by Sensei Neil Prime
September 1997

How much is your safety worth to you?

Can you put a dollar value on it?

If you think about it realistically, no, you probably can't.

Here's a quick look at one example. A broken tooth will not grow back. To have it repaired is not only expensive (around $250) it is also an inconvenience. A repair, no matter how good the job is, is especially noticeable in appearance if it is a front tooth. It is also painful and there is no guarantee that a partial replacement will adhere to your original tooth enamel. If your looking at a replacement, your looking at a bill of about $1000.00.

Now you can start to put a dollar value on it!

A mouthguard will cost from $3 to $8, and up to $50 if you have your dentist fit you with one.

You still can not put a value on the inconveniences nor the possible pain involved.

Karate training can lead to body contact. Let's face it, we punch and kick. No matter how much we train and try to avoid contact, there will be contact.

In every sport there is safety equipment and it seems that every time something new comes out people (especially professional athletes) complain about wearing it. The fact of the matter is that it is being made to make you safer while doing what you are doing, and it is proven time and time again that people get used to wearing it and injuries are reduced.

Doesn't it make sense to protect your well being so that you can continue to do the things you love to do as long as you possibly can? Even more so if there is a pay check involved.

In our sport there is a variety of equipment available: head gear, mouthguard, fist and forearm pads, shin and instep pads, foot pads, groin protection, chest pads and if necessary knee pads and elbow pads. This sounds like a lot to lug around but properly fitting equipment is hardly noticeable and un-restricting.

The equipment that you use should reflect the intensity of your training. Some will say that even if you do sparring of any type you should wear all the gear available... and there is good logic behind that statement. I personally feel that a mouthguard, groin and chest protection (for women) are absolutely necessary.

It is also necessary to replace worn out equipment. Nothing lasts forever and when you consider the pounding your safety equipment might be taking, you should make sure that it is in good shape.

Another very important reason for wearing protective equipment, especially gloves and foot pads, is to help protect your partner. Even if sparring 'lightly' accidents happen and if there is no glove on the fist that is making contact to an unprotected area then the results can be hazardous. I do however believe that when working self-defense techniques that you should simulate the exercise as real as possible. Obviously we will still execute control but you should experience blocking etc. without the use of pads so that you are more prepared in a self-defense situation. When on the street you will not get sympathy from an attacker if you hurt your arm blocking a punch.

When you think about how much money you spend on clothing and hair cuts and make-up and the time you spend trying to look and feel good, then put away a couple of extra bucks and protect your initial investment - yourself!

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