Martial Arts Equipment

Martial Arts Equipment can include a wide variety of training gear. Here is a brief list of martial arts equipment used in my Contemporary Fighting Arts system. Keep in mind this equipment list is for students who are interested in reality based street fighting and self defense training. If you would like to learn more about martial arts equipment, see my book library of self defense books and many of my instructional self defense dvds.

In my Contemporary Fighting Arts combat system we use a wide variety of martial arts equipment to develop our natural body weapons. Some of the equipment is are rather conventional while others are not. For example, we use: punching bags, double end bags, upper cut bags, pummel bags, focus mitts, striking shields, mirrors, rattan sticks, foam and plastic bats, kicking pads, chalkable knives, trigger-sensitive (mock) guns, boxing and digit gloves, full-body armor, and hundreds of different environmental props. Lets take a look at some of these interesting pieces of equipment.

Martial Arts Equipment List

Punching BagsPunching bags or Heavy Bags are popular pieces of martial arts equipment. Keep in mind that Punching Bag is generic term that often refers to the heavy bag. The punching bag or heavy bag is the single most important piece of training equipment for hand to hand combat.  Its primary purpose is to develop power in all of your offensive self defense techniques.  Punching bags are generally cylindrical shaped and approximately forty inches in height. Punching bags are constructed of either top grain leather, heavy canvas or vinyl.  The interior of the bag is generally filled with some type of cotton fiber or other material.  Punching bags can weigh anywhere from thirty five to two hundred pounds.  However, the average punching bag weighs approximately eighty-five pounds.  While punching bags can generally hung from the ceiling, they can affixed to a stand. Please see my punching bag article for more information.

Body Opponent Bags
The body opponent bag or BOB is great for developing your self defense skills and techniques. This punching bag looks like a real opponent and allows you to strike body and facial targets with precision. Your can practice, punches, hand strikes, elbows, knee strikes, head butts, as well as soft weapon strikes. To learn more about the body opponent bag, see our body opponent bag dvd.

Punching Mitts
Focus Mitt or Punching Mitts – are an exceptional piece of martial art equipment which can be used by anyone.  It develops accuracy, speed, target recognition, target selection, target impaction and timing in all offensive techniques.  By placing the mitts at various angles and levels you can perform every conceivable kick, punch or strike.  Properly utilized, the focus mitt will refine your defensive reaction time and condition your entire body.

The focus mitt is constructed of durable leather designed to withstand tremendous punishment.  Compared to other pieces of training equipment, the focus mitt is relatively inexpensive.  However, an effective workout requires two mitts (one for each hand).   Your training partner (called the feeder) plays a vital role in focus mitt workouts by controlling the tools or natural body weapons you execute and the cadence of delivery.  The intensity of your workouts will largely depend upon his or her ability to effectively manipulate the mitts and push you to your limit. 

Striking Shield
The Striking Shield is a versatile piece of martial arts equipment that develops power in most of your kicks, punches, and strikes.  This rectangular shaped shield is constructed of foam and vinyl and is designed to withstand tremendous punishment.   As in focus mitt training, your partner plays a vital role in a good kicking shield workout.  He must hold the shield at the proper height and angle while simultaneously moving in and out of the ranges of combat.  The intensity of your workout will depend on his ability to push you to your limit.  More importantly, your partner must learn how to absorb a powerful kick without losing his balance or injuring himself. 

Double End Bag
The Double End Bag is a small leather ball suspended by bungy cord.  It is a valuable piece of training equipment that develops timing, accuracy, rhythm, coordination, footwork, and speed.  The double-end bag requires considerable practice and a lot of patience.   In fact, it is probably one of the most difficult pieces of training equipment to master.  Most beginners become very frustrated when working with the bag. To properly control the movement of the bag, you must hit the bag directly in the center.  If you don’t strike it dead center, it will bounce uncontrollably to the right and left. 

Fighting MusicYes, that’s right. Your physical performance and mental attitude can be dramatically enhanced by training to music.  It is my experience that training to fast, rhythmic music works wonders for conditioning training,  while hard-driving aggressive rock music works best for proficiency and street training methods. In Contemporary Fighting Arts we have our own unique fighting music library.

Medicine Ball
The medicine ball is a large, heavy, leather ball that is stuffed with cotton waste.  It is used to strengthen and condition the abdominal wall and obliques.  When used properly, the medicine ball also develops proper breathing, endurance and the ability to withstand powerful body blows.  Avoid over training on the ball.  Practice no more than two times per week.  Two of the best ways to train with the medicine ball is to have a training partner throw it into your stomach while you are standing or lie down on your back and have him drop it repeatedly onto your abdomen.  Don’t neglect this important piece of martial arts equipment.


When it comes to martial arts equipment and training, safety is of paramount importance.  Some martial artists will avoid using safety equipment because of big egos, laziness, ignorance and a variety of other reasons.  However, it behooves you to take the proper safety precautions.  Here are a few suggestions to help minimize the possibilities of injury:

(1) Buy the best martial art training equipment that you can afford.
(2) Know the proper way to use training equipment.
(3) Regularly inspect your martial arts equipment for wear and defects.
(4) Avoid ego-driven training partners.
(5) Be especially aware when training with someone with superior size, skill, or experience.
(6) Always warm-up before training.
(7) Drink plenty of water during training sessions to avoid dehydration.
(8) Be cautions when performing training drills for the first time.

Good luck in your training!

Sammy Franco
Founder & President
Contemporary Fighting Arts