How Safe is a Sparring Headgear Against Head Injuries?
It’s one of combat sports most hotly debated topics: using headgear for training.
You may already be firmly planted on either side of the fence. Either you’re one lobbying for the usage of sparring headgear during practices to lessen the risk of running injuries.
After all, it’s the sensible thing to do. Conversely, you may view sparring headgear as a distraction to actual training and even blame it for greater risks taken by martial artists in their combats.
Much like settling the score in a fight, let’s put the debate to bed once and for all by debunking these 5 commonly mistaken myths about the use of sparring headgear:
“Unprotective” Sparring Headgear
People think it’s a waste of money to invest in karate headgear because it doesn’t really protect the head from incurring injuries.
However, most martial arts experts recommend getting quality headgear because this ensures better head protection and significantly lessens the severity of being concussed when falling on the back of your head.
Get a protected headgear designed to decrease injuries from being knocked down or tripped. The extra thick padding in the back of the head prevents the head from bouncing off the floor when the fighter hits the deck.
Safe Headgear is Distracting
Some fighters find a protective headgear distracting because blows to the head may dislodge the gear and obscure vision.
This is why getting a well-fitted headgear is vital. Greg Jackson of Jackson’s MMA warns against ill-fitted headgear because after getting punched, the headgear might slide to the eyes, hindering the fighter’s vision.
It’s also important to note that proper brain function is more crucial than clear vision. A team of researchers in Cleveland, Ohio, simulated a hook punch to the head using a crash test dummy.
After trying several combinations of hits with and without protective gear, using padded headgear offered the most protection and least amount of damage. So if you really want to stay focused and avoid being distracted in a sparring match, wear your headgear to keep your head in the game.
Headgear are for Amateurs
They say professional fighters don’t use headgear for sparring because it makes them a bigger and easier target, so only beginners use it.
But saying this is a direct negligence of one’s health. And it’s contrary to how professional martial artists behave. Martial Arts is not a hero-macho type of sport that has zero regard for health and safety.
This isn’t Hollywood! Head blows cause micro injuries to the brain, which results in reduced speed and reflex.
Medical studies have also correlated speech impediment, memory loss and other reduced brain functions to head traumas.
Sweat can cause infection and MRSA is just one of a few skin diseases that can be acquired through training .
But this only happens when you don’t take good care of your gear. Hygiene plays a very important role in keeping you healthy and well. Keep your sparring head gear clean will reduce the risk of getting these skin diseases.
Headgear Protects from Minor Injuries Only
If you think head collisions are only minor, you’re a danger junkie. Martial Arts isn’t just about strength, stamina and endurance. It also promotes protection, discipline and overall well-being.
Both the British Journal of Sports Medicine and the California State Athletic Commission are heavy proponents of using headgear to prevent all types of injuries, major or minor.
So if by using a heavy padded headgear to protect yourself from a range of injuries - from cuts, bruises and black eyes, to cauliflower ears and perforated eardrums – wouldn’t you willingly invest in high-quality headgear to keep you going in the sport you love?
So there you have it.
Wearing protective sparring headgear isn’t just “commercializing the sport.” It serves its common-sense purpose of protection and care.
It’s also not an excuse for amateur and professional fighters and martial artists to take more risks, thereby invalidating the benefits of the protective gear.
What it all comes down to is the fighter’s proper mentality of training as carefully as he would without the gear.