Every organization/school/competition has its own rules for what type of sparring equipment is permitted. Some organizations require the equipment to be a certain color and marked with the organization’s official logo. The official story is that this insures everyone is using high quality equipment that has been officially tested for safety. Of course, the “official” equipment is expensive. In fact, the exact same equipment may be purchased on the Internet for much less money. Requiring the equipment to have the official logo is just another way for organizations to get more of your money.
Most official sparring equipment is made from molded foam. When I used to spar five nights a week, the best usage I could get from a set of hand and foot pads was one year. During the year, I used a lot of vinyl glue and colored plastic tape, and did a lot of suturing to reattach the finger loops that pulled loose, so sometimes I was not able to get a year of usage from the equipment. Sometimes equipment is inspected at tournaments and rejected if it is taped. Covered foam would cost a bit more but it would be more durable and last much longer. This would mean you would not have to replace the equipment every year, which would mean you would save money. However, this would also mean the organizations would lose money; therefore, for most organizations, only foam equipment is allowed.
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