King of Shin Guards: Top King vs Venum

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment Reviews' started by iFossil, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. iFossil Orange Belt

    iFossil
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    Since there are still a pair of Hayabusa Regenesis coming in the way, my intention to do the ultimate gloves review of that particular design will have to hold on until then.

    So here I am to pop in a shin guards review for anyone who's interested. (Please forgive my poor grammar.)

    --------- Top King vs Venum - Shin Guards Review ---------
    aka Genuine Leather vs Synthetic

    Story:

    For the longest time, Top King has been my absolute undisputed king of shin guards. They are basically the golden standard, highly recommended across the board.

    I didn't even think about giving a chance to any other shin guards because Top King has done it so well. At the end the only reason I have tried a pair of Venum was because orange shin guards aren't that common, even Top King who makes tons of different designs don't really offer them in orange. ...The result? I'm surprised M*****F****R!

    ------------------------Top King Shin Guards -----------------------
    Before we get into the comparison, what makes Top King's shin guards so appealing?

    1) Design, they don't take the traditional approach, in fact they were probably one of, if not the very first to make shin guards in this shape. They look less bulky, more dynamic and stylish, they slip aside far less, fit better on the users, more protection on the insteps and in some cases protect the knees a little better too.
    [​IMG]
    This newer design of shin guards are of course later adapted by many other manufacturers. That alone should proves its' success and improvement over the old school ones.

    2) Aesthetic. Top Kings offer loads of design on their shin guards. Plain color? You got it. Snake Patterns? You got it. Metallic? You got it. Tribal? You got it....you get the point, they just look goooood~~
    [​IMG]
    At one point I wanted to buy all of them because they are sexy as hell. lol

    3) Craftsmanship
    One thing that Thai brands are good at, are their spotless, perfect craftsmanship. In my experience, I have never been able to pick one single flaw in their products in terms of craftsmanship. Everything is clean, tidy and super well made. That just gives confident to customers that they are always going to get the best product from Thailand.

    4) Quality and durability
    Hand made with quality cow hide leather, that alone should prove their durability and quality. I have yet to see a pair fail myself (But everything is possible in this world of course, but undoubtedly very durable). Point is: Genuine leather with durable padding.

    5) Reputation
    Don't have to just take this one person's word on them, search around, they are most likely regarded as the best shin guards for a long time.

    Conclusion: You will never go wrong with Top King shin guards.

    --------------------------Venum Shin Guards ----------------------
    --
    It is probably not a secret that I'm sort of a Venum fanboy..(sadly)
    I pay close attention to their products all the time, however for the longest time I had really avoid their shin guards for 2 reasons. Synthetic and they are just not Top King's!

    Venum did make genuine leather shin guards in the past.
    [​IMG]
    The oldest Amazonia line-up was discontinued before I had any interest.
    The Predator line-up was just recently discontinued, imo looked ugly as hell (they reminded me of sunflower seed....)

    They could be very high quality, though I had no interest to try and they are no longer available for the most part.

    Then the Elite and Fusion line up came out, even though they were made with synthetic material. For that rare orange, I gave it a try.
    [​IMG]
     
    #1
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
  2. iFossil Orange Belt

    iFossil
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    --------- Top King vs Venum - Shin Guards Comparison ---------
    [​IMG]

    Natural Posture:
    Just by laying them flat, you can see that if one doesn't put any strength into it, which posture these shinguards would take.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    So theorically, the Top king are better for the moment of kicking, they allow you to extend your feet so you can land a cleaner round kick without pointing your toes to the wrong direction, it's much easier to kick with the instep as well for those who have a karate/taekwondo background. And checking kick with the proper technique where your toes are pointing downward is far more natural and effortless as well.

    While the Venum feel a little more comfortable when you are not kicking, so movement, footwork, most of the time you will feel less restricted. The L shape embrace you to move around, where the Top King, especially the moment when you pick your feet up from the ground and back down, whether it is a kick or a step, the padding will rub lightly on your toes.

    For the Venum to check a kick with the correct form, you'd really have to move your feet pointing downward intentionally and most of the time I'm just lazy/tired to do it in sparring. And of course that become a bigger chance to have my toes kicked face on, with a bad angle.

    Yes, with the Venum's L shape if you have bad kicking technique where you don't control your foot while kicking, you will probably poke someone with your toes more often too. If you don't have that bad habit, you will find your instep padding to connect bit more than the Top King.

    Overall, I do slightly prefer the top king more in this regards, but the Venum's L shape isn't a deal breaker at all. In fact the shape of the instep parts matter way more than the posture they naturally make. This is just a super super minor thing.

    Maybe if round kicks and checking kicks is your bread and butter, Top King is more comfortable in this regards.

    While lots of footwork and throwing hands as your main style, Venum is more comfortable in this regards.


    Mention of the Achilles heel:
    [​IMG]

    There are some people pointing out where the seam between the shin and the instep joined is the weakness of the Top King's design. That line along the connection isn't protected as much as the rest of your leg. Right below the about 0.5" of thick neoprene. There is a seam with basically no padding.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The same problem actually exist on the Venum as well, if anything the unprotected gap is actually bigger than the Top King. However the L shape does do favour to avoid you to land on that part, as most of the time your instep padding will likely to connect first. So...basically the same.

    If you are constantly hitting an elbow with that part, keep in mind neither of these shin guards will avoid that 100%.

    But I have never had that problem with any shin guards.


    The insteps/feet protection:
    [​IMG]
    The Top King, there is really not that much to talk about, they are a piece of padding with a slight curve, sitting right on top each of your foot. Like every other shin guards come before them. For the longest time they were the best we can get in this department, until...
    [​IMG]
    BAM! Look at that arc, the Venum not only sit on top of your feet, they are curved around it, covering the sides of your feet as well. By doing that they just avoid the chance of them slipping off your feet far more, a much comfortable and secure fit.
    [​IMG]
    On top of that, the Venum has these extended arc that hug around your ankles.
    [​IMG]
    Then an elastic band wrap behind the back of your Achilles tendon.
    [​IMG]
    Look back at the Top King..hm..this look primitive.
    [​IMG]
    This is how each sit on top of the foot. (PS:Feel disgusting looking at people's foot/toes, so I coloured that away for the better lol)
    [​IMG]
    Honestly. Both of them are very secured and never slip around at all. But..
    [​IMG]
    The Top King feel like a piece of fish just laying on top like sushi. Trufully, they don't slip around, but you'd still feel like they might all the time..even though they don't.
    [​IMG]
    While the Venum feel like a solid palm grip on a mouse. You'd never worried about them slipping, they just hug around nice and securely.

    As for how much they cover up to your toes and insteps. I am not actually going to talk about that in details. You can probably see that from the above photos already. But different person will wear different sizes. Sizes are going to be determined by one's calves size and length of the shin. So the result may vary. Some might have them fully covering their toes, some might have their toes completely exposed.

    So overall, the Venum is the clear winner in this department.
    They are probably not the first to make the instep part in this shape, but the design is definitely more thoughtful, it is an evolution. The fit, the comfort definitely blow the Top King out of the water. Even with all the extra coverage on the foot, they really don't add any bulkiness or restriction to movement, so you have nothing to worry about.
     
    #2
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
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  3. iFossil Orange Belt

    iFossil
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    The Velcro:
    [​IMG]
    The Top King use a more traditional approach, with no crazy metal ring or buckle. Just loops around and back.
    [​IMG]
    They are solid. This is the most secure fit you are going to get. Doesn't matter how you kick, how you get pushed, you are not going to get the shin guards to come off.

    [​IMG]
    The Venum, they don't have loops to be through and back.
    [​IMG]
    Just two straps of velcro.

    Well..that sounds like the Top King is the clear winner. Right? That's what I thought before I had tried the Venum.

    This is where the interesting part come in.

    While the Top King is super secure. But my human calves do not shaped like a pierce of flat board.
    [​IMG]
    It is going to have this curve, probably no matter how muscular or fat you are.

    [​IMG]
    So ultimately, when you put them on, the vertical loop hole is going to force the straps to stay vertical around your calves.
    [​IMG]
    So then, the straps would put pressure at where the red arrows are.and where the yellow arrows are will have redundant room. It's not a terrible feeling, but you can feel that pressure. If you are one with beastly calves, this might be even more significant.

    [​IMG]
    To be fair, the Venum is also going to have the same problem, if you wear them properly.

    However, since there is no loop holes. I don't have to align them properly.
    [​IMG]
    I can do this.
    [​IMG]
    If you can see, they can wrap around your calves in the shape of yours and not have single pressure points. The pressure will be distributed evenly around your calves, making it much more comfortable and natural to your body.

    [​IMG]
    Are they designed to be wore like this? Absolutely not. But as long as you are not skeleton skinny, doing this will feel much better.

    Of course the overlapped of the velcro connection is going to be less. It won't be as secure as if you wear them properly.

    But compare to the Top King, the wider velcro on the Venum definitely helps. As long as the velcro is in working condition, you won't have a problem of them coming off in sparring at all.

    If there is one problem, I'd say the upper velcro strap of the Venum could be too high at the back of my calves, I can feel the straps every time I fold my legs. For stand up sparring this doesn't matter much, I can still easily throw knee strikes. Only when I kneel down or sit down I'd feel the existence, so it's one thing to point out. The Top King upper straps are much lower and does not affect you that way. (This also has to do with sizing. Some might have it even higher than mine on the Venum, or lower to point this issue is never there)

    The fit:
    [​IMG]

    The Top King although doesn't move around at all, but they constantly feel like "out of alignment".
    By the design, you'd think the top edge of the shield should be resting right underneath your knee caps. But in the reality they do not. The whole shield guard just feel shifted off centre when you wear them. Not very natural.
    [​IMG]
    Although the Venum look the same, they don't feel out of alignment.
    [​IMG]
    May be that has to do with them having a intended Left and Right in design. (I have tried wearing them opposite, don't really feel much different though)

    The Top King obviously don't have left and right printed, but as many always do. I always wear them with the velcro straps pointing outward. Therefore if there is any chance of breaking in, the one will always be on the same leg.
     
    #3
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
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  4. Kick_@ss_Seabass Orange Belt

    Kick_@ss_Seabass
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    Dude I love reading your review ! So much details.

    I totally agree with you on the strap system for the Venum. My shin guards have the same features as the TK and I find it annoying to have to undo the strap from the loop thing each time I put them on or off. The Venum strap system seems way faster.
     
    #4
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  5. iFossil Orange Belt

    iFossil
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    Material Quality:
    [​IMG]
    Top King use exactly the same type of genuine leather as their boxing gloves. Thick-Solid-Tight!
    To my knowledge, Mexican cow hide leather might be the highest grade leather in the world. However, there is really none that make shin guards with itt, since their popular sport is boxing, not Muay Thai. So what this mean is, you will probably not find any shin guards with better material than these Top King (Thai brands). I can't imagine anyone would be ripping or damaging these leather with less than 10 years hard core usage.
    [​IMG]
    The synthetic material that Venum use. One with this plastic-ky surface. Does feel a bit tacky, but I suppose they are the easiest to clean. A wet cloth/tissue you are good to go.
    [​IMG]
    Another is with this matte surface, they feel better than the above on hands, but I suppose they would be the hardest to wipe clean once any stains get on. Even leather would be much easier to clean than this synthetic none plastic-ky surface.

    Venum's synthetic material is really not that bad..but compare to leather? Ha..it's a mismatch.


    The liner:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    They are practically the same. The Venum might be tiny bit rougher on hands...but "who da fook" cares right? Your shins are supposed to be conditioned and really no one is going to feel either while sparring.


    Heat/Ventilation/Air out: The biggest downside of Synthetic material is always going to be the heat, in boxing gloves, there is no ventilation. 99% of the time synthetic gloves are going to heat up like crazy. But this is never going to be a problem for standup shin guards and I don't think I have to explain why.


    Craftsmanship: Both are hand made in Thailand, so..they are all top notch. With no clear winner/loser.


    Weight: Top King weigh 14oz each leg. Venum weigh 9.8 oz each leg.
    Imo the Venum is the clear winner here. 'Cause no body cares how much your shin guards weigh in sparring. A heavier shin guards doesn't really protect your sparring partner more like gloves do. So what this come down to is: The top king feel more significant when you are wearing them, so that they are less comfortable, weigh you down, fatigue you a little more, restrict your movement a little more.
    Unless your purpose is to add a little extra on conditioning which there are tons of better method, I don't see how a heavier shin guards is better.

    This is definitely the #1 reason I love my Venum shin guards. I can throw kicks with less burden, hence better speed, better technique and better control. I move around the cage/ring more, it will directly improve my offence and defence. This is just like wearing a pair of lighter running shoes, I feel less restricted, I'm going to run more.

    If you prioritise speed and movement over power and solid guard. The Venum will be the one for you.


    Protection:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It's hard to measure the thickness, but to the naked eyes, they look virtually identical.
    That being said, they feel nothing identical at all. The Top King has solid protective padding, while the Venum padding is softer and feel less protective.

    It's hard to explain the differences in words. But if I have to take a full baseball bat swing to the shin, I would have confident eating that with the Top Kings. The Venum...no.

    If I pinch the hardest into the padding, I can probably dig in about 10% of the thickness into the Top King and 20% into the Venum.

    Shin guards are for protection of course, if they aren't protective, it is pointless. It's not the Venum are bad on protection, they are average. But the Top King is almost over the top super protective.

    Of course the trade off is the weight and bulkiness.

    Compare to traditional Thai brand Muay Thai shin guards, I'd say the Top King are the very best in term of protection and slightly less bulkier as well.

    While the Venum is much below the protection of usual Thai brand Muay Thai shin guards, but above Kickboxing, Karate, Taekwondo shin guards in term of protection. Remaining super light and really does not feel bulky.

    If you prioritise power and solid defence over speed and movement. The Top King will be the one for you.


    Durability: They are both very high quality. I have zero doubt the Top King could last you 10 years and I will have no problem recommending them to anyone who does Muay Thai. They are the best.

    As for the Venum, I think they can last up to 3-5 years. It all depends on how you treat and use them of course. But so far my Top King is probably going to last until I die and the Venum would have at least 10 years left. There is just never any scenario in my sparring that could damage either one at all. At some point it is all about the control, the skills and the timing. I just can't see how quality shin guards could fall apart.

    Only the velcro will wear out over time. But I'm not here to review velcro...if anything the Venum has thicker velcro straps, so...could last longer...?


    Cost Performance Ratio:
    Depends on which part of the world you live in of course.
    In general, I think the Top King is very reasonably priced. You get the best craftsmanship, finest genuine leather on shin guards, durability that last you forever. The best shin guards in the world. The Top King is so worth every penny.

    The Venum, you get the Thai brand level of craftsmanship, nice synthetic shell, good durability, probably does not last you as long as the Top King, but nevertheless still a quality product. I like them a lot, even more than the Top King, but I don't think they are priced that reasonably. Because the synthetic material and the padding they use, I feel like the company can easily sell them at a much lower price. So..I would suggest getting them while there is a code on special occasions or at their seasonal outlet. In that case you don't feel being ripped off. lol

    Overall:
    The Top King is still the King of shin guards, they will suit anybody that does Muay Thai, they have the highest quality, best protection while remaining fairly good in comfort, weight and bulkiness. They will last you a long long time. You can train as hardcore, as mad as you want. The best in the business for brawler and those who are down to fight. (Let me bang bro!:()

    The Venum is my personal favourite over the Top King. I think this will be the case for certain type of users. Who loves to move around, prioritising footwork, evasiveness and speed in general over solid guarding and power kicking. For those who uses every square inch of the cage and ring, cut the angle, pick the shot and move. They don't offer the maximum protection, but they excel in their lightness and comfort. Their design on the insteps are particularly superior.

    Synthetic shin guards if made properly like Venum have. I think they could be the better choice. Not only they are better for the animal. The synthetic material significantly reduce the weight without suffering from the heat problem. Who doesn't want to kick faster, move faster and feel less restricted. If you are in the fight game, your shin should be conditioned enough that the loss in protection shouldn't affect you. If the price can go even lower, I think it could be the true winner.

    However if you are a heavy weight, I'd highly recommend you just go with the Top King right away. One: You are going to need that protection, Two: You are probably not going to move around that much like a 125er Mighty Mouse. Three: I'd doubt that difference in weight really mean anything to your big strong body. lol

    From now on, I will probably never buy another Top King but only Venum, but if I don't have a pair of Top King, I would still definitely get a pair. Because you'd never know when you are going to need that extra protection. May be some day you spar a ruthless guy, or some day you bruise your shin badly. Or someday when you are close to that scheduled fight fight of yours, you will want to keep your shin 100%, protecting them as much as possible. But from day to day training, Venum is my first choice.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    TL;DR

    Natural Posture: Top King is better for checking kicks and cleaning round kicks compare to the L shape Venum.
    The insteps/feet protection: Venum is the clear winner with better design, more comfort and secure
    Fit and Comfort: Venum has a more basic velcro strap system, if not done properly, it will fit better to the shape of your calves
    Material Quality: Top King is made with genuine leather, Venum with the Synthetic. Former is more durable, latter is lighter.
    Heat/Ventilation/Air out: No problem at all.
    Craftsmanship: Both hand made in Thailand, top notch.
    Weight: Venum's synthetic shinguards are more than 4oz lighter
    Protection: Top King is the undisputed King of tankiness
    Durability: Both seems durable, the Top King particularly
    Availability: Around the world I suppose
    Cost Performance Ratio: Top King is well priced. The Venum would be more reasonable if priced lower, I'd wait for sale.

    Overall:
    I myself love the Venum over the Top King for better comfort, fit and light weight. Heavy weight and traditional Muay Thai practitioner might want to stick to the golden standard of shin guards the Top King, because you can't go wrong with the Top King.
     
    #5
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
  6. iFossil Orange Belt

    iFossil
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    Showcase:
    [​IMG]
    The Tekken Jin Kazama's shin guards.
    [​IMG]
    "Be water, my friend."
    [​IMG]
     
    #6
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
  7. iFossil Orange Belt

    iFossil
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    Thanks bud. I just talk wayyyy too much trash. LOL

    But hopefully someone will find this useful some time down the road.
     
    #7
  8. Ryyonvin Orange Belt

    Ryyonvin
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    Very detailed review. As someone who has always used the Twins SGL-3 (competition) model, would you say that going to the TKs would be too bulky for me? I prefer speed and movement over power but I'm just not a big fan of the design of the venums.
     
    #8
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  9. Paradigm Gold Belt

    Paradigm
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    Looking at the alignment pics of the shinguards, I'm assuming that is an issue with your leg design itself...since both shinguards seem to misalign with your kneecaps.

    Had the Top Kings (never tried Venum) and I don't recall them sticking outside the kneecaps like that at all on my legs.

    Aside from that...great detailed review on both. Had my TKs for years and I did notice that the gap where you generally catch elbows was starting to tear.
     
    #9
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  10. AlexeyDnepr White Belt

    AlexeyDnepr
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    Top King Shin Guards TKSGEM has the same protection as TKSGPGL? Just on the photo at TKSGPGL more stuffing. TKSGEM does not have an additional padding rib in the middle.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    #10
  11. iFossil Orange Belt

    iFossil
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    I haven't had the Twins SGL-3 myself, only tried some really old pair in my gym once or twice. I'd say the TK do feel a bit bulky...or maybe I'm just too spoiled by the lightness of the Venum.

    Sorry if I'm not much help with this answer.

    However, I saw the owner of Muaythaimall explained a new Twins model here, and that might be what you are looking for. And I do consider his opinion trustworthy myself.

    http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/shin-guards-twins-sgl-3-twins-sgl-10-or-fairtex.3476905/




    Yeh, you could be right, I haven't thought of that lol. 'Cause who would suddenly think his legs are on the unusual size/shape. Maybe it's with the carve muscle or maybe not.

    Either way. The round top of the Venum just fit and feel better regardless.


    From my understanding, they are basically exactly the same. The bumpy bit on both model don't really matter much.
     
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