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Most places will just flat-out disallow you from throwing any kind of kick in sparring if you aren’t armoured up in shin guards. This is to protect both you and your opponent.
You wouldn’t punch your opponent full force without wearing gloves so why would you do the same with your kicks?
Your training partners are meant to be your friends so you don’t want to smash their legs to bits or accidentally break their ribs during a friendly sparring session because you’re not properly equipped.
Also, we’ve all seen that Anderson Silva fight. If you’re not wearing shin-guards and your opponent checks your round kick just right, you can find yourself collapsing to the ground in agony, cradling your broken leg.
So don’t take it lightly. Just get a pair of shin-guards.
There are two main styles of shin-guards you can get. Pure striking shin-guards and sleeve shin-guards.
The pure striking shin-guards are generally bigger and bulkier and meant for striking stand-up sparring. Though they can also be used for full MMA training and grappling, they’re definitely not optimised for it and some people find it almost impossible pulling off submissions from guard whilst wearing them.
The sleeve style of shin-guard are generally suited better to MMA as a whole. They don’t provide your legs, and your opponent, with as much protection as the striking shin-guards, but their smaller, sleeker profile allows you more freedom to grapple, work submissions, etc.
Which style you decide to choose depends on you; your personal preference and even what your MMA gym tends to focus on. I.E: BJJ based MMA gyms might have more grappling sparring with strikes so you might be better off with the sleeves.
Our Top 5 shin guard lists encompasses both styles, so there’s something to suit everyone.
The Best MMA Shin Guards
Hayabusa are at the very top of the game when it comes to producing high quality MMA gear that both looks amazing whilst still serving it’s primary function.
You can expect anything from Hayabusa to be excellent and these shin-guards are no exception.
They manage to cover and protect your entire shin without being too wide, bulky or restricting your movement.
They’re available in four different sizes to fit all spectrums.
A general issue with striking shin-guards is that they can slide from side to side when moving and kicking, leading to you having to constantly stop to readjust them. Hayabusa combat this by adding a pad for calf protection which helps keep the guard in position.
Fairtex Pro Shin Guards
If Hayabusa are one of the top MMA brands, then Fairtex is definitely at the top of the heap when it comes to Muay Thai.
Fairtex have been putting out quality Muay Thai guy like gloves, shorts and shin-guards for years and have even released great MMA products too as the sport becomes more and more popular.
These guards will provide you and your training partners with enough protection that you’ll be able to throw full kicks at your opponent without worrying about causing excess damage.
Like the Hayabusa guards, these are available in four sizes.
As they’re primarily Muay Thai guards, and Thai people are, generally speaking, smaller than Westerners, these can be a good choice for the smaller trainee. For example, the small sized shin-guards are designed to fit people with heights from as low as 4ft11 to 5ft4.
So if you’re on the smaller size, a teenager or female, it might be a wise idea to play it safe and purchase a pair of Fairtex guards.
These shin guards from Venum are the first of the sleeve style guards on the list.
If your MMA game primarily focuses on BJJ and grappling and you find yourself doing full MMA sparring a lot more often than just pure striking, then these might be for you.
These shin-guards are designed to fit you legs like a glove so you can throw kicks one second and then be working your arm-bars from your guard moments after. They have a sleek low-profile design so they won’t get in the way as you fight out of positions.
Another counter-intuitive benefit to these is defending leg-locks. Bare with me here.
If your opponent latches on to your leg for a leg-lock then they’ll have a lot more to hold on to keep you in place due to the guards. So if you can defend and escape easily from a leg-lock whilst handicapped from wearing these, imagine how easy it would be to slip out and escape without them.
Venum are right up there with Hayabusa when it comes to being top quality producers of MMA gear. Every item they design and create is crafted with the utmost care in both style and substance.
They use 100% premium synthetic leather and buffalo leather for exceptional durability and performance. No matter how many kicks you throw, and how hard you throw them, these shin-guards will be able to bear the brunt of the force. They even have additional high density foam padding on particular sensitive areas of the foot/leg, like the instep, for better shock absorption.
All of this added protection comes without impeding your movement, motion or speed.
These are another high quality pair of shin-pads for the more grappling oriented MMA fighter.
RDX makes these available in four size options and with three vibrant, stylish colour options.
Like boxing gloves and hand wraps, a lot of shin-guards hold odour. It’s very hard to combat this nasty truth and sometimes it can’t be avoided.
However, these pads feature a Dri-Fit moisture management construction to keep both your legs and the pads fresher for longer. This same construction also increases comfort so you can spar and train without having your mental focus on the pads.
Sleeve pads, like these ones, can also normally be machine washed. So you can easily just to throw them in the washing machine with your rash guards and shorts after a heavy session.
If you take your training seriously at all, you will need to get a good quality pair of shin-guards. Not having them is like turning up to a boxing session and asking to spar bare knuckle. Not going to happen.
To reiterate the importance of the different style of shin guards, go with the bigger, more protective striking pads if you’re focused on striking and choose the sleeve pads if you want things to end up on the ground.
Something else to note is that if you plan on competing in amateur MMA matches, they often won’t let you compete with the bigger striking pads. So it could be in your best interests to have a pair of each style.