A few weeks ago, KD was kind enough to send me a set of sparring gear to test and review. I requested a youth set so I could test it for kids. Pictures follow the review.
I started by reviewing the different sets on their website and found what I would consider a reasonably priced set. You want quality but not something too expensive as most kids will 1. outgrow it in a year and 2. frankly not use it as often as you would expect. I settled on the Warrior Full Sparring Gear Set by Macho because of the price for the full set and other reviews I had seen. The set comes with Warrior model head gear, punch (gloves), kick (feet), a reversible chest protector, and Macho-branded mouth guard and case. This is a popular set for kids so it was odd to me that a face protector is not part of the set for kids orders. You can, however, purchase one separately. If you do opt for it, get the Warrior Face Shield, other ones will not fit the Warrior head gear - more on this later.
The next step was taking measurements according to the guide on the KD website. These worked very well. Head gear is usually the toughest to get a good fit but the head gear I received was spot on. The mouth guard is your typical one that needs to be put in hot water and molded to your teeth. It was easy to get the fit done quickly.
I found the chest protector to be very simple to put on and take off. Though like most, you need one person to assist. It is designed so you do not have to thread the ties multiple times but still provides a snug fit. It is thick enough for beginning sparring with strikes. It may be a bit thin for absorbing kicks.
The hand and feet gear are pretty thick and are easy to put on and take off. They use velcro straps to stay in place and so far have been very reliable. They absorb impact pretty well. The gloves completely cover the fingers and extend to cover the wrists. The Kicks cover the entire foot along with the ankles, and about an inch or so above the heel. They do not "stick" to the floor when sparring. Youth have no problem putting them on and taking them off.
The head gear fully wraps the head, with some openings in the back and sides for breathability and to be able to hear. It is made of the same thick, vinyl material as the hands and feet gear. By itself it is a good quality piece of gear.
Because this set can be sold for kids (and for the price it is probably a best seller for KD) I expected it to come with a face protector or shield. As I mentioned earlier, you can buy one separately, but it costs nearly 50% of the the entire sparring gear set. Though it is cheaper than ordering the protector directly from Macho Martial Arts.
As a parent of a youth martial artist, this is a major concern. For all the confidence that a youth and\or his teacher may have in his abilities, the fact is that youth do not have great control - neither do adults, I can attest to that :-). But even if they had great control, a blocked strike can still glance off and land hard anywhere in the face and cause some damage.
My recommendation would be to purchase the face protector in addition to the gear set. But because of the added cost, you now need to consider if it is a better value than a complete set would cost through your school. With some schools, it can literally take months to get gear after you order it, others have inventory on hand. I can say that after ordering this set, it only took about 3-4 days to receive it.
This sparring gear set is overall a great product and can be a great value - depending on if you value total cost or delivery time. The individual products' fits are accurate and the quality of the materials is excellent. Sold as is, I would recommend purchasing this set for the beginner martial artist, just think twice about ordering without a face protector.
Following is what Arrives with the Set
Any white spots you see in the pictures are from the camera, not the products. Also, the blogspot picture uploading tool did not upload the correct orientation of a couple of pictures, sorry for that.
Punch and Kick: