An ever increasing issue coming up in MMA Gyms and striking programs is whether or not the sparring should include headgear. There's arguments to both and it all depends on who is running the program.
There are claims as to the usefulness of head gear. They can reduce the risk of injuries and lacerations to the face. They can possibly reduces the effects of concussions and long term brain damage. Headgear can also serve as a learning tool allowing the fighter to take more chances and learn from his/her mistakes.
On the other hand, you have a few arguments suggesting the opposite. Headgear can give the fighter a false sense of security because shots are easier to block and not felt as hard. The fighter can develop bad habits due to the lower stakes of getting hit. Then the fighter can start taking punches instead of developing evasive maneuvers to avoid damage. This could also lead to long term brain damage due to a higher volume of lower impact blows over time. Eventually when the fighter steps into the ring, he or she can be in for a very rude awakening creating a string of losses. Additionally because the headgear is bigger, adding more volume to the head, it creates an easier target to hit. Over the years, the damage could begin to add up.
With the growing popularity of MMA, Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu gyms worldwide, one has trouble deciding on where to train. There are pros and cons to big and small MMA gyms.
Big gyms: are very tempting to try out. "Everyone goes there" Is the feeling you get from a larger more established location. They might have a high-level pro fight team. Who wouldn't want to rub elbows with famous fighters seen on TV. Since they're already established, you can feel better about learning from a tried and tested source. Some people are just coming in for the workout and feel better knowing the place is well run and will probably be around for a while. They can have a better assortment of amenities and equipment. And of course bigger gyms have a wider range sparring partners.
Small Gyms: Luckily for the little guys, America has an affinity for the underdog. Aside from the romantic notion of 300 Spartans squaring up against the massive Persian Army, students can feel better getting a more personalized approach. In classes, the instructor has more time to spend with individual students. Smaller gyms have a higher likely hood of having the owner or an established fighter teaching beginner classes. Unlike the larger gyms, there is a vested interest from an aspiring professional coach or trainer to see his/her students excel, showcasing their progress to a tightly knit martial arts community.