Martial arts are a great way for anyone to stay fit and to learn self-discipline. But what if you need glasses? Can you (and should you) get involved in martial arts? What would you need to do to stay safe while you worked out?
Can you do martial arts with glasses? You can certainly do some martial arts training with glasses on but it would be a bad idea to spar. Luckily, there are great ways to keep glasses on your head while you train and alternatives to glasses that may be more practical for sparring.
If all else fails, there are always options like Tai Chi – the more meditative and gentle martial arts. Let me explain further.
The Biggest Challenges When You Do Martial Arts With Glasses
It’s fair to say that if you do decide to wear glasses to your martial arts sessions, you’re going to run into a few problems and while they not insurmountable, they may end up being more costly than just buying an alternative vision system for use in the gym.
- Your glasses are going to end up sliding down your nose. We’ve all experienced a bit of this during everyday life, you look down and your glasses just move a little down your face. Now, imagine being thrown over someone’s shoulder in judo. Glasses do more than just a little moving in these situations – they shift dramatically.
- Your glasses are going to end up with mist/fog all over them. Stand in an air-conditioned gym and do some breathing exercises. What’s missing? Oh, that’s right, your vision. Warm breath + cold glass = misty glass. You may not be able to take them off to give them a clean in the middle of a match.
- Your glasses are going to end up dirty. Most martial arts involve contact with other people and quite often, with the ground too. That means you’re going to end up getting gunk all over the lenses. This can’t be helped – it’s the nature of people and bumping into stuff.
- Your glasses may end up going flying from your face. Not all martial arts involve striking but even in the middle of Jiu-Jitsu throw, there’s a chance of your glasses going AWOL from your face completely. In Kung-Fu they might get kicked clean across the room. This is the risk of participating in martial arts in glasses.
- Your glasses could get damaged. When glasses go flying, sometimes they bounce, and nothing happens. Other times the lenses come out, they get cracked, frames snap, etc. wearing glasses in martial arts can lead to needing new glasses.
Is It Possible To Keep Your Glasses More Firmly Attached To Your Face?
If you’re going to wear glasses to train martial arts, then it’s a very good idea to invest in something to keep the glasses on your face and not on the dojo floor. None of these solutions are perfect and we’d recommend that, as soon as you can afford to, you get an alternative solution to wearing glasses (see later on in this article for some ideas) instead of using these things:
- Stick on nose pads. This is a cheap and cheerful solution of sorts. You buy an adhesive pad which sticks on your glasses and, in theory, stops them from sliding down your nose. They don’t cost much which is a good thing, but they can be really uncomfortable, and they need changing regularly or, in the end, they end up falling off too. This is your ultra-budget solution and best done only when you’re short on cash.
- Sports straps/holders for your glasses. These, basically, strap your glasses tightly to your face. The good news is that you can even get whacked directly on the glasses and they will stay on your face, but the bad news is that they take some getting used to and they’re always at least a little uncomfortable.
- Silicone ear hooks. These are glass like “hooks” that go over the limbs of your glasses and keep them safely tucked behind your ears. They are more comfortable than sports straps though we’re not convinced that they’ll resist a kick as well as a strap does.
Can You Stop Glasses From Fogging Up?
We’re pleased to report that you can. There are anti-fogging sprays out there that you spray on the lens and then wait a minute or so for them to dry and after that your glasses won’t fog. The bad news? Some of the products sold as anti-fogging agents are really bad, you’re going to have to experiment a little to find one that really works. We find that price can be a good guide to quality here.
Can You Wear Glasses In A Warm Up?
This may be the best time to wear glasses in a martial arts dojo. While warming up can certainly involve a lot of motion, you can stop pretty much any time you need to in order to adjust glasses that are slipping down your face. No, it’s not going to be a perfect moment, but it should be fine.
Can You Spar With Glasses?
The ideal sparring session is one conducted at about 25% of full power in most martial arts. Even if you can guarantee that your sparring is ideal – you still shouldn’t wear glasses for sparring.
There are two reasons for this and the first is that the risks of having someone knock your glasses into your eyes is real and blindness is not going to improve anyone’s life.
The second is that if the first thing happens, you’re going to really upset the person who did this to you. It won’t matter to them that it was an accident. They’ll have blinded another person. How would you feel about that?
That means we’d recommend that even if you don’t have an alternative to glasses with you, you remove your spectacles while you spar. Sure, things may be blurry but that’s not the end of the world – but going blind might feel like the end of the world.
3 Effective Alternatives To Glasses For Martial Arts Training
The good news is that you don’t need to wear ordinary glasses to martial arts training at all if you plan ahead. While sports glasses may not look great, they do a superb job of protecting your eyes. Contact lenses are in nearly everyone’s budgetary reach today and for the big spenders there’s always LASIK surgery to consider.
- Prescription Glasses For Sports. The easiest way to wear glasses when you train martial arts is to buy glasses that are designed for training in. You can see an optometrist and discuss your options for custom-designed spectacles that are made for sports. They tend to have a polycarbonate frame and a bunch of other impact resistant materials in them. The lenses are unbreakable glass. The frames are also cushioned and molded to your face. They act as eye protection as well as a corrective for your vision. The downside? They cost a bit more than your normal glasses and they can feel a bit odd when you start wearing them. However, they are way more comfortable than strapping ordinary glasses to your face.
- Contact Lenses. There is a tiny risk of wearing contact lenses to martial arts sessions but given that most people are now wearing disposable lenses this is a minimal one. The risk is that you’ll receive a blow and the lens will come out of your eye – now, if you are one of the very few people wearing expensive glass contacts this may be unacceptable to you but if you were going to throw the lenses in the bin at the end of the day? Who cares?
- Laser Surgery (LASIK). The best way to avoid wearing glasses at martial arts sessions is to have your vision corrected permanently. The bad news is that this approach is still pretty expensive. LASIK is much cheaper than it was 20 years ago, and the risks are much lower, today but it’s still going to cost about the same as 20-30 pairs of glasses and that’s if you go overseas to get it done. However, the upside is all upside – if you can see perfectly, you don’t need glasses for martial arts, right?
One thing that is worth mentioning is that while nobody is prevented from fighting while wearing contact lenses, there is nothing in the rules of any martial art that require them to give you time to look for your lenses if they fall out in competition. If you lose them, too bad, you’ll have to look for them when the fighting is done.
Can You Be Prevented From Fighting For Having Bad Eyesight?
The Ohio Athletic Commission refused an MMA fighter, Derek Brunson, the right to compete because his uncorrected eyesight was so poor that it failed to make the state’s grade for safe competition. Interestingly, if he’d been wearing contact lenses – he’d have been allowed to compete. This is true in other states too.
One Martial Art Where You Can Wear Glasses Most Of The Time
If you can’t, for whatever reason, use any of these alternatives successfully and you’ve tried sticking your glasses to your face and that didn’t work well, either. Then, there may be one more thing to try, Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is essentially wu shu/kung fu without the fighting. That means you ought to be able to wear your glasses without risking having them kicked off of your head at a session. The gentle pace of solo and qigong Tai Chi also makes it much less likely that they’ll fall off of your head too.
We’d advise skipping partnered sessions of Tai Chi though as these might lead to further accidents.
Can you do martial arts with glasses? You can train and warm up with glasses on, but sparring should never be done while wearing glasses. It’s also important to remember that there are much better alternatives to regular glasses for the dojo.