Our worst fear is showing up the first night of class, only to get sideways looks from the other students because we brought 4oz MMA gloves to our cardio kickboxing class. And it happens more than you think.
Truthfully, it's an understandable problem. In 2019, more people are practicing some form of martial arts than at any other time in history, which brings a huge array of glove configurations to pick from. And it's more than just personal style. You can't hit a heavy bag with grappling gloves, for example, without serious risk of injuring your hands. At Sanabul, we make gloves for all striking arts, so it's important that you get the right ones. Here's our 2019 buyers guide for our striking options.
What's Your Sport?
While there are endless different materials, styles, and sizes of gloves for striking sports, pretty much everything on the market will fall into a boxing glove, muay thai glove, or MMA glove category.
Identifying your training and competition needs will point you in the right direction for buying your first or next pair of gloves. Nevertheless, pretty much every serious striker who trains long-term will own several different pairs and variations of gloves.
The first pair of striking gloves you purchase should be 12oz, 14oz, or 16oz boxing gloves that are comfortable on your hands and have padding to protect them during hard bag and mitt work
As a baseline, anyone who trains a striking sport needs to own a pair of standard boxing gloves. Typically these gloves are used for both boxing and traditional kickboxing, both of which avoid clinching and grappling techniques. It's really more about sizing.
Sanabul boxing gloves range from 8 ounces to 16 ounces. The most common sizes for bag and mitt work are 12oz, 14oz, and 16oz. The 8oz and 10oz gloves are generally reserved for professional boxing competitions, and lack enough padding to protect the hands during long training sessions or when throwing with power on the bag. Anything bigger than a 16oz boxing glove is usually used for ultra-heavyweight training.
For general bag and mitt work you can use anything from 12oz to 16oz boxing gloves. If you have smaller hands a 12oz glove may be better. Remember that once your hands are wrapped, they will be much more snug in the gloves. Unless your hands are particularly small, most people can fill 16oz gloves when wrapped with a full 180in handwrap.
If you plan to spar, you generally want 16oz boxing gloves or the closest size you can fit in to for the sake of you and your partner. Sparring gloves generally have more padding on the knuckle area than gloves designed for competition. This will reduce some impact and protect your hands and your opponent’s face better than a stiffer competition gloves. While some athletes spar with the same gloves they use for bag work, the high volume of impacts against the glove will compress the knuckle padding over time.
If you plan to compete in boxing professionally then you will need a pair of 8oz or 10oz competition gloves depending on the rules of your promotion.
Muay Thai Gloves
Training and competing in muay thai requires a different type of glove from standard boxing gloves. Unlike boxing, muay thai allows the use of clinching techniques. As such, muay thai gloves are more flexible than boxing gloves, and the position of the thumb is better for gripping your opponents limbs, head, and neck.
Generally speaking, you need muay thai gloves if you plan to drill and spar using clinching techniques. The flexibility of muay thai gloves allows more gripping and control options from the clinch, and it will be difficult to execute certain clinch positions while wearing standard boxing gloves.
Most people who train muay thai will have a pair of boxing style gloves to hit the bag and pads, and a separate pair of muay thai style gloves for drilling and sparring.
Muay Thai glove sizes range from 10oz to 16oz. As with boxing gloves, the larger sizes have more padding and are optimal for drilling and sparring, whereas smaller glove sizes have less padding and are more effective for dispatching foes in the ring during live competition.
MMA & Hybrid Gloves
You need MMA style gloves if you plan to train strikes alongside wrestling and submission techniques, and they are certainly a must-have for anyone with competitive MMA goals.
MMA style gloves differ significantly from both boxing and muay thai gloves. In order to allow for a full range of grappling techniques, MMA gloves are smaller and do not have the fingers encased entirely in the glove. This allows for more gripping and hand fighting than the mitten design of boxing and muay thai gloves.
MMA gloves weigh anywhere from 4oz to 7oz. The smaller 4oz gloves are used in professional competition, while amateur competition generally uses 6oz gloves. Sanabul makes serval 7oz. "Hybrid Gloves" which function like MMA gloves but have more padding for everyday training.
While some fighters will dial-in their striking on pads with MMA gloves to develop more accuracy, the 4oz gloves do not have sufficient protection for high-volume bag and pad work.
Sparring style MMA gloves generally have softer padding on the knuckles than the smaller competition MMA gloves, and are ideal for drilling strike-takedown combos, ground and pound, and other MMA and self-defense specific martial arts combinations.
4oz. MMA gloves are generally the smallest gloves out there. They have the smallest amount of padding and as such can cause more damage than larger gloves for a given striking power. The thin padding allows the maximum grappling freedom while still offering some protection. Cuts and bloody noses are also far more common even when light sparring with competition gloves, and as such these gloves are really meant for actual MMA competitions.
For entry level MMA training, you should start with our Sanabul Hybrid gloves. Once you are closer to competition you can look into getting a smaller, stiffer glove to effectively dispatch your opponent in the cage.