You have taken a few Muay Thai classes, borrowing gloves from the gym. You are enjoying it and want to continue your training. What do you do next? Buy your gloves! Gloves and hand wraps are the two essential pieces of gear that you need for every class. We know that purchasing Muay Thai gloves can be confusing, as there are so many choices.
Basic Glove Considerations
If you train in a pad work or bag work class, you will need a pair of gloves. However, gloves for sparring classes will be different, more on this later. For Muay Thai pad work and bag classes we generally recommend that you get a pair of 12oz gloves, or 14oz if you are a large guy. If you are a small woman, you can go for 10oz. It’s important to note that the weight of the glove does not necessarily mean the size is different. If you have very large or very small hands, you may feel more comfortable in a custom glove catered to small hand size or long fingers, both of which exist. There are so many options for gloves from pleather to broken in leather, from Thai style to American boxing style to Mexican boxing style. Gloves can range in price from $30 – $130. I will discuss the options and what you should consider when buying gloves.
Brands, Quality, and Options
You will get what you pay for, so it depends on what you are willing to invest and how fancy you want to go. It’s a personal choice. As long as the gloves are comfy and protective, they will make a good first pair.
I love internet shopping, but it can have overwhelming options. We carry Revgear gloves at the gym in a variety of sizes, suitable for pad work or sparring. We generally only keep two-three styles in stock, but if you see a pair on their website that you like, we can put it in with our next order and get them for you with free shipping. I have owned a few pairs from Revgear, and they are great gloves for a reasonable price. Ringside also makes quality gloves. Gloves by Thai manufacturers can have some pretty fantastic designs and colors, but the quality is unpredictable. The weight of the glove doesn’t always seem to be correct, and the actual size can vary as well. I have a pair of massive green Twins gloves that I love but have taken some getting used to. I just like to think of them as my hulk fists! If you want to drop some money, Winning gloves are high end. I wouldn’t recommend getting Reyes gloves. All the padding is in the wrist and not so much over the knuckles. I would love to fight in them-they are great for knockouts-but not so good for your training partners. It is not necessary to get super high-end gloves, but it is worthwhile to avoid cheap gear. The padding wears down quickly or gets lumpy and uncomfortable. The stitching comes apart. The velcro won’t stay shut. You just end up having to replace them quickly. You can expect a good pair of gloves to last 1-2 years depending on the amount of usage they get.
Leather vs. Pleather, Velcro vs. Lace-Up
The material of the glove is also something to consider. Leather will last longer than synthetics and is well worth the money. There are reasonably priced leather gloves, but they will start out somewhat stiff. It can take a month or so for them to soften up. You can help expedite the process by bending and squishing the knuckle padding a bit between training sessions. Or you can get to the gym and break them in with some hard training. You have to pay more for a quality leather glove that already has that comfortable broken-in feel. You will see gloves with velcro, elastic, and lace-up closures. Do not get elastic. Velcro is best for Muay Thai classes. Lace-up require that you be tied into your gloves. Lace-ups aren’t practical in a class where we switch between holding and hitting pads. Either velcro or lace-up is good for sparring, but know that if you choose lace-up, we will tie on your gloves at the beginning of your training session and you will take them off when you are finished. If you want a drink or need to adjust your gear, you will learn to do it with your gloves on. It feels good to be tied into a pair of gloves, but it can be an inconvenience at times.
Own a Separate Pair of Sparring Gloves!
If you are that particular kind of person (like me!) who doesn’t mind getting punched in the face and will smile after receiving a solid leg kick, then you want to make sure you have invested in a good pair of sparring gloves for D&D class. These will be different from your bag/pad work gloves and will ONLY be used for sparring. Your sparring gloves should be 16oz if you weigh around or over 155lbs. Under that, you can use 14oz. It is vital that your sparring gloves have more padding to protect your hand and your partner’s head. Always take whatever measures you can to avoid giving and receiving injuries in training. Bumps and bruises are a normal part of contact sports, but you don’t want to give your training partner a concussion (and potentially break your hand) because you punched them with your beat down old pad work gloves. Proper gear is so important for the safety and comfort of you and your training partners. It is ok to first try out our Defense and Drills class with your pad work gloves to see if you are interested in pursuing that aspect of training. You will know very quickly whether or not drills and sparring are for you. If you decide that you enjoy the challenge, it is essential to have a second pair of gloves for your sparring. During pad work, you should always be hitting the target. You are throwing with a lot of power if you are using your body weight correctly. Hard pad work will wear down the padding on your gloves much more quickly than when you are sparring. Your percentage of landed strikes is much lower in sparring than on pads, and you are throwing with less intensity. Because of this, your sparring gloves will last much longer. It is a worthwhile investment for a pair of gloves that may last a few years.
When choosing your gloves, first think about safety, comfort, and durability. After that, you can go for colors and designs. It is not only an investment in your training but also in your body and your teammates. Happy face punching!
-Coach Kate NASM CPT, FMS