Century Shin Guard

Wait, don't let Johnny sweep the leg just yet!

The proper gear, whether sparring or running training drills, is important for many reasons. Whether you train MMA or Muay Thai, the correct gear can make a world of difference in comfort and protection, two very important things to consider if you are going to be training with longevity and health in mind.


What Do You REALLY Need?

I have a confession to make; I don't believe there is such a thing as the perfect piece of gear for everyone.

I do believe that a great shin guard will provide adequate protection to the leg while getting in the way of your movements as little as possible. With that being said, maximum protection doesn't easily go hand-in-hand with comfort and agile movement. Every person and style/ruleset will need to consider how they want to balance comfort and protection.

If you are in a heavy hitting sport such as Muay Thai, you will often want something that maximizes protection, even if it limits your movement slightly. For this reason, these shin guards will typically be a bit harder and cover more of the leg.

If you train MMA and frequently grapple, leg protection needs to be light and flexible enough to allow movement and remain extra resilient against sliding around on your leg. This means the shin guards may not offer as much protection, but they'll be better fitted and weigh less to allow you to better utilize your entire skillset.

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What To Expect

Constructed from polyurethane and injection foam, the Drive Traditional Shin/Instep Guard shields against impact quite well. Consider the fact that it also contours around the shin to provide better coverage and safety and you have a mighty fine shield against any leg damage.

There is only a tiny amount of space between the shin and instep pieces (really just enough to allow ankle mobility), equating to excellent lower leg coverage and minimizing the opportunity for your round kicks to get damaged by the dreaded accidental elbow contact.

This all means that it is very sturdy for checking and landing kicks, but it also means it is a bit clunky for movement. What it sacrifices in comfort is what it makes up for in comprehensive protection.

On another note, the straps for the instep piece lose elasticity fairly quickly. This isn't something that is extremely detrimental to its usage or even is entirely unusual (elastic straps don't usually last long in contact sport gear, especially when constantly being used), but is still something to be mindful of. Two months of sparring rounds and partner training drills and the straps began to show wear.

However, even after losing much of their elasticity, the straps still help keep everything in place and your shin/instep guards still do everything they need to. Overall, not the worst problem to have!

If you know what you want and decide protection is one of the most important things to you, this is a good shin/instep guard to invest in!

Overall

The Drive Traditional Shin/Instep Guards definitely leans towards the more protection, less comfort end of the shin/instep guard spectrum and that's not a bad thing! Elastic straps in the instep protector can wear quickly, however that still didn't stop the gear from protecting my legs the way it should. The Drive Traditional Shin/Instep Guards are a great investment, especially if you are working tons of kickboxing!

Pros

  • Very Durable
  • Maximum Protection

Cons

  • Slightly clunky and uncomfortable
  • The elastic straps for the instep wear down quickly

Durability: 9/10

Performance: 8/10

Design: 9/10

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

If you are interested in purchasing a pair of these sturdy shin guards for yourself, you can click HERE!

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Dustin Poirier has knocked out Conor McGregor in the second round at the UFC 257 Main Event. This spoils McGregor's long-awaited UFC return after his win over Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone last January. Poirier hinted after the match that he would be open to another bout against McGregor, as this fight brings their rivalry to a 1-1 record. The impressive wins of Poirier and Michael Chandler on Saturday night set the UFC's lightweight division up for a very exciting future.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

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A Closer Look at Mongolia's Naadam Festival

Mongolia's "three sports of men" — archery, horseracing and wrestling — were the featured attractions at the first Naadam festival convened by Genghis Kahn himself in 1206.

Fast-forward to the 21st century: The festivals, held nationwide in mid-July each year, still celebrate the formation of the Mongolian Empire and its achievement of independence from China's Qing Dynasty.

The highlight of modern incarnations of Naadam is the wrestling, and many boys who grow up on the steppes dream of one day being crowned a champion.

The wrestling competitions are single-elimination tournaments. Wrestlers wear trunks and an open-chest shirt with a rope tied around the abdomen, all of which opponents are allowed to grab. The most common colors seen are red, which symbolizes power, and blue, which represents the Mongolian sky.

The author (left) grapples with a Mongolian wrestler.

The grapplers also wear heavy traditional boots and a Mongolian hat. The four sides of the hat represent the four provinces of old Mongolia. The top knot is for the five regions of the Buddhist government. The silver badge attached to each hat bears the animal ranking of the wrestler.

In competition, the wrestlers have to win six matches to be crowned champion. There are no weight classes, which is perhaps why the top grapplers generally weigh 260 pounds or more. The goal is to make the opponent touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet.

Because of the coronavirus, the most recent Naadam competition in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar took place without an audience. Spectators had to watch on television or online.

At the competitions in the provinces, however, the action was live, and residents of nearby towns showed up to watch.

In a secondary subdivision called Temenzogt, located about seven hours' drive from Ulaanbaatar, I was fortunate to have a chance to wrestle in a Naadam event.

Author Antonio Graceffo (right) and his opponent.

After quickly sizing up my huge opponent, a former champion, I braced myself for a pushing and pulling battle of upper-body strength. I was surprised when he chose to use his heavy boots and massive thighs to kick my legs out from under me.

And with that, my Naadam experience came to an abrupt end. I was grateful, however, for the efforts of all my Mongolian friends who made it possible for me to fulfill my dream of wrestling in Naadam.

I learned a lot about Mongolia, the culture and the ground, so much so that I've decided to stay here another year and really dedicate myself to learning Mongolian wrestling.

Maybe at next year's Nadaam, I'll be able to last 20 seconds.

Antonio Graceffo writes Black Belt's Destinations column. Read more of his work here. His book Warrior Odyssey is available here.

Photos Courtesy of Antonio Graceffo

To read more about Mongolian wrestling, check out "Wrestling With the Descendants of Genghis Khan: Black Belt's Asia Correspondent Travels to Mongolia to Grapple!" in our February/March 2021 issue. Go here to order your copy from the Black Belt Store!

In a competition bereft of many of its top wrestlers, Daieisho was a surprise winner of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament Sunday in Tokyo. With the area under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic and a post-war record 19 wrestlers withdrawing from the event, Daieisho pulled off the upset victory coming from the maegashira level, the lowest of five ranks in sumo's top division, to win the title.

It was Daieisho's first championship as he finished the event with a 13-2 record. Displaying a powerful pushing and thrusting style, he also garnered the prize for outstanding performance during the tournament as well as the prize for best technique.

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