About Equipment Advisor
Know your gear!
As a practitioner and instructor, I commonly receive questions regarding; “What type of equipment I personally use”, or “What type of equipment would I recommend". Now with the Fairbairn Protocol's global access via this webpage, Youtube® channels, and social media, I now respond to questions from every continent.
For this treason, I created "Equipment Advisor" as a reference platform that enables me to answer your questions, perhaps point you in the right direction, and sometimes expose some opportunities.
Equipment Advisor, offers instant access to over four decades of personal hands-on knowledge and experience, gained by training in Fairbairn Method Combatives, karate, boxing, krav maga, jujutsu, kick-boxing, and both firing and non-firing weapons.
Equipment Advisor’s mission is to provide;
- insight into equipment I currently use
- quick purchase links to these same products should that help people get started
- information regarding currently available alternate products.
- information regarding products that are not purchasable.
For global convenience and access, the majority of the attached product links are Amazon links.
I strongly advise that you use these links to your best advantage.
Use these links to obtain product information, details and specifications, so you can quickly cross-check product quality and pricing. Use them to compare products, so that you can isolate the items that best fit your needs, or simply use them as quick access should the product discussed fit what you are looking for. But in all cases shop around and when possible support local shops.
Equipment Advisor advises the use of camelcamelcamel.com (.ca, uk.). as it uses Amazon links to get the product you want, at the price you want .
All you do is insert an Amazon product link, review the historical pricing charts they provide, select a price that you are willing to pay, and it does the rest.
Camelcamelcamel will automatically follow products that you select, and then notify you by email when the product has come available at the price you selected.
X1 - BOB TYPE TRAINING DUMMIES
If your methods are heavily "punch" dominated, then you are better off investing in a good heavy-bag. However, for multi-method strike oriented Combatives practitioners and martial artists, and especially for those who train alone, there is arguably no single better piece of equipment than the “Century Bob XL training dummy”.
When the first Bob came out in 1998, the concept was a breakthrough that has continued to evolve. Unless you just likes purchasing equipment, training in the specific characteristics of multiple different disciplines may lessen the appeal of Bob's unique advantages
In consideration of Combatives' emphasis on high-risk and sensitive soft targets, training with live-partners can offer difficult restrictions. Enter Century's Bob XL., a semi-realistic piece of equipment geared to target-oriented full force applications that more than fills this gap.
In the beginning, the rigidity of the original Bob was a problem as it could be tough on bare hands. This was a problem for Combatives practitioners.
When Century gave Bob a more pliable feel, that concern was 100% eliminated, though some now say Bob is now too pliable.
However, with an upper torso only Bob, there remains a limitation of targets, and no potential for simple stomps and low kicks. With the advent of Bob XL, that limitation has been offset by the addition of critical "below the belt" targets
For me, Bob XL opened the door to full spectrum full force training. Bob's extended target range enables full lethal, high-risk, and hyper-sensitive soft target training. Now I can now emphasis training for crucial targets such as the neck and throat, ears and eyes, hip and thigh, and tail-bone, bladder, and groin areas. Here it really shines.
More importantly, it opened the door to effective solo training. This is where the Bob XL really earns its dues and deserves to be part of everyone’s training equipment.
In conclusion, for full-force training in strikes, soft target attacks, and chokes, the Bob XL training dummy was for me a worthwhile investment.
One thing I would like to highlight with regard to the BOB XL is Century's attention to the customer service. From their first reply to their final resolution, their response to customer concerns regarding this product is outstanding!
Century Fitness BOB Body Opponent Bag
X1a - BOB Accessories
The Human Anatomy T-Shirt
The human anatomy t-shirt is by no means a critical piece of equipment. However, I do value it, as it subliminally instills a knowledge of where the important bits and pieces are.
For me, the visual presence of specific bones structures, primary organs, and key access points such as access in under the sternum to the solar-plexus creates a form of training that accelerates and reinforces quick target recognition. Strong target recognition then supports the critical development of "acquisition of opportunity " and subsequent flow.
When I weigh these gains off against the cost of the product its purchase is a no-brainer.
Men's 3D Print Human Anatomy Pattern Short Sleeve T-Shirt
X2 - BAG GLOVES
In forty plus years of training, I have punched bricks and boards, every kind of bag, filled with everything from material stuffing to sawdust and sand, to Bob. In addition I have hit them with everything from bare hands to wraps to mini-gloves with a center-bar, to top notch bag gloves.
From this perspective I fully advocate investing in a real good pair of bag gloves. Personally I use Ringside's IMF Tech bag gloves. I have found none better regardless of price or style.
I punch hard. For this reason I wrap and tape, and I use good gloves.
This combination, has put and end to skinned knuckles, sore finger joints, ligament stressing in the body of the hand caused by hand distortion, blood under the skin between the base of the fingers, and to some degree reduces the impact shock received by the shoulders.
Together these support extended training periods using more forces. As a result of working longer with full force, bag training has also increased my emphasis on movement, stance, and stability.
There are a lot of choices out there for good bag gloves. The one's I use are certainly not the only choice. They are however and excellent bag glove, and a good example of the cushioning, shock absorption, and support that aids hard training.
Ringside IMF Tech Bag Gloves
X3 - HEAVY BAGS
When it comes to heavy bags I like a bag that is between 80 to 100 pounds, with a preference to the 100 pound range. I don't like bags that fly about. Nor do I like home-made bags. I have tried several, and they all were inferior to commercial bags. Saw-dust fill kicks off a ton of dust, settled sand is like whacking concrete, and saw-dust sand mixes always experience a shifting of the sand so that it settles at the bottom. This sifting makes the bag too hard at the lower end and too soft at the upper end, while both give off dust. Home made cloth-filled bags are too soft and too lumpy and often have unexpected hard spots. If you have nothing I guess anything is better, but when it comes to heavy bags, if you can afford it buy a decent commercial bag.
In terms of the material "skin" that the bag itself is made of I don't really care as long as it is pliable and not "sticky". Some have almost a rubbery texture that pulls at your skin if you go bare handed. At some point or another have used every kind imaginable. If cornered I would prefer a leather bag but I have seen many of these stretch out at the bottom. The best bag I ever had used a fabric material as its skin. It was very good, soft, pliable, and seemed to never wear.
When looking for a heavy bag, I am basically open to anything. while placing my emphasis on quality. A good bag will resist deforming or belling-out.
With regard to the filling and packing of a heavy bag I am much more critical. I don't like punching cement or balloons. I like a filling that is compressed fabric. One that will not shift, sink, or sag. I don't like bags where the filling can migrate down making the bottom area hard while the upper area feels almost empty.
In general terms, when I hit a heavy bag I like to hit. I like transfer weight into the bag, dig that weight in, and return the same way I when in, and I don't want to take time doing it.
A bag that is too hard reduces, even eliminates, my ability to dig in. I believe that it is important to develop this after contact phase of a strike. A bag that causes me to bounce off falsifies my return. I need to dig the punch in, and pull it back out. On the other hand a bag that is too soft gives no proper feel. I prefer a bag that feels like hitting people.
The fabric material bag I referred to in the second paragraph is no available, or at least I have never found one, otherwise I would recommend it. For this reason I would recommend something along the lines of the Ringside's 100 pound soft fill bag. Its weigh is good to give the bag stability and mass, the skin is durable, and the soft-fill is a soft outer layer that gives a better feel and a more ability to dig in.
Ringside Powerhide 100-lb Heavy-bag - Soft Filled
X4 - FOCUS MITTS
A good set of focus mitts is an essential piece of equipment for anyone who is going to train with a partner.
I have used a wide variety of mitts and they all have their pros and cons. However, I really like my "Panthers". Here's why.
Part of using a focus mitt is the the feel when you hit it. A lot of this feel is due to your partner's handling of the glove and the way they take the hit. The Panther has a half ball shape inside the glove that many don't. This half ball allows the handler to cup the inside of the mitt which gives a real comfortable solid feel. The glove portion of the mitt is also well shaped, which adds to the positive feel of the glove. To top this off it has good padding that can even absorb the localized penetrating power of edge-of-the-hand blows.
For the striker, bare handed or gloved this mitt offers the same positive feel. For punching, I would be wearing a proper pair of bag gloves or ring gloves. This is where the panther really shines. The curved form of the mitt allows a clean capture of the glove. This capture sends an immediate feeling to the striker telling them whether their hit was well performed, solid, and well focused.
The only down side I can think of for this mitt is for those who training combatives. For many practitioners, the resounding "smack" of good hit is a motivating factor. Here, the curves shape gives some people a problem when they are executing chin jabs. Where a flat glove will give a nice "smack" sound, the curved surface is less likely to do so.
Ringside Panther Boxing Punch Mitt
X5 - MOUTH GUARDS
Regardless of whether your training is martial arts, boxing, combatives, or any other kind of contact sport, wearing mouth protection is a good investment.
In my earlier years "knuckling up in hockey and "other activities" I experienced the results that come from not wearing mouth protection.
In the beginning I began with the standard "boil & bite" mouth guards. They worked fine but were way to stiff and uncomfortable in the mouth. I've tried multi-layered plastics and even a custom made mouth guard that was designed to lock your jaw into a posture that offered the lowest transfer of shock from jaw to the brain. I scrapped the latter because it was like fighting with a tennis ball crammed into your moth. Totally uncomfortable and very difficult to breathe with. In the end I migrated back to my custom silicone mouth guards made by my dentist.
This is the one I have used the most, and it remains the one I use today. The drawback with a custom silicone mouth piece is the cost. Mine cost about $200.00 and that was many moons ago. I would still advocate them, but today there are competitive mouth guards available that are less expensive and equally effective.
When I started to box at a pro-gym, the trainer would occasionally come around to inform everyone that their "mouth guard guy" was going be be available to take fittings and make mouth guards for anyone who wanted one. I soon realized that these were the same mouth guards that their entire stable wore, including their world champions and contenders.
These mouth guards met all of the required standards. They were small, easy to breathe with, comfortable to wear, and the cost very little. At the the college where I offer training, these same mouth guards were going for $25.00 a piece. I trained at that pro-club for give or take 30 months, and I never once saw or heard anything negative regarding these mouth guards.
It is this type of mouth guard that I will purchase when I come to need a new one, and it is these mouth guards that I would most certainly recommend to anyone, beginner or expert, should they be in the market for good mouth protection.
X6 - GROIN PROTECTION
Groin protection is something is something I never go without. Even though personal experience has taught me that a strike to the testicles (etc) is not the "game-ender" so many believe, I am still not willing to take one for no valuable gain.
I have little time for strap-on type protection as it is far to mobile. This is especially so with the trend of wearing it over shorts, sweatpants, and other clothing.
The primary problem is mobility and loose fit, both of which can allow "important pieces" to be caught under the edge of the cup. A loose cup can also These are unnecessary bad experiences, I guarantee.
The other area of caution is the design of the "cup" itself. If it is too short it can rise up and catch/smear "important pieces". This can also leave tender areas exposed.
For high mobility effective groin protection, my preferences run towards a firm fit and a cup that curves underneath the groin area.
For me, I found the best choice for this combination was in Shock Doctor's compression shorts with the removable cup. I found this combination gives a stable, snug fit, that holds the cup firmly in place regardless of whether I am grappling, kicking, or boxing.
In the case of kick-boxing and boxing, Shock Doctor's compression shorts can add a second layer of protection as they comfortably fit under your external "kidney & groin protector". I found this second layer to be particularly comforting when training in combatives where semi-restrained kicks and strikes to the groin are an intentional inclusion.
For those who are not concerned with impact per-say but still prefer to keep "important pieces" snag and stable, the fact that the cup is removable fits the bill.
All of this translates into a good choice of effective protection that is functional, variable, and inexpensive.
Shock Doctor Compression Shorts with Bio-Flex Supporter Cup Included. Youth & Adult Men Boys
X7 - TRAINING HEADGEAR
A choice of headgear depends a lot on it actual use. I personally use Ringside's Air Max. I find it to be comfortable, light, and durable.
For the purpose of gloved sports such as boxing or MMA, I find it offers good impact absorption and good eye and cheek protection.
If nose or eye protection is required then this model will not be enough. When you get into this area, particularly if the eyes will be vulnerable to finger tips. stick end, or practice blade tip's, headgear quickly gets more complicated.
The Air Max can work to some degree if eye-protection is worn underneath. In this case the user would need to select their eye-protection by it quality and by how it fits under the headgear. Either way, the nose will remain vulnerable.
For total protection I would recommend full face head protection with additional eye-protection worn underneath. Your only other option is to go with high level specialty gear which unfortunately is also very expensive.
Ringside Air Max Training Boxing Head Gear
X8 - 16-OZ TRAINING (SPARRING) GLOVES
Even for combatives practitioners, gloved sparring, can be especially beneficial. Minimum it gets the participants familiar with taking a shot. On the it gets them working with range variation and usages, teaches angles and lines of attack, and calms the brain as it becomes more comfortable with the abstract nature of fighting.
One could always get this by fighting for real, but that may prove to be more costly. The logical way is to wear the appropriate protective equipment. In this case good gloves.
There are three primary concerns when selecting a glove. These are weight, quality, and your personal style of fighting.
Selection of a glove is usually done with respect to one's hitting power which is usually body-weight oriented. Bigger guy heavier gloves. But all of this is subjective. Weight is what the gloves weighs in ounces. Mine are 16 oz. Although gloves can range from 8 to 18 ounces, 16 is quite common.
Quality of a glove comes down to durability, workmanship, and most importantly how well they protect your hands. Like anything if you go with a mid-range recognized name brand you're already ahead of the game. You want a glove to me snug for a hand that is wrapped and taped. A sloppy fit decrease the glove's ability to protect the hand. Hurt hands hamper training, its that simple.
Fight style is where it gets interesting. The way it was originally explained to me was that even though a glove weight the same amount e.g. 16 oz.; a defensive fighter tends to like a larger format glove, whereas an aggressive "Mexican" style fighter tend to like a smaller tighter format.
For me, I was drawn immediately to Cleto Reyes gloves. These are high quality gloves that primarily come in a smaller "Mexican" format.
For those that box to reinforce their combatives, and considering to forward aggressive movement normally associated with combatives I would suggest a Cleto Reyes glove in an instant.
CLETO REYES Traditional Training Gloves with Laces Unisex
X9 - 16-OZ OPEN FINGER MMA (SPARRING) GLOVES
When switch the game around and throw in grips and restraints we need to switch sparring gloves to the MMA style sparring gloves.
The overview of MMA sparring gloves is basically the same as for boxing sparring gloves. Basically we are looking at weight, quality, and fight style.
While the emphasis on weight and quality remain the same the emphasis on fight style pretty much disappears. This is because the variation between the two formats of MMA sparring glove is either an emphasis on knuckle coverage or or an emphasis on finger construction. Here again a grappler may prefer a more open and protected finger design where a striker may prefer a well protected fronal area.
For weight, I again would recommend a 16 oz. glove. Once you move into the 16 oz range it immediately putts you into the striker format. This is what I use.
My choice was a glove developed by Fairtex. These are a 16 oz. glove equivalent with a well developed frontal pad. These gloves were great for striking and still offers a reasonable ability to grip.
Unfortunately, these gloves are no longer available. However Combat Sports makes a pair almost exactly like them. Since the model I use is no longer available, I would recommend Combat sports MMA Safety Sparring Gloves.
Combat Sports MMA Safety Sparring
X10 - KIDNEY & GROIN PROTECTION
Kidney & groin protection is a good idea in boxing. In combatives training where restrained force kicks, knees, and strikes to the kidneys and groin are a common, a decent kidney & groin protector used with a quality "cup" protector is a wonderful thing. Like any protective item, the better protected you are, the more realistic your training can be. This is value.
As an added note regarding an understanding of protection levels and "taking a good shot", we should be clear that I am always talking about a restricted impact.
From personal experience, I am not aware of any normal equipment that allows the wearer to take a full boot full blast and feel nothing.
Personally I use a Cleto Reyes "No Foul" kidney & groin protector. The gear is light, non restrictive in terms of movement, and well designed. In this case well designed means good design, good materials and the ability to take a fairly good shot and be ok.
CLETO REYES No-foul Protector
X11 - EYE PROTECTION
Eye protection is a mandatory item when training with eye strikes, batons of any kind, and especially so with training or real edged weapons. Considering training under a more generalized umbrella, the most common threat is intrusion.
In order for eye protection to be effective it must meet certain criteria. It must be impact resistant, well fitted so it stays in place, and it must reduce the effect of the strike ramming the eye protection into the face. Further unless it is incorporated into the head gear, it must be able to work together with your head gear in place.
Eye protection comes in a multitude of formats. Different sized, styles, shapes, degrees of protection, types of protection, and different methods of attachment are some of the variations you will be able to advantage.
For this reason there is no one best model. With eye protection it is a clear case of choosing what works best for you. The one decision you don't want to make is to neglect it.
X12 - HOW TO BUILD A FULL-CONTACT TRAINING RIOT-BATON - SHORT STICK - KNIFE
In our pursuit of gaining complimentary weapon skills; it is imperative that we as instructors and as practitioners utilize training aids in combination with the appropriate drills, to create an effective combination of both skill and confidence.
For the purpose of training batons, short sticks, and knives, I am of the opinion that some of the better training weapons are self-built. These DIY versions can be super effective and super safe. They are also low cost. This promotes the making of different types and variations for specific training or personal styles.
As construction of aids vary considerably, the follow descriptions are well proven and very functional. They are also the ones that I personally use. The following is how to build them.
Basically the construction of this version is relatively simple. It involves taking 30" of standard 3/4" PVC pipe and installing 36" of standard 3/4" PVC pipe foam insulation over it. 3" cuttings of the same insulating foam are inserted into the empty ends to "fill the end-holes".
The baton is then sealed by overlapping strips of 2" duct tape over the ends of the batons, essentially "capping" them. This is followed by laying in 36" lengths of 2" duct tape lengthwise over the length of the baton. Each strip of tape must overlay the previous one by 1/2". This overlay creates the seal and gives the baton its extra cushioning once finished. Some prefer to apply one layer of duct tape, while others prefer two. Personally I do two.
Once the duct tape has been applied, standard 1" cloth "hockey tape" is then used to again "cap" the ends, and to wrap the length of the baton. For this application, the tape is wrapped in spiral around the tube overlapping the edge of the previous spiral as it is applied. This process is then repeated starting at the opposite end of the baton and spiraling in the opposite direction. This results in a criss-crossing of the outer tape layers which gives the baton its grip as well as its resistance to "wear *& tear". Finally wrap a strip of 1" tape around each end to help the spiral tape from unraveling. The bonus of the low-cost nature of building these training aids is that it also supports a periodic tear-down to change the foam should it lack sufficient absorption.
I have used these batons for years, and have been whacked across the body hundreds of times, and over my unprotected head dozens of times with zero ill effects. The best thing is that you will feel the hit but you will not be harmed.
The result of using these training aids is a rapid development of full confidence in their ability and safety. This is in turn allows the practitioner to train in real terms without risk of serious injury, and promotes full force training.
Simple modifications can be incorporated to built soft end training knives. In the case of training knives, a tennis ball fitted over the "stabbing end" to increase its "stabbing' ability. Another example is the use of a heavier gauge 3/4" PVC pipe create a more robust training aid that delivers a more robust impact. I have even seen them with the PVC pipe filled with sand and capped with glued on PVC caps. This option makes them heavier and moves them into a category where protective gear more demanded.
Combined with good quality training knives, these aids enable effective offensive and defensive drills that allow any kind combination of weapon against another. Empty hand vs knife or baton, baton vs baton or knife, knife vs knife; the drill combinations can address the full spectrum of potential scenarios, all at relative full force.
*It should be noted that the term "full force", never overrides common sense and a responsible use of training aids.
Build Materials for a Full-Contact Training Riot-Baton - Short Stick - Knife
X14 - TRAINING FIREARMS - HANDGUN
For gun oriented training that use non-firing training weapons as opposed to live fire training weapons such a Wax-bullets, Paint-Ball, and Airsoft the criteria that determines the selection of one over another is pretty straight forward.
You want a firearm as close as possible to the firearm you yourself use. If it has realistic weight then all the better. The training firearm should not have any sharp edges that could cut or puncture the surface material of a training mat, nor should it be so soft that it doesn't hurt the hand when an external force presses the hand in against the body of the firearm. Almost any quality non-firing training firearm will meet these standards, and therefore are fine to use.
Although there are differing opinions, the one stand out point is the presence or absence of a trigger guard. A a general rule I prefer a training firearm to be one without a trigger guard. Whereas it is easy to explain how a trigger guard can complicate an maneuver, it is even easier to get a finger stuck in the guard and injured. It is my opinion that injuries that offer little value and great deficit should be avoided. Should the model you have or wish to use have a trigger guard, the guard is easy to cut off and remove.
Rubber Training Handgun - No trigger guard
X13 - TRAINING KNIVES
During the forty plus years that I have trained and taught, I have worked with a wide variety of training knives. At one time or another, I have used everything from wood to metal, and every form of soft and hard plastic and rubber.
In consideration of all of these factors, it is my opinion that Cold Steel's line of training knives demonstrate a quality trade-off in firmness, flexibility, grip and feel. If I could change one thing, the only thing they miss is a realistic weight and balance.
Primarily I provide instruction in the Fairbairn methods of knife usage. This is a method of blade work based specifically on the use of the double edged Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting knife. Although the Cold Steel Peace Keeper seen here below closer resembles an Applegate–Fairbairn fighting knife than an FS, it still makes an excellent choice for training.
Cold Steel Rubber Trainer Peace Keeper Knife
However, in today's current environment, the political reality of circumstance and legal issues often put pressure the instruction of methods focused to the use of a single edged blade. For this reason I most commonly use Cold Steel's Military Classic trainer, shown here below, for the purpose of generalized training.
Cold Steel Rubber Training Military Classic
For those who prefer a US military exposure, the Kabar knife is a classic knife where they would most commonly focus their training. In this case, I would recommend Cold Steel's Kabar replica training knife, the Leatherneck SF.
Cold Steel 92R39LSF Rubber Training Leatherneck SF Knife
Regardless of which model you prefer, either one of these models will make a solid choice as a good training knife for use in generalized skills and drills.
As a last statement, it should be noted that the one area the Cold Steel knives falter, is when drills require harder stabbing. Here their stiffness can prove to be a drawback. For this reason that I use these training knives one tool of a set of tools.
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