Footwear is a hot topic among traditionalists. Most styles, historically, train barefoot and most modern martial art sports also compete without footwear. Many more modern schools now train with wrestling shoes and this is mostly for hygienic reasons. Protected feet can prevent the spread of things like staff infection and other foot conditions. In sports like boxing, sambo and wrestling, proper footwear is mandatory and provides traction. People with knee or ankle injuries, however, are often advised against this. The traction of a wrestling shoe can often aggravate knee injuries especially, so being barefoot is often the safer option. I've been advised after my knee injury to use sand paper on the soles of wrestling shoes if I decide to train that way. Sambo boots are the safest option for anyone with a bad knee like me because they are made of soft leather, which can protect from skin conditions without providing too much traction.
Rashguards and t-shirts are the most common tops to train in for those who aren't wearing a gi or training without a shirt. Lots of MMA fighters train without a shirt because that's how they compete and are more comfortable that way, but personally I prefer some kind of clothing for hygienic purposes. Grapplers tend to prefer long or short sleeve rashguards, which makes sense. It's the best way to keep your sweat to yourself when rolling with someone on the mats. Long sleeve for the most protection. For most, though, a t-shirt is usually enough.
Track pants is probably the most popular choice for practitioners who don't wear traditional attire. Track pants are practical and are made for athletic activities, so it only makes sense to wear them in training. The most comfortable, but less protective, are shorts. Most cases of staff infection in gyms are contracted through the legs, so it's important to keep that in mind when training. Shorts are less restricting and should mainly be worn when doing conditioning and switching to pants during sparring sessions for maximum protection.
For modern professionals in the world of security or law enforcement, it's best to train in something more similar to the uniform. A friend of mine is a police officer and he told me that he had practiced rolling and falling for years in the gym, but the first time it happened to him on the job his tactical belt knocked the wind out of him. It's important to wear the same gear in training in order to avoid getting caught by surprise like that. Often, when training for security, I prefer a simple t-shirt, tactical pants and wrestling shoes.
Gi or No Gi
This, of course, is the hot button that often separates traditionalists from sport fighters. Not always, of course, but often. Jujitsu is probably the best example of a martial art that has both kinds of followers. Even in sport, jujitsu is divided into gi and no gi competition and often enough they are quite different. With the gi there comes more leverage for throws and submissions, which can be more challenging to apply with someone is wearing a t-shirt or topless. The gi can provide adhesion, where sweat and bare skin can make it harder to complete techniques. The gi can also simulate heavy clothing like a sweatshirt or jacket, so that becomes more practical for self defense purposes. So the gi can serve for practical reasons while also honoring tradition, however more modern attire can be more comfortable and related to competition.
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