Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fairtex “Army” Board Shorts £47.99

I am a Fairtex fan. I’ll admit it. Why? Well they just don’t make bad quality gear in fact across the 2011 catalogue you will be hard pressed to find something that’s not at least a cut above average but are they cutting it in the rammed MMA Shorts Market place? I’ve been wearing these Fairtex MMA Shorts for the last 6 months, even washing them occasionally so have they stood up to the Brutalization of the gym?
It should be noted here that the Fairtex AB5’s other than their colour scheme are identical in every way to the other current Fairtex MMA shorts range and therefore this review can be considered for the whole Fairtex MMA Shorts range.

On first impressions when I saw these shorts out the pack I actually though they were going to be a little delicate for grappling and thought although they might be good for kickboxing that the material used which is a very soft 100% polyester wouldn’t withstand constant rubbing off mats and being grabbed, pulled etc.  I was wrong.  6 months down the line and these shorts still look new after many washes. The soft material is surprisingly tough and also very comfortable compared to say Hayabusa who make probably the most popular mma shorts on the market at the moment out of a much tougher feeling fabric or Jaco (review coming soon) who make very comfortable shorts which don’t stand up too much abuse.  Fairtex have got the balance here spot on.  Inside the shorts is a mesh lining which again aids comfort especially when sweating profusely during a tough session, there are splits in the legs which is sometimes a weak point if not done right however again Fairtex have had 50 years of experience in making clothing and therefore know what they are doing with stitching garments correctly.  

The Waistband design is a hybrid board shorts design which has a little elastication  around the hips but the more traditional flat waist of a pair of genuine boardies with the front Velcro fastened and reinforced with some fairly redundant ties.  I personally prefer four way ties like proper board shorts but this is really a personal preference and anyone who sits a little between sizes will be glad of the system.  

All in all these are faultless aside from the price, at £47.99 RRP this is a bit steep, we only found them in two UK stores at all with the range for a little less at £44.97 at   and a couple on ebay cheaper (however beware Ebay for Fairtex or Thai gear generally as there are a lot of fakes!)  but the RRP is high and is what prevented them getting above the 4/5 rating we have given them, however we will say they are quality and they will be worth the extra couple of quid!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hayabusa “Thai” Shinguards £54.99

Not looking so good without the lovely marketing shot

To say this is a bad product is not really fair, for the price the Hayabusa Thai shin guards are an absolutely awful product!
These turned up in the gym and were actually left by someone and never reclaimed. They have obviously been worn a few times but don’t look especially old in fact I would doubt they were more than a month old looking at them.  These shinguards would be fine if they were priced below £20 and aimed at the semi contact market but they are neither priced well or aimed at low contact sparring indeed the name implies they will withstand a full blooded Thai workout so low and behold that’s how we tested them.
Hayabusa refer to these as “technologically superior.” What this claim is based on they don’t go on to tell us but I cannot find a single good thing to say. However I will try my best to explain.
These shinguards are very light, I suspect this is seen somehow as a selling point however the point of a thai shinguard is to protect the shin and frankly three rounds later I was wishing I’d adorned my unbranded £20 shinguards and was suggesting we dropped the kicking power down.  They are frankly flimsy, lightweight maybe they are but protective they are not.

The material they are made of is a light PU with a raised area over the shin which is seen on the Fairtex Double Padded shins and also on the Revgear Gel Shinguards (See next review) this is a good idea in many ways however the shinguards would have to be stiff enough in the first place for this to be truly effective and these simply are not.  One thing that hits you straight away on these shinguards is their shape; they are kind of flat and you need to use the straps (more later) the pull the guard around your leg, most good Thai shin pads are moulded to a distinct curve. 

side view
The straps are really lousy; if you don’t believe me here just take a look at the photos, they have a thin metal loop and are Velcro straps on a thin piece of PU.  This is a traditional weak spot on many Thai Shins but companies such as Top King and Fairtex have now gone for putting the straps through the shinguard itself and reinforcing the area around it; I would say that is a technological innovation whereas these are showing themselves to be well behind.
No doubt the strength of the Hayabusa brand will withstand this terrible product but when you can buy many good quality well tested and sturdy shinguards for around this price then its impossible to see why you would take this set of shins above say the Fairtex double padded, Twins SGL2 or 3, Top King Pro’s or basically any of the good Thai brands. But wait till you see the Revgear Gel Shins at £44!!!

We are giving this product a zero, drop the price to £30 and we'd say it would be ok for beginners needing a cheap set of shins and give it a 1 but they market this product as a top of the line premium product and in our opinion it is very far from this relying on slick marketing and a strong brand name built with endorsements and TV exposure.  the product looks like its been manufactured as cheaply as possible and I can't imagine any serious muay thai fighter training using these.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Revgear Muay Thai Kick Pads £89.99

Revgear are relatively unknown in the UK however they have been involved with MMA since 1996 and until recently were the distributors of famous Badboy brand (and still are in the USA)
These Thai Pads arrived via our partners and we were immediately struck by the pretty sexy look of them in red and black with the Revgear logo down the side.  These examples are curved pads and a little smaller than standard straight Thai kick pads however our view on this is to compare  like with like and consider a curved Thai pad to be a different piece of kit to a straight one for obvious reasons. 
With a multitude of MMA brands trying to cash in on the Thai market often with fairly lousy results this pad gets a tick in the build quality stakes straight away using full leather (Unlike say Hayabusa or Venum versions) and from the off they haven’t spared any expense on making sure these pads are well constructed with a nice little touch on the straps putting a cover on the inside for added comfort whilst holding them.  

In use these pads are pretty good all round however I will say the handles are not quite as sturdy as say the Fairtex or Twins versions and when you get a really heavy kicker a bigger pad would certainly be a better option.  They are of a medium weight making holding them for 5x3 minute rounds none too painful however again bigger kickers seem to send allot of shock through the pads. 
In conclusion these are a decent set of pads and great for use with punch and kick combos, the slipping on the handles and medium shock absorption prevented these pads from a very good 4 out of 5 rating however they gain a pretty respectable 3.5 gained from excellent build quality and nice attention to detail.  We think for your average MMA guy they are good and will certainly last a long time however if Muay Thai is your game then you may want to consider a slightly bigger pad and maybe look to a Thai brand. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Jaco Short Sleeved Rashguard

The pictures of this rashguard from the Brazilian company Jaco looked great and the one to the right of this review is straight of the website which is also a pretty cool website. I think I like this item but I'm not sure I should give it a good review, confused? So am I.

"This Loose Compression Rashguards ultra breathable Bamboo/Spandex blend provides a cashmere-like feel and comfortable formed fit that protects the skin during grappling and rolling." Says  "Ok does it do the bloody job? " Ask BrutalmmareviewsI'll say this it is comfortable, very, very comfortable. Out of the packet it looks great too and if you like understated as opposed to the in your face brashness of say Venum then Jaco have got it right here in terms of thier design. 

"Bamboo construction naturally inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi and effectively wicks moisture " Does it? wow does it make the tea tooI'm sure no one is going to make claims like this if they aren't in some way true but does anyone really care?  BMR Marketing bollocks award of the day goes to this product.  I've seen this moisture wicking claim loads of times and the new fungal barrier is pushing the boat out but in the gym after a two hour tough session in the June heat (Well it was 24 degrees which isn't bad for UK) My lovely Jaco rashguard is just as wet through with sweat as any other I've ever worn.  I'm going to make the assumption on the bacteria front that most people wash their rashguard after training in it on a daily basis (Or have several like me) and never wear it twice in a row without washing as thier training partners would possibly prefer to train with someone with a clean rashguard if not.  So bacteria thing surely is kind of irrelevant?  I don't know, sounds like psuedo science for the market schpeel?? 

Issue 2.  The lovely soft comfortable material doesn't feel half as tough as the usual lycra/polyester mix and when getting dragged across the mats and rubbed against my gi (later on in the testing phase) it doesn't offer the same protection as the rashguard normal material does in terms of guarding against scrapes and scratches, indeed rashes... This is part of the point isn't it?

Issue 3.  In the Wash. It says on the instruction "machine wash cold" so I have been doing so for the last few weeks.  Within a couple of washes my really attractive Jaco rashguard is looking a little worn.
Still perfectly functional but the material is not keeping the integrity of the type used by the majority of rashguards.  I still have an old Evolution Fightwear rashguard I used to use when I started BJJ around 7 years ago which no longer has its logo's on as they have long since worn off but the material is still 100%. 
Conclusions.  I have raised the issues I see with this type of garment.  Its nice to wear, it looks great but heavy duty it is not. The price is the same as any other MMA rashguard but if you are looking for a really functional and mores to the point durable item then I would maybe look elsewhere.  I will say I use this item all the time though and genuinely like it.  Confused? I still am.  I've given this one a 2/5 review but you can elevate it to a 3 if you are more concerned with looks and comfort that hard nosed functionality.  I wouldn't tell anyone not to buy this item just to be aware of the points raised.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Badboy UK Long Sleeve MMA Rashguard

The really on the ball amongst you may have noticed some strange things happening with the Badboy brand over the last year and one of them is the sudden flood of Badboy products onto the UK market place.  This is due to the fact that like several other bigger MMA brands Badboy made the decision to liecense the brand and allow the buyers to make their own gear donning the famous Badboy eyes.

So enter the UK Long Sleeve rashguard.  This has been sublimation printed meaning the ink sinks into the material and in terms of it retaining its design this certainly should help.  One "fault" with many rashguards including some of the Badboy range is the design quickly peels off as it gets sweaty and rubbed off mats.  This almost certainly won't happen with this style of printing.  The fit is tight as indeed it is meant to be and as rashguards go is ok.  Not great but ok, this is really going to depend on body type to some degree as a large is a bit generic in terms of sizing on a tight fitting garment such as this however all I can say is it fits ok.  I have found better fitting rashguard’s such as Manto for example but again this could be down to my body type. 
I always find the typically American style marketing schpeel about advanced “thermawick” technology a bit of a laugh. All rashguards pretty much deal with sweat better than a cotton tee shirt simply due to their material choice and tight fit.  Let’s face it a rashguard has two basic functions in grappling sports.  To avoid getting hands, fingers and toes caught in loose material and to minimise grazes and burns off the mats or often when worn under a gi off the kimonos rough cotton. It’s fair to say this one does its job as well as any other.
So what can you actually say about a rashguard as opposed to another one?  Well I think the material on this one is really flimsy and compared to rashguards I’ve owned for 6 years or more I can’t see this one lasting anywhere like as long.  It did wash ok which some don’t but the design looks like it lost some of its original sharpness almost immediately.  Whether you like the design or not is pure opinion.  Stitching looks ok and personally I quite like the wide neck however many such as Manto have a reinforced neck area so I’m not sure how well this is going to retain its shape, we’ll try and follow this up in months to come
In conclusion this is ok, not great but ok.  I would have liked to have seen a tougher material used like the ones from the USA did but I would imagine this has something to do with the printing as I’ve seen this style before and the material is always different. It serves its purpose if without any particular flair.  Priced at £39.99 like most of the “Top” brands this badboy rashguard is bang on average price too.   So average we’d say.  Not the standard of previous offerings from their USA counterparts but a decent enough garment.  Had it been priced at the level of a Caged Steel rashguard I would have given this a 3 but due to low value for money we have scored this item a 2/5.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Hayabusa "pro" MMA Shinguards RRP 49.99

First thing that hits you about these shin guards is the weight or complete lack of it, they are extremely light. Now this seems to be a selling point as far as Hayabusa are concerned saying "Lightweight construction for optimal mobility and performance" but the point of a shinguard is to protect the shin and a certain amount of padding is going to be required here but more on this later, anbother question here would be WTF do they actually mean by performance? Ok if a set of shinguards were that heavy they actually slowed your kicks down then that might be an issue but even with a really big set of Thai shins I've never come across that. Nahhhh Marketing bollocks frankly!
Hayabusa Always have great pictures

On the pictures which are always immaculate from Hayabusa these mma shinguards look great but on opening the plastic bag (which literally is a plastic bag) they really look distinctly average. The material is a "semi" leather composite possibly with the under skin made of low grade leather and the finish a PU composite, the back is a neoprene sock with a pretty flimsy fastening at the top.  The stitching is somewhat suspect too without the kind of serious reinforcements you'd be looking for from a so called premium brand. The sizing seems ok neither too small or too big (we tried an L/XL) So the question then comes to what are they like in use? Well the padding is basically inadequate.

They take little out of a landed blow on anything remotely boney and shinchecking is not advised. On the ground they are light and do stay on which is good but a pair of shinguards is designed to protect you during the stand up phase of sparring so if they are not doing their job then whats the point of wearing them.  For a brand that witters on about being trusted etc etc then why bring out such a lousy product? We'll come back to this review in 6 months and see how long these things last in the gym but I can't see them improving in time with their build quality being suspect straight out the packet. We've given this set of shinguards a 1 out of 5 rating and I'd say just avoid them as they don't offer good value for money.

Top King 12oz 3 Tone "Professional" Boxing Gloves RRP £55

Top King have made quite some strides into the Muay Thai market in the last year and are beginning to get a good reputation for quality and sharp design. But is this deserved or just another load of marketing hype?? We've been using these gloves for the last few months and here's what we found. They were originally supplied to us by Fightstuff who are also the UK distributors of Top King products.

These gloves are big, whether you see this as a positive or negative is down to personal choice but they are a large size glove with long wrist cuffs and a flattish mold.  The leather is 100% cowhide and of the type of good quality you would expect from a Thai made glove.  The picture above is the actual pair we were sent before we started smashing it up.  (I'll post some of the later photos 6 months on shortly!) First impressions of putting this glove on is that it is a nice fit and some attention has been made to a comfortable and well finished hand compartment, the leather strap is finished well and covers the velcro perfectly which is often a problem with cheaper boxing gloves.
The main feel of them once on is how light they appear to be and in use feel almost like they aren't on which I can only say is great unlike say a pair of Twins specials I have where you definately know you are wearing them.  After 6 months of constant use these gloves don't show any signs of aging and its hard to find a real downside of them.

If there is one I'd say they are in a way a little outsized affording the user quite a shield if he's a bit of a "cover up then strike" type of a guy as opposed t a good technical boxer.  I would say overall an excellent Muay Thai glove although straight up may well elect the Fairtex as a better choice due to their size. We've score this glove a 4/5 as they are also a good deal cheaper than many of their rivals which has to add a point to the score. Fairtex and Twins are both significantly more expensive.

Venum "Giant" Boxing gloves RRP £74.99

"best quality gear??, Hmmmm"
"Venum always produce the best quality gear and these gloves are no exception" Reads the ad blurb.
Hmmmmm, says the BMR Team.  First thing to say is that they do look great and Venum are a company who produce some decent quality stuff however this move many of the MMA "Fightwear" companies are making into the equipment side of the business is producing mixed results, Venum, Hayabusa and Badboy traditionally have all made good quality shorts and apparel but their moves into equipment are producing at best average results and at worst utter garbage.  These Venum boxing gloves fall into the average category but when you look at the £74.99 price tag then they really need to be competing with the best out there and they just are not doing so.

They come in a nice mesh bag and its all well presented. Leather is nice quality and being Thai made you would expect this. They look awesome, velcro straps are nicely done. In fact on initial inspection all looks good.  Get the things on is where it starts to go wrong.  The weighting on them is just odd. they seem a little front heavy and the padding seems very spongey. In use they are ok but after a weeks use the hand compartment on one split and although didn't hinder usage doesn't fill you full of confidence.  Used once a week for a guy who isn't much of a boxer and want a flash pair of gloves in his kitbag great but if you want a serious pair of boxing gloves go elsewhere.  We gave it a 1 because of the hand split however it was heading for a 2 prior to that as they have tried to use good materials and its possible the hand split was an odd pair.

Fairtex KPL 2 Thai Pads £99.99

The price of thai pads has just gone through the roof and now investing in a pair is a serous commitment so making the right choice is a serious business.  These pads were supplied to use by who said they are good and try to keep these pads constantly in stock.

The design of these pads is of the curved variety which is gainning popularity personally I think this is a little gimmicky and people forget that Thai pads are often used in conjunction with the belly pad which a curve on the pad does not help however if curved pads are to be seen as a seperate entity gear wise in order to aid use for punching and knees then fair enough.  They are designed that way and its down to the individual to chose straight or curved.

Build wise you can't fault these pads. Fairtex rarely make a bad product and this one is most definately no exception. The leather is top drawer, as is the stitching and pretty much every thing about them say quality.  They are of a medium to large kind of size for Thai kick pads and of an average kind of weight. Fairtex call them Standard pads and its a good description as they are pretty much everything you'd want. What else can we say? So far they haven't shown any signs of wear but with thai pads I'd expect at least 5 or 6 years out of them so too early to say.  I would endorse buying these if its straight pads you are after.  Only the price tag lets it down but saying that there are no really good cheap options right now. If you would like to purchase these pads please buy them from the sponsor of this review