How to Buy Martial Arts Shin Guards

Tae Kwon Do Kick

In buying martial arts shin guards you should take the type of martial arts practiced into account. The many designs of martial arts shin guards can be roughly divided into two main categories. One category is Thai shin guards and the other is Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA. In general, Thai shin guards have an instep protective pad and are fastened around the calf by adjustable straps, while MMA shin guards have a sock-like structure that wraps around the leg. Therefore, measuring for shin length is crucial to buying both kinds, but you also need a calf circumference measurement for MMA shin guards.

Measure both shins with a flexible measuring tape beginning just under your knee and ending at the bend of the ankle. If you are buying MMA shin guards, measure the circumference of both legs around the thickest part of your calf. Because your legs can be different sizes, compare these measurements and choose the largest dimension of shin length and calf girth to choose your shin guards.

Compare your measurements with the size chart of the brand of shin guard you want. Choose the size of shin guard that comes closest to your measurements without going over. For example, if your shin length is 14 inches and the large size on the chart starts at 14.5 inches, buy the medium size.

Try on the shin guards at a store or a sample at your martial arts center, if possible, to make sure the fit is right and that the shin guard is comfortable.

Buy the highest quality shin guard that you can afford. Buy leather, if possible, because it is the best cover material, but there are other durable and comfortable synthetic options. Inspect the padding and stitching quality as well. Thai shin guards typically are heavier and will have more padding than MMA shin guards, and the instep padding is especially important to protect your smaller foot bones.


Consult your martial arts instructor or the rules of your martial arts governing body if you buy the shin guards for competition. If your equipment isn’t approved, you won’t be able to compete. The rules of some competitions do not allow shin guards, so the guards are only used during sparring practice.

Buy the other protective gear along with your shin guards required for your type of martial arts, such as belly pads, hand wraps, ankle supports and bag gloves.