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Best Elbow Pads for Combat Sports: Guide and Review

Best Elbow Pads For Combat Sports

Elbow pads are an often underutilised piece of equipment in combat sports. While common fight gear, such as shin guards and headguards are used by almost all fighters, combat sports elbow pads rarely receive the importance they deserve. 

If you’re practicing MMA or Muay Thai, or even kickboxing elbow pads should be a key component of your protective gear. 

BJJ and Judo fighters might also find that they require elbow pads to protect arms in the event that they hit the mat during a throw or takedown. 

Further, kickboxing, Taekwondo, and Karate may all require elbow pads in case of falling during sparring or because of a previous injury.

Combat Sports Elbow Guards

When to use elbow pads in combat sports

Whether you’re practicing MMA, Muay Thai, BJJ, Judo, kickboxing, Taekwondo, or Karate, elbow pads may be necessary if you want to avoid injury.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai elbow pads are most commonly used by fighters practicing for “full rules” Muay Thai fights. While most gyms don’t allow sparring with elbow strikes, if you’re specialised in Muay Thai, you may one day need to know how to give and take elbow hits.

Elbow pads in combat sports are designed to soften the blow of elbow strikes and prevent fighters from being injured. However, it’s important to note that giving a hard elbow strike can still injury your sparring partner, even with pads on. For this reason, it’s important to also wear appropriate headgear for intense sparring sessions.

Before sparring with elbows, you need to ensure that both parties agree and you’ve understood the basic rules of sparring with elbows. You need to exercise caution at all times and maintain clear and open channels of communication between you and your sparring partner. 

A hard elbow hit can cause lasting damage, so it’s extremely important that you take all necessary precautions and adhere to sparring etiquette when using elbows.

Other combat sports

While most discussion around elbow protection centers around sports such as Muay Thai and MMA, injuries to elbows are twice as common in other combat sports such as Taekwondo, Judo, and Karate. This is due in large part to joint injuries incurred with frequent training and repetitive stress on specific parts of the body.

When these kinds of injuries occur, it’s important to take precautions to prevent further injury. Elbow strains and sprains can be particularly long and difficult to heal. 

The NHS estimates that typical strains and dislocations take approximately six weeks to heal, although you should always check with your doctor before resuming training.

In the interim (if your injury is not particularly severe), or after the initial healing process, it’s important to protect your elbows from any additional stress or strain. In these cases, elbow pads can be hugely beneficial. A pair of elbow pads will protect from most common sources of injury, such as a fall during sparring, or hitting the mat during a takedown.

The Best Combat Sport Elbow Pads

When picking out the perfect elbow pads, remember to pay attention to the padding and how well they fit you.

Elbow pads come in different styles, especially for combat sports, whether you're gearing up for competition, nursing an injury, or anything in between. 

Some brands cater particularly well to those with larger arms or if you prefer a snug fit. It's a good idea to test a few different pairs to find your best match. And when you try your new elbow pads for the first time, go easy to get a feel for them.

We've put together a list of our top elbow pad picks to suit a variety of needs and fighting techniques, just for you.

1. Top Ten Sok IMFA Elbow Guards

Launching our selection of the best elbow guards, we have a special item for those passionate about Muay Thai.

Introducing the Top Ten Sok IFMA Elbow Guard.

A highlight of these guards is their perfect fit. For Muay Thai enthusiasts, the importance of well-fitting equipment cannot be overstated, as it enhances both confidence and performance.

These elbow protectors remain securely in place, enabling you to execute your strongest strikes effortlessly.

And there's no need to worry about discomfort; these guards are made with soft materials to keep you comfortable during your training sessions, eliminating any distractions from your equipment.

IMFA Certified: These elbow guards are endorsed with the IFMA certification, adhering to the rigorous standards required for champions. This means you're not just receiving protection, but also a level of quality acknowledged in the Muay Thai community.

Sizes Available: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large

Colour ways Available: Blue, Red

2. Fairtex EBE1 Elasticated Elbow Guard

Coming up next, we've got the Fairtex elbow guards on deck. Another top pick for those who love combat sports and are in high demand.

Fairtex really knows their stuff when it comes to the best quality. Their elbow guards are made from superior elastic cotton, ensuring comfort, durability, and protection against heavy impacts.

What sets these martial arts elbow guards apart is the reliable Velcro fastening and their adaptable style.

And the best part? Choosing the right size is a breeze thanks to their handy one-size-fits-all approach.

Sizes Available: Adjustable sizing

Colour ways Available: Black, Blue, Red

3. Venum Kontact Elbow Pads

Say hello to the Venum Kontact Elbow Pads!

Venum's quality is well-known, and their stellar reputation really does the talking.

These MMA Elbow Pads boast a high-quality cotton build for lasting durability.

Oh and don't worry, they're a breeze to keep clean since they're machine washable, making your life just that little bit easier.

Sizes Available: Adjustable sizing

Colour ways Available: Black/Black, Black/White

Top Ten WAKO Reversible Elbow Guards

Here's some elbow guards for all the kickboxers out there, regardless of your skill level - elbow pads that are WAKO approved! 

This means you can easily flip between red and blue sides to meet WAKO's Point fighting standards, making them perfect for any combat style.

Top Ten has cleverly integrated foam padding in just the right spots to spread out the force of impacts, boosting protection for kickboxing as well as Jiu Jitsu, MMA, or Judo training.

Sizes Available: S/M, M/L, L/XL

Colour ways Available: Blue, Red

5. Bytomic Red Label Elasticated Elbow Guard

While elbow pads aren't usually a big splurge, we know they can still pinch the wallet a bit. So, we made sure to include an option that keeps both high protection and affordability in mind.

These budget-friendly pads aren't just easy on your pocket; we're also fans of their simple design, featuring a cool Bytomic logo stripe right down the centre.

Plus, the hook and loop strap means you can adjust them just right, ensuring they stay put without any slipping or sliding!

With three decades of expertise in martial arts, the company brings a vast array of protective gear and equipment within this range, allowing you to coordinate your entire set.

Sizes Available: XS, S, M, L

Colour ways Available: White, Black

Best Knee Guard: Venum Kontact Gel Knee Pad

We know our focus is on the best elbow pads for combat sports, but we couldn't resist throwing in a shoutout to the best knee guard out there.

These Venum Knee pads are versatile enough for all kinds of martial arts training, be it MMA, Muay Thai, or No-Gi Jiu Jitsu.

Being from Venum, they naturally provide unmatched protection, designed for maximum shock absorption, a snug fit, and superior comfort. Now featuring the innovative Gel Shock System™, the Kontact Gel knee pads boast a unique design that guarantees exceptional protection during sessions!

The problem with most elbow pads

Many fighters forgo using elbow pads for the incredibly frustrating reason that they tend to shift out of place when fighting. 

For this reason, it’s important that you choose a tight-fitting elbow pad which can be quite uncomfortable.

Most elbow pads when properly fitted will cut off the circulation if left on too long. This, unfortunately, is something one must become accustomed to as a protected elbow is always better than the discomfort caused by pads.

Many elbow pads in combat sports are one-size-fits-all, so if you have abnormally large or small arms you might have difficulty finding a pair of elbow pads that fit you. However, there are a few brands which carry different size options to allow you to select a fit that works for you.

Despite drawbacks, using elbow pads is almost always preferable to injuring your elbows, or causing additional damage to an existing injury.

Best Kickboxing Elbow Pads

Final Thoughts

After spotlighting some of the finest options out there for combat sports enthusiasts, from the premium durability and protection offered by Fairtex to the versatile and budget-friendly choices like Bytomic, we've covered a range of products to suit every need and preference.

Remember, the right elbow guard not only enhances your performance but also ensures your safety during intense training sessions and competitions.

FAQ: Elbow guards in Martial Arts

Is it common to use elbow pads in Muay Thai?

Yes, elbow pads are sometimes used in Muay Thai, especially during sparring sessions to reduce the risk of injury to both the wearer and their partner.

What size elbow guard should I buy?

To find the correct size elbow guard, you should refer to the specific sizing guide provided by the manufacturer. Typically, sizing is based on the circumference of your arm around the elbow. It's important to measure your arm and consult the guide to ensure a proper fit.

Can I wear elbow guards in tournaments?

In tournaments, the use of elbow guards may vary depending on the rules of the organising body. For tournaments sanctioned by the International Muay Thai Federation (IMF), approved elbow guards are allowed to promote safety.

Can I wear Muay Thai elbow pads for sparring?

Yes, wearing Muay Thai elbow pads during sparring is highly recommended. They help to prevent injuries to both the person wearing them and their sparring partner by cushioning the impact of elbow strikes.

What are the reasons for wearing elbow pads in combat sports?

Elbow pads are worn in combat sports primarily to prevent injuries. They protect both the wearer and their opponent by cushioning the impact of elbow strikes, which can cause cuts, bruises, and more serious injuries. Wearing elbow pads also allows athletes to train more consistently and effectively by reducing the risk of injury. Additionally, athletes might feel more comfortable practicing and executing elbow techniques without the fear of injuring their partners. Some organizations and training facilities also require the use of protective gear, including elbow pads, during sparring and competitions to ensure safety.