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 a claims as to the usefulness of head gear. They can reduce the risk of injuries and lacerasions 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 otherhand, 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 lower stakes sparring matches. Then the fighter starts taking punches instead of developing evasive manuvers 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 will be in for a very rude awakemimg due to the explosive nature of a real match, creating a string of losses. Additionally because the headgear is bigger adding more volume to the head, it creates a bigger easier targe to hit. Even though each landed strike might not be as hard, over the years the dammage they could begin to add up.
With the growing popularity of MMA, Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu gyms in the USA & 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 some 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 being one of the 300 Spartans squaring up against the massive Persian Army, students can feel better knowing they are getting a more personalized approach. In a smaller gym with smaller classes, the instructor has more time to spend with individual students. In a larger class it is nearly impossible to give any one student more than a few seconds of interaction. Smaller gyms have a higher likely hood of having the owner or an established fighter teaching beginner classes. Unlike the larger gyms where politics and favoritism can play a role, 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.