Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Making the Transition from Boxing to MMA Gloves

It's been about a year since my merry band of training brothers made the move from (primarily) boxing gloves to the MMA-style glove. There are several reasons we made the switch:
  • Boxing gloves (esp. 16-ounce training gloves) tend to allow you to (unrealistically) hit harder to well-protected areas than you could realistically do without them, for example, a punch to the forehead is no problem, nor a jab to an elbow. In reality, both of those targets with a clenched fist would incapacitate the puncher, not the punchee. MMA gloves provide minimal protection for the hand, and don't really increase the likelihood of damage to the recipient, so they teach you to punch to better (softer) targets, or else!
  • Boxing gloves provide an unrealistic defense due to their size (they can serve as a shield), and the padding effect. Blows can be blocked by just raising the gloves, when, in reality, that would result in an injured blocking hand. Empty-hand (or MMA gloves) teaches us to slip, parry, elbow block, check, and jam so that we don't have to take damage.
  • Boxing gloves don't allow for grabbing, other than the clinch. MMA gloves allow us to grab and clinch better, reducing the chance of getting hit by a strike, and are required if you're going to use most grips and wrist locks.
  • Boxing gloves, while removing the inhibition to hitting hard, also slow you down. Even 8-12 ounce fight gloves a bulky compared to the little 4 oz. MMA-style. MMA gloves provide a better guage of the speed you may face versus a fast opponent on the street.
  • Boxing gloves take away the precise aim that's required for accurate striking. I remember the first time we sparred with MMA gloves, and I was able to throw a vertical fist between the guard of my opponent and land to the body. Ditto with an uppercut between the arms. In both cases, boxing gloves would've prevented me from using the openings.

A caveat: Without boxing gloves, you have thumbs. Thumbs are, "the shortest thickest digit of the human hand, located next to the forefinger," according to Microsoft's Encarta. They are also vulnerable when punching. You must tuck those thumbs down and in to avoid a painful sprain. I have repeatedly jammed and sprained the thumb on my left hand, and it's only now healed enough that I am not conscious of it all the time.

A final word - I should add that the type of protection you use will also depend on the purpose of your training. Don't use MMA gloves if you're training for full-contact or kickboxing - you want 16 ouncers. If you're doing no-contact Karate, they make no sense either. My students and I are training for self-defense, not the next Pride or UFC competition, and are trying to use just what we need to protect us from overzealous partners or accidents, and longer. I don't recommend giving up the boxing gloves completely. They're great precisely because of the reasons I listed above- they protect your hands, they add weight (resistance), building up speed, they are less precise, but provide better protection (for the puncher). They are perfect for when you just wanna get out there and bang a little, or when you need some endurance work in sparring, not precision work. We use them at the end of every training for what we call "burnouts." Enjoy...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

good article! i just started boxing and have been concerned about the speed issue of smaller gloves as well as the false sense of security of the bigger gloves. this article addressed both!

Nathan Teodoro said...

Thanks Anon. It's should be of concern to anyone who actually wants to use their boxing skills in self-defense. And you may have to whether you like it or not! Appreciate the comments. - Nathan

Sootmouth said...

I'm not trying to sway anyone's opinion here, but this was just a question I was curious about myself, because I was thinking of investing in a pair of gloves of one kind or the other, and I was wondering to myself which to go with. The comment you made about MMA gloves having thumbs is accurate, and intentionally omitted from boxing gloves, to my understanding-- I've been told that it was far too common in boxing matches to have someone's eye gouged, on accident in the best case scenario. Just wanted to see what the answer to that is, though I am sure there's a good one.

Daniel Sambrano said...

Excellent Article! Well thought out information, based on actual experience and not just theory.
The next step is to start training bareknuckle as this is the way you will be fighting in a real fight.
Make sure you use a vertical or diagonal fist as these are the best fist positions to use barefisted.
And never strike with a horizontal fist to the head, unless you want an injured or broken hand.
Leave that position to the gloved fighters.
Again thank you for the article.

Anonymous said...

Which are safer when you get hit? considering when you're wearing a helmet?

boxing gloves said...

Boxing gloves provide an unrealistic defense due to their size (they can serve as a shield), and the padding effect. MMA gloves allow us to grab and clinch better, reducing the chance of getting hit by a strike, and are required if you're going to use most grips and wrist locks.

Alok Tiwari said...

hello guys!
good comments are here i really appreciate your work done on this post .
dear friends if you need any type of Mma boxing gloves
thank you