys and adrenal glands, your lungs, and, just as important, your brain.

This cardio workout can be done in multiple ways, from running, cycling, swimming, bag work, a medicine ball workout, grabbing your training partner for extended sessions of light sparring, or even working on a padded striking board.

Strength and Conditioning for Martial Arts Training

Elevate Your Karate Game with Weight Lifting

Weight lifting is a universally used card for most combat disciplines; from the old days up to our modern age, the proper conditioning exercises allow us to develop functional strength, which is required for performance.

When it comes to weights, there are multiple details to look into, as it is not as simple as doing heavy lifts and bench presses to your heart’s content, as strength training is a whole science.

A lot can be done by balancing the number of repetitions and the correct weight to develop muscular endurance. Yes, even rep speed helps get different results according to your goals.

From doing a chest and back day to improving your upper body and upper back strength, there are many benefits to your Kata that you can achieve by working on slowing down repetitions on pulling motions to improve your control of muscular tension.

Upper Body conditioning exercises can be mixed up with some sessions that focus on your core and lower-body sessions, which could include lifting on squats, weighted lunges, and many other options we are about to get into.

Ankle Weights: The Secret Weapon for Explosive Kicks

Ankle weights have been getting a lot of love lately as they were adopted into the training regimes of many martial artists over the years, and I have to add that I even included them in my programs as well.

However, you need to know some details before you begin using them constantly, as they can play out as a double-edged sword if you do not see what you are doing.

Using ankle weights correctly can give you some great benefits, but you need to know how much weight you can handle and what exercises you should and shouldn’t do.

We have likely all seen those scenes in movies and tv where a character is wearing weights on their ankles and wrists to become stronger and faster. Still, it is easy to show some scenes and make these ideas look excellent when you only have to do them for a short period for a set.

In the long run, there are some exercises that you should avoid when using these weights, and they usually include a lot of movements that derive from martial arts.

When people add ankle weights into a training session, you can usually see some exercises like walking, making lunges, and doing one-leg lifts, and if the weight is low, maybe some light jogging can be put in there.

However, it would be best if you were always looking into two details. Impact and Joint Rotation, combined with heavy ankle weights, could result in injury.

If you are using heavy weights for extended periods in your sessions, you better take a complete break from them afterward, as every time you land on your feet, they increase the impact on the steps and could damage your ankles and feet in the long run.

The other thing you should be looking out for is explicitly specific to martial arts, kicks.

When you kick, especially with traditional techniques like in Karate and Tae Kwon Do, you lift the leg and then quickly snap the joint for an immediate impact and then return to your stance; when we look at the motion itself, there is nothing too complicated about it, but once you add in the extra weight into this moves can risk joint damage.

Long story short, correct use of ankle weights for training can do wonders for strength training, but incorrect use can lead to injury, so do not take it lightly.

Unlocking the Power Within: Mechanisms of Body Conditioning for Karate

two karate fighters do body conditioning: way of martial arts karate

We are going to dive into my favorite part of the article, so make sure that you bring out a small notebook, as I am going to dive deep into some things I have learned both from keeping things practical at the Dojo and Gyms, along with what I have learned from years spent in physical activity and sports studies in college.

Our body is great for doing one thing over time: “Adapting.” When we break down every training regime out there, it all goes down to how we push the body into adapting to a workload and then increasing it to a higher level.

I will add a few terms to the mix so you can get used to the idea behind it, but it is pretty simple once you dive into it.

Two Energy systems regulate how and where the body gets its power from; one is called the “Aerobic System,” and the other is the “Anaerobic System,” which breaks down into two methods, Lactic Anaerobic and Alactic Anaerobic method.

Getting those technical terms into more specific details is easy; the Aerobic system is the one that uses oxygen to get energy, and if we go short, it goes down to “cardiovascular work,” which means low-intensity workloads for extended periods.

The Anaerobic System breaks down to the opposite, high-intensity workloads for short periods. It doesn’t require oxygen to break down energy, as it will take power from phosphate compounds stored in muscular tissue.

For those familiar with high-intensity interval training, this kind of workload is focused on improving that energy system, so it will be easier to understand from that point of view.

Getting used to both systems is mandatory for those that want to improve sports performance, as it will improve your resistance to each type of workload; for example, if you improve your anaerobic resistance, you will be able to keep a higher pace during your sparring rounds without feeling such an enormous toll in your body, and improving your aerobic energy system will help your cardiovascular system and the way you breathe during performances, which will help you recover more effectively between rounds.

As previously mentioned, high-intensity interval training is excellent for the anaerobic system, but depending on your focus, you can use different training methods.

For Alactic Anaerobic work, doing one rep lifts with the max possible weight helps, or short bursts of high-intensity work, like a short max speed run, an explosive blast of punches when you hit the bag, and other options of really high-intensity work that goes on for a duration under 30 seconds.

For Lactic Anaerobic work, the intensity is slightly lower. Still, the time frame goes between 30 seconds and under 3 minutes, and it could include your regular weight lifting sessions, a short high-speed run, a medicine ball routine, or even kettlebell sets, or maybe a few burpees to spice things up a little bit.

When it comes to the Aerobic Energy System, it starts working when the workload goes over 5 minutes, but to get huge improvements, you will need to make the session go over 40 minutes.

Going over the 40 minutes mark in your low-intensity cardiovascular workouts will give you performance improvements and keep burning calories for 4 hours after the training is over. (Quick Note, up to this day, I take advantage of this on an almost daily basis)

Crush Your Karate Goals with Cardio Training

Simple Rules for Effective Cardio Training to Boost Your Fighting Endurance

Cardiovascular training in any martial art is a must, as the benefits of a healthy cardiovascular system include making your heart way more efficient at circulating blood throughout your body.

Aerobic endurance is a solid foundation you can build upon with other physical skills and martial arts techniques.

It doesn’t have to be discipline-specific, but you must invest some time into working out this area.

You could be running, jogging, walking, riding bicycles, rowing, swimming, or even dancing, and it would still be an efficient method to improve your cardio.

If you enjoy walking outside, hanging around with other people as you hit the treadmill, or maybe skipping rope in the Dojo, it all works.

Stand Tall with a Standing Punching Bag: The Ultimate Cardio Workout for Karate

Another option comes from boxing, which popularized the standing punching bag. Well, it is valuable to work on your technique and focus on going at it for an extended period without worrying about the bag giving out on you, like your sparring partner’s ribs, after some of your best kicks.

Jokes aside, working on a punching bag will allow you to not only improve your technique and form but also to go at it for a decent amount of time, and even though it is a stationary target, it will allow you to use a plethora of techniques from your repertoire on it.

Different kinds of bags will also allow you to improve other parts of your game, so you do not have to settle for the standing bags, as you can also try to use a heavy load, a speed bag, or even other types of training dummies.

How to Enhance Your Striking Speed and Power with Cardiovascular Fitness

This is a topic that every fighter gets into at some point, from boxers looking to improve their KO power to the average Joe who is looking towards improving their hook in case it is necessary to get violent at some point in their day-to-day life.

Speed is the one part of punching that one can constantly improve. When we go down to the core details, the best way to increase your punching speed is to train the specific muscles involved with the “snap” of a punch through bodyweight exercises, as well as using speed-focused shadow fighting combinations and hand speed drills.

It sounds pretty simple, but working on all the little necessary details is a whole art of its own, as just being fast for speed’s sake is not optimal, and you will want to throw your punches with proper form.

Power is a different part that one needs to work on. While you can work on becoming faster and physically stronger over time, getting it all down for that one “killer” hit, you’ll want to mix things between your physical conditioning and optimizing your technique for the punch.

Focusing on your technique is a tip for increasing punching speed and power. Little details like ensuring your elbows don’t flare out on your skis and keeping them tight to the body. Improving your speed and control starts with refining your technique, which goes a long way.

Karate Training Methods for Superior Performance

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Unleashing Your Full Potential: Overcoming Common Muscular Imbalances in Karate

Generally speaking, most, if not all, martial arts favor using one side of the body to punch and kick repetitively. Several forms of martial arts also tend to pull the body forward into a hunched position when it comes to their regular guard.

These leads to some postural issues, including rotation and forward flexion. These posture misalignments can eventually lead to back pain, knee pain, shoulder injuries, or pain in pretty much any other part of the body.

Besides that, Karate techniques, unlike Boxing, or Tae Kwon Do, focus on using all muscle groups instead of focusing on only some limbs over others (Upper body for striking when it comes to Boxing and lower body for kicking in TKD), which tends to help avoid creating a big issue out of muscular imbalance. Still, it has to be addressed that this can happen and that conditioning exercises to counter these imbalances should be considered.

Get Battle-Ready with Conditioning Training for Explosive Karate Techniques

When it comes to training to fix these muscular imbalances, it all goes down to getting back to the gym or making up for the parts of your body that you believe are not as developed as others.

In the case of a fighter who has been focusing on Kata and the muscular tension from positions has made better developments on the lower body, it’d be an excellent idea to go and take the time to add some extra conditioning exercises to develop the other muscle groups as necessary.

Achieve Fluidity and Precision with Static-Active

Static-Active Flexibility is an exciting topic to touch upon when it comes to Karate. For most practitioners, it is notKaratesential part of what a competitor trains to get an edge on the competition.

However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid improving these aspects, as a lack of leg flexibility will directly limit your kicking range.

Implementing a good stretching routine into your warm-up is essential to slowly develop your Flexibility and allow yourself to increase your natural range of movement.

Unleash Your Inner Warrior with Dynamic Flexibility Training

Many people would argue that Karate is a “square” discipline and doesnKarateuire much Flexibility, except for the legs; however, Flexibility in the arms and core also positively influences the skills.

Warm up with exercises that combine stretching and controlled movements to increase your dynamic flexibility. The signs should mimic the activity you’re about to do.

Flexibility will contribute to good posture and lower the risk of injuries.

Master the Basics of Martial Art Conditioning

There are some details that one does not change when going into conditioning for any sport or discipline, and they also apply to Martial arts for a reason.

We will touch down on some old reliable exercises that will help you improve your performance if you want to compete or become a strict t black belt actively.

Laying the Foundation for a Strong Karate Practice: Foundational Exercises

In most, if not all, martial arts conditioning programs, you are going to want to see some of the following exercises at some point:

Push-ups, Sit Ups, Squats, Lunges, and Burpees, are bodyweight exercises that should always be part of your training regime.

Regarding gym workouts, Six Foundational exercises should be part of your routine.

  1. Bench Press
  2. Thrusters
  3. Deadlifts
  4. Barbell Squats
  5. Kettlebell Swings
  6. Pull-Ups

Recommendations for a Comprehensive Karate Conditioning Regimen

When you want to add gym and conditioning sessions to your regular martial arts sessions, you might want to keep the frequency to 3 days a week to give each group of muscles you work enough time to relax between sessions.

As most Karate practitioners tend to train between two and three sessions per week, you can mix in the conditioning sessions in between to get used to it, and even have both types of sessions on the same day once you have gotten used to both workouts.
Discover what bests Karate gi are there to be prepared for your daily workout.

Empower Your Inner Warrior with Karate Conditioning Training

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Recap the Key Points for Ultimate Success

When you have to put all the required points of conditioning needed for martial arts, and in this particular case, Karate, you have to remember to evenly spKarateour time to focus on your technique and skills, along with a few essential points:

Endurance Conditioning, be it your muscular endurance or any of your energy systems, which include aerobic (Cardio) conditioning and anaerobic (explosive) conditioning, is an essential part of the development of any martial artist everywhere.

Strength Training, one of the foundational parts of any martial arts training, can’t be dismissed, and it goes a long way in improving your performance.

Flexibility training, a topic we barely touched upon, might be underrated by many practitioners, but it will help much more in Karate than what it usually gets credit for.

Get Motivated to Incorporate Conditioning into Your Karate Practice

Suppose you want to get serious with Karate, or any martial arts discipline inKarateal, beyond just practicing and learning the skills. In that case, committing to your body and working on your conditioning is best.

It is a whole package, getting some weight lifting going, working on your aerobic and anaerobic endurance, and putting in the time to work on your Flexibility to get it all going up to speed smoothly.

By taking the time to plan out your schedule and add in all the required conditioning sessions, you are not only going to improve your Karate performance, but you are going to improve your life quality at the same time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Karate Conditioning

What is Karate conditioning?

Karate conditioning is the practice of physical training and conditioning used in Karate to improve strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and power. It involves various exercises and drills that are specifically designed to enhance the physical abilities required for Karate.

Karate conditioning can improve your physical fitness, enhance your martial arts skills, increase your stamina and endurance, and strengthen your muscles and bones. It can also boost your confidence, reduce stress, and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Some common exercises and drills used include push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, burpees, running, jumping, kicking, punching, and various stretching exercises. These exercises are often performed in sets and repetitions to improve strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Yes, anyone can practice Karate conditioning regardless of their age, gender, or fitness level. However, it’s important to consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

The frequency will depend on your goals and fitness level. Beginners should start with 2-3 sessions per week and gradually increase the frequency as they progress. Advanced practitioners may train up to 5-6 times per week.

No, you don’t need any special equipment. However, some practitioners may use equipment such as punching bags, weights, or resistance bands to enhance their training.

Yes, Karate conditioning can help you lose weight by burning calories, increasing your metabolism, and improving your cardiovascular health. However, it’s important to combine it with a healthy diet to achieve optimal results.

Karate conditioning can be safe if practiced properly and under the guidance of a qualified instructor. It’s important to warm up before training, use proper form and technique, and avoid overtraining or pushing yourself beyond your limits.

Humberto Argaez -
Article by

Humberto Argaez

Humberto has a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Activity and Sports; he runs his own Jiu-Jitsu Academy in his hometown and pushes his team as a coach and active competitor. He is a grappling master, focusing on BJJ and how it fuses with biomechanics and human physiology. Still, he also has experience in MMA and Distance Running. Having spent over 9+ years on the mats gathering knowledge, he loves to share what he has learned both inside and outside the mats. Our testing and reviewing method.

Kickboxing gear for Every Level: Our Expert Guide to the Perfect Equipment

Kickboxing is among the most popular martial arts globally, with millions of practitioners and various styles. Be that as it may, you’ll need practically the same equipment regardless of which style your choose to practice.

There is a similarity between kickboxing gear and training gear for Muay Thai, but Thai boxing demands more equipment as you must train elbows and knees.

Having all the equipment you need to perform at practice and in matches is imperative. It provides safety and allows you to develop your skills to the total capacity. Also, some equipment, like boxing gloves, is crucial for your opponent’s safety.

We’ll go through all the key equipment you’ll need for your kickboxing training (it can work for other martial arts too).

We’ll start with body equipment from most to least important and continue with other stuff you’ll need for practice. You can find most of the practice equipment in your kickboxing gym. But, having your items to train individually outside of your gym is always great.

Our Best Kickboxing Gear Reviews


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Kickboxing uses boxing gloves. The gloves have thick and tied around the wrist. The index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky are joined, while the thumb has its compartment. A good boxing glove protects your hands from injuries, especially when hitting a heavy bag.

The weight of the boxing gloves depends on the rules under which the contestants are competing in. Most commonly, the fighters wear 8 oz boxing gloves in the featherweight and lower categories, while lightweight and heavier category fighters wear 10 oz boxing gloves. There are also 12-16 oz gloves and higher, typically used for training.

It can vary from competition to competition, and fighters can sometimes agree on a custom size, too (for example, it happens in Muay Thai combats). Both fighters must have the same size gloves to ensure identical conditions. Lighter gloves have a higher impact force due to having less padding. So, the thicker and heavier the gloves are, the lower the power is behind strikes.

It is hard to overstate the importance of suitable gloves in Kickboxing. Most strikes are delivered with maximum power and would be dangerous to use without gloves. Not only would that be dangerous for the rival, but you. Boxing gloves protect the sparring partner from severe cuts and blunt force trauma while also guarding you against damaging your knuckles, wrists, hand bones, and fingers.

Kickboxing Equipment for everyl evel - Way of Martial Arts

If you’re unsure which piece of boxing gloves to choose, we have a few suggestions you can’t go wrong with. Venum Challenger 2.0 gloves are trendy for their outstanding quality/price ratio. Many professional fighters use Venum gloves, and the Challenger 2.0 gloves are great for beginners and training purposes. They are made of high-quality leather and incredibly durable, which is great for high-intensity training, sparring, etc. You can check the price of gloves for boxing on Amazon.

Many other models can suit you well for training, such as Everlast Pro Style gloves, Ringside Pro-Style gloves, etc.

Hand Wraps (Bandages)

If gloves are crucial for your opponent’s safety, hand wraps – commonly known as bandages – are the most vital part of the equipment to protect your wrists, hands, and knuckles.

A hand wrap looks similar to a medical bandage and is put on similarly. It is an extra layer of protection against a punching bag. You wrap it around your wrist, hand, and the lower part of your forearm to ensure stability and security for your wrist.

Powerful strikes on a punching bag can cause your wrists to twist and get seriously injured. Even worse, the small bones in your hand may crack when you hit the sack, which is even more challenging to heal.

Do not even think about putting on your gloves and landing big bombs on a punching bag without having bandages under them. These lovely pieces of training equipment downgrade the level of stress on tiny finger muscles and tendons, which also decreases the possibility of an injury.

If you don’t know how to tie them properly or are still a beginner and have difficulty doing it, use models with a thumb strap to help you get started with wrapping, like Everlast Professional wraps, etc. Another great model to check out for heavy bag training and sparring is the Venum Boxing Hand Wraps, among others.

Competition wraps are made of gauze and tape; an exact prescribed amount is allowed. But they aren’t reusable, so the wrapping method is slightly different. That’s why they aren’t commonly used in training, too.


Mouthguards are used in almost every martial art, including fighting competitions. Even Karate practitioners must use mouthguards, even though it is a light-contact, point-fighting sport.

Finding the model that fits perfectly wasn’t that simple, but that has changed with the development of boil-and-bite mouthguards. You put the product in hot water, and when it heats up, you take it out and bite into it. It makes a perfect mold for your teeth, so the mouthguard will be perfect.

There are many benefits and reasons why you should wear a mouthguard in Kickboxing, Karate, or any other martial art practice, especially if you plan on participating in sparring and competition.

First of all, your teeth will be protected from powerful impacts. A mouthguard distributes the force of every strike around your mouth and protects the teeth, preventing chips or teeth from getting knocked out. But it doesn’t mean there will be no bruises on your face.

Secondly, it protects your jaw and surrounding tissue, as well as it protects the teeth. The distribution of force helps to prevent dislocation and keeps all the joints in the right place. 

The soft tissue in your mouth, such as your cheeks and tongue, will also be protected. A strike can cause your teeth to injure that soft tissue by biting or cutting. You can have a bloody, swollen face, but you won’t have to visit a dentist!

As mentioned, most models nowadays are made with boil-and-bite technology, so you don’t have to worry about the mouthguard fitting. Some of the most popular models for martial artists and other sportspeople in any contact sports are the Venum ChallengerSAFEJAWZ Slim Fit, and Shock Doctor Pro.

All three are boil-and-bite guards that guarantee a perfect fit. The difference between them is in shape, density, and size.

The SAFEJAWZ mouthguard is the slimmest out of the three, so it gives you a bit more breathing room than the others. But a slimmer mouthguard usually means less shock distribution, and it’s all about finding the perfect option for you personally.


Kickboxing equipment - Way of Martial Arts

We won’t spend too much time on the shorts, as every fighter has their preferred option in that department.

Some fighters like to wear looser shorts; others find them disrupting when using their legs to score points. Some love the models with the legs cut on the sides for extra comfort, while others enjoy the compression shorts for practice and competition. 

Ultimately, it will come down to what you prefer and feel the most comfortable in, so I suggest you check your local shop or order your favorite model online. Most organizations and promotions (both amateur and professional) allow only shorts as your choice of clothes.

However, some organizations and specific competitions will enable you to wear training pants in battle, such as WAKO competitions.

Groin Guard

As for the groin, the guard is a crucial part of your kickboxing equipment, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a professional, male or female. Although groin strikes are strictly prohibited in Kickboxing, a high frequency of low kicks, hip strikes, and body shots are the main reasons unintentional groin shots happen often. Even punches could land on the nards!

Also, kickboxing body kick or thigh kick is almost always mighty, which means the shots delivered to the groin area can cause severe injuries. That means you should be careful and wear a groin guard if you’re doing any sparring.

Imagine the ball of the foot to your family jewels while you stand and bang with your opponent… It’s painful. Even Karate and BJJ practitioners use groin guards, even though Karate is a light-contact sport, and BJJ involves no striking.

To determine what groin guard best fits you, you should know what variations of groin guards are available. Most groin guards for men are cup-based, while the ones for women are usually flat with extra padding – they are protecting around the most sensitive areas. A groin guard aims to distribute the blow’s force and amortize it so you feel the minimal impact.

First, the most common combination is the cup + compression shorts. These groin guards provide comfort and flexibility and enable you to move without interruptions. The cups come in various sizes and are carefully designed to fit and cover the entire groin area. The compression shorts usually have a special “pocket” where the cup fits to avoid moving around.

The best pick for this type of groin guard is the Diamond MMA groin guard (here is our review of the Diamond MMA cup). The cup’s unique design provides the best amortization of impact and protects you from even the most brutal blows. It is a bit more expensive than similar models but worth every penny. Another great option is the Shock Doctor Supporter + AirCore Hard Cup, which works on the same principle but is more affordable.

The second type of cup-based groin guard is the jockstrap + cup system. They are the same, but you’ll have a jockstrap that goes around your waist instead of compression shorts. You usually put it on like underwear. It’s also a great choice, but a bit less durable than the shorts system.

If you’re looking for a great model of this type, try out the lobloo 2.0 patented cup. It has incredible results when it comes to protection. The only setback is that the cup is small, so it might not fit every man. RDX Groin Protector is also a great alternative with excellent performance and comfort results, but it provides less protection than other models.

Finally, classic groin guards have much padding instead of a cup. They can be worn inside or outside your shorts and protect you significantly against groin injuries. However, the biggest drawback is their size. 

The padding makes them a lot bigger, making them problematic in combat because they somewhat limit your movement – not drastically, but more so than cup-based systems. However, if you can find one that fits you perfectly, it can be incredible for practice and sparring. But I am warning you, a kick or a knee, even a foot, will create more damage!

Some popular models are Pro Impact Groin & Abdominal Protector, Ringside No Foul Protector (male & female), etc.

Shin Guards

Kickboxing shin guards are first used in training, but some amateur competitions also require them. Most leg strikes in Kickboxing are not performed with your foot like in Taekwondo or Karate, but with your shins.

It can be hazardous to start sparring without shin guards, especially if you are a beginner. Some rookies even hit the punching bag with shin protectors! It is so easy to hurt yourself!

Your shins won’t be used to that kind of impact initially. Even with great shin guards, you will feel the pain when you get hit with a hard low kick, especially if your foot touches your partners’ knee or thigh!

It’s always better to prevent an injury than heal it, and shin guards are crucial to make that happen in Kickboxing. They will allow your shins to get stronger gradually, and after some time in training, they will get adamant, and the impact won’t bother you anymore. It will also boost your confidence, while a severe fracture in the early stages of your fighting career could demoralize you badly!

That’s why you should start with thicker shin guards, work your way to thinner ones, and eventually fight without them. All professional competitions are fought without shin guards, but if you are a beginner, you need them to get through any training – even bag striking.

Some of the best beginner models are Venum Kontact Shin and Instep Guards or RDX Shin + Instep Guards. We have reviewed Venum Kontact Shin Guards entirely, so check it out before buying. They provide ample padding and protection but don’t limit your movement or performance. If you opt for a different model, ensure you get kickboxing shin guards with instep padding because other guards are used for various purposes, such as wrestling shin guards.

Ankle Pads

Some fighters use ankle bandages to provide protection, similar to hand bandages. If you think your ankles are injury-prone or want to give yourself an extra safety net to avoid foot injury, this is a great way. Especially if you are a beginner and don’t have that great technique in your leg strikes – poor exercise technique is the most common reason for leg and arm injuries in Kickboxing.

Beginners tend to kick their opponents with the foot, leading to severe injuries. Foot techniques are standard for Taekwondo but horrible for Kickboxing, as the opponent could check your kick and even break your leg while countering your kick.

Also, having headgear (fighting helmet) in your arsenal is never a bad idea, especially for boxing training. It’ll give you extra protection and allow you to exercise freely and to the fullest of your capabilities.

Training Equipment

We’ve covered everything you’ll need regarding body equipment, but there are still some critical things for training and exercise.

Most of the stuff will be available to you in your gym, but if you want to go the extra mile and train at home as well, you can buy and use that same equipment for home training, too (punching bag to make your arms more skillful, for example). We won’t mention every equipment used in a kickboxing workout – only the key ones.

Punching Bag

Kickboxing equipment - Way of Martial Arts

First and foremost, there is no kickboxing training without a punching bag and pads (mitts). The bag work is an integral part of every workout session. It helps you work on individual strikes and perfect the technique of each shot you take. You can even install one heavy bag at your home. 🙂

You’ll also work on your cardio and combinations. The bag’s weight and thickness will determine the workout’s intensity. Beginners start on softer, lighter punching bags and work up to the more complex types.

Another integral part of the boxing-kickboxing exercise is the “bulb” punching bag, also known as the “pear.” It is a small bag with a spring that helps you work on timing, speed, precision, and hand-to-eye coordination because it’s a smaller target. Experts even use it for foot, elbow, and knee strikes.


Kickboxing equipment - Way of Martial arts

Striking pads (focusers, mitts) come in various types, shapes, and sizes, but all help with the same thing: polishing your unique power, precision, and evasive maneuvers. Pad work will help you understand how to deliver combinations to the moving target while considering that your opponent will also strike back. 

It’s essential to know how to get your boxing offense going, but combine that with evading and defending from opponent attacks. The only “problem” is that you need another person to help you and hold the mitts, which aren’t helpful if you don’t have anybody to help you exercise with them.

Gym equipment is also essential to maximize your potential in Kickboxing. However, you shouldn’t invest in these if you have them in your gym because they can be costly. Nevertheless, knowing what they are and how to use them is good.

Dumbbells And Bench Presses

Dumbbells and bench presses are something that will often be used in practice. To perform Kickboxing, you have to be in great physical shape. You should also become a cardio beast, ready and built for the toughest challenges. Weightlifting will be pretty handy to get there, and you’ll get stronger and improve your endurance.

Kickboxing equipment - Way of Martial arts

Something that you can easily mount at home and have huge benefits from it is a pull-up bar. You’ll use your body weight for training, and you can use the bar to work on your entire body effectively.

If you’re a beginner or a pro, these are the main things you’ll need for kickboxing training. Talk to somebody with more experience (it would be best to consult your coach) before making any purchases, especially when starting with Kickboxing. These training tools can come in handy for boxing workouts too!

Frequently asked questions about Kickboxing equipment

What gear is needed for Kickboxing?

The basic gear includes boxing gloves, a heavy bag, hand wraps, groin guards, a mouthpiece, and shin guards. Optionally, you can protect your feet from injuries via ankle pads and buy different bags in the store (for example, a speed bag or a teardrop).

kickboxing equipment - way of martial arts

Kickboxers wear boxing gloves, a groin cup, a mouthpiece, and shorts in the competition.

If you plan to compete professionally, there is no way. Yet, if you’d like to train for health and fun, two sessions should be fine.

A beginner will need a pair of shorts and boxing gloves. But if you plan to stay in sports for longer, please buy a mouthpiece and groin cup in the shop.

Yes, but your options are limited. You will need an area to train; nobody can correct your mistakes. Having a family member who can hold your boxing mitts would be awesome.

You can focus on shadow kickboxing; there are tons of videos available. Furthermore, you can install a mirror and work on your balance, watch your feet, improve your stance, and fix your mistakes.

You can, to some point. But even the greatest fighters and the best technicians worldwide have sparring partners, coaches, or somebody to hold the target. Your progress will be limited; you can’t just swing into the air and progress.

Rafael campos -
Article by

Rafael Campos

Rafael Campos is the head coach of Aríete, a Brazilian-Kiwi Martial Arts team. He has over 10 years of experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and over 16 years in Muay Thai. Rafael has trained Muay Thai at two of the best gyms in the world, Phuket Fight Club, where Leo Elias taught him, and Manop Gym, where he was trained by Manop himself, trainer of the legendary Saenchai. After 10 years as a trainer in Brazil, he moved to New Zealand, teaching Muay Thai and studying for a master’s degree program in Applied Health Sciences focused on rehabilitating injuries related to Martial Arts and other sports. Our testing and reviewing method.
bjj workout

Jiu-jitsu Workout: Strength And Conditioning Program For BJJ Training

Have you ever wondered about strength training for BJJ? Do you even think the best jiu-jitsu athletes participate in some of the most specific weight training sessions that push their skills to a new level?

BJJ training and Jiu Jitsu demostration

This article will inform you about the importance of strength training for BJJ and show how an average fighter can turn into the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter with proper strength training exercises.

Remember, BJJ strength training programs make a difference when the two fighters are evenly matched. The benefits of good Brazilian jiu-jitsu strength training include improved performance, injury prevention, better flexibility and mobility, better transition and submission switch game, and much more. Please keep reading to learn how to push your BJJ performance to the next level and hop into the world of elite BJJ athletes!

What You Need For BJJ

First, you must work on specific features to reach the world of elite BJJ athletes. Have you ever seen a jiu-jitsu fighter with poor hip mobility and flexibility? No, and you will never see that, as BJJ practice is all about escaping and trapping your opponent with technique, which requires a lot of unorthodox, tricky moves.

The most important physical characteristics for BJJ fighters include high-level flexibility, superb muscular endurance, excellent upper-body strength, and outstanding hip mobility.

Plus, you mustn’t ignore cardio – when your gas tank is empty, it is empty, and you’ll become a sitting duck even with the best BJJ strength routine! Strength training for BJJ is more than just gym equipment and weight training – it combines the five features mentioned above!

jiu jitsu conditioning


BJJ practitioners will have difficulty if they don’t have good hip mobility. You can’t perform Gogoplata, triangle armbar, Eskima lock, and many other submission attempts with horrible hip flexibility.

Plus, rolling off the bottom and evading full guard is difficult with wrong workout sessions – you can push your hips forward all day and create space. Still, you won’t be able to perform a good reversal or a high-quality submission switch attempt with horrible lower body flexibility!

BJJ players must combine flexibility with strength development because they will meet evenly-matched opponents in the tournament. Stronger legs and more flexible hips give you more chances of winning the combat from the bottom.

Yoga exercises for BJJ are very beneficial – better mobility gives you more opportunities to evade or finish from the weirdest positions on the mat. Take a look at this video.

BJJ training - strenght training

But let’s focus on the most important exercises, one by one, that might skyrocket your mobility in BJJ.

Please hold every position for at least 30 seconds or more (you can stretch with your partner too) because your goal is more flexibility and plastic, not elastic deformation. What does that mean? When you create a plastic deformation in your muscle, it will be more flexible next time, and you’ll be able to create greater amplitude and better BJJ strength.

It is very important to stretch the back of the hips, the lateral area of the hips, the adductors, and the front area. Please look at the video below, and here are the most important drills.

  • Hamstring and calf stretch on the box – it helps you to wrap the legs around your opponent’s neck or shoulders when he traps you into the full mount;
  • Knee-to-wall calf stretch – better calf and foot flexibility help you escape leg locks and calf slicer. Training BJJ for competition makes no sense without this drill;
  • Box, standing, and kneeling hamstring stretch – Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes known for flying submission attempts and reversals must have very flexible hamstrings to put their opponents in a bad spot;
  • Lunge stretch and wall lunge – it is hard to control your opponent on the ground – believe it or not, your upper body doesn’t play a role here; you must have very flexible hips and good anticipation skills to stop his transition attempts;
  • Hip external rotation – you must wrap your leg around the opponent’s to even think of a triangle or buggy choke, good external rotation gives you more chances to finish the bout;
  • Pigeon stretch, seated hip rotation, and 90-90 seat – these are very specific areas of training for BJJ, which serve to help BJJ practitioners create a submission switch attempt – for example, the transition from triangle armbar to Omoplata or Tarikoplata is way easier with excellent mobility of your adductor muscles.


BJJ is all about constant movement and changing positions. For example, sometimes you might get stuck in somebody’s guard, trying to pass it. Or you can be on your back, trying to mask your jiu-jitsu performance with a feint, and end up on top of your opponent.

Every single drill that stabilizes the BJJ athlete pushes his training and potential hip escape and side control skills to the next level. Kettlebell and resistance band help you work on both stability and balance at the same time. Let’s focus on the most important drills for high-level BJJ routine (I also dare to say, for other grappling-related martial arts too):

  • Upside-down kettlebell press – this is an excellent drill when you’re trying to transition from the bottom to the top position;

  • Side-lying external rotations – when the opponent takes your back, you need to maneuver and improve your position, plus works well for upper body power too;

  • Rear foot elevated split squat – it mixes balance and strength required for successful takedown offense in BJJ game;

  • Turkish get-up – you will see this move many times in a BJJ fight; pay close attention, Turkish get-up works well for grappling strength and stability;

  • Belt squat walks with the resistance band – one of the crucial drills for BJJ strength, especially for top control experts – lower body BJJ king.

Power Production

Explosive power greatly matters in BJJ, as this is the most efficient way to change your position or surprise the opponent with a hard-to-see attack. Power output differentiates between taking the back and ending up controlled by a body triangle.

Many exercises can help you in developing explosive power for BJJ. Still, we’ll try to focus on the ones that lead to the maximum effect for the martial arts-related specific training session.

Plyometric Exercises

Plyometric exercises are key to developing the power of your lower body. Explosive power is your first line of defense when fishing for hip escape or trying to bridge your way out of the bad spot.

The stretch-shortening cycle generates rapid, powerful pre-stretch or counter-movements where the muscles are loaded to reach optimum force in the fastest time possible. There is only one rule – as soon as you touch the floor and explode in the air, your contact with concrete has to be super short if your goal is developing power for BJJ!

Plyometric drills include box jumps, long jumps, clap push-ups, etc. But technically, you can turn every drill into a plyometric treasure if you can manipulate the stretch-shortening cycle. 🙂

Olympic Lifts

Olympic lifts will boost your power, speed, and explosivity, so your opponent will have difficulty clinching up with you. Yet, you will need the guidance of a coach, as these drills could cause a severe injury. Here are the most critical Olympic lifts for maximum BJJ strength:

  • Power clean – it puts your whole body on fire;

  • Dumbbell snatch – this drill helps you transition from defense to offense;

  • Kettlebell swing – my favorite on the list of kettlebell swings is the kettlebell thruster, but any swing could boost your BJJ strength significantly.

IMPORTANT NOTE: some CrossFit drills are beneficial for BJJ sweeps and transitions, but don’t mix apples and oranges – they can’t help you boost your grip strength. Lifting weights is beneficial only when you do the drills properly!

Resistance Bands

A partner can hold you, or you can tie a resistance band to something, quickly change angles, and perform all kinds of BJJ moves. Once you start the next training jiu-jitsu, without a resistance band, you’ll feel like you’re flying!

Isometric Strength

There are tons of isometric moves in BJJ combat. For example, have you seen a fighter holding a submission in a starting position for a prolonged period while the opponent defends it? Better isometric strength leads to greater chances of finishing your opponent and better grip strength.

Also, you can do many modifications, but let’s focus on the most important BJJ isometric strength routine drills:

  • TV watching – one of the best bodyweight drills stabilizes your whole body and works amazingly for top control; raise one hand from time to time, and you’ll get very similar moves to the ones in a BJJ combat;

Isometric squats – the best lower body drill for grapplers, especially for masters of top control;

Strenght training - Jiu Jitsu workout demostration

  • Push-up holdout – there are many variations of these exercises, but all of them are superb for BJJ performance;

  • Static pull-ups – reach above the level of the neckline and hold your position;

  • Core stability drills – there are many static exercises for high-level performance, so this playlist might come in handy for the ones interested in excellent bodyweight training to boost your BJJ skills.

  • Hold the choke – for example, you can hold D’Arce, triangle, rear-naked choke, or any other position – it is also a type of isometric BJJ training.

Strength Weighting For BJJ: Will They Be Effective?

Strength training for BJJ is critical when you meet an opponent with the same or nearly equal skill level and weight class because you will have greater chances of escaping bad spots and winning the fight. Both bodyweight strength training and barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell weight-lifting drills will make a difference in the competition.

Take a look at the research from Øvretveit, K, and Tøien, T.. You will notice that maximal strength training for BJJ, which consisted of pull-ups to failure, and bench press and squat at 85% of 1 RM (repetition maximum), three times per week, led to significant improvements in overall squat and bench press 1 RM values, rate of force development (RFD) and peak force (PF) in the squat jump, countermovement jump (CMJ) height, and muscular endurance of BJJ fighters.

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How to Mix Strength Training And BJJ

You must know that your BJJ skills are number one and adjust your training sessions towards your BJJ plans. Just forget about bodybuilding exercises, big biceps, or huge quads. You need to focus on improving muscular endurance, power, and overall strength and decreasing the muscular imbalances between the different areas of the body.

Try to train at least 2-3 times per week, but hire a coach if you can because you need to learn the technique properly in the first place.

If not, dedicate your workout sessions to your BJJ progress. Train at a maximum of 85-90% of one repetition when you boost strength. If you train muscular endurance, work on 50-60% of your 1 RM until failure. The ultimate goal is to build professional strength for maximum BJJ achievements in the competition.

Strength Training For The BJJ Fighter

A successful strength training program for BJJ fighters must contain three important things – power production, muscular endurance, isometric strength training for BJJ, and improvement of weak areas (I’d kindly advise hiring a strength and conditioning specialist for this). Also, active recovery training matters; your body must rest properly, too, or you’ll risk overuse injuries.

Here is what a three-time per week strength training could look like:


Bench Press – 3 x 4-5 reps, 85% 1 RM, 2-3 mins rest between the sets

Squat – 3 x 4-5 reps, 85% 1 RM, 2-3 mins rest between the sets

Barbell row – 3 x 4-5 reps, 85% 1 RM, 2-3 mins rest between the sets

Pull-ups – 3 sets, 5-8 repetitions

Hanging leg raises – 3 sets, 15-20 repetitions;

TV watching – 2 minutes, 3 sets

Push-up holdout, down position – 1 minute, 3 sets

Sit-up holdout – 1 minute, 3 sets


Deadlift – 4 x 6 repetitions, 80-83% of 1 RM, 2 minutes rest between the sets

Push press – 4 x 6 repetitions, 80-83% of 1 RM, 2 minutes rest between the sets –

Behind the back shrug – 4 x 6 repetitions, 80-83% of 1 RM, 2 minutes rest between the sets –

Good mornings – 12-20 repetitions, 60-65% of 1 RM, one minute rest between the sets;

Core holdout exercises – choose 5-8 drills, and hold each position for one minute –

(don’t get confused by the name, these drills can work for BJJ strength too).


Kettlebell swings – 20 repetitions, 4 sets, 50% 1 RM, one minute rest between the sets;

Leg press – 20 repetitions, 4 sets, 50% 1 RM, one minute rest between the sets;

Leg extension – 20 repetitions, 4 sets, 50% 1 RM, one minute rest between the sets;

Grip strength training for BJJ – do these exercises at the end, hold for at least one minute; –

Core holdout exercises – choose 5-8 drills, hold each position for at least one minute; –

(don’t get confused by the name, these drills can work for BJJ strength too)

BJJ training - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu workout

Improvement Season Program

A huge difference exists between improvement and competition season strength and conditioning programs for BJJ fighters.

The goal of the improvement season program is to create a stronger, more powerful fighter, while the competition season demands simultaneously working on strength, endurance, and quickness.

The priority of competition season is maintaining the power plus active recovery, while you can risk overuse injuries in the improvement season period. This period focuses on building overall strength and conditioning without many specific drills. In contrast, the focus shifts to preparing for the upcoming competition season tournaments.

Improvement season means more volume and different exercises, while the competition time means less volume and more specific, technical BJJ drills.

The periodization in strength training for BJJ matters a lot because you don’t want an exhausted fighter in the competition. You build maximum strength when no matches exist, and your training adjusts as the tournament closes.

Strenght training - jiu jitsu workout strenght training exercise

Competition Season Program

Depending on the competition schedule, you should have two or three weekly training sessions for strength. Make sure you aim for maximum power on Monday or Tuesday. Focus on endurance and more volume with smaller weights as you get close to the end of the week.

BJJ - Brazilian jiu jitsu workout training

Remember, the focus shifts from building maximum strength and power to competitive workouts. More specific BJJ drills are required – for example, isometric strength, grip strength workouts, and exercises that boost BJJ power.

Do not push yourself too hard in the competitive period. You must avoid overtraining and unnecessary fatigue, active rest matters, and go to the spa or sauna if you have time. Here is the golden rule – decrease your training volume and maximal strength drills to taper the training properly in the weeks leading up to a significant competition.

Treat every injury seriously. If you have an injured spot, warm it up in the first place and make sure you use creams or whatever the doctor says to reduce pain and inflammation. For example, train your arms for maximum strength and conditioning when hurting your leg!

BJJ Exercises For Warming Up, Mobility, And Injury Prevention

The most used areas in BJJ combat are hips, spine, and shoulders, so most strength and conditioning exercises for mobility, warming up, and injury prevention should go in that direction. Of course, exceptions can happen when you have an injured spot.

Please don’t play games and warm up properly; it will significantly decrease the chances of an injury and boost your performance in the training or competition. These drills should target the most exposed areas during the BJJ fight – knee, shoulders, elbows, and spine.

BJJ training - jiu jitsu workout strenght training

Here is an example of a BJJ strength and conditioning routine for a proper warm-up and injury prevention before the training session. Do these drills at a low-to-moderate intensity; a simple talk test can help – if you can speak normally but can’t sing, you’re doing an excellent job!

  • Arm circles – 4 x 20 repetitions forward and backward;
  • High knees – 4 x 20 repetitions;
  • Butt kicks – 4 x 20 repetitions;
  • Leg swings – 4 x 15 repetitions each leg;
  • Standing hamstring stretch – hold the position for at least 20 seconds.

Floor Drills

  • Hip openers – 20 repetitions on each side;
  • Hip rotations – 15-20 reon ps each side;
  • Hip extensions – 15-20 reps;
  • Shrimps – 15-20 on each side;
  • Glute bridges – 20 repetitions;
  • Scapular push-ups – 3 sets, 20 repetitions;
  • Rows with resistance band for your rotator cuff muscles (watch the whole video, you can add 2-3 drills, do at least three sets of 15-20 reps –;
  • Back on your feet for the final warm-up phase – do 3 sets of 10 box jumps, three sets of 15-20 jump squats, and 3-5 sets of 10 clap push-ups. You can also do 3-5 pull-ups and three sets (if you have a neckline).
  • Congrats, your body is ready to roll!

BJJ training - jiu jitsu workout strenght training

Please consult a strength and conditioning specialist before attempting an injury prevention routine or warm-up. You should learn the moves properly in the first place.

BJJ training - jiu jitsu workout strenght training

Structural Loading For Injury Prevention

The purpose of structural loading is to gradually build up your tissues and muscles and decrease the number of injuries.

When you gradually increase strength and conditioning demands, you are letting all areas of your body adapt and become more resilient to the training and competition.

A good example of structural loading in strength training can be seen in just one barbell row drill. In the first week, you can lift 10 pounds, but repeat the number of repetitions in week 2. As your body gets used to new impulses, you slowly gain weight in week 3.

Now let’s focus on BJJ-specific topics. Structural loading will work when you respect three principles – progressive resistance exercises, variation, and proper form. A good drill technique will ensure effective loading and activate fewer muscles. For example, proprioceptive drills can also help your structural loading, especially when recovering after an injury.

It is always better to consult a strength and conditioning specialist if you’re interested in a structural loading program tailored to the BJJ fighter’s needs.

Best Strength Training For BJJ

The most valuable complex exercises for the strength training of BJJ fighters are related to four main movement patterns – push, pull, squat, and hinge.

You should focus on multi-joint exercises that activate more muscle groups in the first part of your BJJ strength training in the gym, while you can manipulate with single-joint drills in the later stages of the workout. Multi-joint routines will target overall strength, power, and endurance, while single-joint exercises focus on local strength or correcting the specific BJJ-related issue.

It is critical to consult a strength and conditioning program expert because the proper technique matters, and you might hurt yourself.

Different exercises, number of sets and repetitions, and weights can skyrocket your BJJ performance if you do it properly. Training periodization and supplemental training matter too. Of course, specific exercises for BJJ are good ahead of the competition as they’ll make you quicker and more skillful.

strenght training exercise BJJ training - jiu jitsu workout

Push Exercise

The most crucial push drills for high-quality BJJ preparation are bench presses, overhead presses, and push-ups. While you shouldn’t do more than 20 push-ups per set, 4-6 sets, there is a different rule for the other two drills.

If you’re in a preparation phase, do 4-6 sets of bench or overhead presses at 85% of 1 RM, 4-6 repetitions. Yet, when you’re in a competitive period, try to stick to 12-20 repetitions at 50-60 percent of 1 RM; you don’t want big muscles – your goal is to maximize your jiu-jitsu performance.

Pull Exercise

Pull exercises (pull-ups, chin-ups, and rows) strengthen your back, which is essential when trying to dominate from side control or keep your opponent turtled.

You can use the same model for rows as bench presses. Regarding pull-ups and chin-ups, you have two options – 3-5 repetitions, 3+ sets (competitive period), or work until failure, 2 -4 sets (preparation period).


Back and front squats target the power of your quads and hamstrings, while goblet squat is a more specific exercise.

You can do 12-20 goblet squats per set and use the drill to boost your explosiveness and power. Regarding back and front squats, 4-6 repetitions in the preparation phase (4-6 sets at 85% of 1 RM) will make you stronger, while 12-20 reps in the competitive period boost your transition and sweep game.

strenght training exercise Brazilian jiu jitsu training

Hinge DrillsHip hinge movement matters in BJJ training because every fighter good off his back uses his hips to create space and finish his opponent. Good examples of hinge drills are deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and good mornings. While you can manipulate with weight in deadlifts, it is not recommended when you perform kettlebell swings and good mornings, as you can hurt yourself. Only do them with lightweight, but increase volume.

Power Lifts: Weight Training

The best multi-joint weight training drills for high-level BJJ performance contain bench presses, squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups. These drills can improve your overall levels of strength, power, and endurance, leading to better results on the mat.

Bench Press

The bench press is one of the best drills for upper body strength, specifically targeting your pectorals, triceps, and shoulders. The bench press is great for reversal attempts, especially when the opponent traps you into side control.


This drill increases lower body strength and power, which is very useful when you transition or control the opponent on top.


Superb drill activates your legs, glutes, back, quads, and shoulders. But hire a strength and conditioning pro because the proper technique is a bit harder; you don’t want to hurt yourself.


Pull-ups and chin-ups will help with upper body power and grip strength, essential in gi combat. The fighter with a better grip will have a greater chance of finishing the bout in the competition.

Jiu jitsu workou strenght training exercise Brazilian jiu jitsu training

You should combine different numbers of sets and repetitions and weights for the maximum result on the mats. Periodization matters, too, because you can’t push too hard in the competitive period – you don’t want to look tired in the competition.

A good strength training program for BJJ combines different drills and muscle groups!

Frequently Asked Questions About Jiu-jitsu Workout

Is Jiu-Jitsu a full-body workout?

Of course, it is; your whole body is on fire when you roll with a skillful opponent on the canvas.

BJJ mostly improves your body’s muscular endurance and isometric strength, but it will not turn you into a muscle mountain.

Yes, but you mustn’t affect your BJJ schedule; weights will help you if and only if you use them properly. Adjust your weight-lifting training program towards your BJJ training routines.

It will make a difference when the two fighters with the same skill set square off.

Two or three times per week in the season. If you’re in a pre-season period, your strength training program should contain 3+ sessions per week.

The main exercises should focus on the quads, back, chest, core, and arms. You should train your whole body because every muscle will work during heavy rolls, transitions, and submission switch attempts.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
Karate Equipment for Every Level: Our Expert Guide for the Perfect Gear

Karate Equipment for Every Level: Our Expert Guide for the Perfect Gear

Continuing our series of articles on Martial arts and combat sports gear, today we will discuss the equipment needed to participate actively in Karate. Each sport requires some equipment, and as martial arts tend to do, Karate is no exception. Whether it’s something basic like sneakers and specially designed clothes or something more demanding such as a complete set of martial arts equipment, each sport has something. 

Karate equipment includes the uniform, like any martial art. Still, it also contains protective gear for those who enter the competition or have to spar against a real opponent. That is why we shall present an overview of what is needed to participate successfully in karate training sessions. Before we continue, though, we’d like to stress that, unlike judo, Karate has a very similar equipment set to Taekwondo, so you can also check our article on that topic as a point of reference.

Our Best Karate Gear Reviews

Karate Uniform

Karate Equipment - Uniform
Karate Equipment – Uniform

The most essential equipment for a karate student is the uniform or gi. It is usually a two-piece white uniform with a belt tied around the waist. Unlike the similar Taekwondo uniform, whose top is typically a pull-over and is only held in place by the belt, the karate uniform is an open jacket, where the belt is used to tie the jacket and close it. 

The trainee Gi is usually either white (most common) or blue (less common), as it is not only clothing equipment but part of a tradition. Unlike similar Taekwondo uniforms, they are entirely in one color, collars included. Instructors can also wear white and blue uniforms and are distinguished by belts. Karate also has other colored variations – such as black and red – but they are rare and usually have a symbolic or ceremonial meaning.

This is the essential piece of equipment necessary for karate practitioners. Someone with no competitive ambitions and who doesn’t aspire to be a professional fighter doesn’t need any other equipment. 

The uniform is lightweight and tends to maximize the movement range of a karateka while offering little protection to martial artists at the time of full contact sparring.

Karate Belt

Karate Equipment - Belt
Karate Equipment – Belt

The belt is always tied around the waist, above the top part of the uniform. Since karate uniforms are open jackets, the straps are necessary to hold the jacket together and keep it close during training sessions and events. Belts are not required during training sessions but during any ceremonial or competitive event. 

Karate Equipment - green Belt
The Belts come in multiple colors according to rank.

The Belts show the rank or level of a trainee along their way in Karate, worn during training sessions and any ceremonial or competitive event. 

Karate Equipment - blue Belt
From advanced to beginners, all Karate practitioners wear belts.

As martial artists tend to do, as soon as you start your training in any martial arts, you are awarded the rank of the White belt, which should be handed to you with your first gi.

Karate Equipment - yellow Belt
The Belts show the practitioner’s level according to their instructor.

For more on belts in Karate, check out our article.

Karate Armour

Karate Equipment - armour
Karate Equipment – armor

The Chest protector is an essential part of competitive Karate. They are made of unique, lightweight plastic material that simultaneously allows agility and speed without limiting their movement range while offering decent impact protection to the body thanks to the rib guards and front padding of the chest protectors.

Unlike Taekwondo, where WT and ITF have differing standards, chest armors are essential to all karate competitions. They do come in different sizes and shapes – the design varies more between other models than in, for example, Taekwondo, where the models are more or less alike – but also tend to use the same – white plus blue/red – color scheme as in some other martial arts (p.e. Taekwondo, boxing, etc.). Some are designed to be carried like bags, while some have hard plastic shoulder covering pads. 

The chest armor is considered essential sparring gear in Karate. Whenever electronic point keeping is used, chest protectors have special sensors allowing point collection to make the judge’s work easier. 

Karate Headgear

Karate Equipment - headgear
Karate Equipment – headgear

Special padded helmets are also part of a competitive equipment set and are one of two pieces of headgear. They are an obligatory part of one’s competitive equipment sets since Karate is a contact sport, and sparring can be potentially dangerous for the combatants.

Headgear is necessary to prevent injury when fighting in any martial art discipline, as some techniques include head kicking. 

The helmets are usually red or blue and correspond to the armor’s color (see above). 

Karate Gloves and Hand Gear

Karate Equipment - gloves
Karate Equipment – sparring gloves and hand gear

Karate has special hand gear, i.e., gloves, which are different from other martial arts and combat sports. They’re not the same as the padded equipment used in Taekwondo but are also quite different than regular boxing or MMA gloves.

Boxing gloves are usually more giant, while regular MMA gloves resemble the padded Taekwondo gear more than regular karate gloves. Karate gloves are more petite than boxing gloves but are similar in design, yet they are closer in size to MMA gloves.

Karate Equipment - sparring gloves
Gloves with extra padding, which can be used for Karate sparring.

The karate gloves look more like hand guards, as they cover the wrist and knuckles mainly to prevent injury if a straight punch hits anywhere that headgear doesn’t protect when fighting.

They have quite the minimalist styles for martial arts sparring gear, but these hand guards get the job done, and small boxing gloves while keeping a lightweight material construction to not slow down sparring or training speed.

Karate Footwear

Karate Equipment - foot wear
Karate Equipment – footwear

The question of footwear in Karate is relatively attractive. There are special sparring shoes for Karate (and other dojo-based martial arts), but when it comes to regular shoes, most schools either prohibit their use on the mats.

Karate Equipment - footwear
Approved Karate Combat Footwear

Regular footwear is prohibited in official competitions and ceremonial promotions because it would give the wearer an unfair advantage and go against the guidelines. They are also forbidden during breaking demonstrations. 

Regarding training sessions, we go to the aforementioned special shoes, considered part of any traditional martial arts sparring gear set. Trainees, especially kids, are encouraged to use these as part of their sparring gear during training sessions to give their feet extra padding while decreasing impact force when kicking the body or landing a kick on the opponent’s headgear.

Karate Equipment - footwear
Karate Equipment – footwear

Unlike taekwondo gear, these shoes are a little bulky and cover the whole feet, which may not feel too comfortable for the user but offers better results in martial arts sparring.

Other Competitive Gear for Karate

While Karate does not have as much mandatory protective gear as Taekwondo does, there are still some additional martial arts gear pieces in the training bags of those who want extra protection during their sparring sessions.

Some of the “normal” martial arts gear you can find in those training bags include the basics: mouth guards to protect your mouth and teeth from kicks during sparring and regular training.

Karate Equipment - mouthguard
Karate Equipment – mouthguard

The other is groin protectors, which are seen as some of the most common martial arts equipment pieces for male practitioners (as Women do not require them), as there is always the chance of a low blow in combat sports, even when using the feet for kicks isn’t allowed.

Karate Equipment - groin guard
Karate Equipment – groin guard

Another piece of gear that you may find, like in any other combat sports, are shin guards, which can either be a single piece or include protective footgear in a single item, and are usually worn under the Gi at the time of sparring.

Although not necessary, competitors are encouraged to wear particular protective gums for their teeth. This is especially important in sparring competitions, where head contact is allowed and gives higher points. 


Finally, we can conclude that amateur karate students only need a uniform and a belt as they are part of a tradition and have been there since Karate reached Japan in the 20th century.

As for competitive professionals, they always have to go hunt for martial arts supplies as some extra items will always be necessary for those who regularly compete. 

And this covers our analysis of the equipment necessary for Karate. I hope you enjoyed our text, and see you next time!

Frequently Asked Questions About Karate Equipment

To keep things short, Gear in Karate is put in two groups. Uniform (which include your Gi and belt) and protective gear, which you’ll likely only need for sparring.

What equipment is needed for Karate?

As mentioned previously, you will always require to wear your karate uniform to class, unless (non-traditionally) your school allows for regular sports clothing on hot summer days.

It is always recommended to have your sparring gear in your bag if your training session includes sparring.

Yes, in competitive environments, you’ll see some mandatory items like headgear and chest armor, with the option to put on extra gear in case of sparring in regular training sessions.

Karate is translated as the “way of the empty hand”, but it originally developed in Okinawa in tandem with “Okinawan Kobudo” which is a weapons system that uses plenty of tools in kata and combat.

Originally, Karate and Kobudo were trained to prepare the person for confrontation. Still, in the modern age, there are chances that your Karate Dojo either does or doesn’t offer Kobudo class.

Mandatory protective gear includes headgear, gloves, and chest armor, but you can also use mouth and shin guards, along with a groin protector to keep things safe.

The Sticks are called “Bo”, and the Bo staff is part of the Kobudo weapon system that is often associated with Karate. You may see it a lot on Karate dojos if they offer Kobudo classes, as it is a beginner-friendly weapon.

When it comes to your uniform, you want to wash it right after training using cold water and avoidin the dryer.

When it comes to the sparring gear, you can use antibacterial wipes or scrub it by hand with a sponge; some items may be washing machine safe, but you might want to check the details before trying it.

Humberto Argaez -
Article by

Humberto Argaez

Humberto has a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Activity and Sports; he runs his own Jiu-Jitsu Academy in his hometown and pushes his team as a coach and active competitor. He is a grappling master, focusing on BJJ and how it fuses with biomechanics and human physiology. Still, he also has experience in MMA and Distance Running. Having spent over 9+ years on the mats gathering knowledge, he loves to share what he has learned both inside and outside the mats. Our testing and reviewing method.
What Is the Difference Between Karate and Taekwondo?

Karate vs Taekwondo: Who Will Come Out on Top in this Epic Battle of Martial Arts?

Welcome, hero! Are you curious to learn more about the world of martial arts?

The global impact of globalization has allowed us to access many different Japanese martial art forms. Karate is one of the most popular martial arts styles, known for its strikes and hand techniques, while Tae Kwon Do has gained recognition for its flashy and powerful kicking techniques.

In this article, we will explore the differences and similarities between Karate and Tae Kwon Do and delve into the effectiveness of each martial art in a self-defense scenario. So, let’s strap on our belts, enter the dojo, and dive into the world of striking arts!

“The main difference between Karate and Taekwondo is that Karate emphasizes using the hands, while Taekwondo is primarily a kicking art. Even though they might seem similar, the actual fighting style is very different.”

Karate and Tae Kwon Do are striking arts requiring mental discipline, physical fitness, and dedication. This article will examine the forms and styles, sparring rules, and benefits of Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Whether you’re a Karateka, Taekwondo practitioner, or simply looking for an exciting workout, this article is perfect. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between these martial arts styles and discover which reigns supreme in self-defense.

A Brief History of Karate – Exploring the Origins of this Martial Art

The roots of Karate go back much further than most people realize. It originated on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where it was used in hand-to-hand combat. The art of Karate was created to enable unarmed self-defense by using vital point striking, punching, and kicking techniques. Over time, Karate evolved to include jumping kicks and other techniques that we now associate with the art.

Kwan masters, responsible for developing different styles of Karate, had a significant role in the history of martial art. Many kwan masters had trained in various Chinese martial arts, and their techniques heavily influenced the development of Karate.

During the Japanese occupation of Okinawa, the art of Karate was heavily suppressed, and the people were forbidden from practicing their traditional martial arts. During this time, Karate practitioners began to train in secret, which led to the development of different styles of Karate.

Gichin Funakoshi is most widely considered to be the father of modern Karate. He founded Shotokan Karate-Do, now the most popular style of Karate. In the early 20th century, Funakoshi was instrumental in spreading Karate teachings and techniques to mainland Japan and the rest of the world.

Today, Karate is known for its mental discipline and focus on the unarmed body. While it is great, it is much more than a physical workout. Karate emphasizes the importance of the mind-body connection and promotes inner strength, self-control, and self-confidence. It is no wonder that Karate is considered one of the most popular martial arts in the world, with different styles that incorporate various techniques like vital point striking and jumping kicks.

Origins and Evolution of Taekwondo – Tracing the Development of this Martial Art

As a martial art, Taekwondo has its roots in Karate and Chinese Kung Fu, but it is a Korean fighting style. Kwan masters, who mixed the two arts with indigenous Korean styles such as Taekkyon and Subak, developed it in the 1940s and 1950s. This unique blending gave birth to a fighting style focused on kicking, including jumping kicks and vital point striking with an unarmed body. The kicks in taekwondo are so precise and spectacular that they mesmerize even the most critical of observers.

One of the core concepts of Taekwondo is Choi Hong Hi’s Theory of Power, which emphasizes speed over the muscle mass. Choi was a Korean army general and martial artist who analyzed martial arts to systematically create a style to synthesize all he had learned beforehand. He found that the speed of a strike, and thus the speed of a fighter, is much more important than muscle mass since speed can generate much more force.

Another central idea of Taekwondo is the relax-strike principle. Taekwondo training teaches fighters to remain completely relaxed between active elements of a fight, which allows them to conserve energy and use it more effectively. Taekwondo schools prioritize mental discipline and relaxation as much as physical fitness, developing black belts in kicking, punching, and mindfulness.

Taekwondo originated in Korea, a country with a rich martial arts history, where it was first recognized as an official sport in 1955. Taekwondo has since become an Olympic sport and is one of the most popular martial arts in the world.

Karate vs Taekwondo: Uncovering the Shared Traits and Distinctive Features of

Though both originate from Asia and karateka and Taekwondo practitioners wear similar outfits in training, there is not much that is similar between the two fighting styles. The word karate is usually translated to „empty hand,” though other translations, such as „Chinese hand” or „Tang dynasty hand,” can be found as well; one thing is clear: all translations contain the word „hand.”

The reason is that Karate is a martial art based mostly on using the hands. As mentioned before, Taekwondo almost completely neglects the hand, which makes for the biggest distinction between the two martial art styles. The two styles seem to reverse: Karate uses hand attacks but kicks as a backup, while Taekwondo uses kicks for attacking and hands for backup. 

In terms of exercise, both can provide one with great athleticism, but Taekwondo might have an edge here since all the kicking and jumping make it somewhat of a better workout. Karate is more rigid and linear; more breathing techniques and fewer large movements are usually involved. It must be noted that Karate has large movements compared to other styles, but it is not much compared to Taekwondo with its spinning jump kicks. 

Though much separates them, these two popular martial art styles share a few things. Aside from the fact that they originate from the same continent, not much of their history is shared, but much of the basic concepts are.

The basics are quite similar when one starts training either of the two. The stances, the basic philosophy, the uniform structure of the associations, and the training are pretty much the same.

Both martial arts use the famous belt grading system, with belt colors starting at white for beginners and ending with black for masters. The exams are also structured similarly, though the contents are very different.

Speed vs Power: Analyzing the Dynamics of Karate and Taekwondo

Speed and power are two critical factors that differentiate Karate and Taekwondo. While Karate places a strong emphasis on explosive power through solid stances and quick, decisive strikes, Taekwondo is more focused on speed and agility, utilizing fluid movements and high, fast kicks. This distinction is evident in their respective training methodologies and techniques. Karate practitioners often practice kata, or forms, to perfect their powerful strikes, while Taekwondo athletes engage in sparring and jumping drills to develop their speed and mobility.

Flexibility vs. Stability: Understanding the Balance in Karate and Taekwondo

The balance between flexibility and stability plays a vital role in the effectiveness of Karate and Taekwondo techniques. In Karate, stability is essential for delivering powerful punches and kicks, requiring practitioners to maintain strong stances and a solid base. In contrast, Taekwondo places a higher premium on flexibility, as its high-flying kicks and spinning techniques require a more excellent range of motion. Both martial arts recognize the importance of the other aspect, but their emphases on stability and flexibility set them apart and influence their respective styles and strategies.

Training vs Conditioning: The Physical Demands of Karate and Taekwondo

The physical demands of Karate and Taekwondo vary in terms of the training and conditioning required to excel in each discipline. Karate training emphasizes strength development, as powerful strikes and solid stances are integral to the art. Conditioning in Karate often includes activities such as push-ups, squats, and core exercises to build overall body strength. Taekwondo, with its emphasis on high, fast kicks and aerial techniques, requires a greater focus on flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning. Taekwondo practitioners often engage in stretching exercises, plyometrics, and endurance training to ensure they can perform their dynamic techniques effectively and sustain their energy levels throughout a match.

Kicking and Punching Karate techniques compared with Taekwondo

Karate is a striking art that utilizes various punches, kicks, and elbow strikes to defeat an opponent. However, while Karate does feature some impressive kicking techniques, it emphasizes hand strikes more. Karate black belts are well-known for their powerful punches, while their empty-hand techniques are also considered some of the most devastating in martial arts.

In contrast, Taekwondo is primarily a kicking martial arts style, and its practitioners are known for their impressive jumping and spinning kicks. The style emphasizes speed, agility, and flexibility, delivering many kicks quickly. Regarding raw power, Taekwondo kicks are some of the most powerful in martial arts, making them a popular choice for self-defense.

Forms and Styles: Kata and Poomsae

The forms and styles of Taekwondo and Karate involve various techniques that martial artists must learn to master. In Taekwondo, practitioners learn Poomsae, a set of predetermined movements, while kata is equivalent to Karate. These forms allow martial artists to practice various techniques, including kicking, punching, and vital point striking, in a structured and disciplined way.

Kata and poomsae are essential to martial arts training and often require years of practice to perfect. Mastering these forms is often a crucial step for those seeking to achieve a black belt in either Taekwondo or Karate.

In addition to mastering the techniques of the forms, Taekwondo and Karate students also learn to use weapons such as the nunchaku, bo staff, and sai in their practice. For Taekwondo, competitions are focused solely on unarmed body techniques such as kicking and punching. On the other hand, Karate has competitions that include weapons use.

Whether practicing in a dojo or attending a summer camp, Kata and poomsae are integral to Taekwondo and Karate training. They are used to improve physical fitness, develop self-defense skills, and instill mental discipline. In recent years, shadow boxing, jumping ropes, and punching bags have become more common in training karateka and Taekwondo practitioners.

Rules Compared: Sparring and Scoring

Regarding the rules of sparring and scoring, Taekwondo and Karate have a few differences that set them apart. In Taekwondo, the focus is mainly on kicks, while Karate emphasizes hand techniques. Taekwondo competitions generally allow kicks to the head, while Karate sparring usually prohibits this. In Karate, a punch to the body is worth more points than a kick, while in Taekwondo, a head kick is the highest-scoring technique.

The scoring system in Taekwondo and Karate is slightly different as well. In Taekwondo competitions, electronic sensors detect a kick on the competitors’ protective gear, and points are awarded automatically. Karate uses a similar system, but judges are present to confirm the points, and hand techniques tend to be more highly valued.

Taekwondo and Karate competitions have weight classes. The rules may differ slightly depending on the competition or governing body, such as the World Taekwondo Federation or the International Karate Association.

Cardio and strength training are essential for achieving success in Karate and Taekwondo. The combination of these two types of training provides a comprehensive workout that improves overall fitness and maximizes performance in martial arts.

Cardio training increases endurance, while strength training builds muscular strength and power. A proper balance of both forms of training is crucial to ensure that the body is prepared for the demands of martial arts practice and competition. Focusing on proper form and technique during training can also help prevent injury and improve overall fitness.

Gear Compared: Gloves and Shin Guards

Karate and Taekwondo are striking martial arts, and they share many similarities regarding gear. The essential equipment for Karate and Taekwondo are gloves and shin guards. Gloves are necessary to protect the hands and knuckles when striking, while shin guards protect the shins and feet from injury when performing kicks.

However, there are differences between the gloves and shin guards used in Karate and Taekwondo. Karate gloves are more lightweight and less padded, while Taekwondo gloves are more substantial and heavily padded. This is because Taekwondo emphasizes kicking techniques, and the gloves must provide more protection against impacts. Similarly, the shin guards used in Taekwondo are longer, covering the entire shin and foot, while Karate shin guards are shorter, only covering the shin.

karate vs taekwondo: Which is better for self-defense

This is the question most martial artists do not like to be asked. Which one is better for self-defense? The answer one might get from a seasoned martial artist is always the same: it depends on who trains it and where. It is truly an individual and specific problem.

A karateka might get into a fight with three people and win but can get punched once by a boxer and knocked out. Many martial artists claim to throw their art out the window in the street since the two contexts are incomparable. Nevertheless, comparing the two in terms of street effectiveness might be valuable. 

The usual self-defense video on the internet is an attacker standing behind a tree, waiting for the „unsuspecting” passerby (usually a woman, for dramatic effect) to reach the tree, then be surprised when they get taken down with precise strikes by the passerby. The problem with these promotional videos is that they are unrealistic.

Most fights happen in close-up scenarios, bars or cafés, alleys, or locker rooms. There are certain things both schools teach, which can be useful in these situations, like awareness of your surroundings and keeping your distance. Still, Karate might have the edge over Taekwondo in everyday situations because of the use of hands.

You only need one kick to be taken down by a Taekwondo practitioner, but what are the chances that a person could execute and precisely land a spinning kick in a bar scenario, for example? Not much. Karate keeps you on your feet and teaches you to use your hands efficiently. If you miss a spinning kick, you might end up on the floor, a very bad place to be in a street fight.

However, if you miss a punch, you can probably send another toward your enemy without losing your balance or turning your back to your attacker. 

Classical Karate might give you more of an edge in a street fight, but it is worth mentioning that a Taekwondo practitioner also has a massive advantage over the average Joe who feels strong after three beers. It is also a useful tool on the streets, and if you know how to use your legs, they can generate much more force than your arms can.

Training either martial art is better than training none, both can provide amazing ways to train both the mind and the body, but if you are looking for a self-defense tool, you might be better off training Karate. 

Taekwondo vs Karate for Fitness: Benefits and Differences of the two martial arts

Taekwondo and Karate are both martial arts that are known to have a positive impact on physical fitness. These two disciplines offer unique benefits for fitness enthusiasts. Both styles can help improve cardiovascular health, endurance, strength, flexibility, and agility.

However, Taekwondo emphasizes fast and explosive kicking techniques, while Karate focuses more on hand strikes and defensive techniques. As a result, Taekwondo is often considered more cardio-intensive and burns more calories, while Karate tends to be more strength-focused. Regardless of the discipline, both Taekwondo and Karate can greatly improve their fitness levels and overall health.

The Importance of Cardio and Strength Training in Karate and Taekwondo

Cardio and strength training are essential for achieving success in Karate and Taekwondo. The combination of these two types of training provides a comprehensive workout that improves overall fitness and maximizes performance in martial arts.

Cardio training increases endurance, while strength training builds muscular strength and power. A proper balance of both forms of training is crucial to ensure that the body is prepared for the demands of martial arts practice and competition. Focusing on proper form and technique during training can also help prevent injury and improve overall fitness.

If you are interested, check out how Karate and Taekwondo compare to other martial arts in self-defense.

FAQ about Karate vs Taekwondo

Should my child do Karate or Taekwondo?

It’s a question that many parents ask themselves when considering martial arts classes for their children. While Karate and Taekwondo are great options for kids, the decision ultimately depends on what you and your child want to get out of their martial arts training. Karate originated in Japan and emphasizes hand techniques more, while Taekwondo, a Korean martial art form, focuses more on kicking techniques. However, both offer great physical exercise, self-defense training, and valuable life skills such as discipline, respect, and perseverance.

Taekwondo can be effective in a real fight when used in the right context and with proper training. Taekwondo training includes sparring and self-defense techniques, which can be adapted to real-life situations. However, it’s important to note that, like any martial art, Taekwondo is a training tool and should not be relied upon as a sole means of self-defense. It’s also worth noting that Taekwondo focuses heavily on kicking techniques, so practitioners may benefit from additional training in grappling techniques or other martial arts styles to complement their skills.

While both martial arts involve striking techniques, Karate focuses more on hand strikes and punches, whereas Taekwondo emphasizes high, fast, and spinning kicks. Karate strikes tend to be more direct and consequential, while Taekwondo kicks are often more agile and flashy.

Zen Buddhism heavily influences Karate and promotes self-discipline, respect, and humility. It emphasizes character development and spiritual growth. On the other hand, Taekwondo is deeply rooted in Korean culture and focuses on the principles of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. Both martial arts strive for harmony and personal growth, but their cultural backgrounds shape the specific values and philosophies taughtKarate is heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism and promotes self-discipline, respect, and humility. It emphasizes character development and spiritual growth. On the other hand, Taekwondo is deeply rooted in Korean culture and focuses on the principles of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. Both martial arts strive for harmony and personal growth, but their cultural backgrounds shape the specific values and philosophies taught

Karate training generally involves more strength and power-oriented exercises, such as push-ups, sit-ups, and heavy bag work, with an emphasis on developing strong stances and stable footing. Taekwondo training, on the other hand, often incorporates more flexibility and agility exercises, like dynamic stretching and plyometrics, to improve the speed and accuracy of kicks. Both martial arts also include cardio and endurance training, but the specific methods can vary.

In Karate competitions, points are awarded for clean, controlled strikes to specified target areas with proper technique. Power, control, and precision are all critical factors. In Taekwondo competitions, points are awarded for successful kicks and punches to the opponent’s torso or head, with higher points given for more complex or spinning techniques. Taekwondo matches tend to be faster-paced, with an emphasis on speed and agility.

Both martial arts require protective gear, but the specifics can vary. Karate often uses gloves, shin guards, mouth guards, and sometimes chest protectors, emphasizing protecting the hands and forearms for striking. Taekwondo practitioners typically wear a headgear, chest protector, forearm and shin guards, groin protection, and foot protectors, with a focus on ensuring the safety of both the attacker and the defender during high-speed kicking exchanges.

Gianluca Martucci, Gianluca Martucci is a personal trainer and an athletic trainer.
Article by

Gianluca Martucci

Gianluca Martucci is a personal trainer and an athletic trainer. Since he was a kid, he has been a big fan of Martial Arts and Combat Sports: from Wrestling and now MMA to Karate and Kung Fu, for this reason he specialized in workouts for martial artistis. Our testing and reviewing method.
Best Boxing gloves, top king boxing gloves, training gloves

Best Boxing Gloves: Training and Sparring Gloves that are worth your money (2023)

I tested 10 of the top boxing gloves in the market and found Top King to be the best boxing gloves due to their high quality, superior padding, excellent wrist support, and price.

Best Boxing Gloves: Teacher’s top picks

Product Cleto Reyes Boxing Gloves TOP KING Training Gloves Everlast Training Gloves
Model Cleto Reyes Lace Gloves Boxing Training Gloves PowerLock2
Size 16 oz 10 oz 14 oz
Material Leather Leather Polyurethane
Brand Cleto Reyes TOP KING Boxing Everlast
Glove Type Training Training Training

Throughout my 15 years as a striker and professional coach, I have used several boxing gloves on my hands. From cheap boxing gloves for beginners to the legendary items worn in the bloody battles at Lumpinee Stadium in Thailand, I had a taste of all in rings and dojos worldwide.

Table of Contents

For this reason, it was easy to analyze the market and decide which I should test for making a comprehensive list of the best boxing gloves. Experience gives you the skill necessary to spot flaws from afar, but even the great masters cannot present a verdict before actually wearing them. The adage “you get what you pay for” can be applied here, but it’s not always true. You don’t have to spend all your hard-earned money on luxury items. The best-quality boxing gloves might not be the ones you’ve been thinking and, sometimes, they might be found for a fair price.

Top King is not the most traditional among the best leather boxing gloves, but it reached the top level within less than 15 years of existence. It ended up being the number one for its high quality and durability. And it’s not the most expensive, even among the Thai gloves.

A pair of Top King is my current gear, and after a whole year of hard training, it looks like I had just bought them. Its protective features are still 100%, and this is a crucial point for a heavy guy like myself.

The competition is fierce, though, and these pair of boxing gloves are not the best at everything. Some features are incompatible with the different areas of Martial Arts. The best boxing gloves for fighting won’t be the best for training, which requires more padding, a characteristic that might decrease the potential for knockouts.

After reading this list, you can define a strategy to find the beast in yourself using the best boxing gloves for each category.

Best Boxing Gloves Complete list

  • Sanabul Essential Gel Kickboxing Gloves
  • Venum Elite Boxing Gloves
  • Adidas Speed 50 Boxing & Kickboxing gloves
  • Everlast — Pro Style Training Gloves
  • Everlast Powerlock2 Training Gloves
  • Cleto Reyes Lace Boxing Training Gloves
  • YOKKAO Matrix Muay Thai gloves
  • Twins Special Boxing Gloves
  • Hayabusa T3 Boxing Gloves
  • TOP KING Boxing Muay Thai Training Gloves

10. Best Boxing Gloves on a Budget for Beginners

Sanabul Essential Gel Kickboxing Gloves

Sanabul Essential Gel gloves are a good choice for beginners looking for an affordable option. These gloves feature a powerful hook and loop closure system, gel-infused padding, and a unique longitudinal arch design that ensures a perfect fit. The mesh palms make them highly comfortable for long training sessions, while the faux leather construction makes them lightweight.

Durable Sanabul best boxing gloves designed for optimal performance. Crafted with high-quality materials, these gloves provide comfort and protection during intense boxing sessions. Suitable for sparring and training, they offer a great fit and reliable weight.


  • very cheap,
  • easy to find
  • well, that’s it. I cannot point out anything else that’s good about them


  • low quality
  • durability
  • terrible wrist support 

It feels awkward to write about these Sanabul gel gloves in a list of best-quality boxing gloves after having actually used them. By far the cheapest option among the ones tested, this item has a surprisingly reasonable rate on Amazon. They are the most sold among all gloves available on the American website.

There is no misleading here, Sanabul said it itself: these are cheap boxing gloves made for beginners.

They are gel-infused to reduce the impact on your hands. They also present a mesh palm, which makes them very comfortable for extended training.

Sanabul sponsors some of the most iconic UFC fighters of the modern era, such as Sean O’Malley and Gilbert Burns. They also pride themselves on being eco-friendly.

For this pair, the material chosen is called “faux leather.” Faux is the French word for fake and this basically means that they use synthetic leather, which is considered to have a smaller carbon footprint than animal-based materials. However, it is a well-known fact that they also last much less.

The cheap material doesn’t pay off. There are many complaints about the internal fabric, which, feels delicate and loose. As mentioned, a rupture would cause a disturbance in the foam distribution, and, after that, no gloves are trustworthy anymore. The so-called “infused gel” makes it even worse. They are kind of tiny beads of gel that will start leaking immediately after a rupture, making these gloves useless.

Many reported irregular foam padding and varying size, which shows a lack of quality control. The sewing is clearly of low quality. They feel like disposable gloves that cannot bear more than a few sessions. Even a beginner can destroy them quickly on a heavy bag, maybe hurting themselves.

Sanabul has definitely bet on the ultracheap cost of spreading them worldwide, suffocating the qualified reviews in a myriad of first impressions by amateurs, resulting in a 4.6 out of 5 on Amazon with almost 22.000 reviews.

9. Best Boxing Gloves for fitness classes

Venum Elite Boxing Gloves

The Venum Elite Boxing Gloves are an excellent choice for amateur boxers looking for a well-made and durable pair of gloves. The triple density foam and reinforced seams provide excellent protection from injury, while the attached thumb ensures long-lasting quality.
The palm’s semi-leather construction and mesh panel offer excellent breathability and comfort during intense training sessions.

Best Boxing gloves made by Venum built to withstand rigorous training. Made with high-quality materials, these gloves ensure comfort and durability. With a 16 oz weight and superior craftsmanship, they are perfect for boxing enthusiasts seeking reliable sparring gloves.


  • easy to find
  • breathability
  • widely admired style


  • dreadful cost-benefit
  • durability
  • wrist support

Many believe Venum is among the best-quality boxing gloves in the world. Some consider them as a cheap and good professional option. Simply put: they are wrong. These are amateur boxing gloves, and they may be actually more expensive in the long run than you think.

These expensive gloves are handmade in Thailand with semi-leather, which is a fancy way to call synthetic leather. They use triple-density foam and present a mesh panel on the palm that increases breathability, keeping your hands cool and improving comfort during intense training sessions.

The nightmare begins with wrist support. In comparison with professional gloves, this is terrible. The shock absorption is not impaired, but you might have trouble if you are over 75 kg.

Boxing gloves designed by Venum for optimal performance. These high-quality gloves provide durability, comfort, and a great fit. Suitable for boxing training, they offer excellent protection. Highly regarded in boxing glove reviews, this is the best glove for punching and sparring.

These features combined make these gloves risky for your hands. Some people have reported being hurt using them and, during the test, wasn’t hard to imagine this happening.

They are a blast on Amazon though. Maybe because the majority of people train at an amateur level or have not felt the power of wearing a real professional pair of boxing gloves on their hands, these are accessible items, one of the most broadly spread in the world and they got that “professional aura” as a consequence of good marketing.

Complaints on Amazon corroborate this theory. It’s clear that those who didn’t like them got more experience than those who did. The case against them is usually built on the slight difference compared to much better options.

Overall, these could be considered reasonable but very expensive boxing gloves for beginners or terrible and not-that-cheap pseudo-professional gloves. Either way, they are not worth it. They are only US$3,00 cheaper than the Top King boxing gloves, and this makes them one of the worst choices you could possibly make.

8. Best Boxing Gloves for fitness classes (on a Budget)

Adidas Speed 50 Boxing & Kickboxing gloves

The adidas Speed 50 Boxing Gloves offer a one-piece mold that provides excellent wrist support and power, making them ideal for both beginners and professionals. The multilayer foam ensures impact absorption while the durable PU exterior promises longevity.

Top-notch boxing gloves by adidas for serious athletes. These glove offer a great fit and excellent protection. Crafted with high-quality materials, these are the best boxing gloves for boxing, sparring, and training. Trusted by enthusiasts for their weight and superior performance.


  • easy to find
  • unique colors
  • cheap


  • low-quality sewing
  • durability
  • wrist support

Adidas is a worldwide renowned brand for sports supplies but is not known for having the best-quality boxing gloves. They have an extensive range of designs though, and a best seller is the Speed 50.

The Adidas Speed 50 are made of PU exterior and a multilayer foam for shock absorption. It’s a one-piece mold that supposedly can increase the user’s wrist protection.

They got a great rate on Amazon (4.6 out of 5 stars), but the rule applies here: the name “Adidas” attracts plenty of beginners. Being a well-known brand, it inspires trust and it’s mainly evaluated by amateur fighters.

One feature shared by most of these low-cost Adidas is the low-quality sewing. It’s not unusual to bump onto reports of gloves unsewing within a couple of months. A friend of mine gave me a Speed 50 as a gift when I was living in Brazil, and it lasted no more than 3 months.

The PU, a.k.a. three synthetic leather, is not durable, but it does collaborate to reduce the cost. These are cheap boxing gloves and they might be adequate for people training for (and only for) fitness purposes.

To be fair, although they present a sober style, there are some beautiful options of colors, hardly found in other bands.

7. Best Boxing Gloves on a budget

Everlast — Pro Style Training Gloves

The Everlast Pro Style Training Gloves are the perfect choice for beginners who want a durable and comfortable glove. The full mesh palm and patented Thumb-Lok feature offer a secure and comfortable fit for heavy bag workouts, sparring, and mitt work. The gloves come in two weight sizes, 12- or 14 ounces, and have an Everfresh treatment to prevent offensive odors.

Premium boxing glove designed by Everlast for the dedicated boxer. Made with high-quality materials, these gloves deliver comfort, durability, and a perfect fit. Best boxing gloves a 8 oz weight and exceptional craftsmanship, they are highly regarded among boxing enthusiasts.


  • Cheap
  • breathability
  • easy to find


  • lack of consistency
  • durability
  • elastic wrist strap

With its Pro Style Training Gloves, Everlast has always made it to most lists of best-quality boxing gloves. They have not changed much through the years and they are the usual first choice for the beginner. In fact, those were my first gloves 15 years ago.

Everlast are well known. Some of the greatest boxers of all time used them, such as Muhammad Ali, Canelo Alvarez, and Tyson Fury. However, the gloves custom-made for these fighters are way too different from the Pro Style Training gloves. These are, indubitably, amateur gear. But they are good enough for that, which is why they are still out there after all these years.

The Pro Style Training gloves are made of PU and present a full mesh palm, which makes them very comfortable for long boxing training. They also offer a multilayer foam to increase shock absorption, but that’s not as efficient as promised. There are many complaints by actual fighters. Even at an amateur level, people over 70 kg tend to think they do not absorb enough impact.

The cuffs are designed to put them on and off quickly. The fun fact about this model is that they have actually changed for the worse with time. Over the years, Everlast replaced the classic wrist strap with a partially elastic one with a small velcro. The consequence is a smaller limit to how tight you can adjust them, preventing a secure fit for most boxers. If you got thin arms, these gloves will be loose and increase the risk of injuries.

Many complaints about the exterior have emerged in the last years with some people actually questioning the legitimacy of the received Everlast gloves. However, what seems to be true is that the post-production control has been incapable of guaranteeing regular gear.

6. Best Boxing Gloves for beginners

Everlast Powerlock2 Training Gloves

The Everlast PowerLock2 Training Glove features a modern design, made of high quality synthetic leather and quad-layered foam core protection. It includes an ergonomic grip bar and a full mesh palm, with an innovative turn-back strap system and an ergonomically secured thumb. The gloves are lightweight, with a polyester foam interior lining, and come with a 120-day warranty.

High-performance boxing gloves for intense training sessions. These gloves provide great comfort and protection, thanks to their high-quality materials. Designed with a 14 oz weight, this glove offer optimal support for boxing, sparring, and training workouts.


  • wrist support
  • cheap
  • breathability


  • foam padding
  • durability
  • low-quality sewing

To improve towards the professional level, Everlast created the new Powerlock2 training gloves, which are its low-cost best gloves for boxing.

To begin with, Everlast has changed the cushion system. These gloves present quad-layered foam padding. They used premium synthetic leather for making this gear and no complaints about them have been found so far. It’s still not leather, and it wouldn’t outlast a pair of leather gloves, but at least they will not start to crumble on your hands a few weeks after the first use, as reported about the Pro Style.

They kept the full mesh palm, which helps control the temperature and moisture.

The highlight here is the cuffs. They replaced the flawed system present in the Pro Style gloves with a turnback wrist strap system. This is one of the most efficient hook-and-loop closures ever made for boxing gloves. There are no complaints about wrist support anymore.

The padding is better than in older versions, but some still believe it’s insufficient. But, for low-cost gloves, it felt good enough on the heavy bag training. They have a 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon, which is well deserved.

I wouldn’t recommend them for professional boxers, but these are great affordable gloves for the amateur level.

5. Best boxing gloves for fighting

Cleto Reyes Boxing Gloves

Train in style and comfort with the Cleto Reyes Lace Boxing Training Gloves. Made with high-quality leather, these gloves have a curved knuckle area for a natural feel and an extra-long cuff for support. They come in multiple colors and weights, and have a traditional lace closure. Handcrafted in Mexico under strict quality control, these gloves are perfect for boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA training.

Reliable boxing gloves made with high-quality materials, ensuring durability and comfort. These 16 oz gloves are suitable for boxing, sparring, and training. Trusted by athletes for their superior performance and positive reviews, this is the best boxing glove made Cleto-Reyes.


  • wrist support
  • narrow design allows great speed
  • durability


  • unpractical
  • uncomfortable at the heavy bag
  • expensive

Mexico should be proud not only of the many legendary boxers the country brought to the world but also of creating some of the best gloves for boxing.

For almost 70 years, Cleto Reyes has produced gear worn by some of the greatest of all time, such as Sugar Rey Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar de la Hoya, and Mike Tyson.

These boxing gloves are handmade in Mexico with genuine cowhide leather and high-density foam padding. This allows a compact design that favors acceleration and, as a consequence, damage. Therefore, they are perfect for fighting. They might be a little bit uncomfortable for power punching at the heavy bag, though.

Dependable Cleto Reyes boxing gloves designed for optimal performance and longevity. Crafted with high-quality materials, these gloves offer a secure fit and excellent hand protection. Highly regarded in boxing glove reviews for durability and reliability, this boxing glove is the best for punching and sparring.

They are the only ones on this list to use laces instead of velcro. Along with the extra long cuffs and the narrow design, this locking system results in outstanding wrist support.

The thing is: lace-up gloves are not practical. This means that these gloves are not ideal for solo training. You will need somebody else’s help to lace them up, and once you put them on, you better keep them. Velcro gloves are way easier to deal with. This is a classic trade-off: practicality versus safety.

4. Best Boxing Gloves for professional

Twins Special Boxing Gloves

The Twins Boxing Muay Thai Training Sparring Gloves are handcrafted from premium 100% Thai leather and the highest quality cowhide leather. These gloves come in various sizes from 8oz to 18oz, making them ideal for anyone who takes their training seriously. With a unique design hook-and-loop wrist strap for complete security, they are easy to put on and take off. These unisex-adult gloves are made in Thailand and come in 43-Black/Yellow color. These gloves are a must-have for anyone looking for comfort, durability, and quality in their training gear.

Boxing gloves designed by Twins for ultimate performance and protection. Crafted with high-quality materials, this glove offer a comfortable fit and enhanced grip. Ideal for boxing enthusiasts, they are highly recommended as 8 oz sparring gloves.


  • wrist support
  • style variability
  • durability


  • Less easy to find than most gloves
  • more expensive than Top King (and not better)
  • breathability

No best boxing gloves list should be considered trustworthy without at least one Thai representative. Muay Thai is considered by many as the striking Martial Art per excellence. Thailand has forged some of the scariest strikers in the world. The gloves they used had to keep pace.

Twin is a brand founded in 1992 in Thailand, and it’s known for its best-quality boxing gloves and reasonable price.

The Twins Special is made of genuine leather and has a multilayer foam shaped for best supporting the boxer’s hands. The cuffs are also padded, and the design resembles its younger brother, Top King. However, the Twins’ wrist support is not as great for the average hand. The reason is that the cuffs are positioned slightly farther from the joint than in Top King.

There are a couple of complaints on Amazon about them being too tight. However, these are exceptions. They usually don’t feel much different from other Thai gloves on the hands. Mostly they are rated 5 stars and deserve sometfiveing close to it.

3. Best Boxing Gloves for sparring (Best Boxing Mitts)

YOKKAO Matrix Muay Thai gloves

The YOKKAO Matrix Breathable Muay Thai Boxing Gloves are handcrafted by professionals in Thailand with premium leather and double-stitched seams for extra reinforcement. Featuring an attached thumb for added support, the gloves also have a hook and loop closure for easy on and off. These 16oz gloves come in Matrix Black and are perfect for adult unisex use for Muay Thai boxing. The YOKKAO logo patch is embroidered and attached at the bottom, adding a touch of style to these highly functional gloves.

Exceptional boxing gloves for serious athletes. With their superior craftsmanship, these gloves provide optimal support during training and sparring sessions. Crafted with high-quality materials, they are highly regarded as the best boxing gloves by Yokkao.


  • durability
  • shock absorption
  • wrist support


  • expensive
  • big difference in price among models for no innovation
  • not that easy to find

Yokkao was chosen because its name has risen dramatically among the best leather boxing gloves in the last few years. Since its beginning in 2010, this is probably the Thai brand that has grown the most among all boxing gloves. Many great fighters wear them, such as Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao, Singdam, Superlek, and the G.O.A.T., Saenchai.

The first time I had the opportunity of having a Yokkao covering my hands was in a Muay Thai camp in Thailand. They have some outstandingly stylish gloves, but the fact remains true: all are aesthetical variations from the “Matrix” gloves. You may pay considerably more for a shiny pair, but you’ll get the same quality with their primary stuff.

I tested the Yokkao Matrix boxing gloves, and I can say: it’s not only a name! A regular Muay Thai fighter in Thailand trains twice a day, two to three hours each time, six days a week. No wonder Thai gloves are so durable and so protective.

These gloves are made of 100% genuine leather and long-lasting shock-absorbing foam. They are handcrafted in Thailand, and you can tell that by each detail. The carefully sewn double-stitched seams increase its durability significantly.

Versatile boxing gloves crafted by Yokkao with care and precision. These gloves offer a comfortable fit and reliable protection during intense workouts. Ideal for boxing, sparring, and training, they are highly recommended in boxing glove reviews.

The wrists are reinforced enough to protect you without restraining much of your movements. It feels comfortable and protective at the same time. There’s nothing new about the cuffs. This is simply the result of a century of experimentation in glove design in Thailand. Thai gloves usually feel amazing on your hands. They might look humble, but these are weapons of true warriors.

2. Best Boxing Gloves for wrist protection

Hayabusa T3 Boxing Gloves

Hayabusa T3 Boxing Gloves are the perfect training companion for men and women. These gloves offer world-renowned protection and comfort with patented technology, interior fabric that feels smooth on the hands and regulates temperature, and dual wrist straps with a splinting system for proper alignment. The 5-layer foam knuckle padding provides ultimate knuckle protection during training. Available in 14oz, these gloves are made of Vylar Engineered Leather and feature a hook and loop closure. Perfect for Boxing, MMA, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai.

Premium boxing gloves by Hayabusa built for durability and comfort. These gloves feature a 14 oz weight, making them the best boxing gloves for boxing and sparring. Made with high-quality materials, they offer excellent protection and are highly rated in boxing glove reviews.


  • wrist support
  • breathability
  • compact


  • expensive
  • durability
  • padding

Check price

Hayabusa T3 Boxing Gloves for Men and Women


Hayabusa T3 Boxing Gloves


An item that appears in all lists of best boxing gloves is the Hayabusa T3. They are a piece of art when it comes to design.

The cleavage on the palm is as long as on some lace-up gloves, which increases breathability.

Some people complain about their size and they are right. The 16 oz, normally my choice, are smaller than most gloves of the same weight in the market. This doesn’t make them worse. It’s just something to keep in mind when buying a pair.

Top-performing Hayabusa boxing gloves made from premium materials. These gloves provide exceptional comfort and support for boxing and sparring sessions. With positive customer reviews, they are considered among the best boxing gloves available.

The shock absorption system is a high-density 5-layer foam, which makes them more compact and efficient. However, they might be uncomfortable in intense training sessions.

Another innovation is the double-strap system on the cuffs: the wrist support is absolutely uncanny! This is the main reason why these boxing gloves have been elected for two years in a row by Men’s Health magazine as “best boxing gloves”.

A massive downside for th.”Hayabusa T3 boxing gloves is that they are costly for non-leather gear. Fortunately, it’s possible to buy the very same model in leather. They won’t be cheap, but they will be some of the best leather boxing gloves.

1. Best boxing gloves overall

TOP KING Boxing Muay Thai Training Gloves

The TOP KING Boxing Muay Thai Training Gloves are made of the highest quality cowhide leather with multilayer inner foam padding for superb protection during training. With extra foam padding on the wrist and climacool technology, these gloves keep hands cool and dry while offering optimal safety. The specially designed wraparound wrist strap ensures the hook-and-loop closure is in the correct position, preventing injury. These gloves come in 10 oz size, are suggested for unisex-adult use, and are perfect for anyone who takes their training seriously.

Versatile boxing gloves by Top King suitable for various training needs. Crafted with high-quality materials, these gloves offer comfort, durability, and a perfect fit. Trusted by boxing enthusiasts, they receive rave reviews for their exceptional performance. Some of the Best boxing gloves overall.


  • wrist support
  • shock absorption
  • perfect cost-benefit


  • only a few options
  • no innovations
  • breathability is not great, but not bad either (I’m just looking for something to fill the list, honestly)

Back in Thailand, I went to each of the dozen of Thai boxing gear stores on Soi Ta-iad, the Muay Thai road in Phuket, looking for the best boxing gloves available. I tried every single brand and model before making my decision. Traveling on a budget, each Baht should count, and I could not afford to fall into a trap. My choice was a Top King pair, and, one year later, I have no regrets.

Only a year older than Yokkao, Top King is omnipresent in any Thai gym. They are a little bit better and cheaper than the former. They got the right weight, size, and material.

The wrist support of these gloves is surreal. I caught myself many times looking at them and trying to figure out why they are so good. The answer is simple: perfect shape combined with inner wrist padding.

They are handmade in Thailand with cowhide leather and present a multilayer foam system that it’s very protective. This is coming from a 100 kg fighter who punches with no mercy, so believe me: they are worth it!

High-quality Top King boxing gloves known for their durability and comfort. These gloves are designed for boxing, sparring, and training purposes. With positive reviews and trusted performance, they are a top choice among boxing enthusiasts.

I’ve owned mine for more than one year already and they look pretty much like the very first day when I bought them. No wonder they got 100% five stars reviews on Amazon. The only problem might be the fact that there aren’t many options out there. They might not be your gloves if you’re looking for stylish gear. But if the quality matters to you, go for it.

The reasons why Boxing Gloves are so important

Protecting the hands

The best boxing gloves for you are the ones that fit better and have features that increase cushioning to both your knuckles and wrists. To reach the top level, you better keep yourself healthy.

Protecting the opponent

Without gloves, fights wouldn’t last as long as they do nowadays, and they protect the opponent just enough to avoid a blood bath and subsequent interruption. Making fights more violent might sound like a good idea for many people, but this isn’t good for sports. Gloves are why fighters must push themselves toward great technique, and the best gloves for boxing are directly responsible for a long-lasting career for all fighters.

Allowing for more powerful punches

Fighting is also about damage. Power is a critical factor for scoring in combat sports. To deliver nasty combinations and push yourself forward, you have to wear the best-quality boxing gloves capable of holding your joints in place and reducing the damage to your knuckles.

That Are the Best Boxing Gloves

The best boxing gloves are the Top King training gloves. They provide ample protection without compromising efficiency and have excellent durability and cost less than most professional gloves.

Features to Look for In Boxing Gloves


Decades have passed, and one thing remains true: leather boxing gloves are the best choice! That might change in the future, and I hope it does. Leather is not the most eco-friendly material available. But the fact is that no material is superior so far. It’s protective and incredibly durable.

Intended Use

Choosing the best boxing gloves also depends on the purpose. The best for fighting are the ones with which you can cause the most significant damage. This may not be true for sparring since you don’t want to hurt a training partner. Most times, the best gloves for training are the ones that absorb the most impact, protecting your hands and simultaneously your partner. If you can afford more than one pair, buying different gloves for different purposes is a good call.


It’s hard to talk about fit and comfort as a general rule regarding boxing gloves. In Thailand, I tried dozens of items, and none fit as great as Top King, which I heard from a fellow athlete was “too big” for his hands. You have to find what fits better for you.

Cleto Reyes and Hayabusa T3 might be uncomfortable for people with big hands. For my hands, it felt like they were built on them: just perfect! Sanabul and Adidas were huge. Even with double hand wraps, they were still loose. The others had a similar average pattern.

Regarding thermal comfort, it’s hard to beat those that use mesh palms. However, this reduces durability. It’s ok for a cheap pair, but not for an expensive one. Among the best leather boxing gloves, the ones with longer cleavage on the palm were the better, Hayabusa T3 and Cleto Reyes. None of them were terrible, though.


Multilayer foam is a classic choice among the best gloves for boxing because each layer reduces the impact on the next one. This culminates in less damage to your hands, as the more significant the number of layers, the better. But that’s not all. The material and density are also important.

With super-dense foam, gloves become more lethal. Therefore, dense foam is an excellent feature for fighting gloves. However, with the repetition of Martial Arts training, density might play a destructive role on your knuckles. Having more than one pair of gloves is always a good call. As your fights get closer, you can migrate to the ones you’ll use at them, keeping the more protective ones for general training.

Wrist Support

Choosing the right size and model for you is the best way to get 100% of the glove’s potential. More than that, the technology applied may significantly enhance the level of protection.

Cleto Reyes uses laces, a traditional but very effective way of supporting the wrists. Its superior quality when compared to most velcro gloves it’s undeniable. Most Thai gloves have reached perfection at design using velcro, but they are still worse than laces.

The highlight here is the Hayabusa T3. With its double locking system and design, it’s undoubtedly the best in support among all velcro gloves I’ve ever tried.

Velcro or Lace

There is no doubt about it: velcro is practical. However, it’s also a fact that laces provide superior protection to your wrists. Velcro doesn’t respect the shape of your wrists as well as lace. But one velcro system is close enough.

Hayabusa managed to reach almost reached protection of laces with higher practicality. It’s possible! No wonder they are constantly figuring on the world’s “best gloves” lists. They are amazing.

Ideally, keep a pair of practical gloves with velcro, one with a decent level of protection, and another pair of lace-up gloves for the moments you’re planning to go nuts.

Common Questions About Boxing Gloves

What Do The Different Boxing Glove Weights Mean?

Boxing gloves are weighted in ounces. The heavier the boxer, the more serious the gloves. This happens because the cushion must enhance with power. As weight tends to reflect the size, some gloves are also more significant as they get heavier. But this is not true for all gloves.

Most boxers use Cleto Reyes, custom-made Everlast, or Winning gloves. Kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters, especially in Southeast Asia, favor Thai gloves, mainly Yokkao, Top King, and Twins.

Muhammad Ali has used many different gloves. But, for the biggest part of his career, he had used custom-made Everlast gloves.

Mike Tyson has also used many different gloves. In the first half of his career, he favored custom-made Everlast, changing to Cleto Reyes at the end.

You can and must clean your boxing gloves, but washing them is not a good option. Wipes and antibacterial sprays are usually a good call. Always let your gloves breathe. Ideally, keep them in a ventilated and dry place.

The best boxing gloves for sparring protect your hands, wrist, and training partner. You can’t consistently fight if you keep hurting yourself during training. Among the ones tested, Top King is the best boxing glove for sparring.

The heaviest the gloves, the better for sparring. Ideally, you should use 16 or 18-oz boxing gloves to get a good level of protection.

Regarding durability, there’s no doubt leather gloves are the best option. There are no significant differences between leather and alternative materials for efficiency during training.

Quite the contrary, heavier gloves are more protective. The heavier the gloves, the more padding they present. 

Enjoy Your New Boxing Gloves

TOP KING Boxing Muay Thai Training Gloves

If you’re serious about training and need a pair of gloves that can keep up with you, look no further than the TOP KING Boxing Muay Thai Training Gloves. Handmade in Thailand with high-quality cowhide leather and a multilayer foam padding system, these gloves offer unbeatable protection and durability. But the real standout feature is the wrist support – it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. And with a perfect fit and climacool technology to keep your hands dry, you can train hard without any distractions. Plus, with a 100% 5-star rating on Amazon, you know you’re getting a quality product.

Boxing Gloves by TOP KING


  • Wrist support
  • Shock absorption
  • Great cost-benefit


  • Only a few options
  • No innovations
  • Breathability is not great, but not bad either

Indubitably, there’s an important personal factor in any choice. The gloves that will fit like a glove to you (pun intended) may be different from those that feel perfect to me.

However, a few features allow us to split them into great and mediocre candidates.

If you gotta choose only one pair of boxing gloves, you gotta go with Top King. These gloves are protective and versatile killing machines that will turn you into a war hero in any arena without knocking your budget out.

They are not the most spread, but they are easy enough to find. You can buy them on Amazon through the link:

Rafael campos -
Article by

Rafael Campos

Rafael Campos is the head coach of Aríete, a Brazilian-Kiwi Martial Arts team. He has over 10 years of experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and over 16 years in Muay Thai. Rafael has trained Muay Thai at two of the best gyms in the world, Phuket Fight Club, where Leo Elias taught him, and Manop Gym, where he was trained by Manop himself, trainer of the legendary Saenchai. After 10 years as a trainer in Brazil, he moved to New Zealand, teaching Muay Thai and studying for a master’s degree program in Applied Health Sciences focused on rehabilitating injuries related to Martial Arts and other sports. Our testing and reviewing method.
taekwondo black belt

Taekwondo Belts: Ranking System Explained

By Way of Martial Arts

This article will delve into Taekwondo’s belt system’s intricacies and reveal much about the martial art and those who practice it. Colors have essential meanings, with the red belt denoting ultimate achievement.

The journey of a Taekwondo practitioner is marked by progress from one colored belt to another over many years of dedication and hard work. Striving for their mastery of the art, practitioners slowly accumulate skills and knowledge until they reach their highest potential – holding a red belt.

Earning this honor ranks as one of the most valuable accomplishments that one can attain in Taekwondo, as it demonstrates total comprehension and skill in both physical technique and fundamental philosophical principles such as humility, respect, generosity, integrity, patience, and discipline.

These ideals are integral to this iconic martial art and integrated into its fundamentals. Conversely, achieving a red belt requires great skill and admittance to a high-level understanding of these principles, which underpin Taekwondo’s success.

Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained
Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained

ITF Taekwondo ranking system has 10 ranks, ranging from 10th kyu (white belt) to 1st dan (black belt). WTF Taekwondo has 11 ranks where belt colors are: white (11th kyu), yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, blue and black, brown, brown and black, red, red and black, and black (1st dan).

Each belts represents a degree of knowledge, but – as we will soon learn – the two chief Taekwondo organizations, WT and ITF, have different standards regarding belts.

Contents  show 

The Origins of Belts in Martial Arts and the History of Taekwondo Belts

Oriental martial arts have been practiced in the Far East for centuries, but the belt system is a relatively new phenomenon, just a little over a century old. Before belts were introduced, martial artists handed out certificates (or diplomas) to students who had reached a certain level of knowledge and ability.

The Evolution of Taekwondo Belts: How the TKD Belt System Has Changed Over Time

Taekwondo is a martial art that originated in Korea over 2,000 years ago. Over time, the sport has evolved and changed in many ways, including the ranking system. In the early days of taekwondo, no standard ranking system or belt colors existed. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the first standardized taekwondo belt system was introduced, and this system has continued to evolve over time. Today, the taekwondo belt system is recognized worldwide and used by millions of people in many countries.

Kano’s Belt System and Its Impact on Taekwondo Belts and Gup Ranks

But, at the turn of the 20th century, a man called Jigorō Kanō, best known as the founder of judo, decided to introduce colored belts in his art.

This was not a completely original idea, as he was inspired by a similar system present in the Japanese board game of go (similar to chess), but it was a revolution of belt colors in the world of martial arts. 

The essential idea behind the belt system was to enable students to advance more rapidly but also to enable fighters to quickly identify the level of knowledge their opponent has, thus leading to a more leveled field in potential combat.

Kanō’s original colors were blue, white, brown, and black, but as the years passed, the system became more sophisticated and included a larger palette of colors. 

The colored belts in Taekwondo are usually defined as “junior belts,” representing a student of the art.

The black belts are given to masters or instructors, people who have mastered the art and are qualified to teach it to others. They are also called “senior belts.” 

The Taekwondo Belt Order and System – Understanding Dan Levels and Gup Ranks

As stated, the belts are divided into two larger groups – “junior” and “senior.” The former includes colored belts, while the latter encompasses a variety of degrees of Taekwondo black belts. The starting color is always white, and the final level is a 9th-degree black belt. 

Gup vs. Dan: Differences in Rank and Progress in Taekwondo

The “junior” levels are called geup (급), and there are, generally speaking, around 10 of them; the actual number varies between 8 and 12, depending on the style and the governing organization.

Each level doesn’t always mean a specific color; the system is designed to include different colored stripes representing a higher degree of the same color.

The geup system starts with the highest number in the system and continues until the 1stgeup, the last colored rank, before attaining a black belt. The 1st dan is a basic black belt.

The black belts are divided into ranks that are called dan (단) or, in English, degrees. The degrees start with the lowest number (1stdan or first-degree black belt) and reach the final, 9thdan (ninth-degree black belt), associated with the grandmaster title.

The WTF Taekwondo belt order and ITF Taekwondo belt order have a title-based system associated with black belt degrees. Instructors holding degrees 1-3 are called assistant instructors and cannot issue black belts themselves; degrees 4-6 are related to the title of master instructor (just instructors via ITF).

The last ranks show the biggest difference between WTF and ITF – WTF associates the title of grandmaster status with all the ranks from 7 to 9, while ITF does so only for the final, 9th rank, giving the holders of ranks 7 and 8 the titles of masters. 

Taekwondo Belts order
Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained

Age Limit and Time Requirements for Achieving Higher Ranks in Taekwondo, such as Black Belt

The black belt is awarded from 15 onwards (the age limit has changed throughout the years and is currently set at 15).

That doesn’t mean younger children cannot pass dan exams, but they are awarded a special poom rank, a “junior” black belt (usually red and black, or red with black stripe).

The poom rank automatically converts to a regular dan when the trainee reaches the proscribed age of 15 years. 

Taekwondo Belts
Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained

Forms, Technical Elements, and Sparring for Promotion in Taekwondo

Promotion in Taekwondo is achieving a higher rank within the discipline. As a student of Taekwondo, the journey begins with the mandatory white belt. Through hard work and dedication, students progress through the ranks, starting with the yellow belt and moving up through the different colored belts. The process of promotion becomes increasingly challenging as the ranks become higher. Still, it is a testament to the technical and tactical skills a trainee has learned throughout their training journey.

Forms, also known as promises or hyeong, are key elements students must master to be promoted. These pre-arranged patterns of movements demonstrate a student’s understanding of Taekwondo’s basic techniques and principles. Technical elements, such as kicks, strikes, and blocks, are important aspects of a student’s training and are closely evaluated during the promotion process.

Sparring is another important element of Taekwondo training and is often used to evaluate a student’s ability to apply their technical and tactical skills in a more realistic setting. Through the combination of forms, technical elements, and sparring, Taekwondo students can ultimately demonstrate their proficiency and progress through the ranks to achieve the coveted black belt.

How Much Time Do I Need to Progress in Taekwondo Belt Rankings? And How to be prepared for Sparring

Lower ranks usually require not more than a demonstration of different attacks present in Taekwondo and one specific form, predetermined as a skill test for each degree. Forms demonstrate the offensive and defensive skills of students’ Taekwondo training while also demonstrating technical skills. The number of forms depends on the style used (p.e. WTF has 8, while ITF has 9), and the forms change regularly, but only to a smaller degree. A successful demonstration of all these necessary skills allows the trainee to obtain a promotion.

To be prepared for sparring, it is important to focus on physical conditioning, practicing proper technique, and developing good reflexes. This can be achieved through regular training, drilling, and sparring with partners of varying skill levels. Additionally, it is important to have the proper gear, such as a mouthguard, headgear, and gloves. Higher ranks usually add more complex techniques, including sparring, simulated sparring, self-defense, breaking skills, and even a written test on the basics of Taekwondo. Although the organizations have a system of guidelines, each federation can have its variations of minimal standards.

“Junior” promotions are usually held within the school or local community, while black belts (and poom ranks) are usually awarded by the national federation and are internationally recognized. The time necessary for promotion depends on the school, the national federation, and the rank in question. Lower ranks are usually attained after a few months (1-3) in rapid progression, while higher ranks typically require a certain period to pass before trying out for promotion. In some cases, promotion from rank one to rank two is given automatically, while others require a regular promotion. The period between promotions can range from one month to more than a year. Each school and/or national federation determine those periods.

WTF Belt at ITF Competition: Understanding the Differences in Taekwondo Belts

An interesting question is whether ranks are interchangeable and recognized by opposing federations, i.e., does WTF recognize ITF ranks and vice versa?

The answer is yes – ITF degree holders can participate in WTF events and vice versa – but due to political tensions and quarrels, the situation was not always simple and easy for the competitors. 

Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained
Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained

Taekwondo Belt Colors Ranked: From White to Black Belt and ITF vs WTF Belts, and the Significance of Color

We have already explained that black belts have nine degrees so we won’t dwell on that question anymore.

That system is simple enough. But, the “junior” degrees, which use different colors, are interesting as they show how the initial belt system, developed at the start of the 20th century, was incorporated into the sport of Taekwondo.

ITF Vs. WTF Belts

Since WTF and ITF have somewhat different standards for“junior” belts, we will briefly analyze both systems: 

  • The ITF system

The ITF system uses what we have already called a geup. There is a total of 10 geup in the ITF system, and they start from 10 and finish at 1.

The system uses only five colors, with each color having a higher degree variant, represented by a colored stripe added to the main belt; the color of the stripe is always the color of the next degree color (p.e. a second-degree green belt has a blue stripe because blue is the next color in the system).

For example, white with yellow stripe, yellow belt with green stripe… In this case, a green stripe means the higher level of the basic yellow belt. The colors are as follows:

Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained
Taekwondo Belts: ranking System Explained

Color Geup Meaning 10th Blankness, lack of knowledge,

Beginning 9th Middle phase between white and yellow 8th A seed planted 7th Middle phase between yellow and green 6th A planted seed starts to grow, and mature 5th Middle phase between green and blue 4th The sky the grown seed tries to reach3rdMiddle phase between blue and red 2nd The color of blood, a warning about the dangers of the skill 1st Middle phase between red and black Black belt (1st dan)

  • The WTF system

WTF doesn’t use the geup system per se, but the general idea is similar. WT uses only ranks, and a specific color generally represents each rank; there are some variations of the same color with the higher ranks.

Most WTF schools use the system presented below, but slight variations exist worldwide. WTF has 11 ranks obtainable before the red belt, ergo one more than the ITF systems

Stripe Example and Understanding the Significance of Belt Stripe in Taekwondo, including Red Stripe for Seniority

In Taekwondo, the belt system indicates a student’s progress and experience within martial arts. One way this is done is through stripes on the belts. A vertical stripe on a belt is used as a symbol of seniority, with the number of stripes indicating the level of progress. For example, a red belt with a black stripe would indicate 1st kyu, while a red belt without a stripe would symbolize 2nd kyu.

The belt is typically divided into two halves, with the upper half red and the lower half black. This represents the 1st-dan level. As the student progresses, they will earn additional stripes on their belt, representing their increased skill and experience.

The use of different colored belts and stripes is a unique aspect of Taekwondo and helps to visualize a student’s journey and progress within the discipline. Understanding the significance of belt colors and stripes is important in Taekwondo training, as it allows students to track their progress and recognize their peers’ achievements. In addition, it helps instructors and other students identify a student’s skill level and experience.

It’s important to note that the belt colors and stripes system may vary slightly depending on the organization or style of Taekwondo. Still, the general concept of using them to represent skill and experience is consistent across different organizations. Additionally, it’s crucial to remember that the belt stripe is only one aspect of Taekwondo’s overall progress and ranking system. Many other factors, such as forms, sparring, and testing, are also considered.

The Importance of Properly Earning and Wearing Taekwondo Belts in the TKD Community

Wearing a taekwondo belt symbolizes achievement, and earning a new belt is a significant accomplishment in the taekwondo community. It is important to understand that a taekwondo belt is not simply a piece of cloth but a representation of the hard work and dedication of earning it. Wearing a taekwondo belt improperly, or misrepresenting your rank, can be seen as disrespectful to the taekwondo community and those who have earned the same belt through hard work and dedication. To properly earn and wear a taekwondo belt, it is important to follow the guidelines and standards set by the taekwondo community and strive for continual improvement and growth.

Taekwondo Conclusions: Dive Deeper into the Martial Arts and its Belt System

In conclusion, Taekwondo is a dynamic and exciting martial art that holds a standard for physical skill and knowledge. The ranking system, with its different colored belts, including the highly respected red belt, is a significant aspect of the discipline. As you progress through the ranks and learn more about the art over the years, you will be tested on your knowledge and physical skills. With the help of dedicated instructors, you’ll soon discover that Taekwondo is a discipline that can change your life for the better.

If you’re looking for a new challenge and an exciting way to improve your health and fitness, we encourage you to try Taekwondo. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced martial artist, Taekwondo has something to offer everyone. So, take the first step and find a school near you. With the help of dedicated instructors, you’ll soon discover that Taekwondo is a discipline that can change your life for the better. The tests and standards held in Taekwondo are rigorous but attainable, and reaching the red belt is the ultimate goal for many students after years of dedication and hard work.

Related articles: The history of belts and belt colors in martial arts.

Frequently asked questions about Taekwondo belts

What is the Taekwondo Belt Ranking System?

The Taekwondo Belt Ranking System measures a practitioner’s skills, knowledge, and experience in Taekwondo martial arts. The system is based on a series of Taekwondo belts, each representing a different proficiency and skill level.

The Taekwondo Belts are White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Blue Belt, Red Belt, and Black Belt. The colors of the Taekwondo belts symbolize the practitioner’s level of experience and skill in the art.

Each Taekwondo Belt color has a different meaning, with White representing a beginner and Black representing a master of the art. The colors of the Taekwondo belts in between represent a progression of learning and experience in Taekwondo.

The Red Stripe on a Taekwondo belt represents seniority within a rank. A practitioner with a Red Stripe has been training longer than those without and is seen as a mentor or role model to those with the same rank but without the stripe.

To progress in the Taekwondo Belt Ranking System, you must complete a series of forms, technical elements, and sparring sessions. These tests measure your skills, knowledge, and experience in Taekwondo. Additionally, you must meet time requirements and have a minimum age to be eligible for promotions to higher ranks such as Black Belt.

There are typically 9 to 11 Taekwondo belts in the traditional ranking system, starting from a white belt and ending with a black belt. However, the exact number may vary depending on the organization or school.

The order of Taekwondo belts typically goes: white, yellow, green, blue, red, brown, and black. Some organizations may have different orders or additional belts in between.

The ATA (American Taekwondo Association) has 10 Taekwondo belts, including white, yellow, orange, green, blue, red, purple, brown, and black.

Stefano Secci, French Savate Boxing, and Martial Arts champion
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Stefano Secci

Stefano Secci was born on the outskirts of Genoa. He began practicing sports at 11 by enrolling in a Ju-Jitsu class; from there, I have not stopped playing sports until today. At 16, he switched to French Savate Boxing, which I married and has remained my first and only true love. Our testing and reviewing method.
A wrestling hold move demonstration

Catch Wrestling

Catch wrestling refers to the classical grappling style with modified rules or a combat sport, which is different thanks to traveling funfair wrestlers who discovered and developed their submission holds, also known under the name “hooks”.

Catch Wrestling
Catch Wrestling

There are so many catch wrestling forms all around the world.

Why Is It Called Catch Wrestling?

The name catch wrestling appeared because there are fewer limits in catching and holding compared to, for example, Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. Many more submissions and holds are allowed, and catch wrestlers can hurt their foes with so many various techniques. For example, any MMA matches are finished via catch wrestling techniques.

Many dangerous techniques were banned when the sport joined the Olympic family back in 1904. Later amateur catch wrestling was recognized as “freestyle wrestling”. It was separated from dangerous catch style.

Rules And Requirements

The ultimate goal of catch wrestling is to defeat your opponent by pinning him to the mat (his both shoulder blades or any part of the shoulders should remain on the ground) while not going for a submission attempt (in that case, you cannot win the bout).

You can also defeat the opponent via submission in a catch wrestling fight (force him to surrender by causing pain via legitimate technique in a controlled way).

As soon as the opponent taps or the referee confirms that the pin has happened, catch wrestlers must release the hold right off the bat. Breaking these rules leads to an instant disqualification for the catch wrestler.

You are not allowed to eye gouge, bite, kick, fish hook, or hair grab your opponent. Individual finger locks are illegal (no toe hold), alongside full nelson and clothes grabbing. Talking during the catch wrestling combat is one of the greatest fouls, and it can lead to a disqualification too.


Here is the list of legal techniques in a catch wrestling combat (even Brazilian jiu jitsu isn’t that liberal, this could work well in an MMA tournament too):

  • Ankle lock;

  • Knee lock;

  • Hip lock;

  • Spine lock;

  • Neck lock;

  • Shoulder lock;

  • Elbow lock;

  • Wrist lock;

  • Hand lock;

  • Indirect choke / strangle – for example – an inside arm, front face lock (grovit) is allowed.

Many notable MMA fighters (for example, Josh Barnett) come from catch wrestling backgrounds for a reason – catch as catch can offer so many different ways to finish your rival legally! Josh Barnett might be the most famous western catch wrestler in mixed martial arts thanks to his outstanding successes in Pride FC and other high-level promotions.

There are so many tremendous leg locks in this fighting discipline too.


The pre-match catch wrestling requirements include the following:

  • A wrestler must take part in weight checks at 6 PM one day before the fight.

  • The wrestler’s skin must be dry of grease, and oil, and it has to be substance free.

  • Catch wrestlers must ensure that they disclose any contagious condition such as ringworm.

  • The wrestler’s nails must be short.

  • The official team does the checks.

  • Catch as catch can fighters must wear the appropriate attire.


Catch wrestling competitors must be ready for the competition. Once their name is called they have one minute to appear on the mats, failing to do so will lead to instant disqualification.


The pairing table will provide you with all the info – your fight number, the name of your opponent, and the potential time.


There were no time scales in catch wrestling combats throughout history, as matches lasted until one fighter was unable to continue until one of the catch wrestlers wins via pin or a submission. But time restrictions appeared as the sport evolved.

You will get all the rules on the tournament invitation letter, the evening schedule is planned. Yet, there is no break or rest period once the catch wrestling match commences. The ref can only call an injury time-out, but you are not allowed to ingest fluid or water during the combat.

Most matches are contested as the best two or three falls, with a maximum length of an hour. If there is no pin or submission, the ref will decide the combat winner, depending on who was more dominant catch as catch can wrestler throughout the combat.


The referee or the medic has the right to call for an injury time when it’s required. Sometimes the bout could lead to the termination of the catch wrestling battle, especially in the case of excessive bleeding that can’t be stopped within a reasonable timescale.

There is no strict time for a medical timeout, but a medic has the right to prevent an athlete from continuing combat submission wrestling if he believes he’s endangered.


Catch wrestling matches will take part on approved, safe mats. When the wrestler in catch wrestling contests leaves the fighting area during the combat in the disadvantage position, the ref gets both fighters to the center of the mat to the previous position before the foul.

When nobody was in the dominant position before the fighters left the mat, the referee will restart the bout in the center from the standing position.

How Do You Win In Catch Wrestling?

Catch Wrestling
Catch Wrestling

The best way to win a catch wrestling combat is via submission or a pin. Yet, a chokehold is barred often too. In those cases, there is absolutely no doubt who won the catch wrestling combat.

In other cases, there are matches contested as the best two of three falls. When there is no winner after an hour (or shorter, depending on the tournament rule set), the referee will determine the dominant wrestler and give him a win due to superiority.

What Is The Difference Between Wrestling And Catch Wrestling?

Classic wrestling is more about dominant positions and point domination. Catch wrestling is the parent style of both freestyle wrestling and professional wrestling, it is present in earlier folk styles.

For example, Greco-Roman limits grabbing under the waist, while in freestyle you can use all kinds of techniques to trap your opponent and pin him to the canvas. In catch wrestling, you’ll rarely see the fight going the distance, as your ultimate goal is pinning or submitting the opponent.

But catch wrestling also adds a Brazilian jiu jitsu aspect, as you are allowed tons of submissions and finishes. Unlike in Judo competitions, the majority of leg locks and joint manipulations are perfectly legal. Catch wrestling moves are awesome for mixed martial arts combat too!

There’s way more grappling game and freedom to force your opponent to tap out. A good catch wrestler might have an equal or even better submission game compared to BJJ practitioners!

Catch-as-catch-can Meaning

According to the Oxford dictionary, catch-as-catch-can (archaic syntax) refers to “wrestling where all kinds of holds are allowed”. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it symbolizes “using any available means or method”.

Origin Of Catch-as-catch-can

This sport was developed by J.G. Chambers in Great Britain in 1870. Catch wrestling was derived from many different forms of wrestling – a few versions of English wrestling styles – Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and popular Irish collar-and-elbow style).

Professional wrestling used to be a competitive catch wrestling, and the historical World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship occurred in 1905 to discover the best catch wrestling guy in the world. The belt was retired in 1957.

Modern-day professional wrestling has some similarities with ancient catch wrestling, but aerial stunts and acrobatics, alongside striking, were turned into a spectacle to keep the crowd entertained.

Catch As Catch Can Wrestling Techniques

There are so many techniques available for a great catch wrestler, but we will focus on the six basic areas of the sport. Here they are:

  • Takedowns – a very important part of the game since day one, you can trip the opponent in professional wrestling in any way possible.

  • Leg locks – catch wrestling has always been ahead of BJJ for its leg lock arsenal, as only new-era BJJ fighters are famous for their leg manipulations.

  • Arm locks – these kinds of manipulations are often by grapplers in mixed martial arts too – hammer lock, shoulder lock, or wrist lock also fall under this category. Just to remind you, a double wrist lock is perfectly legal here.

  • Kneebar – the knee is pushed into hyperextension, this technique appeared in catch wrestling in the first place, then it became the trademark of Sambo.

  • Chest locks – the chest lock involves the use of the arm and shoulder, wrapped around an opponent’s head from the hind, with the hips facing their head to hold them in that position. You can see this type of finish only in catch wrestling and mixed martial arts, not other grappling styles.

  • Neck cranks – the jiu jitsu guy will let go when the arm is not under the neck, but neck cranks are also the trademark of catch wrestling as they perform tons of painful manipulations on the neck since day one of their training.

Catch Wrestling Vs Freestyle

The freestyle wrestling method prevalent offers a lot of liberality compared to, for example, the Greco-Roman style. You can hold under the belt and trip your opponent in any way possible, just like catch wrestling.

But freestyle wrestling combat uses legs for manipulations, trips, and takedowns, there is a lack of submission game compared to catch wrestling. Freestyle fighters mostly roll and use the legs to get into the dominant position, while catch as catch can bois tend to submit the leg.

The dominant position or high throw amplitude matters in a freestyle combat submission wrestling bout, but in a catch bout, points aren’t important at all as bouts very often finish inside the distance and your ultimate goal is to finish your foe.

Difference Between Catch Wrestling And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The greatest difference is the lack of takedowns in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. When a BJJ fighter enters mixed martial arts matches, he’s mostly having a hard time dragging the fight to the ground, while a catch wrestler is very skillful in dragging the combat to the canvas.

Gi submissions are another important difference. For example, you cannot perform bow and arrow choke in a no-gi wrestling combat. Neck cranks are very much rare in BJJ, but submission switches are interestingly more often in modern jiu jitsu.

What Is A Hook In Combat?

Hooks is a term in grappling martial arts which represents the careful positioning of your feet and leg to control and manipulate the movement of your foe. For example, there is a rear-naked choke with both hooks in (legs around the waist) or from a body triangle (legs wrapped around the opponent’s waist in figure four).

Hooks are a great way to not let the opponent slip out of your dominant position. A hook specialist doesn’t have to be super-powerful to control his opponent on the canvas – and catch wrestling rolling is based on the excessive use of hooks!

What Is Japanese Wrestling Called?

Catch Wrestling
Catch Wrestling

Japanese professional wrestling is called “puroresu”. You will lose the combat when you’re out of the ring or when any part of your body (not feet) touch the ground. It’s Japan’s martial art.

But Japanese professional wrestlers also compete in shoot wrestling, where you have pretty much similar rules to normal catch wrestling. Many shoot wrestling fighters show great results in the mixed martial arts boom thanks to their great knowledge and understanding of submissions, especially leg manipulations.

If you love squared rings, please watch Shinja Aoki, you’ll see what am I talking about.

Catch Wrestlers

There are catch wrestlers from nine states of the world at the moment – America, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Great Britain, Estonia, Iran, and Japan.

Japanese fighters with a catch background are the most famous in MMA. But other famous names from different states include Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson, Ken Shamrock, Frank Trigg, and others.

Main Catch Wrestling Tournaments

Catch Wrestling Association, also known under the nickname of German professional wrestling promotion, hosts many catch wrestling tournaments, but the most famous ones are:

  • CWA British Commonwealth Championship;

  • CWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship;

  • CWA Submission Shootfighting Championship;

  • CWA World Heavyweight Championship;

  • CWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship;

  • CWA World Middleweight Championship;

  • CWA World Tag Team Championship;

  • German Heavyweight Championship.

Catch Wrestling
Catch Wrestling

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
martial arts belts

Martial Arts Belts: Everything You Need to Know

Martial arts belts are used to represent the ranking and progress of students in martial art.

It was a system to reward the best students and show their progress until they reached the highest rank after attaining a certain level of expertise.

Martial arts belts consist of 9 belt colors: white belt, yellow belt, orange belt, green belt, blue belt, purple belt, black belt, and red belt. The number and order of martial art belts can vary depending on specific martial arts.

In this article, I will tell you everything about martial arts belts’ colors, the highest-ranked belts (and is there a belt above black?), the history of belts in martial arts, and much more about martial arts belts.

Which Martial Arts Use Belt Ranking System?

The most popular martial arts that use the belt ranking system are karate, taekwondo, judo, Aikido, BJJ, capoeira, Krav Maga, savate, Kung Fu, and Wing Chun. Sometimes, martial art instructors use the belt system to award their students in other martial arts, like Muay Thai or Western Kickboxing, but historically, the belt system is not used in those arts.

Martial Arts Belts Colors in Order

If you are a martial art student, your rank will be denoted by the color of the belt tied around your waist with your uniform.

In almost all types of martial arts, the first belt is the white belt, and you will have to progress until you reach the peak, i.e., the highest stage, which has been described as the black belt.

However, getting to reach the black belt takes dedication and several years. Before you get to that stage, you will move from one color to another, and each belt color has its special meaning and signifies a level of experience and progress.

The different colors associated with martial art include white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, and black (and red belt) in the order of ranks. 

White Belt

This is the belt usually worn by beginners, and it symbolizes the birth of a seed or a fresh beginning. This belt is given to those people that are just starting their skills in martial art. Students begin their martial arts voyage or a “new life” with a white belt.

A white belts knot drawing

Yellow Belt

This is the second level in martial art; the color represents the idea that the sun is warming the seed. The yellow belt means you’ve learned the basics, and one can call you “an advanced beginner.”

Orange Belt          

This is the third stage of martial art skills, representing the seed getting warmed and strengthened to prepare them for new growth. It usually denotes a student’s body and mind starting to develop and maintain.

For Karate students, this means the final stage of beginner, and it shows that you are ready to transition to the intermediate level.

Martial arts students with orange belts

Green Belt

This is the fourth stage of martial arts skills, and it usually signifies that the student is beginning to hone their skills and learning how to refine and strengthen his martial arts techniques. Green belt mostly means you’ve reached an intermediate practitioner status.

Blue Belt

The blue belt represents the process of possessing a certain level of confidence where the student becomes more muscular and continues to get the needed knowledge to ensure the correct path ng followed.

The advanced students are believed to be pushing their branches toward the sky (blue), and the fruit is ready to grow. It is a part of the life cycle, where the blue belt means “that you are in the middle of your journey.”

A martial arts student with blue belt, doing warm up

Purple Belt

This is the stage where students get ready to transition to an advanced level in martial art, a location where a student has to understand what he requires to obtain the highest rank of black belt that is not so far away.

Brown Belt

The brown belt is when the student starts to appreciate all the hard work and dedication he has put into attaining the skills since he started with a white belt. This will also help him push to the black belt stage.

The brown belt symbolizes the ground, the Earth. The student is ready for a new cycle once they reach the brown belt level.

Black Belt

This is the most prestigious stage of martial art belts, and it is time a student must have complete control of their abilities and knowledge and possess the power to teach them to new students. 

A drawing of a black belt martial arts student

Red Belt

The red belt could sometimes denote a pre-black stage where the student becomes powerful in abilities and must respect and recognize this power. A red belt could sometimes mean the grandmaster, i.e., the scene after some levels of black belt.

Martial Arts Belts History

Martial Arts Belts History

Most Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Martial Arts use the kyū/dan system and colored belts for ranking grades. But, for example, Taekwondo and Karate belt colors are different. We will explain everything in the paragraph below.

According to the Japanese Martial Arts, dan ranks are equivalent to and are represented by black belts. Various dan ranks are style specific. [1]

Usually, dan ranks are from 1st to 5th and 1st to 10th, represented by various degrees in black belts.

Ranks below the dan ranks are called kyū ranks. These are basic ranks denoted by various colored belts.

Once a person has achieved the dan rank, he is no longer considered a beginner and not necessarily an expert. A dan rank signifies that an individual can walk and begin the journey.

The many dan ranks in Japanese Martial Arts are pronounced as such:

  • 1st Dan – Shodan;

  • 2nd Dan – Nidan;

  • 3rd Dan – Sandan;

  • 4th Dan – Yondan;

  • 5th Dan – Godan;

  • 6th Dan – Rokudan;

  • 7th Dan – Shichidan;

  • 8th Dan – Hachidan;

  • 9th Dan – Kudan;

  • 10th Dan – Jūdan.

Usually, the 1st to 8th dan is represented by a black belt, while a red belt represents the 9th and 10th dan.

Meanwhile, Chinese Martial Arts has a graduation system based on nine Duan levels – split into three, for each beginner, intermediate, and advanced level. 

The beginner level or basic duans are awarded to students with a few years of experience.

The intermediate-level or middle-level duans are awarded to students/coaches with 5-10 years of coaching experience.

The advanced level or the final three duans are for experienced masters with established reputations in Wushu. An advanced-level individual is allowed to call himself a “Grand Master.”

Instead of belt systems, Chinese Martial Arts has adopted three animals – Ying (Eagle), Hu (Tiger), and Long (Dragon). These animals and three colors – bronze, silver, and gold- decide an individual’s level.

In Korean Martial Arts, the grading system is based on dan ranks. A person with a dan rank (equivalent to a 1st-degree black belt) is called a “yudanja,” and one above the 6th dan rank (equal to a 6th-degree black belt) is called a “godanja.”

The dan ranks for most Korean Martial Arts do not go past the ninth, butt in some places, a tenth dan is also offered.

  • Il dan or 1st dan – first-degree black belt;

  • I dan or 2nd dan – second-degree black belt;

  • Sam dan or 3rd dan – third-degree black belt;

  • Sa dan or 4th dan – fourth-degree black belt;

  • O dan or 5th dan – fifth-degree black belt;

  • Yuk dan or 6th dan – sixth-degree black belt;

  • Chil dan or 7th dan – seventh-degree black belt;

  • Pal dan or 8th dan – eighth-degree black belt;

  • Gu dan or 9th dan – ninth-degree black belt;

  • Sip dan or 10th dan – tenth-degree black belt.

Other martial art traditions, apart from the East Asian Martial Arts, use their belt ranking system, which is colored from white (beginner) to black (advanced).

How About Mixed Martial Arts?

MMA is the fastest-growing fighting style globally, but no belts exist in mixed martial arts. Every fighter mostly comes from one martial art, where he has some rankings, but you will never hear about a guy with a black belt in MMA.

For example, Georges St-Pierre is a black belt in Shotokan Karate, Demian Maia has a degree in BJJ, and Stephen Thompson is a black belt in American kickboxing. But they are mixed martial artists, not MMA belt owners.

Division champions like Alexander Volkanovski or Jiri Prochazka are not black belts in mixed martial arts; they have a basic fighting style. For example, Jon Jones has a background in Gaidojutsu, a fighting style his coach Mike Winkeljohn invented.

Which Martial Arts Belt Is Highest?

Usually, the black belt is the highest in martial arts. But, in a few skills, including Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Karate, the red belt is reserved for exemplary masters of the art and is above the black belt.

No universally accepted standard governs how the belt colors of martial art should be, each type of martial art follows its own rules, explanations, and traditions, and there are, at times, variations within the same type.

However, it is generally accepted that the first belt should be white while the highest belt should be black. You will usually move from the white belt to the yellow belt, to the orange belt, to the green belt, to the blue strap, to the purple belt, to the brown belt, and then to the black belt, which is the peak.

Meanwhile, there are levels to black belts, and it takes mastery and time to attain those feats.

How Many Degrees Are Black Belts There?

The black belt in martial arts has a significant meaning and is usually referred to as a level of competence when first attained. Still, as you move higher, you begin to move towards a certain level of mastery.

This ranking system has been labeled to be the Dan ranking system. It has also been researched that there are up to 10 mastery levels (degrees) beyond the first Dan black belt, which may take a lifetime to accomplish.

This means that there are ten different degrees for black belts; However, the color of the straps will remain black, and various inscriptions per level are usually written on them to denote seniority.

Is There a Belt Above Black?

As stated above, the black belt has been generally accepted as the highest-ranked belt, but for some martial arts, some other colors have been placed above the black belt when someone attains a very high grade.

In Judo and Karate, a sixth dan usually wears a red and white belt. Usually, this belt is used for ceremonial occasions, while the regular black belt is still used for training. For the ninth and 10th dan, red belts are awarded by some schools while others grant purple belts. 

Martial Arts Red Belt

A red belt is commonly used to differentiate an opponent in a competition, or it is used to denote ranks. Its use usually varies depending on the martial art, but it is often given to grandmasters and other high levels.

However, some parts use a red belt for beginners, while some use it as a pre-black rank. For modern Karate, competitors use blue and red sashes, and it is the rule that these are the two belts worn in this competition.

A red belt is usually designated for the person with the highest rank, i.e., a grandmaster, or for pre-black or perhaps conventionally worn in Karate competitions.

Does Taekwondo Have Belt System for Ranking?

Taekwondo has a ranking system based on belts. ITF Taekwondo ranking system has ten ranks (dans) based on a skill level, from 10th, the white belt, to 1st, the black belt. WT Taekwondo has 11 belt ranks, ranging from 11th dan (white belt) to 1st dan (black belt). You can read more about belt colors in Taekwondo here.

Does Karate Have Belt System for Ranking?

The karate belt system consists of eight different colors. Ranging from the lowest to the highest, karate students can achieve a white belt, yellow belt, orange belt, green belt, blue belt, purple belt, red belt, and brown belt. You can read more about the karate belt system here.

Does Kung Fu Have Belt System for Ranking?

There are ten belt levels in Kung Fu. The first-degree belt rank is white, while the highest achievable is the black belt. You can learn more about belt colors in Kung Fu here.

Does BJJ Have Belt System for Ranking?

There are two different belt ranking systems in BJJ: the Gracie system, founded by Carlos and Hélio Gracie and used by the Gracie family, and the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) system, prescribed by the international governing body of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You can read more about belt levels in BJJ here.

Does Muay Thai Have Belt System for Ranking?

Traditional Muay Thai doesn’t have a colored belt system. On the other hand, some Western Muay Thai schools have belts and ranking systems. You can learn more about the ranking system used in such schools here.

You must understand that to attain the best belt in martial art; it takes dedication, discipline, hard work, persistence, patience, perseverance, and time. Only those who can undergo these processes will attain the highest belts.

How Many Belts Can You Get in Martial Arts?

The number of belts varies from a martial art to martial art. For example, Karate has eight belt colors, while Kung Fu has ten. Each martial artist starts with a white belt, aiming to achieve the highest belt (usually the black belt).

What Belt Was Bruce Lee?

Bruce Lee was one of the most influential martial artists of all time. Contrary to popular belief, he did not have any belts.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
Karate belt order - wayofmartialarts

Karate Belt order: Ranking System Explained

This article will deal with an essential aspect of karate – its belt system. It is well known that most Oriental martial arts have a certain system of differently colored belts that symbolize the level of knowledge each holder has.

Karate is, of course, no exception, as its trainees are also awarded a colored belt that represents the degree of knowledge of the art each of them possesses.

A black and white drawing of a series of karate moves

The karate ranking system consists of 8 belts in different colors. Ranging from beginner belts to more advanced ones, karate belts’ colors are as follows: white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, and brown.

Each of the belts represents a degree of knowledge, called a kyū (級), a Japanese term meaning grade, level, or degree. It is similar to the already discussed Korean term group (see the article on belts in Taekwondo), and it is not used exclusively in martial arts, but also in other disciplines such as the boardgame go, academic tests, etc.

The World Karate Federation (WKF) governs international karate and the belt system in this sport is unified (with only small varieties), unlike in some similar disciplines, such as Taekwondo.

Origins of Belts in Martial Arts

Oriental martial arts have been practiced in the Far East for centuries, but the belt system is a relatively new phenomenon, just a little over a century old. Before belts were introduced, martial artists handed out certificates (or diplomas) to students who had reached a certain level of knowledge and ability.

A Karate black belt knot

But, at the turn of the 20th century, a man called Jigorō Kanō, best known as the founder of judo, decided to introduce colored belts in his art. This was not a completely original idea, as a similar system inspired him in the Japanese board game of go (similar to chess), but it was a revolution in martial arts. 

The essential idea behind the belt system was to enable students to advance more rapidly but also to enable fighters to quickly identify the level of knowledge their opponent has, thus leading to a more leveled field in potential combat. Kanō’s original colors were blue, white, brown, and black, but as the years passed, the system became more sophisticated and included a larger palette of colors. 

A Karate moves drawing

The colored belts in karate stem from 1924, when Gichin Fukanoshi decided to adopt Kanō’s degree system in karate. Thus, the kyū and dan systems were created for the sport of karate and they are both used today in karate schools around the world. Let’s deep dive into the Karate belt order and learn more about the Karate belt system.

There are some similarities between Karate and the Brazilian jiu jitsu system. There are no belt levels (for example, in Taekwondo, you can get a yellow belt with green tape, that is not going to happen in Shotokan karate, as Karate practitioners only get one of nine belts). The belt rank is described in the paragraphs below.

The Belt System in Karate

There are two sets of belts in karate. The kyū set encompasses all the colored belts, and the dan set, encompasses different black belt degrees. The starting color is always white and the final level is a 10th-degree black belt. 

The kyū system is designed for trainees called mudansha, meaning “those without a rank”. Each color symbolizes a trainee level and the degrees start from a higher number and advance to lower ones, just like in similar martial arts.

A drawing of a bow before a match

The lowest kyū is usually the 8th one (although there can be variations), designating a white belt, while the 1stkyū represents the highest rank a mudansha can achieve before obtaining a black belt; the 1st kyū belts are brown or under. Unlike some other Oriental martial arts (p.e. Taekwondo), each kyū in karate is represented by a different belt color.

The black belts are divided into ranks that are called dan (段) or, in English, degrees. The degrees start with the lowest number (1stdan or first-degree black belt) and reach the final, 10thdan (ninth-degree black belt), associated with the grandmaster title. Dan-holding karateka is called yudansha, meaning “those who hold a rank”.

In karate, only the first five or six dan ranks are truly competitive and are given after examinations (promotions) by higher-ranked karateka. In contrast, ranks from 7 to 10 are usually honorary and are given either on a merit-based system or after reaching a certain age. What does that mean?

Well, in many styles of Karate, you cannot get a red or brown belt until you’re 18 or 20 years old, depending on the rule set. You can be the world champion, but the rules are the same for all Karate students.

A series of karate students

How to Achieve a Higher Rank in Karate?

The process of attaining a higher rank is called a promotion or examination. Each trainee starts with the mandatory white belt and ranks higher through promotions.

The promotion process gets more difficult as the ranks become higher, but it is usually a presentation of technical and tactical skills the trainee has learned throughout the training process. 

Lower ranks in karate are more focused on balance, stance, and coordination issues, while more complex elements, like speed and power, are added later on.

Advancing through the lower kyū ranks usually requires mastering the basics of karate and applying them. The green belt is the first belt that demands a more practical application of the karateka’s skills. 

As the karateka advances, the examinations usually add more complex techniques but can also include sparring, simulated sparring, self-defense, and breaking skills. Although the WKF has a system of guidelines, each school can have variations of the minimal standards.

The time necessary for promotion depends on the school, the national federation, and the rank in question. Lower ranks are usually attained after a few months (1-3) in rapid progression, while higher ranks usually require a certain period to pass before trying out for promotion.

There are some cases where promotion from rank one to rank two is given automatically, while others require a regular promotion. The period between promotions can range from one month to a few years. Each school and/or national federation determine those periods. 

Karate Belt Order: Colors Ranked

The system of belts in karate is divided between 8 kyū (in general) and 10 dan degrees. The dan degrees are, like in Taekwondo, not that interesting, because they’re all represented by a black belt and we’ve already discussed how the ranks are achieved. The dan itself is represented by white stripes on the black belt, each stripe representing one dan.

A karate student with a black belt

Each dan also has a specific Japanese name (p.e. the 5th is called godan, the 8th is called hachidan, etc.). Dan ranks are usually attained until a yudansha reaches the hachidan level, while kyu dan (9th) and judan (10th) ranks are exceptionally rare, even among life-long practitioners. 

As for the kyū degrees, although there can be variations based on the school, the usual number is eight, starting with the 8th kyū (white belt) and ending with the 1st kyū (brown belt), after which one can try out for the black belt. The colors are always unique for each kyū (there are no striped variations like in Taekwondo).

Karate belts

In this article, we will analyze the system based on eight degrees, while stressing that schools can use fewer colors than eight.

Also, the order of colors is usually fixed, but we must stress that there can also be some variations in the order, based on the school. 

How many belts are in one of the most popular Japanese martial arts? The correct answer is – there are nine belts in Karate. The colors of Karate belts are as follows:

  • White belt – the beginner who has just arrived gets a white belt;

  • Yellow belt – you learned basics;

  • Orange belt – orange belt means you’ll become an intermediate soon;

  • Green belt – not a rookie anymore;

  • Blue belt – you’ve got some skills;

  • Purple belt – the last step of intermediate;

  • Red belt – red belt means you’re closing in the master rankings, you’re not an intermediate anymore, you know some dangerous Karate techniques;

  • Brown belt – congrats, you’re one step away from becoming a master of the traditional Japanese martial art;

  • Black belt – the highest Karate belt one can get is a black belt.

There are 2 tables here so please take a look at the page on the site to verify if you need to add more info

Color – Kyū Meaning

White Belt – 8th Kyu – The Birth Of A New Light, Which Reflects All The Cool Colors

Karate Belt knot

It is a person who wants to start learning Karate and deal with new challenges. Even when you come from a different striking background, you will get a white belt because you have never trained the Shotokan karate, Okinawan karate, or whichever style you’ve chosen.

The colored belt system kicks off with a white belt, and you are the “Mr. New Beginning”. Get ready to learn, and white belt is the lower belt color one gets when he joins any dojo. Even the most skillful kickboxer or a Muay Thai fighter gets his white belt upon joining the local school.

Yellow Belt – 7th Kyu – The First Ray Of A Rising Sun

The Karate student’s mind is finally open to new changes and challenges. The yellow belt means you’ve learned basic techniques and blocks. Yet, it comes immediately after the white belt, so you don’t know too much yet.

The yellow belt can mean that you’re an advanced beginner, a fighter who knows to defend easy-to-see hooks, haymakers, or kicks.

But a yellow belt doesn’t mean you’ll throw spinning hook kicks or powerful front kicks to the face of the moving opponent. Belt levels exist for a reason.

Orange – 6th Kyu – The Spreading Light That Widens Horizons

The spreading of the light of the Earth (orange belt) means the student is advancing in all fighting areas. Right after the yellow belt, it’s time to get more technical.

Karate students sitting on the ground

If you reached an orange belt, it means that your strikes have more power, plus, an orange belt means you can start learning combos, defend and counter (some simple moves), and start thinking about potential fights in the future. You’re not a yellow belt anymore.

Green Belt – 5th Kyu – Penetration And Growth Of Seeds And Plants That Want Sunlight

The next belt in Shotokan karate is a green belt. The green belt in Karate depicts the penetration of stems and roots of the plant to get the sunlight – it is time to watch towards the sky!

The student is developing a new skill set, and he’s not a beginner anymore. He can connect combos, unload big bombs, defend efficiently, and participate in fun competitions with a green belt. But you’re not a Karate master right after the orange belt; stay patient!

Blue Belt – 4th Kyu – The Fruits Of The Sun Are Reaching For The Endless Sky

After the green belt, the student goes deeper into the understanding of the name. You are creating your fighting style with a blue belt; you might become a defensive or offensive-minded guy. You can learn to transition from defense to offense in a split of second.

With an orange belt, you don’t have a deep understanding of the game, but the blue belt knows which techniques are going to work for him, when, and how.

Plus, the blue belt is the earliest moment when Karate can become your lifestyle. Imagine the plant growing towards the sky and the creation of the fruit – that’s the symbol behind your blue belt.

Purple Belt – 3rd Kyu – A Degree Of Seriousness And Commitment

Are you looking to pursue your Karate career? Would you like to become a black belt? The purple belt is the clear difference between an intermediate and an advanced practitioner.

The purple belt means you are very serious about the upcoming belt. The blue belt was the final stage of an intermediate, you are a dedicated black belt candidate now. The fruit is growing. 🙂

Brown Belt – 2nd Kyu – Symbol Of Depth And Profoundness Of The Student’s Knowledge

The plan is full-grown and ready for harvesting – the brown belt after the purple belt says you are ready for combat.

Black Belt – 1st Kyu – A Dark Shadow Behind A Glowing Object

The depth of the knowledge and the ability to give those a successful direction. Congrats on reaching the highest kyu level and Karate belt!

Red Belt – Highest Belt In Karate

Usually, the black belt is the highest in martial arts. But, in Karate, the red belt is reserved for exemplary masters of the art and is above the black belt.

The Karate red belts signify exemplary knowledge of skills, a high level of competence, contribution to the art through teaching, and an excellent reputation gained over the years.

It is reserved for the elite of the elite, including the founder, Grand Master, and other higher ranks.

Most never reach the level of the red belt. To do so means that they represent martial art in its highest form.

Black Belt Dan Degrees

We’ll also bring you the Japanese names of all the dan’s degrees. For the 1st dan, you can get a recommendation by Prefectural HQ or Branch dojo or group. For each next, from 2nd to 5th dan, you must get recommended by the National (Prefectural) HQ or Regional HQ, but you must get approval from the Tokyo JKA HQ.

Also, there is one more significant rule – when you reach the first dan, you must have it for at least one year before you test yourself before the commission for the 2nd dan. You must wear second dan for at least 2 years before you advanced to the 3st etc.

Tokyo JKA HQ gives the 6th dan, while you must be 50+ years old for the 7th dan. There is a special ruleset for 8th, 9th, and 10th dan – you must be 60+ years old, and you must get a recommendation from Instructor Committee.

Frequently Asked Questions about Karate belts order

What is The Karate Belts Order?

The karate ranking system consists of 8 belts in different colors. Ranging from beginner belts to more advanced ones, karate belts’ order colors are as follows: white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, and brown.

Note: white belt means you know nothing, in theory, but you can be a striking wizard if you come from a different martial art. It means you didn’t earn any level in one of the most famous Japanese martial arts.

What belt is the highest in karate?

The Karate red belts signify exemplary knowledge of skills, a high level of competence, contribution to the art through teaching, and an excellent reputation gained over the years.

What does the white belt symbolize in the karate journey?

The white belt symbolizes the beginning of a karate journey, representing a lack of prior knowledge or skill in martial arts. As the student progresses through the different colored belts, such as blue, green, yellow, brown, and purple, they develop their skills and knowledge, eventually reaching mastery, represented by the black belt.

What are the differences in skill level between the different colored belts in karate, such as blue, green, yellow, brown, and purple?

As students progress through the colored belts, they are expected to demonstrate a higher level of skill and knowledge with each new belt. For example, a blue belt level may represent a good foundation of basic techniques, while a green belt may indicate a more advanced understanding of the art. The higher belts, such as brown and purple, represent even greater mastery and skill.

How does the ranking system in modern karate compare to traditional karate?

In traditional karate, it could take many years, even decades, to achieve a black belt. In modern karate, the ranking system may be faster, but the emphasis is still on demonstrating mastery of the art rather than just completing a set number of classes or a certain amount of time. Regardless of the specific system, all karate styles emphasize the development of skills and knowledge through the karate journey.

What are the different karate styles, and how do they award belts?

There are many different styles of karate, including Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu, and each may have slightly different systems for awarding belts. However, the basic concept of progression from white to black is generally the same across styles, representing the development of skills and knowledge over time. Regardless of the specific style, the ranking system is an important part of the karate journey and helps to keep students motivated and focused on their goals.

What Belt Was Bruce Lee?

Interestingly, Bruce Lee has never had a belt in Karate, nor was he a black belt in any discipline. His basic techniques come from Wing Chun, which he learned from the famous Ip Man.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
What Is Kenpo Karate?

Kenpo Karate: Unleash Your Inner Warrior and Transform Your Life Today!

Kenpo is one of the many martial arts developed in Asia throughout history. It has roots in both Chinese and Japanese martial arts. However, it is most commonly associated with Karate in modern times because of the many different styles that appeared later. So, what is Kenpo Karate?

Kenpo Karate is a type of Kenpo commonly known as American Kenpo. It was developed after Ed Parker studied Kenpo and refined it into a new style influenced by many martial arts. Other styles of Kenpo have some Karate elements but aren’t considered Kenpo Karate.

However, many Kenpo masters don’t consider American Kenpo to be a real martial art style they practice. It is a lot more flashy, therefore, hardly ever possible to use in combat. Ed Parker combined so many techniques into his Kenpo Karate that it barely resembles the original Japanese Kenpo.

History of Kenpo Karate

To understand how Kenpo Karate came to be, we need to go further back in history to the origins of Kenpo itself. The first types of Kenpo were developed in Japan, and influenced by Chinese fighting styles. The founders used the Chinese style of unarmed combat and adapted it to be more effective and practical to defend against many other known styles. It was first used by the Yoshida and Komatsu Clans.

The literal translation of Kenpo would be Fist Law or Fist Method. Later, it had to be modified and adjusted to remain effective against new arts and styles that came to life through the years. The influence of Karate began changing it into a craft more similar to the Karate we can see today, so it is also a reason for it to be known as Kenpo Karate.

The style was brought to Hawaii around the 1940s by James Mitose, who spent his childhood in Japan and trained and mastered the Yoshida Kenpo style living with his grandfather. Once he returned to Hawaii, he opened his club, where he taught a craft he called Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu. When he retired, his head instructor, Thomas Young, continued to teach and lead the club.

However, his second instructor is considered to be Kenpo Karate’s founder, William Kwai Sun Chow. He opened his club, where he taught the style he named as such to Ed Parker – the name that is always the first associated with American Kenpo.

Parker studied with Chow in Hawaii for six years before returning to Brigham Young University in Utah. He taught what he learned from Chow, but over the years, changed it and added new elements. He combined different methods and techniques from many other martial arts, namely Kung Fun, Karate, and others.

There is some controversy surrounding Parker and his black belt in Kenpo. His master, Chow, claimed that he never got to the black belt under him, only the purple, but Parker claimed he got his black belt in 1953. He also included a lot of elements into his style that wouldn’t be effective in real combat. 

So, many suggest that he merely capitalized on the huge craze about martial arts in the United States at the time, creating something that looks flashy and appealing. However, not everybody believes so, and his style is very popular today.

Is Kenpo a form of Karate?

Originally, Kenpo wasn’t considered a form of Karate, as it developed much earlier. It was stylized through its history to match the new martial arts that started to develop. However, the origins of Kenpo and Karate are quite similar. Both of the techniques developed as a result of the exchange between the Chinese martial arts with Okinawan people in Japan.

That is the reason why the origins of Kenpo are often disputed. Some claim it is Chinese, some claim that it is Japanese. We’ll get back to the origins later on.

The style that Mitose brought to Hawaii from Japan was much different from the one that Parker popularized in the 1960s. It was focused more on Japanese crafts, with hard, brisk, and linear moves and strikes. On the other hand, Parker used that as a basis but included a lot more of the Chinese styles and forms with circular movements and roundhouse kicking.

So, to answer if Kenpo is a form of Karate, it depends on the point of view you take. If you want to know which style resembles Karate techniques and movements more, it would be Mitose’s Kenpo. But, it was not considered nor called Karate. Parker and his master (Chow) called their style Kenpo Karate, although it uses many techniques and skills from Chinese crafts, such as Shaolin Kung Fu.

American Kenpo which is well known even today, is known as Kenpo Karate, but it isn’t a true, original form of Karate.

Is Kenpo Japanese or Chinese?

As we mentioned before, there is some dispute and controversy about the origins of Kenpo. It is very hard to determine where the grounds of Kenpo are, mainly because it was influenced strongly by both Chinese and Japanese martial arts.

The origins of Kenpo are, indeed, in Chinese martial arts, especially Shaolin Kung Fu. That is why many people consider it to be a Chinese martial art. However, the first forms of real Kenpo were developed in Japan. 

So many changes were made in the method that it barely resembles any of the ancient Chinese martial arts. You can find some elements here and there in various Chinese styles, but overall, the style of Kenpo originated in Japan, even though it used Chinese crafts as a base.

When Kenpo reached the peak of its popularity in the 30s and 40s, many different arts and styles claimed their methodology stemmed from real Kenpo. Some stated that the masters that taught them the craft they knew had training from real Chinese Kenpo masters.

That is preposterous because Chinese Kenpo didn’t even exist as a type of Kenpo. That term was coined in the 1960s by Ed Parker himself. Even though Kenpo has roots in Kung Fu, he realized that none of the known styles resemble Kenpo. So, he added elements from Chinese martial arts and used some terms that created the connection between China and Kenpo we know today.

To conclude, Kenpo has roots in Chinese martial arts, but it is undoubtedly a Japanese martial art. None of the ancient styles in China resemble Kenpo, even though some moves are similar. Modern use of the term gave this martial art a Chinese connection it didn’t have over the centuries of its history. 

It is still not determined exactly when and where it originated, but strong inclinations and known facts point to it being developed in Japan, namely in Okinawa, practiced by the Yoshida Clan, and taken on by the Koshida Clan not long after.

How many styles of Kenpo are there?

Today, there are so many different styles and forms of Kenpo. It is hard to tell how many styles exist, but there are five main types of Kenpo, each having its derivations and techniques. The five main types are Okinawa-Kenpo, Kosho Ryu Kenpo, Shorinji Kempo, Kajukenbo, and American Kenpo Karate.


Okinawa-Kenpo was developed by Shigeru Nakamura in 1960. It was a style of Kenpo that combined the ancient Japanese martial art Ti with elements of Kenpo and Karate. At the time, no schools reached Okinawa karate, and Nakamura didn’t enjoy the fact that karate is branching into so many different styles, without a unified, traditional Ryuha (school).

Therefore, he developed and taught his karate style which he named Okinawa-Kenpo. He wanted the different styles to be unified into one name, Okinawa-Kenpo. In a meeting held in 1961 between masters and grandmasters of all styles, the Okinawa Kobudo Kyokai has been founded. The association, however, failed to survive and fell apart after Nakamura passed away eight years later.

Okinawa Karate continued to develop, and Okinawa-Kenpo lived on as well. Moreover, it evolved even more. Nowadays, the term is used for a specific karate style and has its own different sub-styles.

Kosho-Ryu Kenpo

One of the first known Kenpo styles to be taught is Kosho-Ryu Kenpo. The Mitose family, which ultimately brought Kenpo to Hawaii, learned Kosho-Ryu Kenpo in the 15th century, around 600 years ago. The style has been passed on through generations until today.

This style combines many different arts gathering the most useful elements from each. While undertaking the Rinzai Zen philosophy, you can spot Jujutsu, Kyudo, and Shaolin Chaun Fa elements. Many more methods were implemented to perfect Kosho-Ryu Kenpo over the years. 

Sometimes, this style is known as the old pine tree, because that is the meaning of the word Kosho. James Mitose was a master that learned this ancient art in Japan while growing up with his grandfather. He refined it a bit more and taught it in Hawaii, naming it Kenpo Jiu-jitsu.

Many styles have derived from this form of Kenpo and Mitose’s teachings, but the core of Kosho-Ryu Kenpo is its philosophy. A human isn’t allowed to harm or injure another human and needs to show his peacefulness by not using weapons, so all attacks, pushes, and pulls are performed only with body contact.

Shorinji Kempo

This style of Kenpo (Kempo) was developed in the 40s and was founded by Doshin So. This form of Kempo added new elements in combat, mental preparations, and philosophy. So implemented Japanese Zen Buddhism into his craft. The art’s philosophical and religious segments have been highlighted and are very important. That’s why many consider this form of Kempo to be a religious form of martial art.

That is true, but there is a clear division between the religious side of Shorinji Kempo, and the technical, fighting side of it. They are commonly taught separately and later implemented into one another.

Today, many branches and styles have been developed, but the status of each isn’t the same. If the style branched in Japan, they were named “doing” temples. However, if the style developed outside of Japan, it can only be named a “dojo”.


This style came to be in Hawaii around the beginning of the 50s. William Chow was the teacher of Adriano Emperado, who founded Kajukenbo afterward. To be precise, he is credited for the founding, but the development of this style is the product of the work of five different martial arts masters: Emperado, Peter Choo, Frank Ordonez, Joe Holck, and Clarence Chang.

The term Kajukenbo derived from the five styles themselves: Ka – Karate, Ju – Jujutsu and Judo, Ken – Kenpo, and Bo – Boxing. They incorporated some of the crucial techniques from each martial art into this blend. 

The new-formed style incorporated many different combat styles and techniques, such as punches, kicks, locks, takedowns, and throws, making it very effective in combat. That is why many famous MMA fighters studied Kajukenbo, most notably the former UFC champion Chuck Liddell and a rising star of the sport, Sage Northcutt.

Unlike other martial arts, once you reach the master level of Kajukenbo, your teachers don’t ask you to follow and mimic them but rather to develop your version or expression of the art.

American Kenpo Karate

As we mentioned, the biggest name in American Kenpo is Ed Parker. He was also a student of William Chow in Hawaii for six years, but he developed his craft in a new direction. He was also the one to make it as popular as it is today. 

Many Kenpo masters don’t consider his teachings real Kenpo, because of many controversies surrounding his rank and the effectiveness of the teachings in the first place. His master, Chow, stated that Parker never even reached the black belt, but Parker said otherwise.

He used techniques from many different arts and styles, mostly Kung Fu, to develop his own American Kenpo style. It has very flashy moves and combinations and uses English names for techniques (Thundering Hammers, Prance of The Tiger, etc.) to sound more appealing for the ones riding the bandwagon of popularity that Asian martial arts had in the USA at the time.

However, he put the sport on the map by cleverly breaking down Chow’s techniques into a system that was easy to understand and learn. It is still a very popular form of Kenpo, especially in the movie industry, because of its dazzling moves and performances.

There a lot more sub-styles in existence, such as Kara-Ho Kempo, Shaolin Kenpo, Lila Lama, CHA-3 Kenpo, etc., but all of them are derivatives or combinations of the five mentioned above.

american kenpo karate

How many belts are in Kenpo Karate?

Although the ranking can vary between Kenpo styles, the belts are divided similarly into categories. If we are talking strictly about Kenpo Karate – the teachings of Ed Parker – there are 18 belts in total.

Yellow belt

It is acquired after you learn the basics and the foundations of Kenpo. It is of crucial importance to master the first belt, as it is the groundwork for all other levels.

Orange belt

You learn new attacks and strikes, but also, you learn how to block and parry the enemy. You also learn how to move in Kenpo and battle in general properly.

Purple Belt

This level of Kenpo training teaches you not to let your opponent lead the battle but to take control of what is going on by traps, grabs, and takedowns. You learn distance and side-to-side movement, along with expanding your striking arsenal.

Blue belt

This is where everything you learned gets put to the test. You must master your movement to gain the most out of your technique. You’ll also start to do sparring.

Green Belt

Here, you’ll have to recognize the flow between movements, implement it in a circular motion and flow through moves seamlessly.

Brown belt

This is the first belt that has ranks in between. You use your power, speed, and precision to the full extent, trying to maximize each to up the level and strength of your technique. There are three classes of the brown belt: Sankyu, Nikyu, and Ikkyu.

Black belt

Once you reach the black belt, you are considered a Shodan or an Instructor. However, there are still ten different degrees of the black belt, going from 1st Dan Shodan to 10th Dan Judan.

Is Kenpo effective in a street fight?

Without a doubt, Kenpo can be used in street combat to defend yourself successfully from attacks. However, this martial art has many different styles, so it is important to note that not all are equally effective in combat.

The first and original forms of Kenpo, such as Kosho-Ryu Kenpo, are very effective both in battle and in a great physical and mental state. Kojukenbo has also been proven to be quite effective, although it is only partially a style of Kenpo.

However, some forms of American Kenpo are known to be more focused on the appearance than the techniques’ effectiveness, so many people consider them ineffective in a street fight. Nevertheless, knowing any martial art gives you an advantage against somebody without training, so it is never a bad idea to start Kenpo, regardless of the style.

Frequently asked questions on Kenpo Karate.

What are the roots of Kenpo?

Kenpo has roots in both Chinese and Japanese martial arts. It was developed in Japan, influenced by Chinese fighting styles, and modified and adjusted to remain effective against new martial arts and styles.

William Kwai Sun Chow is considered the founder of Kenpo Karate. He taught the style to Ed Parker, who is often credited as the founder of American Kenpo.

No, many Kenpo masters do not consider American Kenpo to be a true form of the martial art they practice. It is considered more flashy and less practical for use in combat and does not closely resemble the original Japanese Kenpo.

There is controversy surrounding Ed Parker’s black belt in Kenpo, as his master, Chow, claimed that he never reached the black belt level under him, only the purple. Parker claimed to have received his black belt in 1953. Some suggest that Parker capitalized on the popularity of martial arts in the United States at the time and created a flashy and appealing style that was not as effective in real combat.

The answer to this question is debated. Some argue that Kenpo is a separate martial art with its own unique techniques and history, while others claim that it is a form of Karate that has evolved and been influenced by other martial arts over time. The specific style of Kenpo in question and one’s definition of Karate may also impact this answer.

Ed Parker’s American Kenpo is known for its emphasis on self-defense, using techniques such as strikes, kicks, joint locking, and throwing techniques. It is also characterized by its fluid movements, which are designed to be practical and effective in real-world scenarios. This, combined with its popularity among martial artists, makes it a popular choice for those seeking martial arts training.

Kenpo Karate is designed to be a practical and effective form of self-defense. It teaches students how to defend themselves in real-world scenarios, using techniques such as strikes, kicks, joint locking, and throwing techniques. This makes it an ideal choice for those who want to develop their self-defense skills.

Ed Parker’s American Kenpo is a variation of Kenpo Karate developed by martial artist Ed Parker. It is known for its emphasis on speed, fluid movements, and joint locking and throwing techniques. While it shares many similarities with other Kenpo styles, its unique approach to martial arts training is considered a distinct form of Kenpo.

To become a proficient martial artist in Kenpo Karate, one must dedicate time and effort to training and practicing. This may involve attending classes, participating in workshops and seminars, and practicing regularly. Studying under a reputable teacher or instructor who can guide and support the student’s development in Kenpo Karate is also recommended.

Kenpo Karate is known for its focus on self-defense, using techniques such as strikes, kicks, joint locking, and throwing techniques. It is also characterized by its fluid movements, which are designed to be practical and effective in real-world scenarios.

Kenpo Karate is a type of Kenpo commonly known as American Kenpo. It was developed in the United States by Ed Parker and is based on the Japanese martial art of Kenpo, but includes elements from various other martial arts, including Kung Fu and Karate.

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Way of Martial Arts

We are all passionate about different disciplines and martial arts and are used to discussing and comparing topics and curiosities concerning this fascinating world. Our testing and reviewing method.
judo vs wrestling

Judo vs Wrestling Differences

Judo and wrestling are both grappling martial arts, where striking your opponent isn’t allowed. There are many similarities in techniques used and ways to win.

However, they are entirely different sports, and we can see both of them in the Olympics. So, what are the main differences between judo and wrestling?

The main differences between judo and wrestling stem from the attire in which the fighters are battling. Judokas wear a gi, while wrestlers wear a tight one-piece suit. That makes the grip a lot easier in judo because you can grab your opponent’s jacket and control them.

All techniques, grabs, and throws stem from the fact that you have to apply a different grip to control the opponent because of the clothing.

Apart from the technical differences, there are also distinct rules and various ways to win a match.

What Are the Differences Between Judo and Wrestling?

Judo Wrestling
Equipment Japanese gi with a belt around the waist Tight one-piece suit
Throws Scoring points Fight continues
Pins One shoulder on the ground to score Both shoulders on the ground to score
Holds Submission holds No submission holds

1. Equipment (Attire)

As I mentioned before, judokas and wrestlers fight in completely different attires. That might sound unimportant, but all the differences stem from what the fighters are wearing during the fight.

It influences their technique, their attack methods, and the way they control their opponent. Control is the most crucial factor in any grappling martial art, so these two are no different.

Judokas wear a traditional Japanese gi with a belt around their waist. The gi consists of trousers and a jacket, which fighters use to grab and throw their opponent.

Some techniques also allow holding the belt, but you aren’t allowed to grip the trousers. Also, fighters have to be barefoot when in combat.

On the other hand, Wrestlers wear a tight one-piece suit, which makes grabbing your opponent by his clothes is impossible.

Even if you could manage to grip the suit, it would most likely be sanctioned. You need to assert control by controlling the opponent’s arms and upper body instead of grabbing the clothes.

Usually, there’s a lot tighter grappling on the floor in wrestling, making the “cauliflower ear” injury more common. That’s why wrestlers also wear protective headgear to prevent ear injury.

Finally, wrestlers wear boots instead of being barefoot.

As gripping is easier in judo, the techniques focus on quickness and pull’s instead of strength and body weight.

To go over every possible technique in each sport to conclude the differences is unnecessary. I’ll group them into categories to make it easier to understand what differs between the sports.

2. Throws

Both judo and wrestling start on the feet. So, the first category I’ll discuss is the throws. In judo, throws are the primary way to win.

Almost all of them are performed after grabbing the jacket or belt of your opponent. If you manage to land your opponent on the side or the back, you scored, which means the fight is either reset or finished.

In wrestling, that is rarely the case. The fight continues on the mat after you throw your opponent down.

Takedowns are performed by controlling the opponent’s upper body with under-hooks or over-hooks or with leg takedowns. Using leg grabs is forbidden under current judo rules.

A fight can continue after going to the ground in judo, but it happens a lot less frequently than it does in wrestling.

3. Pins

Once the fight goes to the ground, pins are a common way to win in wrestling and judo.

However, there’s a big difference in how to perform a pin.

In wrestling, both opponent’s shoulders have to be on the mat for the pin to count and only for three seconds. 

In judo, you have to hold the opponent down for twenty seconds to end a match, but only one shoulder has to be on the mat at all times. That rarely happens, though, because if a judoka turns on the stomach, the fight is reset back up.

Other than pins, you can apply submission holds to win, too. However, depending on the type of wrestling and the competition’s ruleset, the available techniques can be limited.

4. Holds

When on the ground, wrestling doesn’t allow submission holds, such as chokes, arm-locks, etc. You score the same amount of points for every takedown leading to you being in control on the ground. The only takedown worth more points is the one that leads directly to a pin. 

Judo values every takedown technique differently. Therefore, some methods will get you a win after performing them only once, while other techniques will require repetition.

As the fight goes to the ground in wrestling, you’re grappling to obtain control, not to choke the opponent or perform any other submission. The goal is to score more points or to pin the opponent.

Wrestlers tend to look to take the fight to the ground quickly because you can also score points by pushing the opponent out of the fighting area.

In judo, on the other hand, submission holds are very usual. If a fight doesn’t end with the takedown, judokas can perform holds to make the opponent submit.

If that does happen, they automatically win the match. Arm-locks are the most commonly seen techniques for submission holds in judo, but chokes are often used as well.

You can even use your opponent’s gi to perform choke-holds on an opponent. That’s why judokas often turn to the stomach quickly and avoid losing the match on the mat.

That’s something you’ll never see in wrestling. To give your back to the opponent means you’re letting them win.

To conclude, there are many similarities in techniques and ways to obtain victory between judo and wrestling. But, there are even more differences setting them apart.

While judo focuses on agility and quickness, wrestling takes a lot more energy and strength to endure. 

There is also a lot more grappling and grinding, whereas, in judo, the fights are reset back on the feet a lot more often.

Ultimately, when choosing which one to start practicing, determine what your preferences are.

If you want speed and agility, go with judo.

But, if you want to bulk up and gain strength, there’s no better martial art to do so than wrestling.

Raffaello Sambiagio, A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital.
Article by

Raffaello Sambiagio

Raffaello Sambiagio was born in Rome in eighty-nine. He approached martial arts through his local Judo gym, but everything changed with Brazilian jiu Jitsu. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital. Parallel to his competitive career, Raffaello dedicated himself to teaching discipline first to children and then to adults. Our testing and reviewing method.
Judo vs Taekwondo: What Is the Difference?

Judo vs Taekwondo: What Is the Difference?

When researching martial arts and looking for one you might want to train, you will notice that there are more types of martial arts and substyles than most people would think. A Japanese or Chinese person might even understand what the names of these arts mean, however, the average Western individual will have no idea, and it is quite easy to get lost between all the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean martial arts names. In this article, we will shed some light on two very popular martial arts, Taekwondo and Judo, and we will dissect their history, and what makes them different from one another. 

The main difference between Taekwondo and Judo, aside from the fact that Taekwondo is Korean while Judo is Japanese, is that Judo is a grappling-based martial art, while Taekwondo is a striking-based, more specifically, a kick-based martial art. 

Their histories connect in some points, however, like for almost all Eastern Asian martial arts. Both of these styles are still rising in popularity, even though they have always been some of the most popular. Almost every city or town has at least one Judo and/or Taekwondo dojo, so if you also have one nearby and you need some information to be able to decide which one to train at, this article is meant for you, so read on!

What Are the Differences Between Judo and Taekwondo?

The main differences, and all differences subsequently, arise from the history of specific martial arts. Their history and path to worldwide popularity are often what shapes the style and give it its iconic feel and image. If you want to learn more about the traditional martial art, or if you want to be able to decide whether the dojo near you is legitimate and authentic, you need to know some of the martial arts’ histories. 

Judo is a martial art with a history somewhat longer than most other modern, official martial arts from Asia. Its founder it Jigoro Kano, a Japanese martial arts legend, developed martial art towards the end of the 19th century and has also become one of the leading figures in the Shogunal government. He developed Judo as a way to replace Jujutsu, which had a dying reputation in his time, and was in some cases even actively forced out of common practice. 

Judo is characterized by hard body-throws and joint-locks. Its basis is the Japanese Jujutsu, which is the precursor to today’s Jiu-Jitsu and is an effective grappling art. In Judo, the gi (martial arts clothing) used is usually a lot thicker than karate gis, and also has reinforced stitching in multiple places to resist the wear-and-tear of the hundreds and thousands of Judo throws that will be executed while wearing them. There are barely any kicking and punching techniques, and even the ones that exist in Judo are more like feigns and range-checking, not actual attacks that deal with substantial damage. 

Taekwondo has its origins in Korea, and it was created in a joint national effort by the 9 original Kwons (martial arts schools) as a means to unify the martial arts trained in the country. The main figure in this unification process was a Korean army general called Choi Hong Hi. He is also credited with coming up with and writing down his Theory of Power, which was an effort to use rational thinking and Newtonian physics to describe and create the foundational basis of a highly effective and powerful martial art. Aside from ideas on balance, energy preservation, and proper striking technique, he also talks about how speed is more important for the power of a strike than the mass of the striking object is. 

As a result of the Theory of Power, Taekwondo uses legs for a majority of its techniques. Aside from having the largest muscles on the human body, the legs also have the characteristic of being able to travel a lot faster than arms can, even though it doesn’t seem intuitively true. When extending the legs and kicking with a rotation from the hips as well, simply because the foot is further away from the center of the rotation, it can reach speed much higher than a fist, which has a more straight trajectory. 

Which is Better for Self-defense: Judo or Taekwondo?

Martial arts were created and are trained by all people as a means to defend oneself or one’s family and loved ones. This is why we believe it is every martial artist’s duty to use the internet and all other information sources available thanks to globalization, and compare martial arts in terms of their self-defense effectiveness. Everybody’s ultimate goal would be to have a martial art that everyone could use to defend themselves properly, but since that is impossible, we can at least try to find the best martial arts available to us right now. 

First of all, we have to clarify, that the street and real-life self-defense scenarios are not what the movies show. It isn’t so controlled, it isn’t easy, almost everyone gets super stressed out, adrenaline is pumping, etc. You don’t have time to think about the movements and techniques you have learned and execute them perfectly. All you have time for is to instinctively react and use the techniques which have hopefully burned into your muscle memory to defend yourself. Also, the priority is to avoid all physical altercations at all costs. There are some situations, unfortunately, in which you just cannot avoid physical conflict, and in those cases, you better have a good martial art have your back, otherwise, you might end up in the hospital, or even dead. 

SO, out of these two, which one would win in a street-fight? Well, that mostly depends on the individual, their training level, and the specifics of the situation, since even you or any untrained person can knock out Mike Tyson if he isn’t looking your way or expecting it. However, if we are talking about the most realistic fight scenarios, there is quite a clear winner out of these two, and it might come as a surprise. 

Though when watching videos, Taekwondo might seem like the art better suited for self-defense, Judo takes the win in this category in our opinion. The margin is small, but it is still there. So, why does Judo win? Quite simply because realistically, most fights end up being grappling and wrestling competitions. Unless the person who hits first knocks the opponent out or manages to keep a distance, the fight usually ends up being very short-distance, full of clinches, knees, elbows, chokes, throws, and what have you. 

If you are a practiced Taekwondo fighter, you won’t have trouble defending yourself, don’t worry. Even in close-range, there are some techniques that can get you out of trouble, however, if you are a Judoka, all you need to do is close the distance, or wait for your opponent to do so, and you have probably secured a victory. A spinning hook kick might be more visually shocking, but trust us, if you perform a proper Harai-goshi throw when your opponent starts pulling at your shirt, they won’t be jumping up to run after you anymore. 

Which One Should You Choose: Judo or Taekwondo?

So, out of the two, which one is the best decision for you? Which one should you start to learn? Well, that depends on more factors than you would like to think, and unfortunately, your passion isn’t the most important one. 

After the many Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films, martial arts spread like wildfire over the Western side of our globe. The enthusiasm of newcomers was welcomed by the masters, but there were also people, as always, who wanted to and still want to exploit this. Many dojos, especially in the USA, Canada and Russia, tend to be so-called McDojos. These are the same thing for dojos as McDonald’s is for real hamburgers: a cheap copy, which won’t give you anything of substance. 

The most important thing when deciding the martial art you want to learn is making sure your dojo isn’t one of these money-centered McDojos. However much you would like to train Krav Maga much more than Jiu-Jitsu, or Goju-Ryu Karate over Boxing, you should always choose the best school near you, not the best art. The reason for this is that you could take the best art in the world and still not learn anything useful only because the intentions of the dojo owners and masters are not what they should be. 

If we assume that there is no such problem, we would recommend Judo over Taekwondo, since we believe there is a higher chance you will a) find a legitimate Judo dojo and b) learn something that you can easily use on the streets as well to properly defend yourself or your family. You will also learn how to fall properly, which is a great skill to know, regardless of the martial art itself. However, we must clarify, that if you have a high-quality Taekwondo dojo nearby, we would recommend that as well, and you can’t really go wrong with it. 

Raffaello Sambiagio, A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital.
Article by

Raffaello Sambiagio

Raffaello Sambiagio was born in Rome in eighty-nine. He approached martial arts through his local Judo gym, but everything changed with Brazilian jiu Jitsu. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital. Parallel to his competitive career, Raffaello dedicated himself to teaching discipline first to children and then to adults. Our testing and reviewing method.
What Is the Difference Between Judo and Karate?

What Is the Difference Between Judo and Karate?

The number of Eastern martial arts is comparable to the number of pizza types in the world. There is a lot of them, to say the least. There are, however, a couple you have definitely heard of, like Karate, Judo, Jiu-jitsu, or Taekwondo. Out of the styles I mentioned, Karate and Judo are probably the most widespread. They can be found in any city or town anywhere in the West. Unfortunately, not many people know much about different martial arts types and also have a tendency to mix up these two styles and regard them as the same. In this article, we tried to collect some info on what exactly are the differences, in order to give an answer to anyone who is interested. So, what is the difference between Judo and Karate? 

Judo and Karate are very different in almost all aspects in which martial arts can be analyzed, however, the main difference is that Karate is a striking art while Judo is mostly grappling. This means that usage, intensity, and experience is almost completely different. 

But that isn’t all. We wrote this article to break down the difference somewhat more. These two martial arts are different in many ways, and one who wants to start studying either of them should be aware of what they are starting and how they can possibly use that knowledge later on. Read on to find out more!

What are the differences between Judo and Karate? 


The history of these two martial arts is radically different, and it is one of the main reasons they are also so unlike one another. 

Karate has origins in modern-day Okinawa, with Gichin Funakoshi being considered as the founder of the most widespread style of Karate, Shotokan-do. Karate was created on the Ryukyu islands, by people wanting to defend themselves in a time when weapons were banned. Originally, Karate meant Chinese Hand, and many people credit Funakoshi to be the one who changed the meaning of the word to Empty Hand instead. The reason it was originally Chinese hand, is that Karate was heavily influenced by a Southern Chinese style of Kung Fu, the Fujian White Crane. All the styles it developed from were mostly made up of punches and kicks, open and closed palm strikes, blocks, and straight movements overall.

Judo is a derivate of Jiu-jitsu, the Japanese martial art based on locks, throws, and grappling. There was a decline in the respect towards Jiu-jitsu in Japan, and as it slowly started to fade out, Jigoro Kano thought it would be a good idea to reintroduce a similar martial art with a somewhat different concept and a different name. So he changed the original name Jujutsu into Judo, switching out the jutsu part which is a term used to depict a collection of physical techniques, to do, which means way. This way he created a more welcoming term which also portrayed the more philosophical side of Judo. One of Judo’s central ideas is ju yoku go o seisu, meaning “softness controls hardness”. This means that a weaker opponent can overcome a stronger one by use of their own momentum, this way being the softness that controls hardness. 


Here, one of the major differences between Karate and Judo can be found: the techniques. They are massively different, with barely any similarity between them. 

Karate is a striking art, with only a couple more traditional derivations implementing some level of grappling. 99% of Karate training had to do with punches, kicks, and blocks. It is a very linear art, no rounded motions, no jumping, nothing fancy. It is about being stationary while not fighting to minimize power usage while it is possible, and then quickly contracting all muscles at the time of the attack in order to deliver a quick, straight, and powerful strike. 

Judo has almost nothing to do with striking. It is called “the soft way” for a reason, even though there isn’t much that is soft about being insanely whipped onto the ground in a flash. Judo uses balance and momentum to beat the opponents, by grabbing onto control points of the body (usually points of the body with the least balance or ones with the largest possibility of becoming good levers) and then slamming them to the ground. It is not as fast-paced as karate can be and the movements aren’t as flashy, but it can be just as dangerous. 

Body parts used

This question is a slightly technical one. The body parts used do differ, but differently than one might suspect.

In Karate, the limbs, down from the main joints are the main body parts used. That means elbow to fists on the hands, and knee to feet on the legs. All the bones in these areas are used to strike (elbow strikes, shin strikes, kicks, punches, open-hand punches, etc…), but nothing more than that. Throws and locks are rare, so the aforementioned body parts are the ones used in fights.

In Judo, however, the situation is a bit more complex. One might say that they also use their arms and legs to tackle and grapple with their opponent, but actually, the force is generated mostly by the hips and the legs. The legs aren’t used for their brute force but rather their ability to quickly shift the balance of both the attacker and the defender, after which the hips usually play a big role in the execution of the throws themselves. Just as with almost any other wrestling/grappling art or sport, the emphasis is on full body and core strength rather than arm or leg strength, so we could say that Judo is full-body, whereas Karate is primarily focused on the limbs.  


Here, the difference is almost non-existent. Both arts have similar equipment in both traditional and more modern schools. The traditional, of course, doesn’t require any sort of equipment.

Both are trained on tatami flooring most of the time to avoid potential injury and reduce the impact on joints and bones when falling, which is obviously more important for Judo, seeing as a Judo class mainly consists of students slamming each other to the ground non-stop. In more modern schools, head-, shin-, mouth-, groin-, and other types of guards are required.

The difference is that Karate schools require these guards more often than Judo schools since Karate is based on striking and can injure these body parts a lot more easily. Many Judo schools have scarce or no equipment at all, even in the modern parts of the world.

Both martial arts, however, require wearing gi-s, which are traditional Japanese clothing that almost all martial arts from that region use. There is a slight difference between Karate and Judo gi-s, which is that Judo requires more heavy stitching in certain areas and thicker collars as well to endure the wear and tear of grabbing the clothes of the opponent to throw them.

Judo relies a lot on the leverage gained by holding the collar or the clothes at the hips, knees, or shoulders to properly execute a throw, which makes it necessary to make thicker gi-s for Judo, but the basic concept of the clothing is the same: a deep-necked shirt with long sleeves (either like a jacket or like a pullover), loose-fitting pants and a belt to hold it all together. 

Effectiveness in real-life scenarios

One of the more frequent questions when it comes to martial arts is their effectiveness since people want to learn these arts in order to defend themselves and their loved ones. So how do Karate and Judo fare in these terms?

Karate teaches a lot of techniques that can be used in a street scenario. Although the blocks are usually unrealistic, the speed, the spatial awareness, and the strike strength gained from learning Karate will definitely give a major edge to a Karateka over the layman. One properly executed front kick or punch can easily end the whole fight almost before it began. 

Judo is also very useful for street scenarios, probably more effective than Karate in one-on-one altercations. The reality of violence is totally different than what people think and practice in controlled situations like in class. The fact is, fights on the street or in a bar are fast and unpredictable, and they also usually end up being much more close-range than people like to think. This is where Judo excels; it teaches valuable techniques to deal with close-range scenarios. If someone attacks you in a bar, you might have trouble kicking them or even taking up the wide stance that Karate usually uses. With Judo, however, as soon as they reach near enough for you to grab onto their arm or perhaps clothing, you will be able to finish it in the span of a couple of seconds.

The place where Judo doesn’t perform well is with multiple attackers. Of course, it is very valuable in those situations as well compared to someone who doesn’t know anything, but the fact is that Judo often ends up on the ground, which is the absolute worst place to be in a street fight.

Karate might help you remain on your feet and try to quickly finish one or two opponents to reduce the chances of them ganging up on you when you are lying on the floor, in which case not many martial arts are able to help.

Raffaello Sambiagio, A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital.
Article by

Raffaello Sambiagio

Raffaello Sambiagio was born in Rome in eighty-nine. He approached martial arts through his local Judo gym, but everything changed with Brazilian jiu Jitsu. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is one of the members of Tribe Jiujitsu Roma Nord, one of the most prestigious in the capital. Parallel to his competitive career, Raffaello dedicated himself to teaching discipline first to children and then to adults. Our testing and reviewing method.
red belt

Kung Fu Belts: Ranking System Explained

We all know too well that Oriental martial arts are known for having (usually coloured) belts that designate individual rankings and skills. Trainees always start with a white belt – the beginner’s belt – and finish with a black belt, which designates the rank of a master; black belts usually have several ranks, but that is less important now. In between, most martial arts have several ranks that are symbolised by coloured belts.

The number varies from art to art (there are even variations among different styles or schools of a martial art), but they usually have around eight to ten ranks between the white and the black belt. This is a rule in most Japanese and Korean martial arts, but Chinese martial arts, collectively known as kung fu, are a bit different.

For years, kung fu styles have had no belts whatsoever, but with the development of the arts and external influences, kung fu also developed a belt system similar to the one in its neighbouring domains. 

In today’s article, we are going to discuss the belts in kung fu. We’re going to see how they developed, what they are and what they represent, in order to distinguish them from the belts in other martial arts. So, if you want to know more – continue reading.

What Is Kung Fu?

Kung fu, actually an umbrella term, encompasses a wide variety of martial arts and it is a thoroughly complicated process of classifying them all. There are several ways and criteria available for classifying all the styles of kung fu.

The first possible classification is based on geography. Within this system, the two dominant groups are the northern and southern styles, but there is also a possibility of classifying styles based on a more specific location like a village, town of province.

Another classification is the one that divides the styles into external and internal, but most commentators agree that this division is obsolete and doesn’t really stress out the difference between the styles. Styles can also be classified based on religious influences present within their philosophies; here, we talk about Buddhist, Taoist and Islamic styles. These are all contemporary systems of classification. 

There have also been several older systems, which can now be described as historical. Some of those systems are the legendary and historical styles, family styles, imitative-styles and styles based on the main style attacking style.

As we have seen, it is almost infinitely complex to describe and classify all the styles of kung fu in one short article. Thus, we have decided to analyse the seven most popular styles, bringing you a brief overview and the basic characteristics of the most popular styles:

  • Shaolin Kung Fu (Chinese: 少林功夫) is probably the best known and most popular style of kung fu. It has been widely represented in films, animation and television and the general public is generally knowledgeable about its existence. Shaolin is closely related to the philosophy of Zen Buddhism and dates back more than a millennium, when it was founded in the notoriously famous Shaolin Temple. In popular culture, Shaolin is most famously represented by the travelling Shaolin monks and the stories of their exploits. It utilises a wide range of self-defence techniques, wide stances and a combination of kicks and punches, with the latter being both open- and close-handed. Shaolin trainees study the art through complex forms and because of that, it is said that Shaolin is both the most sophisticated and the most complex kung fu style.
  • Wing Chun (Chinese: 詠春) is also a very popular and well-known style of kung fu. It originated in southern China around 300 years ago and was, interestingly, founded by two women, a nun well-versed in kung fu and her student, a tofu saleswoman, called Yim Wing Chun. It is the only kung fu style named after a woman. Like the majority of southern styles, Wing Chun focuses on close-range combat and upper body movements, i.e. punches. It is a very quick style that relied a lot on agility, but also defensive techniques such as sidestepping and ducking.
  • Tai Chi (Chinese: 太極) is, along with Shaolin, the best known and most popular style of kung fu around the world. It is an inherently internal style with Taoist influences dating as far back as the 12th century, although the style was virtually unknown in China until the last 100 years or so. The concept of the Yin and the Yang is essential to Tai Chi, as is pacifism. It is a very slow style that focuses on awareness, which is why, today, it is mostly studied for its health benefits. It also increases one’s softness and flexibility.
  • Northern Praying Mantis (Chinese: 螳螂拳) has the most peculiar name of all the styles in this article and derives its name from a well-known green insect. The praying mantis generally has a very strong symbolic meaning in Chinese martial arts. It is one of the styles that tend to imitate animal movements and use them in a fighting environment. It is a very quick style that emphasizes footwork along with upper body movements and is well-known for the swiftness and sequential nature of its movements. A similar style, also based on imitating animal movements, is the Monkey Style.
  • Baguazhang (Chinese: 八卦掌) is, along with Tai Chi and Xing Yi Quan, one of the three main internal kung fu styles. It is a relatively new style, founded somewhere in the 19th century and is, like Tai Chi, much influenced by Taoism. Although the techniques of Tai Chi and Baguazhang are very different, both are characterised by slow, fluent movements. The Yin and the Yang play a very important role not just in the philosophy of Baguazhang, but also in the footwork.
  • Xing Yi Quan (Chinese: 形意拳) is the last member of the “internal triumvirate”, along with Tai Chi and Baguazhang. It is the oldest of the three and although it is classified as an internal style, it defies almost all of their postulates. The style is relatively simplistic and rudimentary, and features a variety of straightforward movements that lack the fluent complexity of its brethren. The main element of Xing Yi Quan training is the training of the mind, which makes it an important factor in the system of kung fu.
  • Bajiquan (Chinese: 八極拳) is the last of the styles analysed in this article. It is based on a very aggressive, offensive technique known as the “eight extremities fist”. The elbow is a strong weapon in this style, which is also recognisable because of it quick, thrusting punches to the chest area. It does not focus on the aesthetics of the movements, rather on their strengths. In China, it is also known as the “bodyguard style”, because a lot of local bodyguards have been trained to practice it.

This covers the basics of kung fu. Now – let us see the origin of belts in martial arts. 

Belts in Martial Arts

Oriental martial arts have been practiced in the Far East for centuries, but the belt system is a relatively new phenomenon, just a little over a century old. Before belts were introduced, martial artists handed out certificates (or diplomas) to students who had reached a certain level of knowledge and ability.

But, at the turn of the 20th century, a man called Jigorō Kanō, best known as the founder of judo, decided to introduce coloured belts in his art. This was not a completely original idea, as he was inspired by a similar system present in the Japanese board game of go (similar to chess), but it was a revolution in the world of martial arts.

The essential idea behind the belt system was to enable students to advance more rapidly, but also to enable fighters to quickly identify the level of knowledge their opponent has, thus leading to a more levelled field in potential combat. Kanō’s original colours were blue, white, brown and black, but as the years passed the system had become more sophisticated and included a larger palette of colours. 

Belts in Kung Fu

Now, let us see how the general history relates to out topic. As we’ve said, traditionally – there was no ranking system in Chinese martial art, i.e. kung fu. Of course, people were “graded” and commended based on their skills, but the system was more similar to a familiar hierarchy where the oldest member was the head of the group.

So, status was achieved through age and the older practitioners were held in higher regard than the younger ones. This was, of course, not codified, so there was no guarantee that you would receive a status at a certain age, but it was usually connected. An early testimony of one’s skills and qualities was a signed scroll, which the masters used to attest the skills of their students.

But as the styles developed and began drawing more influences from external sources, coloured belts as a designation of one’s skills slowly entered kung fu and became a part of its modern practice.

We’ve seen that it all began around 1900, which means that coloured belts entered kung fu practice somewhere during the 20th century. Still, China would prove to be different. Namely, they only adapted the general idea of the system, meaning that they made several changes along the way. 

One of the more important changes is the design and the utilisation of the belt. Kung fu belts, albeit coloured, are vastly different than Oriental belts. They are wider, being made out of wide sashes, and are usually made from silk, unlike traditional Japanese and Korean belts, which are narrower and made out of hard, thick materials like wool.

Belts in kung fu are also an important part of the ceremonial attire, unlike other belts, which are in most cases a symbol of one’s status and knowledge. 

What Is the Order of Belts in Kung Fu?

Although most kung fu schools use coloured belts today, it’s not a universal practice, as there are still schools that prefer a traditional approach without belts, where the master decides the rank of the student. But we’ll be discussing the former here. 

As expected, students start of with a white belt. Since they’re made from silk, the belts were initially dyed as the student advanced, which is why it made sense that each following colour was darker than its predecessor. Today, there are pre-coloured belts, meaning that you don’t have to dye your belt over and over. The classic colour structure is as follows:

Color Degree
Black belt

The nine trainee belts – all those before the black belt – are divided into three main categories: novice belts, intermediate belts and advanced belts. Advancing to a higher belt is dune via demonstrations where a student demonstrates the skills he has learned; if the examiners deem his skills good enough, they will allow him to advance to a higher belt.

Usually, you have to demonstrate a variety of skills and as you advance, they become wider, more sophisticated and more complex. Also, there has to be a certain time period between being able advance to a higher level. 

This is just the basic structure and most kung fu schools will follow it, but don’t take it as a general rule as there are exceptions. Although only a fraction of the schools has its own ranking system, be sure to inform yourself before you decide to enrol. 

Now, we’ll analyse the belts in more detail.

Novice Belts in the Kung Fu Ranking System

The white belt, which symbolises a new beginning, is not considered to be a part of the three main categories, because it is a beginner’s belt awarded for mere enrolment. Thus, we can deduce that the novice belts are yellow, gold and orange; a student will advance through those ranks in that order.

Novice learning includes basic strikes, blocks, stances and similar skills, as well as several simple practice forms; it is a very simplistic training schedule that will get you through the basics, but not much above that. You remember when, in kung fu movies, the martial artist present almost dance-like moves? Well, novice forms are most similar to those moves, so they might prepare you for a supporting role in a martial arts movie. 

By attending two or three times each week and practicing at home, you can hope to master these three belts within one calendar year. 

The meaning of the three colours is:

Color Degree Meaning
2nd This colour symbolises curiosity and represents the first ray of sunshine.
3rd This colour represents a stage between the initial curiosity and the determination that comes with the orange belt.
4th This colour symbolises a student’s determination; now that he has some skills, he is full of energy and zeal to learn more.

Intermediate Belts in the Kung Fu Ranking System

Intermediate level training will teach you more advanced strikes and stances, different self-defence combinations, more esoteric and complex forms. It can also include some basic teaching experience, as you might be assigned a junior student to practice with you, and you might also start training with weapons.  The intermediate colours are green, blue and purple.

It generally takes one to two years to progress through the intermediate levels of kung fu training.

The meaning of the three colours is:

Color Degree Meaning
5th This colour symbolises the growth a student is experiencing while evolving his skills.
6th Blue symbolises calmness and control, as the student begins to train his mind along with his body.
7th Growing more confident, the student also becomes stronger. Purple symbolises one’s power and ambition.

Advanced Belts in the Kung Fu Ranking System

The last two colours – brown and red – represent advanced training belts and the last belts before attaining the black belt. They symbolised an advance knowledge of kung fu. They include advanced katas (forms), weapons work, philosophical development and cont