Review: Top King Creative Empowers; Hayabusa Pro Striking; RenegadeMMA X-Trainer Tri-Core Key points before the review: 1. This review won't be as in-depth or as comprehensive as most of my reviews, because that would be around ten posts in one thread. Thus, feel free to ask questions! 2. Why compare a striking shin guard against a grappling shin guard? Because both Hayabusa and RenegadeMMA make the claim that their shin guards can take a hit AND still not shift on you. Hayabusa states the Pro-Strikers have "unmatched stability prevents shifting even on the fastest strikes." RenegadeMMA claims the X-Trainer's "meets the demands of modern MMA training- whether it’s stand-up or rolling, there’s no break in the action." I didn't want the best grappling shin guards, I wanted the best shin-guards period. And for me, best means ample protection meets perfect stability. 3. All guards are "large" and are meant to cover my 14.5-15" shins (bottom of knee cap to top of ankle bone).F.) The primary focus of this review will be how they perform during sparring sessions. While I will try to cover all bases possible, my goal is to provide the info of "just how much will these guards protect me?" to any current shoppers. Features, Pricing, & Reasons for Buying: -Top King Empower's will run you around $90. Even with the cheaper prices straight from Thailand, the shipping with set you over around $20. The Top Kings are my first shin guards. After much research and deliberation the Top King brand seemed to have the most backing from Sherdog and various other sites. I bought the Creatives since I thought they'd be cool looking AND still provide protection. -Hayabusa Pro Striking are some of the more premier shin guards, so they are equally priced at $90. I bought the Hayabusa Pro's instead of the Busa grappling guards because it is $20 more for one of more highly-regarded guards out there. -The X-Trainer's are $50 with free 2-3 day shipping. Now if they hold up against the more well-known Top Kings and Hayabusa's, then $50 is a damn great deal (I took the "two payments for $25" option. $25 a month is even harder to resist, because really, you just trick yourself into thinking you paid only $25). I bought the X-Trainers as I wanted a shin-guard that doesn't move when striking. I wanted to be non-stop and fluid in my sparring sessions, and not hindered by constantly fixing my guards. Ordering & Customer Service: -Muaythai-fighting.com, the guy was nice. He didn't speak much English, but he patiently answered my questions about the Top Kings. The package arrived five days later from Thailand to AZ with expedited shipping. -FighterWarehouse is one of my favorite sites. They offer an extraordinary discount to our men and women in service and their selection is incredible. I purchased my Busa's here to give my service to a company I believe in. The package arrived 4 days later from FL to AZ. -Mark Beagle, head of RenegadeMMA, seems like a legit guy. He answered my questions to the fullest--even via text at 11pm!--and sent a free pair of RenegadeMMA 120" hand wraps. Very cool. Easy to order (Paypal is always easy), and the package arrived around 9 days later from FL to AZ (the shipping should now be 2-3 days as RenegadeMMA offers free 2-3 delivery). Initial Impressions / Construction: -The Top King's look fantastic. Genuine cowhide-leather, very thick, and very smooth graphics. Leather-wrapped hook-and-loops, thick, curved padding around the shin, and just an overall feel of awesomeness. -The Busa's were actually underwhelming for being Hayabusa's. The shin guard is actually flat, and wraps around the shin once strapped (very different from the TK's). The leather feels thick and genuine. -The Renegade's outside layer does not match the TK's or Busa's (it wrinkles to the touch), but the overall construction and padding is legit. The neoprene is sturdy, and the zipper is well covered. Fit & Feel: -The Top King's fit snug, mostly due to the curved padded walls. The hook and loop does not dig in. Feels sturdy. -The Busa's are surprisingly light. I think that's the first thing I noticed when I put them on. The hook and loop doesn't dig in, but the strap itself has potential to really bite into your calves, something I can't do on my TK's. -The Renegades, for being large, were actually quite tight on my calves when I went to zip them up. I'm not a big dude by any means (5'9, 155), but these suckers were hard to put on at first. Of course it got easier once I broke them in. Training & Protection: The initial test for the shin guards was to have a few friends smash into my shin while I check the kicks. Additionally, checks and tests were performed days after to ensure no biases were made initially. To me, the most important aspects when making a purchase are durability and usability: does it do what I need to do, and for how long? While I am a big fan of style, and comfort is obviously important, the most important factor boils down to safety. And ladies and gentlemen, the X-Trainer's take the cake. The Top King's move far too much for me to recommend. The above-knee protection and the in-step are basically null-in-void, and the shin guard itself is overall too bulky to practice in-fighting style sparring. I suppose dedicated Muay Thai fighters may benefit from these style of shin guards, but for me, I’ll keep them in my home gym for light sparring sessions. The Hayabusa Pro-Striking shin guards are recommendable for people looking for lightweight, stylish, and protection from the foot to the knee. These seem to have the best below-knee and foot protection of the three. And the overall shin protection keeps Hayabusa's name in-tact: you get the outstanding protection in exchange for the high price. However, the shin guards fall short of their claim for "unmatched stability" as I found these shin guards move too much for me. Unless you tighten these bad beasts to the point of circulation cut-off, then they are going to move on you. The X-Trainer’s are ideal for the fighter looking for unparalleled stability with fantastic protection. They really don’t move at all until you unzip them, and their protection of the shin itself rivals the Busa Pro’s. The shin guard’s foot padding may not be enough for some users, and personally, I’d like better coverage directly below the knee. The Quick and Dirty: -Get the Top King Empower Creative's if you want style and pizazz, thick, sturdy protection, and are practicing Muay Thai. Or if you want to look like a samurai Power Ranger. -Get the Hayabusa Pro-Striking Guard's if you're looking for a well rounded, lightweight, and impact-absorbing shin guard. These guards offer the most foot and below-knee protection I’ve encountered on a shin guard. -Get the RenegadeMMA X-Trainer's if you're like me and need a shin guard that provides ample protection with unmatched stability. Some contenders may want the thicker protection provided by the Hayabusa's or more quality leather like the TK's, but anyone looking for a sturdy, stable, and grappling-enabled shin guard, look no further: the X-Trainer's are offered at an affordable price and provide fantastic protection. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THEY DON'T MOVE! During Muay Thai, my leg strikes feel faster, I can get in closer to execute the kicks because there is less bulk, and the guard stays put. HOWEVER, during checking drills, the guards do shift over time. Nowhere near as much as the Top King's, but still move. I've sparred fairly heavily with these on and have experienced injury through the pads, so if you're looking to go full or 80% Muay Thai, I must recommend the Busa's. Closing & Comments to the Creator I was pleasantly surprised how close the X-Trainer's absorbed the impact in relation to the Busa Pro's. While the Pro Striking guards offer the most impact absorbing protection from foot to knee, the X-Trainers are my favorite shin guards of the bunch. RenegadeMMA has created a shin guard that rivals the mainstream name brands in protection, but blows them out of the water in stability and price. Thus, my choice for sparring is my X-Trainers.