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Author Topic: Protection Gear  (Read 1192 times)
Knight Major

Force Alignment: 57
Posts: 356

« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2019, 03:15:14 PM »

I've sparred with no gear.  While yes, it can be done, I ended up getting lacrosse gloves because your hands are most likely to get hit.  And my sparring partner tended to get a little too into it, which leads to some awkward form when you're constantly dodging to keep your face out of danger.  Accidents happen, even if you agree no head shots!

THAT SAID, I won't spar without gear anymore.  I would say the absolute minimum is gloves and a fencing mask (which, really, is your face not worth more than $60?  It'll sure cost more than that to repair it if you get hit, and nobody wants to lose an eye or teeth.  Save up if you have to, but get a proper fencing mask!)   I've been able to borrow a fencing mask from a friend, and it definitely made me a more confident fighter, as I'm no longer afraid of a blow to the head.

For body armor: motocross jackets are better than nothing, and a cheap way to start, but they have some big flaws.  There's no inner arm protection, and because of the zipper, they have no sternum protection.  And they're surprisingly hot.  I've used one a couple of times, and ended up upgrading to hockey pads (which you can find used pretty easily, I suggest Play It Again Sports if you have one nearby).  Motocross jackets are not legal for Saber Legion competitions due to the lack of sternum protection (but you can wear them for sparring/practice, or get a fencing chest protector to go over them).  Hockey pads (despite what that video says) can absolutely be painted and customized, and mine cover the inner bicep, which is a place I was constantly getting stabbed while wearing the moto jacket.

Knee pads are also good idea.  While nobody should be aiming for your knees, they do get hit on the backswing.  I've been using motocross combination knee/shin guards, which are nice because they have good range of movement and stay in place.  Hockey pads are too stiff.

Elbows and Forearms: You can get combination elbow and forearm pads made for hockey/lacrosse/motocross/soccer, etc.   I have a small pair of lacrosse elbow pads, but may upgrade to larger hockey pads in the future.  Nothing I've found covers the inner arm very well except for HEMA fencing gauntlets though, so it depends on your preference.

I'd say the above is basic gear.  If you're going to do competitions, like Saber Legion, you'll also need thigh, hip, stomach, groin, spine, back of the head, and throat protection.  Again, this is often hockey or fencing gear, but can vary.   I know someone who uses a baseball umpire stomach pad, for example.

As to "more gear = harder hits" - it can, but it shouldn't, if you're actually attempting to be a good martial artist instead of just whacking people.  The local Saber Legion group has a person who tends to hit too hard, and working on chaining moves (so, instead of just one hit and done, do two or more moves at once - block then hit, etc) got him to back off, because you can't hit full force if you immediately have to follow it up with a second move.  Which made everyone a better fighter, and him less likely to hurt someone.   (Saber Legion also discourages full-force hits, because if you were using a real lightsaber, you wouldn't need a very hard hit to cause damage.  And it's more fun for everyone involved.  You only need to touch to score.)

As I said before, wearing a helmet made me a lot more confident, and it freed me up to concentrate on technique - everything from footwork/balance to saber handling.  And it's more fun to not have to worry about hurting yourself or others.  If you're sparring, or doing anything other than practiced choreography, at least get a helmet and gloves!

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