Gloves are the core of the equipment that you’ll need if you’re engaged in a combat art like MMA, Muay Thai or traditional boxing and kickboxing. Despite the sometimes t...
Gloves – the mark of the full-contact warrior!
Gloves are the core of the equipment that you’ll need if you’re engaged in a combat art like MMA, Muay Thai or traditional boxing and kickboxing. Despite the sometimes thousands of dollars that dedicated athletes spend on their equipment, combat arts like MMA and BJJ are actually not that equipment intensive. Nevertheless, in any striking art, a good pair of gloves would be considered mandatory.
So what makes a good glove?
Well, the mark of a well made glove is that it will be double stitched with strong cord, so as to last for years of use. Most good gloves will also contain a guard for the knuckles, and a supporter for the wrist. Most good mainstream gloves also contain a palm guard, and this should be both flexible and durable. That said, there are different gloves for different combat sports, as well as specialized gloves intra-sport, so make sure you know exactly what you need before you go shopping.
Check out your local boxing shop – they’re bound to have lots of options. Choose what you like and buy it online.
Arts that combine striking and grappling, like MMA, have some of the greatest variety in hand equipment.
The padding on sparring gloves is thicker to provide more protection during practice. Usually, a good pair of MMA or boxing training gloves will have at least three to four levels of foam padding, and should be equivalent to using 16oz. boxing gloves. It’s perfectly fine if sparring gloves are made of synthetic leather, as natural leather tends to need more maintenance. Though traditionalists tend to go with natural leather as being more durable under actual use.
The padding on what is known as bag gloves is even thicker – really good MMA or boxing bag gloves will have specialized wrist support in the form of a reliable wrist strap that wraps around the wrist and keeps it safe. Gloves that are dedicated to heavy bag work should ideally have what is known as a ‘grip bar’ inside the glove. They should also have better support for the wrists. It goes without saying that gloves dedicated to bag work cannot be used in sparring, as there is considerable danger of injury to a partner.
Then there are the actual combat gloves.
There are the MMA or boxing competition gloves, which are usually light and which have the lowest level of padding. You’ll need hand wraps to go with your gloves, so as to prevent hand injuries. Then there are grappling gloves, which let you use your hand to grip and grapple. Most competition gloves associated with MMA will allow for both striking and effective grappling.
There are also a lot of hybrids on the market, but it is better to go with specialized gloves for different purposes, as this maximizes the effectiveness of your training, and minimizes any chance of injury. However, if you’re really interested in a hybrid, then a pair of seven ounce hybrid gloves should be possible to use in multiple situations.
A hybrid glove will have as much wrist support as a traditional fight glove, and will be made of high grade, durable leather or synthetic leather. Most good hybrids will have an interior lining that wicks moisture away from the hands. Remember that a good hybrid must have enough padding for you to be able to engage in light sparring with a partner, yet have enough wrist support for you to engage in heavy bag work.
If you’re in MMA or Muay Thai, you should buy MMA gloves specialized to these arts, that will allow for grappling – any good local or online MMA shop should let you know your options.
You’ll find that any pair of gloves that you buy will be a little stiff at first. Lightly striking a bag for a few days is a good way to ‘break in’ a pair of new gloves, and is advised, especially before using them with a sparring partner.
Getting the best out of your boxing training gloves
The best way to choose a pair of boxing training gloves is to select a pair that could plausibly be used for any aspect of your training. Whether you’re pounding on a heavy bag, or sparring, or doing some mitts training with a partner, a good pair of training gloves will serve.
However, not all training gloves are equal, and you’ll find that it can be quite difficult to find one that can excel in a multiplicity of roles. The source of the problem is that you need soft padding for your sparring sessions, but thick protection for your heavy bag work.
Considerations when choosing boxing training gloves…
You need to bear your specific needs in mind when you choose your gloves. If you’re choosing your gloves for martial arts training sessions, you need to go in for gloves that are more flexible. If your focus is heavy bag work, make sure that the gloves that you buy protect the knuckles and the wrist. Sparring generally requires heavier gloves, and competition fighting requires lighter ones.
Most glove manufacturers will have a line of ‘starter’ gloves that are fairly multi-purpose, and which are great for those just starting out with their training, and not sure about which gloves to buy.
Guidelines for the experienced warrior
For those who are more experienced, here are a few important guidelines on buying training gloves. First of all, the gloves you buy should be a comfortable fit when you’re wearing hand wraps. If you buy gloves based solely upon your hand size, you’ll find that they are tight and constricting once your hands are in wraps.
You also need to go with what feels right
If a glove feels like it fits your hands perfectly, and if it feels comfortable, it’s perfect. Comfort is important, because if a glove is shaped wrong for your hand, it can be uncomfortable, painful, and perhaps even damaging in the long run. And of course, the glove should satisfy you as to durability.
If you’re in doubt about what gloves to buy, talk to your instructor, or to more experienced trainees or fighters where you train.
Don’t go cheap
Above all – and this is a point to remember – buy professional. There are toy brands out there who put out lines of ‘boxing gloves’. You need to avoid these – they’re not worth the material they’re made of. Aerobic gloves are another thing to avoid, They’re simply not hardy enough to stand hard training. They’re cheap, but when you consider the rate at which they wear out, you’ll choose to buy from a professional brand instead.
More experienced fighters also say that you should choose leather gloves over synthetic every time.
The leather gloves need more care and maintenance, but they can’t be matched for durability and comfort. You need to be aware when you train with a pair of new gloves, especially in the initial stages – listen to your body, and be aware of how your hands feel. Start out with light bag work, with a pair of new gloves, and see if anything hurts after a training session – if it does, try to find out why.
It’s better to change a pair of gloves, even if they’re new, than to suffer damage to your hands.
Though it’s not something to worry too much if you buy from a good manufacturer – most good brands put a lot of care into the gloves they manufacture.
You can often get the cheapest prices buying online – or at least the best possible value for your money. An online store doesn’t have the overheads of the conventional store, and can afford to put those savings into reduced prices, or increased durability.
Boxing Bag Gloves – keeping your hands fit to fight…
So what’s the difference between boxing bag gloves and regular training or sparring gloves? The difference is easy enough to understand – most sparring or training gloves are designed to protect your opponent – bag gloves, on the other hand, are designed to protect your own hand instead.
Dedicated bag gloves are generally used when working out against heavy bags and similar training equipment. A good set of bag gloves will allow you to incrementally increase your striking power while protecting the knuckles, the small bones of your hand, and your wrist.
Bag gloves have actually come a long way since the old ‘classic’ bag glove.
The old classic glove used to be heavy on the padding, but this used to prevent the person training with them from learning proper technique. If you throw a punch wrong against a sparring partner, or in competition, you’ll know it – the ‘feel’ of the strike will be all wrong, even if you do not suffer injury. Old style training gloves used to prevent a person from ‘feeling’ when a punch was wrong. But, as I said, boxing bag gloves have come a long way.
Support and protection
Where the old style bag glove did not properly support the wrist, the modern bag glove does. The weight of the modern bag glove has been carefully balanced with the padding and protection necessary to safe training. Best of all, they allow you to ‘feel’ your strikes, while at the same time, being designed to prevent injury to the knuckles and wrist.
Should you go with leather or synthetic gloves?
Go with leather every time. Yes, I do know that leather gloves take more care and maintenance, but, to the dedicated fighter, that’s a matter of pride. As a general rule, I’d say that I’ve found leather gloves to be far more durable and long lasting than their synthetic counterparts – in this they are unmatched, and able to take literally thousands of powerful impacts without coming apart at the seams.
They are also a lot more comfortable, feel a lot more natural on the hands, and ‘breathe’ better, drawing moisture away from the hands and evaporating it through the pores of the leather of the glove itself.
The way a glove is sewed together is also something that you need to pay attention to.
Good bag gloves have double-stitched seams, and the cord with which they are sewed is itself the kind that won’t come apart for years. As you can see, when you shop for a good bag glove, you’d better make sure it’s well built from the ground up.
Design is also important – the stitching of the glove should be designed not only to hold the glove together, but to ensure that the padding of the glove stays in place as well. Lastly, there should be a lining on the inside of the glove that can wick the sweat and moisture away from your hands, ensuring that your hands remain fresh and comfortable through all the hours of hard training you put in at your bag.
King has a good line in gloves, so check them out in your local boxing shop.
How about the fastenings of your gloves – should you go with the traditional lace-up gloves, or should you go with velcro fastenings? I don’t have to tell you that the lace-ups are the classic approach, but the simple fact is that velcro fastenings are more convenient. Lace-ups provide for a very snug fit – a pair of well laced gloves will hardly ever slip or move around. However, if you intend to put in a lot of training on your own, at odd hours, you’d better go in for velcro, as lace-ups are well-nigh impossible to put on on your own.
Everything about what makes boxing competition gloves special…
So what sets boxing competition gloves apart from the gloves that you use for training and sparring? Competition gloves are dedicated to combat in the ring, and their specifications are put down very exactly by the boxing authority in your country.
Sometimes even the brands you use will have to have been approved by the local boxing authority. While amateur competition gloves are of course lighter than their training and sparring counterparts, nevertheless, the gloves used by professional are even lighter than these.
So what’s the integral difference?
It’s a question of sizes – in training or sparring, you obviously don’t want to take as much damage as you would in a competition bout, so you use bigger gloves, which allow you and your partner to ‘go easy’ on each other. The weight of the larger gloves also increases your speed in actual combat, while also protecting your hands, and your partner’s body, from the effects of your attacks. And vice versa. Sparring gloves are the most protective, both ways.
Training gloves, usually for bag work and such, can be a bit smaller than the sparring varieties, but they are still much larger than boxing competition gloves.
The best way to train with gloves for competitive fighting
The ideal way to ‘work up to’ competition gloves is to use ‘phase out’ your training gloves. That is to say, you start out with big training gloves, and train with your partner. Over time, you reduce the size of your training gloves – very, very gradually. You’re trying to get nearer to competition sizes. As you and your partner get used to the reduced padding, you’ll be better able to deal with the use of competition gloves in amateur or professional fighting.
Of course, you can’t use competition gloves themselves in sparring – you’d be doing too much damage. But the ideal goal for those experienced in sparring is to use glove weights that are just a little bigger and slightly more protective than competition gloves.
Remember that this rule doesn’t apply when you’re training against a bag
Here, the more protection your hands get, the better. It’s best to preserve your hands from injury, both in the boxing ring, and for use outside it. That said, for actual competition use, Mexican style gloves are becoming increasingly popular. They tend to form a tighter fist, and so tend to do more damage. This makes them an excellent competition glove, but don’t train with them or spar with them, or you and your sparring partner will be doing a lot more damage – serious damage – than you intend to.
I’d advise you to buy gloves from good brands for both training and competition – there’s a lot of thought – and science – that goes into the making of a good glove, and cheap generic glove manufacturers will rarely spend the time and money that goes into the design and making of a really good competition glove.
Some final advice.
Take time and trouble to make sure your gloves fit right. Make sure they’ll fit snugly with hand wraps on, and with hand wraps on, ensure that you can comfortably form a fist within the confines of the glove. If you can do that, that’s the glove size to buy. Go to your local boxing gym, and ask to see different gloves. Then, if you want to save money, and have a reasonable idea of the size you want to buy, you can get your gloves at a lower price online.
Choosing and using your MMA gloves… in sparring, on a bag, in combat.
It can be quite difficult to choose a good pair of MMA gloves, because there is such a range available – this can get quite confusing, especially to the beginner. To cut through the chaos, there are three types of gloves that the dedicated MMA exponent will need – gloves for sparring, gloves for bag work, and, of course, gloves for competition.
Now there ARE ‘hybrid’ gloves that can be used for more than one of these roles, and they do work to a reasonable extent, but I wouldn’t advise them unless you have a serious shortage of funds. MMA gloves specialized to each role tend to be more durable under use, and will also prevent injuries much better than the hybrid varieties. Check out your options at your local MMA shop. Top King is a good brand, but there are lots of options available.
MMA Bag Gloves
These gloves are heavily padded to increase protection while striking a bag. When you choose a bag glove, check to make sure that it not only has extra padding to protect your strike area, but also that it has additional support for the wrist. As you work out on the bag, you will start to generate considerable force – it is essential that the bag gloves that you choose are the kind that will protect your hands.
You’ll find that there are some specialized bag gloves that actually have a ‘grip bar’ as part of the glove – these are very good, and are recommended, only you must never, under any circumstances, use them for sparring, as they can cause serious injury to your partner. You must never train against a heavy bag without gloves that give you the proper protection and support, or you risk serious injury.
MMA Sparring Gloves
These gloves are specifically designed to protect your sparring partner, and vice versa. It goes without saying that they are only used for training and practice. It is crucial when buying sparring gloves that you check beforehand that that is what the designated use of the gloves is. If you buy competition gloves by mistake, it could result in serious injury.
There are two types of gloves on the market today – one variety has separate slots for the fingers, while the other variety has loops in place of that, and heavy padding for the strike area.
You can choose either variety, since both seem to work equally well. Try on each type and see how it feels, and go with whichever type seems more comfortable and feels more ‘natural’.
MMA Fight Gloves
Competition gloves do provide a basic level of protection, but not much. They are designed to allow a controlled level of injury through, and must never be used in sparring. Generally speaking, gloves heavier than 4 oz are not allowed in MMA fights.
Hand Wraps in MMA
I’ve seen that a lot of people training in MMA gyms don’t seem to use hand wraps, but they’re actually recommended, and very useful in preventing injury. In any case, they are used in competition, so it is best to become familiar with their use. The sensible fighter always works to ensure that he doesn’t suffer injury to his hands.
It is better to spend time wrapping your hands before practice, rather than to sit on the sidelines while everyone else trains, because your hands are injured. There are some brands that sell special MMA wraps these days – these tend to be narrower, to allow them to fit with the differing proportions of MMA-specialized gloves (as compared to boxing gloves).
If you’re not certain as to what sort of gloves to buy, ask the old sweats at your gym, or your instructor, and you should get lots of good advice.