Buying Eye Protection

I know there are some tough guys out there who say, “I don’t need to wear safety glasses. They’re for wimps.” Well, I’d rather be a wimp who can see than be a tough guy who’s blind.

Eye injuries are no joke. And when you’re swinging training sticks up to 90 mph, it’s foolhardy to think you’re too good, fast, and skilled to get a hit in the eye. That’s why we always train with safety glasses once we bring out the training knives and sticks. Here’s a quick run down of what you need and where you can buy them.


This type of eye protection looks like your regular reading glasses or sunglasses but with shatter-resistant parts. They have two arms, two separate lenses, and a nose bridge of some sort. These come in the widest range of styles, from the most affordable to the ridiculous expensive. The most important thing is that they must have some sort of safety rating, such as ANSI Z87.1, ISEA Z87.1, MIL-PRF-31013, or MIL-DTL-43511D.


Here is a range of eye glasses that I recommend:

  • Howard Leight Vapor II ($9)
  • Peltor Sport SecureFit 400 three pack ($15): This is a good deal considering it comes with 3 glasses with clear, yellow, and black lenses for both indoor and outdoor training.
  • Wiley X Vapor ($60): Top quality glasses with three sets of lenses (clear, rust, and grey) that make it quite versatile for various activities.
  • ESS CDI Max sunglasses ($88): Expensive, but excellent. Comes with interchangeable clear and tinted lenses, so you can use these as heavy-duty sunglasses or indoor safety glasses.

SHIELDS:This type of eye protection is different in that the lens is a single piece. Why is this good? A single piece provides greater visibility, structural stability, and surface area of protection. It also aligns with the thinking that the fewer moving parts, the less chance of breakage. Again, the most important thing to look for in eye shields is that safety rating (e.g. ANSI Z87.1, MIL-DTL-43511D, etc.)


Here are some eye shields that I recommend:



This type of eye protection provides the greatest degree of protection and comfort … but usually the least level of aesthetics. (There’s always a tradeoff, right?) You’ll find variations in racquet sports, industrial use, and military gear. These goggles will usually have a full frame for protection, padded gaskets for comfort, and an elastic band of some sort that wraps around your head for retention. Don’t forget to look for that safety rating, such as ANSI Z87.1, MIL-DTL-43511D, etc


Here are some goggles that I recommend:


Don’t forget that you can always look for the eye protection that’s right for you at brick-and-mortar stores. Safety glasses are sold at big box stores, sporting good shops, and automotive chains, and even home improvement franchises. Here’s a list of where you can go in person:

  • Big 5
  • Autozone, O’Reilly’s
  • Lowe’s, Home Depot
  • Walmart, Target, etc.

Buying Hand Protection


Let’s talk about gear that you might not automatically associate with Kali: boxing gloves.

Pangamot (empty-hand striking) is a key aspect of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and required to rank up. We’ll occasionally mix in boxing drills along with our core knife and stick techniques. We’ll be punching focus mitts and elbowing Thai pads. Therefore, I recommend every student have some type of hand protection. The following is a look at the four main types:



Boxing gloves come in several sizes and weights. These are the best for overall hand protection. The cons are that they’re usually the most expensive and don’t simulate empty-hand striking distances because of the added inches to every punch. Still, they’re a great invest for long-term training, especially if you do or plan to train in other systems (kickboxing, Krav Maga, etc.).


  • Great knuckle, wrist, and finger protection
  • Easy to use (if you get the hook-and-loop straps) and to store
  • Good long-term investment; applicable in many martial arts


  • Usually more expensive ($30 to $150)
  • Don’t always simulate realistic punching distances
  • Can’t trap or grab


If you have the money, I’d suggest investing in boxing gloves because they can be used for all sorts of training for a variety of fighting systems. Here are some that I suggest:



As seen in the UFC, mixed martial arts (MMA) gloves offer maximum knuckle protection with minimal amount of bulk. They do come in a variety of sizes, weights, and quality, but all of them are fingerless and come with integrated hook-and-loop wrist wraps.


  • Good knuckle protection
  • Fingerless design lets you trap/grab
  • Easy to use, take off, and store


  • A bit more pricey than the above options ($30 to $100)
  • Incorrect usage can cause finger sprains due to fingerless design


These can be quite pricey just like boxing gloves, so you want to make sure they not only fit you but are right for you and your preferences. If you’re going to buy online, look for sites that’ll let you return or exchange. Here are some to consider:




Relatively new to the world of striking, this type of hand protection combines hand wraps, bag gloves, and gel padding. These fingerless slip-on gloves give you the knuckle protection and wrist support of wraps but the convenience of bag gloves. Some varieties are meant to be worn inside 16-ounce boxing gloves as a substitute for traditional fabric hand wraps.


  • Easy to use, take off, and store (unlike fabric hand wraps)
  • Usually affordable ($20 to $70)
  • Fingerless design lets you trap/grab


  • Limited knuckle protection
  • Incorrect usage can cause finger sprains
  • Questionable long-term durability


I’ve never personally used gel hand wraps (only the traditional fabric hand wraps), so I can’t personally endorse them, but I have heard good things about them from students and friends. If you’re leaning toward this form of hand protection, research the following selections (listed here based on strong reviews):



This type of hand protection is usually a slip-on glove with a thin layer of padding for the knuckles (about 1 inch of foam) and a plastic bar to wrap your fingers around to form a consistent fist. Premium versions are made of leather and have a hook-and-loop wrist wrap to support the wrist during punching.


  • Usually affordable ($15 to $70)
  • Decent knuckle protection
  • Slim to simulate realistic distance when punching
  • Easy to pack


  • Without wraps, no wrist support
  • Limited knuckle padding
  • Least versatile for overall martial arts training


These can be purchased at most sporting goods stores like Big 5, and sometimes even at discount shops like TJ Maxx or Ross Dress for Less. However, the quality can vary quite a bit. Consider the following: