10 Best MMA Shin Guards | March 2017
- dependable option for grappling
- extended ankle protection
- they're a bit pricey
- rugged and sturdy design
- 100% money-back guarantee is offered
- they're a bit on the stiff side
- good for training and competitions
- shin guards are handmade in thailand
- takes a long time to break them in
- available in size small to x-large
- superior toe protection
- adjusting the straps is a bit of a pain
- large velcro straps are easy to adjust
- wide coverage area around the shin
- sleek and stylish looking
- made from cowhide leather
- they have anti-microbial properties
- very comfortable and durable
- upper-edge contour aligns with the knee
- crack-resistant vylar-2 leather
- non-slip inner lining
What's The Difference Between a Good Shin Guard & a Great One?
A shin guard is only as valuable as its ability to allow you complete versatility with both legs. MMA guards, in particular, need to strap on securely while also enabling any fighter to turn, crouch, bend, or defend without slowing down. Ideally, you'll want a shin guard's straps to feature a certain level of elasticity. You may also want those straps to feature Velcro, so they have a bit of give in the event that you're trying to lock in - or escape - a submission on the ground.
The majority of shin guards are designed by combining a leather base with rubber foam. The leather base is good for versatility. The rubber foam is good for absorbing shock (thereby protecting the tibia). In addition to the shin, any worthwhile guard should protect the foot and the ankle, along with the knee. Any kick that targets the lower leg might just as easily make contact with any of those three.
Any superior shin guard should mold to fit the contours of your leg. Certain models feature adjustable padding, or memory foam, while others are only made to fit a handful of sizes. In order to choose a proper guard you'll need to keep an eye out for phrases like "form-fitting," and "ergonomic design" in any shin guard's description. You'll want to avoid any MMA shin guards whose manufacturers make claims that those guards can be used for playing football or hockey, as well.
The best MMA shin guards are built with a fighter in mind. These guards will protect you, but they're also lightweight. Any guard that weighs more than 2.5 lbs. is going to feel like an anchor throughout any sparring match. It's much better to have a shin guard that keeps you safe while staying out of your way.
Why Are Shin Guards So Essential to MMA Training?
If you've ever seen a lumberjack hacking away at the base of a tree, then you have some understanding of why a shin kick is such a vital part of MMA. If an opponent is bigger, then a shin kick will weaken him. If an opponent is faster, then a shin kick will keep him at bay. The shin kick is both offense and defense; a way of scoring points, while breaking down an opponent's lead leg.
The goal with a shin kick isn't so much to ground your opponent as it is to wear that opponent down. A prime example of this occurred during a high-profile rematch between the UFC's Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor. McGregor, who had lost by a 2nd-round submission during the pair's initial contest, used a series of shin kicks to score points while wearing Diaz down. In the end the shin kicks not only proved enough to keep Nate Diaz from KOing McGregor, they were essential in enabling the much smaller McGregor to win by a decision after five rounds.
As beneficial as an offensive shin kick can be, any fighter needs to learn how to defend against a shin kick, as well. This means strengthening your leg muscles, while sparring with a kickboxer who can deliver those blows. Shin guards will protect your legs in the same way that a set of headgear will protect your face. Over time your reflexes will allow you to avoid certain shin kicks, while your leg muscles may allow you to deflect glancing blows.
How a Piece of Military Armor Became an Athlete's Shin Guard
The shin guard dates all the way back to Ancient Rome, where it was referred to as a greave. Greaves were used during combat, as opposed to athletics. Such armor became necessary after the Macedonians began to focus on immobilizing Roman soldiers by attacking their tibiae. These early shin guards were made of metal with a felt-like padding underneath.
Greaves are not only referenced via historical texts from that era, but they are also referenced via Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, and the King James Bible (during the story of David and Goliath). Greaves continued to be a standard piece of European armor until the 9th Century, CE. After that greaves disappeared, only to be resurrected by the Japanese, who referred to them as suneates. A standard suneate was comprised of three strips of iron, reinforced by leather and spanning the front and sides of any tibia. Suneates were worn by the samurai, who used them throughout a 200-year period known as the Ashikaga Shogunate.
During the 1800s, British cricket players began to design lightweight shin guards that were based upon the template of an early greave. The idea was to keep a ball or a paddle from slamming into the cricket players' legs. The consensus was so overwhelming that by the 20th Century, soccer players had adopted lightweight shin guards. Next came baseball players (primarily catchers), then hockey players, and, eventually, football players, as well.
Today, athletic shin guards are most widely associated with football, hockey, and mixed martial arts. Of course, these newer guards are made of leather (or plastic) as opposed to metal, and while they aren't used in combat, they're still being worn by gladiators who entertain vast crowds for sport.