Picking the Best Fight Equipment...
Not many people would imagine it but starting Fightstorepro (originally Fightstoremma) came about kind of by accident. I was running Cyclone Boxing in East Newcastle and was so tired of my students either not having the right equipment or buying low level cheaply made gear from the internet or one of the chain sports stores that I blew my lid one week and ordered 20 sets of really excellent Thai Boxing Gloves from a guy I knew based in Manchester. Problem solved! Everyone at the club bought a pair and sparring was no longer the hell to organize it had been for many months. It took many more years before I started Fight Store but the principal of the best gear for people training in combat sports regardless of whether they knew what the best gear was stuck. This situation highlights two issues though which I now know is extremely common in modern combat sports clubs; firstly the lack of knowledge that many participants really have about the best equipment for the sport they practice and secondly how much they need their coaches to guide them; My students at Cyclone were all willing to purchase the right gear they just didn't know what it was or where to buy it. This is very much where the Fightstore ethos developed from. Fightstore "PRO" takes the thought out of the process. We simply only stock the gear we believe is great for the price and if its below par then we won't touch it. There are three principals I stick to when looking at the equipment to stock for our web and local stores, they are principals that will serve you well when choosing them too;
- Is the gear fit for purpose? Many of the band wagon jumpers in the sport have absolutely no history or experience in making some of the gear they produce. Cleto Reyes make some of the best boxing gloves in the world and you pay for the excellent materials sure but what you are really paying for is the 100 years of development of this premium brand which is why you see George St Pierre PAYING for his gloves and head guard in a world of MMA companies who would all send him as many gloves and headguards as he wanted...... You don't need to pay £200 for a set of gloves though; Pro Box make excellent gloves for under £50, Revgear make some of the nicest boxing and MMA gloves on the market with 17 years of experience in production usually under £60. However the fashion MMA brands usually aren't the best people to trust with your training equipment. Production quality has to come into this equation however quality of materials and things like stitching although certainly desirable are not what makes an item fit for purpose; the quality of the DESIGN is what does this. For example SANDEE boxing gloves are well made, popular and mainly use good materials however the fit and design of their boxing gloves is certainly questionable. Even the larger gloves don't sit on the hand well and compared to many brands are essentially a poor fit,certainly for a Western man of stature above 55kg wet through. Whilst their shinguards, pads and protective gearare generally decent this is a major issue of the main point of contact for many fighters.
- Is the Gear Value for Money? To me VFM is all about what you need the gear for; Longevity depends on usage level and to me a £200 heavy bag that will last 10 years is far better value than a £100 bag that will last 12 months. Don't read too many reviews most of the ones on the internet are really little more than marketing materials or done by amateurs with no actual idea of what they are taking about. I saw Boon Boxing gloves reviewed by a guy comparing them to Cleto Reyes who could not get his head around the fact the fit was different and there was a 150% price difference. Value does not mean cheap, it means VALUE! Longevity however does play a factor in this and when buying Shorts or MMA gloves plumping with the cheaper option usually means you get a cheaper made product. ALL manufacturers have the option of creating a cheap product which they can sell at a low RRP the question is whether they wish to downgrade their brand. Look at the brand TAPOUT who used to make some of the best gear in the market then allowed Sports Direct the license and destroyed the brands quality. It happened to several brands now most of them very famous.... Don't be fooled if those cool looking renders of a pair of sub £30 MMA Shorts look great they won't in 2 months work at the gym. I have Revgear, No Gi and Atama shorts all retailing at £45; all over 4 years old and all still as good as when I first bought them; if a little weathered!
- Does the Brand have true Credibility? This does not mean does the brand have great marketing! Many MMA brands especially have excellent marketing machines but fail every test when it comes to the actual gear itself. Also just because a brand makes great shorts doesn't mean it will make great gloves. For starters they almost certainly will not be made in the same factory, with the same materials or by the same people. If a brand is famous for its Apparel when and why did they start making equipment? You wouldn't buy an Ralph Lauren Motorbike or NIKE Gold Watch (Well someone might but you see the point!)
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- Alex Wright