My trusty companions through thousands of hours of sparring.
I could be very wrong, but I’d say only about 20% of hobbyists in a boxing or MMA gym would say yes to a sparring session. The other 80% will give you the same worn-out reasons.
It’s too scary. What if I break my nose?
Isn’t that a little too violent?
This one takes the cake for me:
I’m not here to fight. I’m just here to shed the pounds and look desirable on Instagram.
If you’re part of the latter demographic, the exit button is right there at the top. You’re a hopeless case, I can’t help you.
But if you’re one of the gutsy folks who want to level up their training through sparring, kudos to you. Now, let me arm you with additional equipment to help ease your way in.
You’ve got your gloves and hand wraps, and that’s great. The next item on your checklist: shin guards.
I know what some of you are thinking. Shouldn’t you have a mouthguard first?
Well, you’re right and you’re not.
Yes, protecting those precious pearls should be a top priority. But as I said, it’s all about easing your way in. In this case, you can forego hitting the head and mouth for now and focus on protecting yourself from kicks. That applies to both dishing them out and taking them.
Google will suggest a slew of brands, and that’ll only complicate your decision-making process. So, I’ll make things easier for you. I’ll give you a detailed enough review of a product I’ve personally used: the Venum Challenger standup shin guards.
You can see mine in the photo above. These bad boys have served me well for the last five years. They’re war-torn and semi-retired, but if I’m left with no other choice, I’d still be able to strap them on and go to battle.
I get a lot of questions from beginners about shin guards and the ones that I use. Here are the usuals.
Why Do You Need Shin Guards?
Ever had your shin hit another person’s shin? It’s brutal. It’s pain that would stop you in your tracks. Think of how godawful it feels to step on a piece of Lego with your bare feet. Or stubbing your toe hard. It’s bone on bone and even the slightest impact would debilitate.
And I’m sure not a lot of you have had a shin land on their temple. Not only can it potentially cut you open upon impact, but it will send your ass to the floor even if you tried hard to keep yourself on your feet.
The shin guard offers that extra layer of protection to prevent injuries from happening. It allows you to hit hard enough to practice landing and defending yourself from kicks and not get hurt in the process.
What’s Sets the Venum Challengers Apart From the Rest?
I’ve tried numerous shin guards in the past. Most of them were inferior brands that did enough to minimize the pain brought on by shin-to-shin contact.
But in terms of providing full protection, they didn’t do much. They’d slip to one side in the middle of sparring, and that could be a huge nuisance and source of distraction.
What I like about the Venum Challengers is that they stay put even through hard impact. I’ve never had the same issue.
And as you can see, these pads cover the entire shin all the way to the instep. Most lower-quality brands only go as far as protecting the shin while leaving the foot wide open. Mistakenly land just one kick on an elbow and you’ll be walking funny for the next few days.
Another thing I like about these shin guards is that they’re very light in weight. You won’t even know you have them on. The other guy, however, will feel every bit of force you put into that kick.
What Are the Downsides of Using Venum Challenger Shin Guards?
I won’t exactly call it a downside, but the synthetic leather tends to shed off after years of use. I know a lot of you folks out there are very particular with the overall look of their gear, and this might throw you off a bit. But to me, it’s no big deal, as long as it serves its purpose.
If there’s one issue I’d warn you about, it’s that the velcro straps that wrap around your calves will weaken over time. If you train as often as I do (at least ten rounds per week), you’ll encounter this issue sooner than later.
But that’s nothing that a little ingenuity can’t fix. You can either tape those loose ends up or tie them into a knot, whichever works better for you.
Are the Venum Challenger Shin Guards Worth the Price?
Short answer: yes. This is a perfect product for anyone who is looking for a pair of shin guards that fits snugly while also providing that much-needed cushion. Allow me to explain why.
First, let’s talk sizing. I’m 5’5 and a half and walk around at 145 pounds off-season. You can classify me as short and lean. The mediums fit me perfectly.
But to give you a better idea, here’s Venum’s official size chart. You’ll find accurate measurements of calf circumference and shin measurement and see where you fall under.
Now, let’s talk about the number on the price tag. Many beginners, especially, would find this to be quite a luxury item. $60 on a pair of shin pads may cause some hesitations, and that’s very understandable.
But if you take it from me, someone who’s as stingy as a perpetually broke college kid, I’d say this one’s a good investment to make. I could’ve done a better job in taking care of them, but these Venum Challengers remain functional for me to this day.
Think of it this way: the money you’ll spend is a down payment to the valuable skills you’ll learn along the way. If you’re dead serious about your training and martial arts journey, that right there should be the perfect encouragement for you.
Disclaimer: I may earn a percentage in commissions for every purchase you make through the affiliate links I’ve provided above. Doing so would be a huge financial help for me to continue providing you with content that would hopefully add value to your lives. Help a brother out!