The staff of Black Belt gets to see and sometimes use the coolest products in the martial arts world. (No, we’re not hiring right now.)
Because it’s the season of giving, we decided to look back at the items we’ve come across during the past year or two and post the most interesting ones — with clickable links — for your convenience. These are a few of our favorite things.
For the Frugal Buyer!
Since their rerelease as Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition, the four volumes from the founder of jeet kune do have taken on a new life for a new generation of martial artists. The hardcover book features digitally remastered photos of Lee, a chapter by Ted Wong and an introduction by Shannon Lee. It’s the perfect complement to the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. $24
The “mission” of Nigel the Ninja is to gather information about the martial arts by studying other young-artists-in-training. A great source of fun and inspiration for any home or gym, Nigel stands 12 inches tall and has a felt body and a resin head. It comes with a sling bag and back-story notecard. Coloring book sold separately. $30
Bandai and Tamashii Nations have released a Bruce Lee action figure that comes equipped with a staff, a nunchaku, a pair of kali sticks and detachable body parts: three extra heads and nine extra hands. It stands 5 inches tall and is fully posable. $50
What makes this piece of protective gear special? A heavy-gauge, reinforced vinyl shell. Lightweight molded-foam padding. Multiple openings for maximum air circulation. Plus, the open-face design is lightweight and visibility-friendly. The integrated strapping closure makes it fully adjustable. $60
Barry Strugatz made The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West to tell the world about Cheng Man-Ching. In the 1960s, the master moved from his native Taiwan to New York, where he began teaching his art — often controversially — to Americans. This moving documentary, available on DVD or as a download, is guaranteed to make you want to take up tai chi chuan, and it might even have you tearing up by the end. $25
This compression garment uses a wicking fabric to draw moisture away from your body, thus helping keep you cool and comfy. The muscle-hugging stretch fabric is reinforced with flat-lock seams. The meshed pocket allows air to circulate and keeps the vented groin-protecting cup in place during the most strenuous workouts. $40
These two greats of the martial arts world have joined forces to launch Dragon Traditionz. The company markets a product line composed of active wear for martial artists and anyone else who appreciates shirts and hoodies with great graphics, great materials and great construction. $24-$39 each
For the Working-Class Shopper!
After collaborating with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, Century Martial Arts created the Grapple Buddy. It gives young students an easy way to practice their ground techniques without the distractions that can accompany working with a human partner. This child-size dummy is made of high-density foam and reinforced vinyl for maximum durability. $80
Suitable for a variety of styles, Kicking Jeans from Century Martial Arts are rugged denim pants that offer durability without sacrificing comfort and breathability. These stylish and contemporary jeans are made from a special blend of denim and elastane fibers with a stretch range of approximately 30 percent. The VariFlex Twinseam design allows for optimal flexibility with a generous gusset for kicking. $60
Hayabusa recently introduced the Ultimate Karate Collection. It includes everything a serious practitioner needs: professional-grade sparring gloves, shin protectors and footpads, as well as uniforms that are designed for competition and training. There’s even one uniform that’s been called the world’s finest gi. $13-$150
The 96 Especial Jiu-Jitsu Gi is a tribute to Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Ricardo Liborio’s victory at the inaugural IBJJF World Championship in 1996. He became the first world BJJ champion, despite the fact that he was competing in a weight division above his own. Century collaborated with Liborio to create this gi and make it suitable for future champions. $130
For the Big Spender!
This top-of-the-line folder from Spyderco came from the mind of Peter Rassenti, who created a design that uses a solid piece of titanium to form the handle. Named Imported Knife of the Year by Blade magazine, it features a stainless-steel blade that’s 3.76 inches long. The materials and resultant weight — 4.8 ounces — make it feel substantial and high quality, like a family heirloom waiting to be passed down. $720