Which Gloves are Best When Starting Muay Thai Training?
When training in a contact sport like Muay Thai, proper equipment and gear are essential. Boxing gloves are often the first piece of equipment a Thai Boxer or Nak Muay will purchase when starting their Muay Thai journey, but the numerous styles and weights available can make choosing a glove an intimidating decision. Here are some tips:
Avoid the lace-up gloves.
The traditional lace-up boxing gloves give a snug fit and are commonly used for competition, but you need another person to tie them for you (your fingers don't work so good when you have both hands in boxing gloves). Many Muay Thai gyms will have students partner up and take turns holding pads for each other. Needing help getting laced-up, then untied, then laced-up again can be a major nuisance. Stick to the hook and loop (Velcro) gloves that you can open/close on your own. Save the laces for a private lesson or for competition.
Bag Gloves or Training/Sparring Gloves?
Ideally you want to have both. Heavy bags, focus mitts, and Thai pads are hard; hitting them repeatedly, with power, can quickly wear down the protective foam in your gloves. Bag gloves have a dense foam that is made to stand-up longer to this type of heavy abuse. Training/Sparring gloves are made for training with a partner; usually a teammate. As you never want to hurt your teammates, Training/Sparring gloves are made with softer foam which is less likely to hurt or cut your training partner. In a perfect world, you would have one type of glove for all your bag/pad rounds and another type of glove for your drilling/sparring rounds.
What weight is best? 10oz, 12oz, 14oz, 16oz, 18oz, and more.
There's some difference of opinion on this, but traditionally 16oz gloves are best for sparring training if you're an average sized adult male. If you're 200+ lbs you'll probably want 18oz or even 20oz gloves. If you're a smaller female, we suggest 14oz gloves. As each coach or gym may have their own rules or recommendations on glove size for sparring, always talk with your coach first. In theory, these larger sized gloves have extra padding in them to protect your training partner. The extra weight also slows down your punching speed and strengthens your arms/shoulders to keep your hands up; thus improving your defensive skills. The contrasting opinion is that Force = Mass x Acceleration. Slower punching speed (Acceleration) decreases your punching Force, and is safer for your training partners. However, increasing the glove weight (Mass) increases your punching Force and can cause more damage when punching a training partner.
In terms of Bag gloves, again there are different schools of thoughts. Some trainers want their fighters wearing heavier gloves because it taxes the body more and develops better punching power. Personally, I believe it's best to do as much training as possible in the glove size you will be competing in. Most Muay Thai or Kickboxing competitions will be with 8oz, 10oz, or 12oz glove (depending on your weight and pro/am). You're likely sparring and drilling with 16oz gloves, if you hit pads and the bag with heavier gloves as well, your timing can be really thrown off when you step in the ring with smaller gloves. I prefer to do all my padwork and bagwork with the same size gloves I compete in. I believe it helps me improve my hand-speed, and it's better to develop my timing/rhythm.
Train hard and have fun!
- Coach Chris