Home gym for the combat athlete. What do you need?

Nothing will ever replace physically going to the gym and training with your teammates, having your instructor push you, and supporting your team…and getting beat up by them. That’s just the way it is. However, there are times when making it to the gym doesn’t happen. Whether it be a blinding Canadian snow storm and the plows are busy getting stoned, or something as simple as you just had to work late (fuck that), that shouldn’t stop you from getting a workout in and pursuing your dream. Most serious combat athletes have some form of gym at their house, whether in their basement, garage, or wherever it fits. That being said, home gyms, especially for combat sports are not the cheapest and can take up a decent amount of space due to the movement required. Most people build up their gym over time, through trial and error and buying and reselling their equipment until they find the perfect combo for themselves. Maybe, just maybe this will save you some time. The following products are designed primarily around Muay Thai, MMA and boxing, however you can customize your dream home gym however you like, based on your chosen discipline.

Floor Mats

CHECK PRICES FOR MATS HERE!

The first thing you will need is protective floor matting. If you are setting up your gym in your garage or anywhere that has a concrete floor, this is a no brainer. Nobody wants to be shadow boxing or training on this kind of surface in bare feet. Cuts and scrapes on the bottoms of your feet will slow your training and could lead to  infection if you’re not careful. Bottom line, don’t be an idiot, get protective mats for the floor. Even if you are setting up your gym in a carpeted basement, get matting. Not only will this protect the carpet in your house but having rug burn on your heel when turning over on a kick will not be pleasant. I would highly recommend interlocking floor mats. Generally these are all of good quality ( as far as I have seen ) and provide a good mix of support and sturdiness. You do not want to line your training area with mats that are too soft such as stretching or gymnastic mats. They will feel like you are standing on a pillow and their softness will hinder that explosive power you will need to harness for combat sports. Whichever brand you choose, this is your first purchase.

Heavy bag for boxers

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If your discipline is boxing which requires only hands, you will need a bag that you can throw heat at which will stand up to your onslaught. Any combat athlete’s gym has a bag of some sort. Get used to doing bag work, or get out, plain and simple. There are numerous brands out there, that provide good quality bags such as Everlast and Ringside. There are some suggestions I have for buying a heavy bag. Firstly, don’t buy one of those stupid bop bags that come back at you after you hit them. They are useless and so are you if you get one. You are a combat athlete, not in a cardio boxing class. The heavy bag is for working your speed and power, if you want to work reflexes, buy a double ended bag. Get a ceiling or wall mounted heavy bag, so you have a sturdy base to throw your heaviest power shots. With regards to the weight of the bag, that is totally up to you. The bigger you are the heavier the bag you want. You typically don’t see heavyweights throwing bombs at an 80lb bag. If you know you have heavy hands, then opt for the bigger bag so you can work your combos more effectively.

Banana Bag for Muay Thai and MMA

CHECK BAG PRICES HERE!

For Muay Thai and MMA a Banana bag is key for your home gym. It allows for any strike you want to practice. Punches, low kicks, elbows, knees, this bag can do it all. The particular allure of this bag is the low kicks however, as they are an imperative strike for both Muay Thai and MMA and require both precision and timing to be effective. Both of which are achieved by repetition, which is where the banana bag comes into play. If I could recommend two particular brands, I would go with Venum and Fairtex. I have put in 100’s of rounds of work on Venum bags while training in Thailand and they absolutely stand up to the test. They take an uncountable number of shots year round from some of the best Nak Muays’ from all over the world. That is proof enough that they can take whatever beating you can dish out. When looking at Fairtex banana bags you can be sure that you’re getting the quality you can deserve. Serving Muay Thai practitioners with quality products since 1958, their brand is tried and tested. Having personally owned one of these bags, they are the perfect balance of rigidity. Not kicking a pillow but not kicking a cinder block either. When purchasing a banana bag just make sure you refill it from time to time and re-distribute its contents or you will find yourself kicking concrete after a while. I also would highly suggest a ceiling mount as opposed to wall mount. When using the latter, I find the spacing very restrictive for kicks when moving around the bag, especially if utilizing a stand up mount.

Free Weights

CHECK FREE WEIGHT PRICES HERE!

Any athlete whether combat or not knows ( or should know ) the importance of strength training. MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners all supplement their training regime with various forms of strength training. In my opinion the best way to do this is with free weights. They provide a versatile array of exercises you can perform and can be placed in areas that may take up less space. Now I know what some of you ( the experts ) are thinking. “You need a lifting platform, a squat rack, battle ropes , an Olympic size pool”. Well I’ll stop you right there. You are a combat athlete and your primary concern is honing your craft, not being a power lifter, cross-fitter, bodybuilder etc. Another thing, all those big, fancy, half cage smith machine, whatever you call them, all take up space. A lot of it. If you have a huge house or have the means, sure, fill your space with whatever you want. However for the rest of us who may only have half a garage, basement or spare room and a small to modestly sized house to work with; keep it small and effective. With the exception of an incline bench, keep your free weights simple; Hexagon weights work fine. They’re heavy and metal, pick them up. I am personally not a fan of having a million and a half mini plates laying around my training space, not being able to find the locking mechanism or the correct weight I want. It’s maddening. Keep your free weights simple and as compact as possible.

Speed Bag

CHECK SPEED BAG PRICES HERE!

Whether you choose to practice Muay Thai, Boxing, MMA or essentially any martial art that involves striking, a speed bag is beneficial. Doing regular work on this piece of equipment will improve your muscular and cardiovascular endurance, timing, hand eye coordination, speed and strengthen your fast twitch muscles. When purchasing a speed bag I would look for a well known company that primarily specializes in boxing as you would be hard pressed to find a boxing gym without a speed bag ( and if you do , walk out and never return). Again, Everlast, RDX or Ringside are all reputable companies that have been supplying boxing equipment to practitioners for years. Just make sure whichever product you buy has a heavy duty, quality swivel so you won’t have to constantly replace it should it break from constant use. Once you get the hang of it, that rhythmic sound of the speed bag will become addicting and you’ll have motivational flashbacks of Rocky training montages every time you use it.

Grappling Dummy

CHECK PRICES ON FOR GRAPPLING DUMMIES HERE!

For those of you that practice the submission arts, we have not forgot about you. A grappling dummy is a fantastic way to practice your trade when perhaps going to the gym and rolling with your usual training partners is not an option. Great for practicing triangles, armbars, the dreaded leg lock and a myriad of other submissions. These tools allow you to practice repetition as well, which is a huge bonus to purchasing one of these. Perhaps you want to JUST work arm bars for an hour.  Well, your usual human training partner may not particularly appreciate you slapping armbars on them for 60 minutes. This is where the grappling dummy comes into play with no risk of physically hurting your partner. Try to rip that arm off if you want. Make sure the dummy you choose is made of durable material as it will be taking a lot of punishment. There is no shortage of these on the market today, and numerous companies deliver a good product. The downside is that the price tag varies on these as well. So whichever model you want and how much you want to pay is entirely up to you. The Fairtex Maddox is a high quality dummy from a very reputable company. Revgear also makes a good grappling dummy which is sold at a mid range price. Before purchasing please take into account the size of the dummy you are buying. In the interest of realism you will want to purchase one that is as close to your weight class as possible. Don’t buy a kids size grappling dummy and think your tough when your throwing it around.

The final word

CHECK ROLLER PRICES HERE!

There are a ton of items to supplement your home combat gym that you can add over time. It all depends on the space you have and how much you are willing to spend. A lot of these items you may already own and take to your local gym when you train, so some of these may be no brainers. Skipping ropes, resistance bands and foam rollers (don’t forget recovery) are all good additions to any home gym. In reality you can put anything you want into YOUR gym. Like any venture trial and error will come into play. What kind of bags do you want? Are you more hand heavy or kick oriented? Are you a pure wrestler and don’t do any striking at all? Bottom line is that creating a home combat gym is a huge way to express yourself. You can put whatever you want in there, train how you want. It’s just you and yourself in there so forget limitations and just go train. The above is just my opinion on what should go into a basic home gym for the combat athlete. So if you were stuck or unsure about how to proceed, hopefully this will give you some ideas and get you started on your way.

Until next time,

Scotty Mac

 

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Build your bug out bag – Rural escape – Part 1 – The Bag.

Whether you live in the country or an urban environment, everyone should have a bug out bag (BOB). For those of you who don’t know, a BOB is a pre arranged pack of supplies usually designed for a person to live out of for up to 72 hours in case of an emergency.  These situations could range from evacuation, natural disaster, revolution, the zombie apocalypse (however unlikely) or really anything that would require you to leave your home or dwelling for an extended period of time under duress. The concept behind having a bag that will last you 72 hours, is that in most countries (yours’ could be different) government emergency services or disaster relief could take up to 72 hours to reach you and provide aid. Until that time, you can only rely on yourself. In part 1. of this multi- part blog we will be covering simply the bag itself for either occupying or escaping to a rural environment, features to look for and some of my picks for the top BOB’s on the market. In the coming parts we will get into medical items, tools, utilities, designated compartments and basically all the essentials you’ll require. However, before we do that, l need to inform you of some important factors regarding 72 hour packs.

Considerations

Before building your BOB there are some realizations you need to come to before starting to make the appropriate purchases.

First; a bug out bag is not designed for you to live out of for an extended period of time. It is to keep you alive for 72 hours until disaster relief etc. comes to your aid or until you reach a pre planned semi or fully permanent structure stocked with supplies. Which leads into my second point.

Have a plan! If you think that you’re just going to grab your BOB and play it by ear you may be in for a short trip. Now that being said, there will never be a perfect scenario and things at some point will definitely not go as planned, so if this does happen, have a plan for not having a plan. If you don’t have a place to go, find somewhere to gather your thoughts and ask yourself: What areas are around me? How far are they? Can I walk to them if need be? If I get there will I be found? Can I hide there? How close is it to water? Would I be able to find food? How close is it people or a potential settlement? Catch my drift? Stop, think and figure out a route. A rough plan is better then no plan.

Third. What is your end state? Are you looking to be found? Or are you looking to disappear? Now remember that this blog is based around a rural environment and typically people would choose clothes and a pack of woodland colour or camouflage. But is that always correct? You need to weigh your risks depending on what situation you are in. For example; one would think that if you are looking to be rescued you would have brighter coloured clothing to be potentially seen by aircraft. However, is their civil unrest occurring in your area? So again ask yourself: Would you rather camouflage yourself to avoid being seen by others that may wish to do you harm? Or would you still use bright coloured bags and apparel with the hope of being rescued before someone of ill intent finds you? If help doesn’t come, are you prepared to defend yourself and your possessions? Obviously there are other ways to be seen in the bush besides just your clothes. Fire, tracks, lights etc. are huge factors as well. Just some food for thought to get your mind working. As an aside, in an urban setting your style of bug out bag and kit will differ, which will be covered in another upcoming blog.

Lastly; a BOB is not a rucksack. Depending on the situation you may be required to move quickly on foot and get out of dodge in a hurry and a rucksack is simply too heavy and bulky. I won’t say that you CAN’T use a rucksack as a BOB, however I don’t recommend it; and here’s why. As already mentioned, rucksacks are large and restrict your movement. They also give people the false idea that they can pack their whole house in them. Let me tell you, after over a decade in the military, I’ve worn a lot of rucks and walked many many kilometres. Nothing sucks more then getting halfway through a march and realizing you over packed. You develop lower back, hip and foot problems due to the weight and still have more distance to go to reach safety. Avoid it, trust me. Sure, there are some you out there that are 6’6 fitness freaks that can handle a ruck or heavier pack. That’s fine. Do what works for you; but for most people of average size and fitness, don’t use a rucksack. Best way to test this; grab a backpack you already have, put some weight in it and go walk some trails. That way at least you will get a rough idea of how far you can go with a certain amount of weight.

Features

In this blog I won’t be touching on the individual companies as there are simply too many. Not only the bigger, more well known companies, but there are a ton of smaller independent companies that make excellent quality packs. Before providing you with my top BOB picks. Here are a few features you should look for when picking a good bag.

Molle

Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. This system located on the outside of the bag allows the user too add more pouches and compartments to the pack if they require more space for a specific tool. It allows for a higher level of accessibility and customization should the user need more room.

Hydration Bladder Compartment

CHECK HYDRATION BLADDER PRICES HERE!

Having a specialized compartment for a Hydration bladder is a good feature to keep in mind. When a bladder is full, it can take up space which my be required for other items. Also if you have other tools in your pack with sharp edges or points, it would be ill advised to put your bladder next to them for obvious reasons. If your bladder bursts, everything in your pack is soaked and more importantly; you’re down water and a carrying system. Need I say more? With a designated compartment it is away from your other equipment  and easily accessible if you need to refill.

Waist belt and hip padding

CHECK WAIST BELT PRICES HERE!

This one is somewhat of a double edged sword. I personally do not have the waist belt installed on my BOB however it does have the capability for it. Would I wear it if I was walking a long distance? Absolutely. I would always recommend buying a bag with waist belt capability, even if you choose to not utlize it. If you need to drop your pack in a jam; it’s another clip to undo in a world where seconds count. If you prefer the speed and won’t use the waist belt, take it out and store it. There is no point in having it attached but not done up, it will just get caught on foliage, branches etc. and become an annoyance. However if you plan on walking a long distance with a heavy bag; install it and wear it. It will provide support to your hips and lower back by taking a large amount of weight off of your shoulders, making it much easier to carry.

Wide Shoulder Straps

This one is pretty straight forward. If the shoulder straps are too thin and you’re carrying a lot of weight, they will dig in to your shoulders and become extremely uncomfortable. If you are walking a long distance, putting up with this will become very tiresome and hindering.

Now that you’ve had a chance to digest all of the above material and considerations regarding what to look for in a BOB, I will now give you my top picks on what are in my opinion, some of the best bug out bags for sale today.

Top Picks

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

CHECK PRICES ON THE CONDOR 3 DAY ASSAULT PACK HERE!

The Condor 3 day assault pack is currently the BOB that I am using and I must say I am impressed. Only recently deciding to set it up for rural escape, I have used this bag for the past 4 years. Whether taking it to the field, camping or just as an EDC (everyday carry),  it has stood up to many a beating. Other then normal wear and tear this pack still has no major damage to it whatsoever. It comes outfitted with Molle front and side pouches, a hydration bladder compartment, wide shoulder straps as well as a waist belt. Four checks in the box right there. It has main and secondary compartments, a front map pocket, two large side pouches and a bottom compartment which I use for first aid. Inside are internal pouches and dividers as well to organize your kit the way you want for better accessibility. While it is a 3 day bag, it does not feel overly large like others sometimes do. All in all an excellent pack for a 72 hour BOB.

5.11 Tactical Rush24 37L

CHECK PRICES ON THE 5.11 RUSH24 HERE!

Another great option for a BOB; over the past few years 5.11 Tactical has really stepped up their game. The Rush24 bag has three of the four essentials for me; The molle front and sides, hydration bladder compatibility and wide shoulder straps. It does not come with a waist belt. I have seen these bags rigged up with them however you may be restricted in which kind of belt you attach, as the specifications for both need to line up, so just keep that in mind. Now while this is designed as a 24 hour pack (which is why the waist belt probably isn’t included) it can easily be packed for 48 and pushed to 72 hours if your packing method is on point.  While the rush series does make a 72 hours version of this bag, I find it enormous. An excellent bag it still is, however at that size I believe it would encourage over packing which as discussed previously can lead to complications. On the other hand it does come with an attached waist belt, so its a decision you will have to weigh on your own. It has a long list of 5.11 specific features as well, and I must say the layout inside of the compartments is excellent. Using mesh pockets as well as sealable vinyl, you should have no problem organizing your kit. A great bag that is built to last. Have a look at both the 24 and the 72 and make your choice as to what size you want, both are good, it all depends on your preference and how efficient you are at packing.

Eberlestock G1 Little Brother Pack

CHECK PRICES ON THE  G1 LITTLE BROTHER HERE!

Designed for military use, this bag is beast and is by far one of the best bug out bags out there. It hits three out of four of the essentials I look for; hydration bladder compartments, wide shoulder straps, and molle. It does have the capability for a waist belt however it is sold as an addition. This pack is loaded with molle on the inside and outside for extra pouches that can be organized however you want depending on your situation. The massive main compartment which can actually hold two bladders if you felt so inclined, is more then large enough to hold all the essentials you require. It is also worth mentioning that the Little Brother Pack is the main bag on Eberlestock’s Skycrane 2 load bearing system which is worth taking a look at if you are looking for something bigger and getting into the realm of rucksacks. As I say with all larger bags; Do not over pack! However if you are looking for a bit larger of a BOB that is tough, tried and tested by military forces and built to last, have a look at the G1 Little Brother.

Last words

Like I said previously, there are simply too many good companies and bags to list them all, these are just my personal picks for the best BOB’s. Having worn a lot of bags throughout my time in the military and travelled very long distances, over rough terrain I can tell you that spending the time to find a good bag is worth it. Just like boots that carry you from point A to point B, the bag is carrying all you need to survive; so getting a quality one counts. That being said, do your research and explore around. If you decide we have similar likes then cool, if not, that’s cool too. Best of luck on your adventure.

Until next time,

Scotty Mac

Coming soon: Part 2 – The main compartment – What to pack.

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I need some tough all purpose boots. Which ones?

So your going out in the woods and you’re going to be out there for a while. What do you wear on your feet? You’re not bringing your slippers or sandals for the beach; you need something tough, with support, that can get you from point A to point B.  The most important rule of entering into the wild, if you’re moving camps a lot is this; TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEET! If you don’t have your feet, let me tell you, you got jack shit. You won’t be traversing tough terrain if your getting all kinds of foot problems. If you need exit the area in a hurry; your done. Finished.  So getting a quality pair of boots is a key purchase you do not want to cheap out on.

Considerations

Now we all know that you need different tools for different jobs and seasons. Winter is a whole different ball game of preparation, so lets assume for the moment that you’re dealing with a generally fair, spring to fall climate. However, all climates and temperatures have various factors you need to be aware of when selecting footwear. Tactical boots are a good bet. Having spent over a decade in the military, I’ve worn my fair share of boots and have had a myriad of foot issues. So I’ve had plenty of time for trial and error with regards to knowing what to look for and finding the best boots that work for me.

First thing I would avoid are boots with zippers. Those that know me are aware that I’m not a fan of mechanisms and boots are no exception. Zippers freeze, break and become caked in sand and muck. If you can’t enclose your feet, you are then exposing them to the elements, such as water, cold, dirt, debris, insects, you name it. Laces can quickly be replaced if need be; zippers cannot, and if you’re in an emergency situation, this is no good.

Secondly, make sure your size is correct. Try them on, walk around in them. If you buy them; wear them in your house for a week or two without taking them outside. That way if they become uncomfortable you can still return them. If after that time they are broken in and still feel comfortable, you’re probably in the clear. Remember, you will be wearing socks, as well as possibly a liner system, so plan for that. If your boots are too tight once you head into the wild you are going to experience a wide range of problems. From blisters, loss of circulation, stress on your tendons and joints, dead toenails, corns and many other nasty issues. Constantly dealing with this in a survival situation will be extremely hindering to your progress and painful to say the least. When checking the fit, make sure your toes do not touch the front. If your heel rubs against the back of the boot, try a new pair.

Thirdly, if you’re going to be travelling or staying in the wilderness for an extended period of time your feet are going to wet. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re just going to “keep them dry”. Not going to happen. The key word for this is GORE-TEX. Without getting too scientific here, think about it this way. It’s made of a porous material covered in holes which are microscopic. These are much smaller then a drop of water, stopping moisture from getting in. However, the holes are big enough for vapour to escape from the inside ,making it breathable. So in short, water can’t get in but it can escape. Now for the love of god, please don’t think that if you completely submerge your boot in water your feet won’t get wet. That’s not how it works. Don’t get your feet unnecessarily wet, keep them as dry as possible.

Now that you have taken all that in, let’s get into my top contenders for the best all purpose outdoor boot.

Rocky Boots

Originally founded in 1932 in Nelsonville, Ohio, what today is known as  Rocky Brand is one of the most trusted and tested companies around today. During World War 2 and the Korean war this company supplied soldiers with over a million pairs of footwear and is still used by many militaries today. In 2010 Rocky was awarded Footwear plus magazines’ Plus award for their excellent quality work boots. I have owned and worn many pairs of boots during my time in the military including Rocky for a large portion. I have beat the hell out of them in various climates and they are still going strong today. Any boot released from this company I would hold in high regard.

Rocky S2V Tactical Military Boot

CHECK ROCKY S2V PRICES HERE!

Probably Rockys’ most popular boot and for good reason. This lightweight, rugged boot has a list of features on it like a sports car, and they all work.  Aside from the standard model there are many variations of the S2V that you can pick from depending on your style or what situation you entering. The standard boot comes outfitted with Rocky’s “S2V Sieve” which pushes water out and with the water resistant leather, makes it quite resistant. It does come in a Gore-Tex version as well. With Vibram soles as accompanied by their Air-Port Cushion footbed, these boots are COMFORTABLE. Even after moving over kilometres of rough terrain my feet were still in great shape. The list goes on, however the other styles include Jungle Boot, Steel toed, lightweight and waterproof. All of those are worth looking into and I have absolutely no doubt that you will find a pair that suits your needs. There are also numerous other boots in Rocky’s product line which you should explore as well.

Danner

Also founded in 1932 in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin, Danner was originally a boot marketed for loggers.  After moving to Portland in 1936 this company is still producing hiking, logging, military and law enforcement boots at the highest level of quality. In 1992 Danner received the American Podiatric Medical Associations  seal of acceptance for their own “Airthotic” inserts; a true testament to their brand. In 2010 during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, service men and women required a new service boot for the extreme climate, in which 2 new models of Danner boots were born. All in all Danner remains at the top of the food chain for producing rugged, durable all purpose boots.

Danner Acadia

CHECK PRICES FOR DANNER ACADIAS HERE!

I refer to these as the “Black Cadillac’s” of durable tactical boots. Used very frequently by military, law enforcement, firefighters etc. around North America, the Acadia serves in a variety of important rolls by those we trust. This boot comes in different variations to suit your needs, however an absolutely huge selling point with these comes in the form of a standard issue Gore-Tex liner. That combined with full grain leather, your mind should be at ease with regards to keeping your feet dry. The Vibram Kletterlift Outsole provides excellent traction and protection, as well these boots are a slim fit for extra ankle protection. This boot and brand are one the most reliable in existence today. I highly encourage you to explore the many products that Danner has to offer and make your own decision, however if you do choose to go with the Acadia, it will not disappoint.

Hanwag

Shifting gears away from the United States for a moment, brings us to Hanwag. Originating from Bavaria, with their original headquarters still in operation near Munich, Germany, the creator Hans Wagner started the company in 1921 . Different than the other companies we have explored so far, Hanwags’ were designed for Alpine Skiing and branched into other areas such as climbing and paragliding. In 2009 the company developed its own “IceGrip Sole” that boasts 7 times more traction on icey or slick surfaces. For over 90 years Hanwag has produced top quality boots for the classic outdoorsman. These boots are of such excellent design that many of their models actually remain unchanged from their creation decades prior.

Hanwag Alaska GTX

CHECK PRICES FOR THE HANWAG ALASKA GTX HERE!

Developed in 1996 the design of this boot has not changed since its inception and is one of their top sellers. The Alaska GTX is made for long journeys carrying a heavy pack. First thing I must point out about this boot is that when actually wearing it, it feels like you are almost being pushed forward when you walk.  Which I found very strange, however with a little more research I discovered that the Vinbram Fuora sole was designed to prevent over pronation and supination, which I would assume was it doing its job. The Alaska GTX also has a Gore-Tex liner guaranteeing water protection and breathability as well as a number of other features including the “Air Pulse system” for a greater level of air circulation. I would describe this boot as nothing less than fantastic and designed to withstand some of the toughest terrain and obstacles on Earth.

Final Words

As like most things, there are numerous quality products or brands out there for you to discover. These are simply my top three picks for the best tough, outdoor, all terrain boot. Remember; avoid zippers, ensure your size is correct and the boots fits, keep your feet as dry as possible and of course take care of your feet! If you never experienced multiple blisters, blackened toe nails, joint problems or even the dreaded trench foot (look it up), save yourself the trouble; do your research and make a proper purchase. Before I sign off, I would feel guilty if I didn’t touch on trench foot briefly, since I have actually had it and thankfully caught it in the early stages. While travelling long distances you should always be monitoring your feet and changing your socks regularly however sometimes depending on the situation you may not get to perform this drill as often as you’d like. If this does happen to you and trench foot does begin; stop what you are doing, if it is raining get under cover, remove your boots and socks, allow your feet to dry for as long as necessary and apply foot powder should you have some (you should if you prepared well). Your feet should return to their normal colour and appearance, then ensure your feet are dry, change your socks and allow the moisture in your boots to evaporate as best as possible before continuing on. I can’t stress enough the importance of foot safety. Now that you’ve had time to process all that, do your research, maybe take my advice or make your own decision. It’s entirely up to you.

Stay free,

Scotty Mac,

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What are the best gloves for Muay Thai?

For my first review I decided to write on something related to one of if not the most influential activities in my life. Muay Thai. For anyone just starting out, the art of 8 limbs can be a daunting endeavor and plays a pivotal role in other combat sports like MMA. A brutal striking style developed centuries ago in Thailand which utilizes, kicks, punches, knees and elbows, rest assured whether you train recreationally or are a dedicated Nak Muay ( Muay Thai Practitioner ) you are bound to get some bumps, bruises and cuts.

Just because you have begun a rough undertaking doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for those bruises, sore muscles, aching joints and exhausted body. First rule of Muay Thai and any combat sport for that matter is:

DON’T SKIMP ON THE GEAR!

Believe me, I have ran through hundreds maybe even thousands of dollars in gear and when it comes to protecting your hands ( which you need for everything in life ) so spend the extra cash. You will be thankful in the long run. Don’t waste your money, get the best from the start so you can train hard and keep your body in the best condition possible while doing it.

Considerations

There are some factors to take into account before buying gloves. One being know your hand size. Trying to jam your hand into a glove you just purchased online only to realize it’s uncomfortable and doesn’t fit will be very frustrating. Also remember you will be wearing wraps as well which will affect the sizing. Use your weight class for a reference. If you are a heavyweight at 6’5, 260lbs I would be shocked if you wore small gloves; get a large to extra large, maybe bigger if you’re a true monster. Do you have pre-existing hand injuries? My hands are a mess in general, however I find that my wrists seem to have issues more often, so I always opt for a glove with more support in that area. What style do you like the most? Hell, whoever tells you style isn’t important is full of shit. Of course functionality and protection come first, but your style is a direct projection of your inner self. Of who you want to be. If showing that, makes you happy, you will in turn train at your optimum. This directly relates to the freedom of expression that runs so closely with martial arts.

No matter what equipment you have purchased, the first and most basic gear you will need is gloves. You will be throwing a lot of punches. Here are my top picks for the best gloves for muay thai, all from tried and trusted brands that have been in the business for many years.

FAIRTEX

My personal favorite. Fairtex brand gloves are as tough and durable as they come. Started in 1958 in Bangkok this brand has endured the test of time and as a result of their quality has become one of the leading brands in all striking based combat sports. Not only has the company expanded to having numerous gyms around the world as well as a long list of notable fighters under their sponsorship, Fairtex won the award for best MMA gloves in 2008 at the World MMA awards, and are also the official glove of Glory Kickboxing, arguably the most prestigious kickboxing organization in the world today.

FAIRTEX BGV1 Universal Glove

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In my opinion this is the best glove on the market today. The original glove of Fairtex and it is still going strong. Durable and reliable, this glove will endure whatever punishment you can dish out. Outfitted with premium leather and Fairtexs’ three layered foam system, the BGV1 glove will ensure the shock from your punches is well distributed while providing top notch knuckle protection.It also has a very streamlined look and size to it. While offering great protection it is not bulky whatsoever. This glove is perfect for those with heavy hands and those that like to throw big bombs. It should also be noted that this glove has a fairly rigid wrist strap which will help avoid accidental wrist injuries. While it typically comes in standard colours, Fairtex has now released some special edition gloves for those of you that prefer a little more flash in your gear. There is also a breathable option that comes with a specially ventilated palm and thumb to help reduce moisture.

FAIRTEX TG03 Open Thumb Bag Glove

 
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Another essential in my opinion for any serious Nak Muay. When you really want to work on that greasy speed and hear a really nice crack on the thai pads, these gloves do the trick. With its pre-curved leather shell and uni-layered  high density latex foam core in such a small glove, you can be sure that your hands will still be well protected if you want to pick up the pace and throw some smoke. The TG03 is also designed for clinch work and grappling as it allows for a greater level of control when trying to perfect your techniques. If you have ever clinched with 16oz gloves on you will know how unpractical it is. There is also an enclosed thumb version of these as well if you prefer. Either way you go, these gloves are essential to any Nak Muays’ arsenal.

TWINS

While becoming incorporated in 1992 for the purpose of exporting their products, this company has been producing top quality gear within Thailand for competition for decades. Twins has very quickly became one of the leading manufacturers of Muay Thai and combat sports equipment in the world while sporting a huge product line. To further their reputation the company was honored with an award from AIBA Technical University in Berlin for their excellent quality while conducting an inspection of amateur combat sports protective equipment.

TWINS BGVL3 Boxing gloves

 
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The BVGL3 is the standard boxing glove put out by twins and it’s quality is of very high standard. These gloves are put together with premium leather for durability and have a very classic look and feel to them. While I prefer the knuckle padding style of Fairtex, Twins has no lack of protection. Striking with hard power shots in these gloves will never be an issue. Aside from that, the wrist velcro closure on these gloves is unparalleled, guaranteed to support your wrist through those grueling sessions. This timeless glove also comes in a wide variety of colours to match whatever your style and is guaranteed to last you for years.

TWINS BGLL1 Lace closure

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If you have the means, or your partner knows how to lace up gloves properly, these gloves are unreal. For starters, the laces on these are tough! You can pull these as tight as possible with no worry of them breaking. This will keep your gloves snug while training hard with no need to re-tie them. The remainder of the glove remains essentially the same is the BVGL3, so the standard of protection is still excellent. I will personally say that while training with the BGLL1 I have never heard such a crack on the thai pads and felt the impact more then while wearing these. All the while protecting my hands with no problems or soreness whatsoever.

TOP KING

Top King is another company that has proven to manufacture some of the best Muay Thai equipment around. Not only that, they have a lot of designs on their gear that look amazing. With Top King you will get a good mix of protection and flare. However, some believe that these gloves are a little too padded, giving somewhat of a spongy feel to them, which I am inclined to agree with. Not that the extra protection is a bad thing but some people prefer a more rigid feel to their gloves. It could be considered a plus if you favour heavy bag work or have prior hand injuries.

Top King Air Boxing Gloves

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The Air gloves are the go to for anyone that favours Top King. Lightweight and durable, they offer good hand protection and comfort. They can however be a tight fit, so be wary of the sizes before buying. The Air series does come equipped with Top Kings’ “Clima Cool” system which is a breathable mesh on the palm of the glove. This feature can be very favorable, as it keeps your hands cool and allows moisture to escape. This could very well be essential if you are training in a hot environment or climate such as Thailand. All in all they are a sleek, breathable, well protected glove, that is often utilized by many Muay Thai practitioners.

The Bottom Line

In the long run, how you feel will determine the gloves that you purchase. A good pair of gloves will go a long way and will be your first purchase on your journey to becoming a Nak Muay. The above are my personal favorite choices for gloves, maybe you agree, and then again, maybe you don’t. That’s part of your experience to figure out and there a plenty of reputable companies out there. I do hope however that this gave you some insight on some tested brands and products to aid you on your path. Don’t forget, PROTECT YOUR HANDS! You need them for everything! If you have any questions on the products reviewed, drop me a line and I would be happy to help.

Keep on keepin on,

Scotty Mac

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