The staff of Black Belt gets to see and sometimes use the coolest products in the martial arts world. (No, we’re not hiring right now.)
Because it’s the season of giving, we decided to look back at the items we’ve come across during the past year or two and post the most interesting ones — with clickable links — for your convenience. These are a few of our favorite things.
For the Frugal Buyer!
Since their rerelease as Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition, the four volumes from the founder of jeet kune do have taken on a new life for a new generation of martial artists. The hardcover book features digitally remastered photos of Lee, a chapter by Ted Wong and an introduction by Shannon Lee. It’s the perfect complement to the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. $24
The “mission” of Nigel the Ninja is to gather information about the martial arts by studying other young-artists-in-training. A great source of fun and inspiration for any home or gym, Nigel stands 12 inches tall and has a felt body and a resin head. It comes with a sling bag and back-story notecard. Coloring book sold separately. $30
Bandai and Tamashii Nations have released a Bruce Lee action figure that comes equipped with a staff, a nunchaku, a pair of kali sticks and detachable body parts: three extra heads and nine extra hands. It stands 5 inches tall and is fully posable. $50
What makes this piece of protective gear special? A heavy-gauge, reinforced vinyl shell. Lightweight molded-foam padding. Multiple openings for maximum air circulation. Plus, the open-face design is lightweight and visibility-friendly. The integrated strapping closure makes it fully adjustable. $60
Barry Strugatz made The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West to tell the world about Cheng Man-Ching. In the 1960s, the master moved from his native Taiwan to New York, where he began teaching his art — often controversially — to Americans. This moving documentary, available on DVD or as a download, is guaranteed to make you want to take up tai chi chuan, and it might even have you tearing up by the end. $25
This compression garment uses a wicking fabric to draw moisture away from your body, thus helping keep you cool and comfy. The muscle-hugging stretch fabric is reinforced with flat-lock seams. The meshed pocket allows air to circulate and keeps the vented groin-protecting cup in place during the most strenuous workouts. $40
These two greats of the martial arts world have joined forces to launch Dragon Traditionz. The company markets a product line composed of active wear for martial artists and anyone else who appreciates shirts and hoodies with great graphics, great materials and great construction. $24-$39 each
For the Working-Class Shopper!
After collaborating with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, Century Martial Arts created the Grapple Buddy. It gives young students an easy way to practice their ground techniques without the distractions that can accompany working with a human partner. This child-size dummy is made of high-density foam and reinforced vinyl for maximum durability. $80
The Pro TKO Super Hi is a new addition to Otomix’s best-selling line of athletic combat shoes. It’s designed for anyone who needs high-performance footwear that works in a variety of environments, including training and fighting. The high cut provides maximum protection for the ankle, while the soles guarantee optimal grip in the ring. Available in red/black, black/red and camouflage. $144
Suitable for a variety of styles, Kicking Jeans from Century Martial Arts are rugged denim pants that offer durability without sacrificing comfort and breathability. These stylish and contemporary jeans are made from a special blend of denim and elastane fibers with a stretch range of approximately 30 percent. The VariFlex Twinseam design allows for optimal flexibility with a generous gusset for kicking. $60
Hayabusa recently introduced the Ultimate Karate Collection. It includes everything a serious practitioner needs: professional-grade sparring gloves, shin protectors and footpads, as well as uniforms that are designed for competition and training. There’s even one uniform that’s been called the world’s finest gi. $13-$150
The 96 Especial Jiu-Jitsu Gi is a tribute to Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Ricardo Liborio’s victory at the inaugural IBJJF World Championship in 1996. He became the first world BJJ champion, despite the fact that he was competing in a weight division above his own. Century collaborated with Liborio to create this gi and make it suitable for future champions. $130
For the Big Spender!
This top-of-the-line folder from Spyderco came from the mind of Peter Rassenti, who created a design that uses a solid piece of titanium to form the handle. Named Imported Knife of the Year by Blade magazine, it features a stainless-steel blade that’s 3.76 inches long. The materials and resultant weight — 4.8 ounces — make it feel substantial and high quality, like a family heirloom waiting to be passed down. $720
It’s the first free-standing bag on the market to offer all the benefits of the Century VS.3 with the added feature of a BOB-like torso with arms. This unique combination allows athletes to experience the most realistic training outside of live sparring. $500
For the Digital Martial Artist!
Black Belt’s 2015 Instructor of the Year has committed the first part of his acclaimed MMA program to video, and it’s available as online course you can access via any smartphone, tablet or computer. Unlike other courses, it teaches techniques in a logical progression so anyone can get up to speed on the essentials that are needed for competition and self-defense. $90
Black Belt Hall of Famer Kelly McCann teaches a crash course in hardcore self-defense that you can view on your digital device. In its four-plus hours of instruction, the program deals with empty-hand attacks, as well as defense against sticks, knives and guns. Best part is, McCann teaches only techniques and tactics that he knows will work in real confrontations. $119
In this intermediate course, Kelly McCann focuses on stick fighting, both the offensive and defensive components, as well as ground fighting. His techniques aren’t flashy and they weren’t designed for competition. Their sole purpose is self-defense on the street. $99
Sign up for both of Kelly McCann’s streaming-video programs! Get Kelly McCann’s Combatives Self-Defense Course and Kelly McCann Combatives 2: Stick & Ground Combat. This complete volume offers users the ultimate instructional course on hand-to-hand combat, ground fighting and weapons. $218
Delve into traditional self-defense with Buddhist monk Wang Bo, who began training at the famed monastery when he was 8. He teaches the philosophies of the martial art and the fighting methods Shaolin monks have used for the past 1,400 years. BONUS! You get instant access to a story titled “The Shaolin Whole-Body Workout” and “A Concise Guide to the Tree of Shaolin.” $90
In this online course, Black Belt Hall of Famer Burton Richardson presents the most relevant tactics and techniques of the Indonesian art of silat. He selected them so 21st-century students of self-defense can add them to their arsenal at will — there’s no need to scrap your art and adopt this one! $90
Watch all six classic Fumio Demura kobudo videos — which feature the bo, nunchaku, sai, tonfa, kama and eku bo — then learn the advanced forms that feature those traditional weapons through footage filmed in 2016. This online course is the full-motion companion to the best-selling 765-page book titled Fumio Demura’s Karate Weapons of Self-Defense: The Complete Edition. Includes new footage of the master discussing how karate has changed over the years, what continues to attract modern martial artists to traditional weapons and how you can improve your skills. $130 (pre-order sale price)