The common debate when it comes to using all types of sparring gear is whether it defeats the purpose of training.
Some say that because you have protective gear on, your mind will allow you to be more aggressive and less cautious.
And while we cannot speak for all, this reasoning is false and not in keeping with the basic principles of martial arts. There are also those who don’t want to spend money on sparring gear because they won’t be using it during competitions.
When sparring, the shins are one of the most “tender” parts since it is completely bare, exposed, without much muscle covering it, and has a high risk of receiving a kick.
Therefore, protective gear for the shin area is often recommended by instructors and professionals alike.
To those who worry that using sparring gear will hamper their proper conditioning, I say try sparring without protective gear - especially in the shin area - and see how that can be truly hampering.
The Shin Guards
Shin guards protect the bare shin area from inevitable collisions that can cause extreme pain and risky injuries.
More than anything, the guards are there to prevent injuries that can range from less significant ones such as bone bruising and hairline fractures on your shin to more severe and brutal ones such as a compound fracture in the tibia (shinbone) and fibula (calf bone).
There will still be some pains, aches and bruising that can be obtained from a sparring session even with guards on, but this is significantly lessened and will only last a little while, much like typical muscle pain.
This protective gear is designed to keep users safe while learning the techniques. The guard’s padding, not too thick or heavy, will give enough cushion to absorb strong blows to your shin and legs.
Of course, strengthening your shins through proper conditioning exercises are also recommended to make them more durable in actual fights or competitions.
Moreover, the padding doesn’t just protect your shins but your sparring partner’s as well. Your exposed shins will hurt a lot when hit, but they can also do tremendous damage to your opponent’s shins when you block an attack.
When you train, you don’t only condition yourself to attack; you must also give equal importance to defense.
Thus, carelessly landing a blow on your opponent without much consideration for your body isn’t really the fault of your protective gear while training but on your incorrect mentality.
So, if you’re still contemplating getting your own shin protective gear, try to catch your shin on your opponent's knee or elbow in a full-force kick without protective gear and see how it feels.
Then you will know that every dollar spent on your guards is so much worth it.