PPE and MMA: A perfect mix for martial arts

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- With the explosion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and other mixed martial arts competitions, MMA is becoming one of the most practiced sports in the world. The issue of safety is often raised when people start to discuss the merits of mixed martial arts, and rightfully so.

After all, the sport can appear quite dangerous to the uninitiated if it's given only a cursory glance.

For the practitioners, the reasons for participation vary widely. Some train for sport, some train for fitness, while others train for pure competition. No matter what your level of commitment is, there's a basic level of protective gear that applies to everyone.

There's a myriad of MMA protective equipment fighters use to help prevent injuries, thus ensuring safety and fighter longevity. The categories range from gloves to mouth guards, rash guards and headgear.

When it comes to choosing MMA gloves, they are available in open palm and closed palm styles. The gloves are designed in a way as to not interfere with flexibility or grip, yet offers protection to the knuckles. Ensure your hand can close properly and the glove itself is not too big. A loose fitting glove will cause your hand to swim. A tight fitting glove is a must. There are also focus mitts. The focus mitt is a very important piece of MMA equipment because the mitts are comfortably curved to fit properly, which prevents hand cramps to the wearer while offering a padded target for the striker.

Most MMA fighters will agree the most critical piece of equipment worn is the mouth guard. A mouth guard not only protects your teeth and mouth, but a properly worn mouth guard will also prevent damage to the jaw.

A rash guard is a type of athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester. Rash guards are used to protect the wearer against mat burns and chaffing. In addition, a rash guard helps prevent irritation caused by rapid impact from ground-fighting moves.

Of course, protection during stand-up training is a must. Protective headgear is made from thick, rubbery material. These types of helmets are very durable and the protection they provide is stellar. Taking a shot to the head unprotected is crazy unless your nickname is 'Cabbage.'

Athletic supporter. No, this is not your spouse encouraging you to attend training sessions or your buddies wanting to roll with you to improve your 'game.' It's a necessary piece of protective equipment. Don't be fooled into thinking only guys need supporters. Females need them too, and there are a number of manufacturers that provide them. Trust me: Take a shot to the groin and after you recover from the fetal position 20 minutes later, your next stop will be the internet or Base Exchange looking for a cup.

Clothing and protective equipment designed for mixed martial arts have a two-fold purpose. One is to provide protection to vital organs and the other is providing complete mobility to the wearer. This makes finding the proper MMA equipment vital. Moreover, wearing your gear has an added benefit: Your training experience will be much more enjoyable if you are uninjured and healthy afterwards. Your training session will be much more heightened and you'll keep coming back for more.

So remember, mixed martial arts requires PPE not only to protect you, but in some cases to protect your training partner. Once you have the basic MMA equipment you can rest easy knowing you will be properly protected when you begin your training. Your friends and family will feel better too, knowing you will be protected!