Making world leading chest guards in a creative corner of New Zealand

Making world leading chest guards in a creative corner of New Zealand

It seems a long way from the wild, windswept beaches of New Zealand to the floor of the World Karate Federation Championships, but believe it or not that’s exactly the route that the world’s leading breast & chest guards take. Designed and manufactured in New Plymouth, a small city on the west coast of the North Island, products such as Maxiguard and Bodyguard have met (and sometimes set) stringent international standards, have undergone extreme testing both in the lab and on the mats in competition, and are now used by both male & female competitors at the highest level.

Sculpture on the New Plymouth foreshore

What is it about New Plymouth?

New Plymouth is the major city of the Taranaki region. Storms often come crashing in from the Tasman sea, littering the black sand beaches with driftwood. The city foreshore is dotted with wind sculptures by the artist Len Lye, among work by other kiwi artists. There is a pedigree of creativity here, which when mixed with the pioneer spirit and rugged environment create some unique results.

The Govett-Brewster Gallery in New PLymouth

QP Sports originated in 1978, when nuns from a New Plymouth girls’ school wanted to protect their students’ chests while they played soccer. An orthotics specialist from the local hospital was asked to develop a prototype, and the first women’s chest guard was born. That’s right – it all began with nuns and the girl’s football team.

The Len Lye Wind Wand on the New Plymouth foreshore

40 years developing comfortable, reliable chest protection

This year marks 40 years since those first breast guards were designed and tested. At the time there was no readily available chest protection for sports women, so in true kiwi fashion we simply rolled up our sleeves and made some. The experience we’ve gained since then, and the continual product testing and development, means that we can create products that fit incredibly well, that are comfortable, and that most of all provide protection to athletes that they can rely on.

Soccer, Karate, fencing and...battle axes?

QP Sports may have originated by the need to protect the chests of a girls soccer team, but we quickly found a ready market with the growing popularity of martial arts. Styles such as Taekwondo and Karate often insist on chest and breast protection for competition, and our foilguard products for men & women protect fencers while allowing them freedom of movement. We’ve also had good reviews from women in Historical European Martials Arts, who fight with a range of deadly historical weapons such as swords, staves and maces.

Fencing competitors using the Foilguard chest protection

The next generation of athletes

Our story covers 40 years of product innovation here in our creative corner of paradise and now we're interested, more than ever, in your stories: what sport, adventure, or challenge do you need your chest protection for? What's important in your protective gear? How does it need to move, how does it need to feel? Join us on our Facebook page or email us to tell us your story and your experience.

Buy our range of chest & breast protection online

Back to blog