Best Knee Pads for Grappling Reviewed & Rated

The bottom line is this: knee injuries are no joke. Many competitive fighters, whether it be in the Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, Muay Thai, or any other intensive sport, have ended their careers due to knee injuries that could’ve very well have been prevented with the right piece of equipment. Knee pads are absolutely vital for any intensive sport that requires “grappling”. Grappling refers to any type of sport or martial art that requires a submission hold for victory; they are typically fought on mats and other hard surfaces. Injuries are common in grappling sports, which is why the right protective equipment, such as a Gi, guards, elbow pads, and, of course, knee pads are imperative.

The primary purpose of knee pads are to protect the knee from scratches, burns, and bruises, which are common when sparring on the mat, but knee pads can also protect critical areas of the leg such as the meniscus and kneecap. A serious injury to these parts can certainly mean an end to a thriving career; therefore, most competitive fighters today are prioritizing their equipment in hopes of preventing injury on the battlefield.

Featured Recommendations

Bodyprox Protective
  • Bodyprox Protective
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Freedom of Movement
  • Super Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
ASICS Slider V.
  • ASICS Slider V.
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • One-size Fits All
  • Excellent Support
  • Price: See Here
Mizuno Adult Slider
  • Mizuno Adult Slider
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Breathability
  • Extremely Durable
  • Price: See Here

Knee pads aren’t only for preventing injury, but can also help when recovering from one. Especially in sports such as BJJ, where injuries are common, knee pads are common for when you’re taking valuable time off the mat as they protect the injured area from further tension. Grappling knee pads help protect the knee by absorbing shock and reducing the strain off knee joints, which can also give you tremendous advantages when grappling. Without proper knee pads, there is always the risk of serious injuries such as a meniscus tear, ACL tear, or a blown knee—but we’ll go into those later in further detail. For now, let’s introduce you to our choices for the Best Knee Pads for Grappling.

 

10 Best Knee Pads for Grappling

 

1. Bodyprox Protective

This ergonomically designed, high quality, high-density knee pad is an ideal knee pad for any sport including grappling sports. Not only is the Bodyprox especially breathable and incorporates large elastic force, the high-density sponge material absorbs shock and resists impact force. The cheap price and phenomenal design and durability of this product rank it high on our list of the best grappling knee pads this year.
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Freedom of Movement
Another way for you to get an advantage on the mat! Whether it be Jiu Jitsu or any other sport, freedom of movement is imperative for precise actions that can lead to victory. Not only does the Bodyprox protect and frees up your knee joints, the compression and molding effectively increases blood circulation to guarantee your joints won’t stiffen up in the worst moments.

Super Lightweight
Even with the amount of protection you get from the Bodyprox—specifically shock and impact resistance—the product is still extremely lightweight and won’t ever hold you down. This is primarily because of the large elastic force and the breathable lightweight material used.

Cost and Value
Great for just about everything, the Bodyprox Protective knee pads are your go-to grappling knee pads that provide an ideal experience at a low cost. The high-quality, high-density ergonomically designed knee pad won’t cost you a fortune and gives you more freedom—both in the wallet and on the mat.
Pros
  • Sponge Shock Absorption
  • Large Elastic Force
  • Lightweight and Breathable
  • Free Movement
  • Ergonomic Design
Cons

Padding Wears Down

2. ASICS Slider V.

These knee pads work great for BJJ and other grappling sports. They offer an extra firm grip on the mat, incredible support, and an adequate protection. Their material also specializes in keeping you always balanced in momentum as well as preventing slip. The ASICS Slider V. don’t compromise comfort for efficiency and are your best bet at a solid buy.
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One-size Fits All
The specific ergonomic design ensures that you won’t have to worry about buying the wrong fit, as one size can fit all. The term “slider” refers to the specific design used to guarantee that the Slider V. will fit perfectly and comfortably.

Excellent Support
In addition to the protection, the ASICS Slider V. provides to your knee and leg ligaments, it also provides exquisite support for your knees, reducing stress and stiffness in joints. The gel-filled pads also offer shock-absorption and great impact resistance.

Cost and Value
The ASICS Slider V. come at a moderate price for an efficient and well-designed knee pad that can be used for virtually anything. The price is definitely worth the value as the ASICS Slider V. provides everything you need in a grappling knee pad while being a cheap consideration.
Pros
  • Gel-filled Pads
  • Established Support
  • One-size Fits All
  • Engineered Flex Zones
Cons

Restricts Movement

3. Mizuno Adult Slider

The third item on our list and the one with the greatest value for the price is the Mizuno Adult Slider. This cotton, polyester, and spandex blend are absolutely perfect for providing a nice and stable grip. The design is meant to fully protect the front of the knee from bruises and abrasions while offering great breathability and lateral support.
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Breathability
The material used to make the Mizuno Adult Slider is one of the thinnest among knee pads. This makes it so the knee pad fits very tight and offers tremendous room for breathability, preventing sweat from building up. Because of the flexible material, the Mizuno Slider can feel too tight at first but can be stretched once worn in and be the perfect size for you.

Extremely Durable
One of the aspects that makes the Mizuno Adult Slider phenomenal for its price is its long-lasting durability. The knee pad offers excellent protection without sacrificing toughness, and you can be sure that it will be a reliable piece of equipment that will keep you protected.

Cost and Value
Although sold individually, the Mizuno Adult Slider is still one of the best knee pads for the low price. It can conform to almost any size and is efficient while durable. Although the knee pad can be used for just about anything, it is a popular choice in the BJJ and grappling sport market because of its low price and reliability.
Pros
  • Durable
  • Lateral Support
  • Neoprene Panels
  • Very Breathable
Cons
  • Tight Fit
  • Sold Individually

4. McDavid Protective

4. McDavid Protective
The McDavid Protective is the perfect knee pad for ideal body-to-ground protection. The closed-cell foam padding makes this knee pad both breathable and comfortable. Made from mostly polyester film, the knee pad is also ergonomically designed to be the perfect fit depending on the subsize. McDavid has been bringing a trustworthy line of knee pads for the past few decades, and that fact remains even today.
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Good Durability
The polyester foam along with the tight, elastic design makes this a very durable knee pad and one you won’t be replacing anytime soon. The material provides just enough structure and stability while not sacrificing durability and breathability to keep you thriving on the mat.

Quality Material
Unlike other brands, McDavid incorporates quality material into a slickly-designed composition to give you an amazing experience. The foam—made of polyester, rayon, and rubber—is designed to help save you from injuries and help you discover optimal performance.

Cost and Value
Sold individually, the McDavid Protection is also a great value buy for anyone looking for a fantastic bargain. This powerful knee pad can be your secret to success, and the cheap price is unlikely to stop anyone from being able to get a pair. If you’re looking for a cheap, reliable knee pad without an overcoating of features, the McDavid Protection is an instant choice.
Pros
  • Polyester Foam
  • Comfortable Protection
  • Elastic Sleeve
  • Excellent Durability
Cons

Lacks Breathability

5. Alpinestars Paragon

5. Alpinestars Paragon
The Alpinestars Paragon is an extremely lightweight elite knee guard that is the absolute key to real results. This new but proven line offers so many features in a premium package. The Paragon gives you comfortable protection from impact and abrasion because of its rip-stop reinforcements, and the breathable mesh also provides you with excellent breathability and comfort. For any serious fighters, the Alpinestars Paragon is guaranteed to be the premium grappling knee pad on the market that you’re looking for.
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Pre-shaped Design
Although originally designed for racing, the Alpinestars Paragon can easily be doubled for excellent and precise protection on the mat. The Pre-shaped ergonomic design means the Paragon will give you unmatched protection and comfort no matter what you do.

Extremely Lightweight
For a pre-shaped knee pad, it’s surprising that the Paragon is as light as it is. The grappling knee pad allows for easy and stress-free movement on the court to guarantee instant results. The elastic cuffs and silicone printing are also a nice addition to this revolutionary knee pad.

Cost and Value
The Alpinestars Paragon will cost you more than expected, although the price is justifiable for an elite knee pad that offers just about everything. The slip-on design and breathable stretch ensure that the Paragon is lightweight, breathable, convenient, and durable—key features that make the Paragon so valuable.
Pros
  • Pre-shaped Design
  • Elastic Cuffs
  • Breathable Mesh
  • Imported Material
  • Rip-stop Reinforcement
Cons

Easily Tears

6. Mizuno T10 Plus

6. Mizuno T10 Plus
This new line of slimmer knee pads is what puts Mizuno ahead of the competition. The T10 Plus offers enhanced foam and guarantees a sensational experience. The no-fold and one-size-fits design also introduce efficiency and convenience and prominent features. As a result, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with the Mizuno T10 Plus.
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Slimmer Design
A slimmer knee pad almost always means more flexibility, elasticity, breathability, and freedom for the user. When grappling, these features become imperative as movement is precise and lighter, freer knee pads won’t stop you from going for the takedown.

No Fold Design
A small but key feature that makes this a convenient and efficient knee pad. The easily washable and no fold design means that you’ll be able to spend time using and less time maintaining your grappling knee pads.

Cost and Value
The cost of the Mizuno T10 Plus is moderate average and should be a staple for just about anyone who’s looking for an ideal grappling knee pad without breaking the wallet. The slim design and range of features are what puts the T10 Plus over the competition.
Pros
  • Slim and Breathable
  • Easy Movement
  • One-size Fits All
  • Enhanced Foam
Cons
  • Poor Durability
  • Lacks Padding

7. Bucwild Sports Pro

7. Bucwild Sports Pro
These knee pads also work fantastic for BJJ and other grappling sports. The polyester and spandex material is designed to give you unmatched flexible protection that conforms to your knees. The Dual-Layer Wicking design keeps your joints warm while drying quickly to prevent sweat build up. The Bucwild Sports Compression Pro is a knee pad that provides a little extra, and you should always have this near the top of your considerations.
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Non-Slip Silicone Strip
The soft strip on the inside of the knee pad prevents any unnatural or unneeded slipping during movement or sweat, which is important when looking for reliability when grappling. The advanced sweat-wicking material also offers softness and wicking ability to both prevent sweat and increase blood flow circulation in the knees, foot, and thighs.

Flat Seam Stitching
In addition to Silicone Slip feature, the Bucwild Pro also offers Flat-lock Seam Stitching, which is specifically designed to allow flexible mobility along with reduced chafing and irritation.

Cost and Value
The Bucwild Compression Pro is in the range of moderately cheap for knee pads, though with all the features it includes—such as the flat seam stitching, the non-slip strip, and the dual-layer wicking—the value outweighs the cost heavily, meaning you can never go wrong with the Bucwild Sports Compression Pro.
Pros
  • Dual-Layer Wicking
  • Comfortable Protection
  • Flat-Lock Seam
  • Non-slip Silicone Grip
  • Polyester Blend
Cons
  • Size Varies

8. Brute Torq

8. Brute Torq
Another product to consider is the Brute Torq knee pad. This fundamentally designed line offers compression molding, meaning it can absorb impact with ease because of its mesh panels, as well as neoprene panels to provide stability and breathability for built-up moisture. The Brute Torq should be your go-to when looking for a reliable and consistent knee pad for a greater price.
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Neoprene Mesh Panels
Not only do the mesh panels on the Brute Torq provide excellent protection and absorption of impact, they allow for greater flexibility and breathability—key features in combat sports such as BJJ. Not only that, they also provide stability to the sides of the knees to keep you balanced.

Excellent Support
With the ergonomic design and use of strong materials, the Brute Torq also provides phenomenal support in the lower and upper knee areas. They are also designed to conform to your fit and will remain comfortable even after long training sessions.

Cost and Value
For an above-tier knee pad that is ideal for grappling, the Brute Torq won’t completely break your bank and is certainly worth the moderate investment. It’s an affordable knee pad that won’t sag or drop during training—and certainly won’t let you down.
Pros
  • Precise Comfort
  • Neoprene Mesh Panels
  • Compression Molding
  • Breathable Material
  • Excellent Protection
Cons

Sold Individually

9. Fox Head Launch Enduro

9. Fox Head Launch Enduro
The Fox Head Launch Enduro is another product well worth considering. This silicone-based knee pad uses abrasion-resistant technology and a neoprene chassis to incorporate technology into a modern knee pad.
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Silicone Gripper
The silicone gripper on the top hems of the knee pad prevents any slipping and also add comfort to the upper knee area. The product fits tight to give you the maximum control you need for grappling.

Abrasion-Resistant
Although the Fox Head Launch Enduro doesn’t provide as much impact protection as other knee pads, it does do a great job of preventing scratches and bruises from the mat. The anti-abrasion design used means that padding is emphasized around the knee area while keeping an overall lightweight composition.

Cost and Value
This product can seem like a high cost, but we assure you that you’ll get every penny’s worth with this purchase. The high-quality material used along with the modernized technology employed makes the Fox Head Launch Enduro one high performing—and also good looking—knee pad.
Pros
  • Anti-slip Silicone Gripper
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Neoprene Chassis
  • Lightweight and Breathable
  • Stylish Design
Cons
  • Size Runs Small
  • Higher Cost

10. KO Sports Gear’s Black

10. KO Sports Gear’s Black
This new competitor on the market by KO Sports is specifically designed to keep your joints warm and secure for optimal performance in grappling sports. The high quality padded neoprene will also make sure that your knees stay nicely protected.
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Comfort
KO Sports guarantees that you won’t feel the stitching in their knee pad. With the use of quality neoprene, it isn’t hard to see how comfort is one of KO Sports Gear’s strongest selling points. The excellent and protective feel is unmatched.

Padded Neoprene
The neoprene padding is one that allows for breathability and comfort while also adding lateral support for the knee area. The knee pad is specifically designed to move with the knee joint and to keep the joints and muscles warm while not keeping in sweat.

Cost and Value
The cost of the KO Sports Gear’s Black is fairly cheap for a knee pad that provides almost everything you could need. It’s clear that they have put a lot of thought into their new line and were very generous with the bargain of a price.
Pros
  • Neoprene Padding
  • Excellent Breathability
  • Imported Material
  • Keeps Joints Warm
Cons

Sold Individually

In conclusion, it’s always in your best interest to invest in any type of safety equipment, especially knee pads. You’ll find that the few dollars you put into prioritizing your safety could prevent the potential threats of career-ending injuries. Not only this, but there are multiple sensitive areas on the knee that require protection, especially when you endure combat on your knees in grappling sports. Simple knee pads can prevent nasty cuts and bruises, as well as provide support and blood circulation for your legs, giving you the upper hand. Since knee pads come in many forms and variations, it’s also important to understand some of the key characteristics of knee pads before you begin buying. Therefore, many people who are negligent of knee pads aren’t concerned enough about the health of their knees. Not only do we want to recommend our absolute best choices for grappling knee pads, but we also want to bring awareness to the importance of knee health and how essential knee pads are.

Criteria for Evaluating the Best Knee Pads

Types of Knee Pads

What are the knee pad “types”? Just like how there are different types of shoes or clothes, knee pads work in the same way. A knee pad can vary from the type of design to the type of material used for the padding. There are different lengths of knee pads—some that only cover the knee cap and others that cover other crucial areas such as the shin or upper knee—although longer knee pads are known to be more restrictive and heavier.

The main element of a knee pad, however, is the padding. The padding is the cushioning that surrounds the kneecap, mainly to prevent injuries but also to reduce bruises. Although there are a series of potential materials for padding, the main ones include:

  • Polyurethane or Polyester Foam, the least expensive and most common form of padding. The material is generally found in cheaper knee pads and can have low durability.
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  • Neoprene Foam, a material specifically designed to durable, soft, and flexible. No wonder it’s also one of the more prominent materials used for knee pads. This highly resistant material is a better quality alternative for padding but products may be more expensive
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  • Lycra Spandex, a newly innovated material found on more modern knee pads. Lycra is an elastic synthetic fiber that has revolutionized the clothing industry and is now approaching the knee pad industry with great speed. Lycra fabric is known for its immense elasticity and comfort.

Besides these, there are also other less prominent types of materials, but they often closely resemble the ones listed above. All in all, there isn’t much difference except for Neoprene and Lycra being of higher quality and more expensive than Polyester, Rubber, or Gel padding.

Another element is the type of shape that the knee pad takes on. One major distinction is that knee pads have different types of closures. The closure is basically how the knee pad is worn and stays secure. Different types of closures have different benefits—some can be lighter while others can fit more precisely. There are two main types of closures:

  • Sleeve or Slider knee pads are ones with no closures whatsoever. That’s right—these knee pads are like slip-on shoes and can fit more comfortably. Although you won’t always find a perfect fit with sliders, most of them are conveniently one-size-fits-all.
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  • Elastic or Adjustable knee pads are those that can be adjusted to fit precisely. They can be heavier and more uncomfortable, but the precise fit is unmatched. Adjustable knee pads also often offer more stability, as more features such as lateral and balance support can be incorporated.

One more prominent feature for distinguishing types of knee pads is the shell or cap design. As you can see, the size, shape, and design of knee pad caps all vary from product to product. Most knee pad caps are composed of either hard shells or soft padding.

  • Shell caps are solid, hard knee pad caps that are usually made of plastic, rubber, or even carbon fiber. These types of knee pad caps are meant for reducing shock from impact. They are generally heavier and are harder to maneuver than padding caps, but offer far more protection and are the safest options in terms of preventing injury.
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  • Padding caps include durable and protective material usually made from polyester, neoprene, lycra foam or EVA that also offers a protective layer but won’t absorb impact as efficiently as shell caps. Padding caps are much lighter and breathable, while also providing a wider range of freedom and movement.
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  • Hex Pads are a specific type of padding where the knee pad cap is made of hexagon cells, usually made of rubber or other quality materials. Hex pads offer far superior grip, while also matching comfort and protection, but can pose a heavier price tag. They are also more flexible and elastic, making them extremely lightweight, allowing maximum amounts of freedom.

For specific martial arts like BJJ or Muay Thai, we recommend knee pad caps that employ padding or hex designs, as they will be far lighter and maneuverable. For grappling sports such as wrestling—where there is often heavy knee impact—shell caps can be a better choice.

Weight and Length

There are many different lengths and different forms of weights in knee pads, and each conforms to specific advantages and disadvantages. Most of what you choose should be left up to individual preferences, although it’s important to understand the difference between weight and length variants in knee pads.

  • Lightweight knee pads are often meant for fast-paced combat where protection is somewhat sacrificed for excellent flexibility, breathability, and freedom of movement. Lightweight knee pads often don’t incorporate any adjustability or extra features that enhance the value of the knee pad but are a great choice for those looking for a cheaper, simpler knee pad that can provide you enough protection for effortless grappling. Lightweight knee pads are also often composed of neoprene or polyester padding, and hardly ever incorporate hard shells on knee pad caps.
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  • Midweight and Heavier knee pads are ones that employ special features such as adjustable straps, grippers, shock absorption, and hard shells that can add both protection and lateral support for your legs. These ensure that you will get an optimal knee pad that will prevent you from injury while sacrificing aspects such as breathability and freedom. Heavier knee pads are also longer and protect more than just the knee areas. Midweight to heavy knee pads are ideal for those who want to invest more in preventing career-ending injuries and are often found better for slower grappling sports such as wrestling, where grip and protection are more imperative features.

In addition to the weight of knee pads, there is also the length. Knee pads come in different lengths that protect different parts of the leg, although most all of them can ensure protection to the kneecap—the most important ligament.

  • Short knee pads are ultimately less restrictive and give you far better freedom of movement. They lack protection to any areas other than the patella but are more common in grappling sports such as BJJ and Muay Thai, where scratches and bruises to the knee are one of the main issues.
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  • Long knee pads can offer protection to more than just the cap. They are far more restrictive but they can also protect vital areas such as the shin. Furthermore, longer knee pads can often be warmer for the joints, reducing stress and improving the blood flow. Many people disregard the importance of proper blood flow in preventing problems such as arthritis and osteochondritis.

Knee Injuries

Although we can agree that it’s never fun to learn about potential injuries, here are a few big concerns to keep in mind so you can do your best to prevent them.

  • Arthritis is the most common injury in grappling sports and has become a major concern for athletes in America. Arthritis causes knee pain, swelling, and stiffness, and can be prevented by protecting your joints and keeping blood circulation.
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  • Ligament Injuries are blows or tears that are directed to the knee ligaments. Of these include common ones such as ACL, which is caused by harsh direct blows to the knee area. Ligament injuries are no joke, as they can even affect your ability to walk. Simple knee pads that lessen impact can easily prevent this.
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  • Osgood-Schlatter disease has become more common in younger athletes. It is a problem that comes with repetitive impact to sensitive areas of the knee and can cause painful swelling below the kneecap that can prevent children from ever playing a contact sport.
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  • Dislocating knee cap is caused by a sudden twist or blow to the knee that causes the patella to dislocate. The symptoms include intense swelling or pain and require many months—or even years—of physical therapy to cure.
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  • Meniscus tear is also a common one and comes with forceful twisting that destroys the knee cartilage. This horrible and painful injury can be prevented by getting knee pads that have strong lateral support to prevent forceful twisting.

As you can see, knee health is no joke. There are plenty of serious career-threatening diseases or problems that can come with having unprotected knees. No matter which sport you play, it is definitely worth investing money in grappling knee pads to prevent the worst of injuries—even if you’re just worried about a few scratches and bruises.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: How do knee pads work?
A: Knee pads work by using protective padding to lessen the blow from forceful impact. They also have layers to prevent scratches and bruises from your knee.

Q: Why wear knee pads?
A: We wear knee pads to prevent harmful injuries such as arthritis or ligament tears that may end our careers in grappling sports such as BJJ, Muay Thai, or wrestling.

Q: When are knee pads used?
A: Although knee pads should always be used during combat, cheaper ones can also be used for training or even during the day to protect your knees from harmful impact.

Q: How long do knee pads last?
A: Depending on what they are used for, most knee pads have a life expectancy of around 2 years of constant use, although different factors—such as fabric and design—can change that number drastically.

Q: How long will it take me to get used to wearing knee pads?
A: If you’ve never worn knee pads before, don’t be afraid to start! Knee pads can easily be worn in from a day to a week, depending on the freedom of the fabric. You can get used to knee pads quickly and they won’t affect your performance on the mat.

Q: How can I maintain my knee pads?
A: Most simpler knee pads are conveniently machine washable, although ones with extra features such as adjustable straps should be hand washed and left out to dry.

Q: Where can I buy grappling knee pads?
A: Regular knee pads can be bought just about anywhere, although you might need to look harder for specific grappling knee pads. Try your local jiu-jitsu gym or martial arts dojo, though you can always buy online.

Q: What’s the budget for grappling knee pads?
A: Surprisingly, they’re cheap! Grappling knee pads are often known for their low price and simpler low-maintenance ones can be found for a surprising bargain, despite their high quality.

Sources

  1. Leland Gordon , Importance of Knee Pads, Jun 13, 2017
  2. Rob Harris, Importance of Knee Pads, Mar 22, 2017
  3. Jenna Fletcher, Ten common knee injuries and treatment, Sep 09, 2017
  4. Kneesafe, Protect Your Knees, Mar 15, 2018
  5. Kneesafe, Knee Pad Types, Mar 23, 2018
  6. Valerie Worthington, Foot Beats Face: Mat Awareness and Safety in BJJ, Apr 14, 2017
  7. Stephen Kesting, How to Avoid BJJ Injuries, May 29, 2016