TaeKwonDo Equipment Overview

By Blake Lakewood, 03/25/2015

TkdEquipmentOverviewTae Kwon Do, which is also spelled Taekwondo or TKD for short, is the most popular Korean martial art and it has also been an official event in the summer Olympic Games since 2000.  Since then many improvements have been made to Taekwondo equipment.  TaeKwonDo Equipment Overview, this page, contains a summary of TKD equipment topics to be discussed on this website .  Since we have been involved with Taekwondo for about 6 years now, we have become pretty familiar with the equipment required for the sport.  We have broken the equipment down into four categories: attire, training, weapons, and protection.

The attire category includes uniforms, shoes and belts.

  • The uniform is typically loose-fitting, v-neck and the classic uniform comes in “Tae Kwon Do white”.  Uniforms are available from several manufacturers and can be purchased from martial art stores and warehouses in several weights (thickness), sizes and styles or directly from the actual TKD school where the schools logo is probably on the uniform.  Uniforms are also available in a variety of solid or mixed colors. The highly colored uniforms are usually used by the TKD demonstration teams.
  • Shoes are usually optional in the dojang (school), but depending on the cleanliness of the floor mats, it may be a good idea for your student to wear these items.  If the mats are not steam-cleaned or disinfected often or the student bottom of the feet are filthy when completing their class then purchasing some shoes is probably a good investment.   Of course, these shoes should only be worn in the TKD class and not outside.  Wearing them outside and then prancing around the dojang with them will only propagate more filth onto possible questionable mats.  Practice shoes are also available in a variety of colors and styles.
  • To top off the TKD attire category is the TKD belt. This item is earned by the TKD student when they show proficiency in several tasks and pass a test in front of a master. These tasks could include some (or all) of the following: mental education, hand techniques, kicking techniques, poomsae (forms), sparring technique, self-defense, and breaking before the student receives their next belt.


The training category includes: re-breakable boards, kicking and punching targets, punching bags and speed bags.

  • Re-breakable boards are used to practice various hand and foot breaking techniques so you don’t have to utilize real wood boards in the process, but you will have to break real wood during belt testing.
  • Kicking and punching targets are also used for practicing various punches and kicks. With TKD, I have noticed that the kicks seem to be more abundant. There are several varieties of these targets. There are hand targets used for higher kicks and punches and much bigger kicking targets for round house kicks, front kicks and back kicks.
  • Punching bags can be used to practice both kicks and punches, while the speed bag is normally used just for punches.

From my experience in the weapons category I have seen my daughters school train their students in nunchaku (sometimes referred as:  nunchaku, numchuk, numchuck, nunchuk or chaku stick), staff and the sai, but I have seen mention of some schools using sticks, knives, and swords also. The decision on which weapon to teach, if any, appears to be up to the master of the school.

  • Nunchakus are made up of two sticks connected together with a chain. The sticks can be composed of a variety of different elements: hardwood, graphite, or even stainless steel to name a few. Usually the linking chain is the length of the back of the student’s hand and the two sticks are as long as the distance between the student’s wrist and elbow. Utilizing these dimensions will allow the student to execute many maneuvers.
  • The staff can be constructed from hardwoods, rattan, acrylic or fiber glass. Each one of these staffs has its own unique characteristics. They also make competition staffs that break down like pool cues and come in their own carrying case. My opinion is that this weapon is the most practical to learn to use and defend with. How often (outside of a martial arts school) are you going to be attacked with a nunchuck?   Meanwhile, someone could always break the handle off a broom and at least you have a chance at defending yourself.
  • If you have seen any of the martial art movies where a fight breaks out in a TKD school with an entire rack of weapons at the martial artist’s disposal, then you have seen a sai. The sai looks like a short (maybe 1.5 to 2 foot long) trident with a handle and the center of the trident being much longer then the two outer prongs, see attached photo. The sai is not as popular as the staff or nunchuck.

Weapons_3The above image shows an example of sais on the left and an assortment of nunchucks on the right.

Finally, the protection category. I broke this category up into two different sections: general and personal protection.

  • General Protection – Puzzle Mats, sometimes known as Martial Art Floor Mats, are normally used on the floor of the dojang. They
  • are called puzzle mats for obvious reason; they fit together like a puzzle (see figure below)
  • are constructed of high density ethylene vinyl acetate, EVA, foam
  • are extremely durable and long lasting (usually for several years)
  • absorb shock for jumping, falling and tumbling drills
  • are made of a non-slip surface to increase the safety of the student and allow for sure-footed support for stepping and kicking drills
  • provide a cushion to the student when performing take-down drills and sparring
  • come in a variety of colors, sizes and thickness. The average thickness seems to be about 7/8 of an inch and the average size about a square meter.

PuzzleMatThe image above shows an example of individual Puzzle Mat pieces.

  • Personal Protection – What comes to mind when thinking of personal protection in taekwondo?   Sparring gear and the mouth guard. Being a parent and not wanting your child to get hurt, I found the equipment I am most concerned about is the sparring equipment. The minimum taekwondo sparing gear consists of a chest protector, foam head gear, shin and instep guards, forearm guards, support cup (for the male) and the all-important mouth guard to protect the teeth.