Sparring should be a core part of your Muay Thai training, but it needs to be carried out safely in a controlled environment.
Muay Thai sparring gear is essential if you are serious about your training, and want to remain injury free.
So, I’ve put together this guide to run you through every piece of sparring equipment you will need, and how to buy the best quality gear for your needs.
I’ve also thrown in some recommendations and reviews, including some gear that I personally use.
Gear guide reviews
- Training / sparring gloves
- Mouth guards
- Groin guards
- Head guards
- Hand wraps
Sparring or training gloves
Sparring or training gloves are an absolute must if you’re sparring.
They protect your hands and wrists, as well as your opponent’s head and body when you throw punches.
You’ve got two choices of gloves when sparring; sparring gloves or training gloves
- Sparring gloves are used solely for sparring
- Training gloves can be used for general training (bag work, pad work etc.) as well as sparring
I would recommend opting for training gloves, simply because you will save yourself money by having one pair of gloves for both training and sparring – as opposed to having one pair of sparring gloves, and one pair of bag gloves.
Just make sure you get a quality pair that will last you a long time, because they take a lot of punishment.
When buying a pair of gloves to spar with, you must get a pair of at least 160z in weight.
Anything lighter and the gloves won’t contain enough padding to protect your your sparring partner’s face sufficiently when throwing punches – this could cause injury and make you very unpopular in the gym.
Training glove recommendations
Here are my top 3 training glove recommendations.
RDX are a well-known British MMA brand and you won’t get a better pair of synthetic leather training gloves than the Egos for under £30. They are well made with slim Velcro strap cuffs and whilst they are not as tough and durable as the big Thai brand gloves, these will easily last the casual trainer a good year.
The Cosmos are RDX’s premium training glove.
They are well made from synthetic leather, but they have much thicker cuffs (than the Egos) which makes them a lot firmer and helps them to stay in place.
It’s worth paying the extra few pounds to upgrade to these in my opinion.
Twins BGVL3 /BGVL1 *My personal favourite*
Twins are one of the biggest brands in Muay Thai gear, and in my opinion, they make the best training gloves (I own a pair of these).
They are made from real leather which makes them incredibly tough and durable, and hand stitched in Thailand which essentially means they will almost never fall apart. They are nice and thick with sturdy cuffs, which is great for covering up from punches and kicks, plus they are the most comfortable gloves I’ve ever worn.
Fairtex are another big Thai brand and they have been making high-quality gloves for years.
These training gloves are made from leather and hand-stitched, making them very durable for years of pounding the heavy bags, as well as sparring.
Some people find these gloves to be a little tight at first, but after a few sessions you will break them in, and they will feel nice and snug.
Here are some shin guards I would recommend from some of the better known Muay Thai and MMA brands.
RDX T4 shin guards *My personal recommendation*
If you want a very good pair of shin guards that won’t break the bank – go for the RDX T4s. They have a real leather shell and very solid foam interior, and will take the sting out of even the hardest kick or knee to your shin.
They are also very comfortable with thick leather straps, and have a good sized foot cover.
I have a pair of these and am very happy with them.
Venum Elite shin guards
Venum are another well known western MMA brand, and the Elites are their top-level shin guards. The main reason for their high quality is that they are actually made in Thailand, so the workmanship is on par with the Thai brands like Twins and Fairtex.
They are extremely solid and don’t slip are around at all when sparring – I would probably own a pair, but they are a little on the pricey side. Worth it if you have the extra cash to spend though.
Fairtex are one of the biggest Thai brands in the sport, and you will see their shin guards in every gym in the world. Not only they are the well made from thick foam and syntex leather, they also have a foot cover which rotates 90 degrees for full flexibility on your kicks.
You will pay a premium price for Fairtex gear but you get the best quality and durability.
If you like having all of your teeth, then you need to wear a mouth guard when sparring.
There are a few different types of mouth guard out there – but the most popular and effective is the boil-and-bite mouth guard.
These are mouldable plastic guards which are boiled in water and then bitten into to mould them to your teeth – This video shows how it’s done.
Here are some of the trusted brands to go with.
Shock doctor produce the best mouth guards on the market, and they are used by professional athletes from MMA to rugby.
Their guards are super thick and sturdy with a triple layer of protection, and they fit perfectly. I’ve got one and it’s never fallen out.
RDX and Venum also make decent quality boil-and-bite mouth guards.
The best groin guards to wear are the cup + jock strap guards which come with a solid plastic or steel cup that slots into a strap that you wear outside of your underwear.
RDX M2 groin guard *My personal choice*
The RDX M2 is the groin guard I use. It has an unbreakable steel cup that is rimmed with leather to stop it from rubbing on the thigh. The jock strap is very comfy and has an adjustable Velcro strap – it stays put throughout training sessions and you hardly notice it’s there.
Shock Doctor groin guard
- Solid plastic cup
- Rubber rim
- Elastic jock strap
RDX H1 groin guard
- Lowest price you’ll find
- Solid plastic cup
- Fit is slightly loose and uncomfortable but will still protect you adequately
You won’t see many people wearing head gear in Muay Thai gyms because Thai boxers don’t sustain as many constant head shots as boxers do during fighting.
However, it’s sensible to wear a head guard if you spar a lot and heavily.
Venum Challenger 2.0 head guard
As with all Venum gear, this head guard is extremely high quality, hand made from Skintex leather in Thailand. It has a triple layer of foam inside and gives you a full range of vision when wearing, so you can still see every shot coming at you.
RDX T1 full face guard
The RDX T1 comes at lower price, but is a little bit more flimsy compared to the Venum guard, and the fit is not as sturdy. However it will still provide enough protection for most Muay Thai sparring, and it also has a removable full face grill – necessary if you are sparring with elbows.
If you are training Muay Thai then you should already have a few pairs of hand wraps to encase your hands, and protect your wrists and knuckles. Without them your gloves will fit very loosely on your hands and you won’t see the full benefits they offer.
Go with a well known brand like Venum, RDX, or Adidas.
Muay Thai sparring gear
Hopefully the above has given you a good steer on the equipment you need for sparring, and what some of the best brands to go with are.
Remember, the bare minimum you can spar with is a pair of gloves, a mouth guard, and shin guards. I personally think a groin guard is essential too, but some gyms will allow you to spar without them.
A lot of gyms actually require you to wear a pair of proper Muay Thai shorts before you start sparring too. This has no protective element, but just makes you feel a bit more like a proper Muay Thai fighter and part of the community.
Always keep your sparring controlled, focus on technique, and don’t get drawn into heavy sloppy blow exchanges.
If you train MMA, you may also want to check out my guide to the best MMA gloves on the market.