The VA club has spent the last couple of weekends cleaning out the dojo space to make more room and get rid of damaged equipment. Among the debris was a cheap old chest protector that had seen better days. Fraying straps rendered it a poor fit for some members of the group and the compressed padding really didn’t take anything off of impacts anymore. But this thing has been around since my college days (a friend broke some of my ribs through it with a well-placed back kick, so there is a sentimental attachment), so I decided to see what some heavy luggage straps, a sliced up cheap foam mat, a little patience, and plenty of duct tape could do for it:
$7.95 later and…viola. Refurbished chest protector. One of the advantages of the upgrade is that the slide-adjustable straps make it a tighter fit. Each segment of added padding consists of a strip of heavy 1/2″ foam running in the direction of the musculature and ribs of the front and sides of the torso. There is a quarter inch of space between each strip so that they can move and flex to better distribute impact while retaining a firm shape. Cross-hatched reinforcements protect more of the upper chest area. I’m curious to see whether or not the orientation and structure of the padding makes a significant difference over the original, a synthetic fluff.
It’s slightly more rigid than before, but does a much better job of dispersing blunt impact forces and keeping smaller weapons (point of the elbow, fists) from compressing single ribs. The side panels are now wide enough to actually cover the kidneys and a wider, heavier belt (visible) helps to keep this protection from shifting around during movement.