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Hayabusa Pro Shin Guards Review

Brand

Hayabusa are a popular brand, with strong ties to MMA, but also branching out to various individual martial arts as well. They strive for high performance, and many of their products feature bold, unique designs. They are currently working alongside Glory Kickboxing as the official equipment suppliers.

About the shin guards

Hayabusa Pro shin guards are part of the Pro range, which is no longer one of Hayabusa’s main product ranges, but are still widely available across the internet. The shin guards are designed for use in a mixed martial arts environment, so in addition to striking, they’re also designed to stay in place while grappling. The Pro shin guards are similar in design to various other shin guards by Hayabusa, including the Ikusa, Ikusa Recast, Tokushu, Tokushu Regenesis and the Kanpeki grappling shin guards, so a lot of the points listed in this review may apply to those too.

Aesthetics

The shin guards come in only two colours, black and white, both of which I have seen up close. The white does seem to suffer from a little bit of fading on the logo, but otherwise there is little difference between the two. My own Hayabusa Pro shin guards were black, however this is really just down to preference. The visuals on these are slightly more basic than Hayabusa’s standards – The Hayabusa wordmark down the shin and the Japanese Kanji for “hayabusa” on the instep are the only decorations – but the shin guards look good regardless.

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Materials

The shin guards are designed to be as lightweight as possible, with a light layer of shock absorbing foam. The front of the padding seems to be covered in a semi-leather material, which is nothing special, but does the job. The more important material is the perforated neoprene, which gives the shin guards their calf-hugging, elasticated fit. The guards slip on over your foot, with the neoprene backing covering from the heel, all the way up to the top of the calf, with a velcro tab tucked away in case you want to make them tighter. One strange thing about the Pro’s is the label, sticking out of the side of each leg, which doesn’t seem to have been well placed and I found easier to cut off and remove.

Craftsmanship

The materials were nice to use, but not the most refined in the world, and the same can also be said of the craftsmanship. For example, in most places the stitching was good, but in other places it ended up looking a bit hastily done. An example of this can even be seen in Hayabusa’s official product image, as seen in the crop below. Some of the stitching around the one of the heels also started to come off after putting them on and taking them off a number of times, but only slightly, so this has not personally caused any issues.

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Comfort/use

While these may not be the most premium shin guards, I’m confident that people who have tried them on will agree that they are really comfortable. The figure-hugging neoprene stops any slipping or twisting from occurring (an issue I often find with shin guards), ensuring the shin guards stay in place. They also feel light, almost to the point that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing anything at all. I found that the fit was perfect around the calf, however could have been a tiny bit tighter towards the bottom around the ankle. For short stretches of time, I found the shin guards were great, however after a long session I’ve found myself having to take these off as a result of the neoprene becoming a bit too hot and sweaty. I also found that these have very little to get caught, which means that they’re unlikely to catch or slip during grappling.

Many people dislike lighter shin guards because of the lack of protection. I personally found that the padded areas are actually surprisingly resistant considering how light they are, however there are a few issues with them too. While they are comfortable, any significant kicks to knees or elbows can definitely be felt. On top of this, the padded areas only cover the front of the shin and most of the foot, leaving a small amount of foot and the toes completely exposed, and the sides of legs and ankles more or less exposed as well. I found that any time you land a kick wrong and catch the toes, or check a kick wrong, the strike is almost the same as wearing no protection at all.

For anyone new to martial arts, especially the kick-heavy fighting styles like Muay Thai, I can’t really recommend these, as they don’t really offer the protection necessary at that level. However, for anybody who has already have conditioned their legs over time, and are looking for a cheap pair of shin guards to use for light to medium intensity mma sparring, then these would be a good choice.

Cost

In the UK, Hayabusa sell these for £25, which is good value for shin guards, however Hayabusa also have a variety of new product lines featuring similar guards, which are no doubt updated to improve on some of these features.

Pros/Cons

+ Close fit
+ Lightweight
+ Good for grappling

– Leaves areas of the ankle and foot exposed
– Not optimised for striking
– Neoprene gets hot after long use

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