I've read websites debating on the protective effect of head gear, with some suggesting that they only offers protection against bruises. However, I don't believe that this is the case. Some people argue based on the fact that same amount of total force is being absorbed by the brain. That statement is correct, but brain damage is related to impulse (which depends on both force and duration). I believe that has been measurements made which shows that headgear reduces impulse. This theoretically would reduces the amount of brain damage sustained if headgear was not wore. The reason why impulse determines brain damage is because a higher impulse would cause a higher angular acceleration of your brain. Most of the brain damage is due to angular acceleration, which causes shear force that rips the neuronal connections. (layers of brain slide across each other ripping off the neuronal connections that joins them) Now you are not going to cause any neuronal damage from pressure. There has been a case reported by a neurologist where a high school student ran head first to a brick wall after losing a football game. He sustained enough damage to paralyze his limbs but was still conscious. THe reason why he did not suffer any brain damage is because his head did not move during the collision, therefore, his head experienced no angular acceleration and thus did not obtain any brain damage. By experiences, I think I would have been knocked down if i was to ever get hit by hard shots to my head without wearing my topten helmet. But I've never sparred without a helmet. I want to hear other thoughts regarding this issue. Has anyone sparred both with and without helmets? Did you find that you can take harder shots without getting knocked down while wearing a helmet?