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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Product Review - Premium CSI Board Shorts, Courtesy Of MMA Gospel's Dan Griffin

When Canvas Chronicle and MMA HQ approached MMA Gospel with a request to test Combat Sports International’s line of board shorts, there was no option but to accept. When a fighter buys gear, he/she needs to know that it will hold up through the stress of wear, washing, training, and of course, fighting. For fight gear, there is absolutely no better test than a trial by fire and that’s exactly what we gave these. MMA Gospel views it as a responsibility to ensure that the fighters who risk it all to step in the cage have all the information they can get to help make the decisions about who they train with, where they fight, and what gear they use so they can focus on training and putting on their best performances. For CSI, MMA Gospel put the board shorts through multiple hard training sessions, daily wear, and multiple washings and compared them directly against their competition’s offerings including a pair of Bad Boy World Class Pro shorts and Sprawl’s V-Flex XT line.

The Basics:

The CSI board shorts are 100% polyester with a 6” leg slit and 6” wide flexible lycra panel along the inseam. The shorts are Velcro fly and an internal drawstring. The entire pair is made of four double stitched and triple threaded panels. This is the same basic material and construction of the Sprawl shorts. The CSI shorts offer about an inch and a half more length for the same waist size and the lycra band on the inseam is a good two inches wider. The Bad Boy shorts are made of a sturdier Ballistic Nylon material with polyester War Flex bands down both the exterior seams and the inseam. While the Nylon is a more durable material than polyester, it has a stiffer more plastic feel to it and requires more detailed maintenance. The polyester flex strips provide less mobility than the lycra material, but the addition of the exterior panels help make up for it.

In a direct comparison of the materials and construction the CSI shorts offer a better overall design that the Sprawl shorts. They offer the same strengths and weaknesses, but the Sprawl shorts give the fighter less of the flex material and a shorter length that can ride up the leg and hamper the mobility of the most flexible fighters. The Bad Boy shorts offer a more durable material at the cost of ease of maintenance and they use a less flexible immaterial for their flex panels, but offer them in a different layout. The choice between the two is really a matter of personal preference on paper, though the CSI shorts average nearly $35 less per pair than the Bad Boy shorts and $25 less than the Sprawls.


Both the Sprawl and CSI board shorts are 100% polyester with lycra flex panels. The advantage of the polyester is that the shorts are machine washable without fear of damaging or the material. They do have to be line dried due to the flex material, but in a world where most fight shorts, including the Bad Boy shorts tested here, are handwash only, that’s a nice commodity. After multiple washes, the CSI shorts also showed a bit less wear than their Sprawl counterparts but neither pair had anything more serious than a few stray strings hanging out of the waist band. The Bad Boy shorts are considerably more difficult to clean not only because they are hand wash only, but because the ultra sturdy ballistic nylon is also ultra difficult to remove any kind of stain from. A blood or sweat stain on the Bad Boy shorts may permanently discolor them even if an hour of scrubbing can remove the stain itself.


All three pairs of shorts were worn for multiple daily training sessions including basic calisthenics, wrestling, kickboxing, and submission grappling sessions. The CSI shorts immediately set themselves apart from the other two in the kickboxing workouts. The tester from MMA Gospel is a long time professional kickboxer known by his training partners for his flexibility and striking speed. While there was no noticeable difference in mobility or kicking the body or legs, the CSI shorts were considerably easier to throw kicks the head with especially back, side, and spinning kicks. The Bad Boy shorts anterior polyester panels held them even with the Sprawl shorts in terms of flexibility, but the added width of the CSI flex panel made a world of difference. It is also worth noting that the Sprawl shorts shorter length and smaller leg slit caused them to ride up the leg uncomfortably during kicks above waist high.

As kickboxing trunks, the CSI shorts clearly beat the competition.

In grappling sessions, the CSI shorts suffered a little. The Bad Boy’s external panels provided a wider range of motions even if the provided less flexibility in those directions. The Sprawl shorts length actually became a bit of an advantage of the ground as they stayed neatly out of the way during transitions where the Bad Boy and CSI shorts caught a foot hand occasionally. The Sprawl shorts also made it a bit more difficult for the opponent to grab them as they rode high on the thighs and fit a bit more snuggly and the Bad Boy’s slick nylon was difficult to grip as well. The CSI brand shorts provided excellent comfort and mobility, but a fighter looking for every possible edge may be more comfortable with a shorter or less easily gripped pair of shorts.

After several washes and training sessions, the CSI board shorts showed a few signs of wear, most notably fraying stitches and a little separation on the outside of the bottom seam. The Sprawl shorts showed quite a bit more wear, with frayed stitching along both the bottom seam and the waist band where it seemed that the stitching that held the drawstring in place may have been coming apart. The Bad Boy shorts looked nearly brand new save that there was some more or less permanent creasing in the nylon material.


The CSI shorts were very unrestricting and stayed in place without any need to adjust the waist band, worry about the Velcro hanging over the band and scratching, or retie the drawstring. They also shed a considerably amount of water, so a fighter who includes swimming as part of his/her cardio training can feel free to move from the gym to the pool in the same shorts. This also helped keep the drying time down as the must be air dried to avoid shrinking the flex panel. The shorts also breathe really well and stay cool even during strenuous training. This is a big advantage over the Bad Boy shorts where the nylon traps the fighter’s body heat and the shorts become an oven after about twenty minutes of hard training. The Velcro on the fly and buckle of the CSI shorts is also double stitched to ensure that the Velcro stays securely in place.

Overall, the Combat Sports International board shorts compare favorably against their direct competition and are far superior to brands of similar cost. With an average cost of $25, they are a very good buy. They out perform their Sprawl counterparts which cost an average of $50 and go stride for stride with Bad Boy shorts that cost an average of $60. For a stand-up fighter, they are a better design than most kickboxing trunks. For a submission grappler they may not be the choice for competition, but at the very least a fighter should consider them as a pair of daily training shorts as they are inexpensive, durable, and comfortable.