Boxing and Muay Thai are two sports that are worlds apart. However, the gloves used by fighters in each sport are similar, which is why a lot of people use them interchangeably. But while there are few differences between them to the casual user, boxing gloves are made for a very different use compared to Muay Thai gloves.
You can use boxing gloves for Muay Thai. For casual users, it doesn’t really matter which gloves you use. It’s more important that you do have gloves when training. However, competitive fighters need to use Muay Thai gloves during training and competitions.
This article dives a little deeper into the differences between the two types of gloves to help you determine which ones you should use and when you should use them. So read on to find out everything you need to know about how to choose the gloves that are right for you.
What Are the Differences Between Boxing Gloves and Muay Thai Gloves?
Boxing gloves are perfected for throwing and blocking punches only. Muay Thai gloves, on the other hand, are much better-rounded to cater for the additional clinching and blocking kicks or elbows.
Here are some of the most common differences between the two types of gloves.
This is the key difference between boxing and Muay Thai gloves. In boxing, the palm is used only for parrying shots, so the gloves tend to have fairly rounded fingers to make it easier for the user to make a clenched fist.
In Thai boxing, however, fighters need to be able to grip during the clinch. They also need to be able to catch and hold kicks with their hands. That’s why Thai boxing gloves typically have molded padding and fingers with less of a bend to allow the palm of the hand to be in a more open position.
Another key difference between the two types of gloves is the thumb. In boxing, fighters must keep the thumb out of the way to prevent injury. The thumb on the gloves is normally kept quite close to the fist. It is usually attached using a thin strap to keep it in place, and it’s protected by the knuckle padding whenever possible.
On Muay Thai gloves, the thumb is less straight, with a bit of a curve to the design. It offers more freedom of movement to allow fighters to grip better when catching or clinching.
The side of the hand is usually safe from impact in boxing. Often, boxing gloves will have little to no padding in that area. They also have very little padding over the palm, with many brands using breathable mesh on the underside area to cool your hands down and allow gloves to dry faster.
On Thai gloves, the padding distribution is quite different. The center of the palm doesn’t have padding, but there’s usually thick padding down the sides of each hand. The padding adds an additional layer of protection for fighters as they block kicks, elbows, and knees.
The final difference when comparing Muay Thai and boxing gloves is how the cuff fits on the wrist. There isn’t much difference when looking at lace-up gloves, but with Velcro gloves, the difference is quite noticeable.
Boxing glove cuffs are fairly long and fit the wrist closely to provide support without hindering intentional flexing. The cuffs keep the wrist from bending and prevent it from incurring too much impact when punching.
Muay gloves take a whole different approach. Fighters need to be able to bend the wrists when clinching so they can get a lock around the opponent’s neck. For this reason, the glove cuffs offer a shorter fit. They make up for the reduction in support with a thicker cuff that still manages to feel protective as long as the strap is pulled tight.
Important Note: It’s crucial to note that there are a lot of variations between designs from different brands. While this article will serve as a helpful guide, the line can be a bit blurry, depending on the glove manufacturer.
There are even some totally unique boxing glove styles on the market, such as the Danger Ultimate Fighter semi-leather boxing gloves that don’t feature the traits mentioned above. That’s why it’s important to do more research if you intend to purchase a pair of boxing or Muay Thai gloves. Read on to discover more about which gloves you should use.
Which Gloves Should You Use for Muay Thai Training?
Are You Casually Training Muay Thai?
If so, it doesn’t matter which gloves you use. For casual Muay Thai fighters, it’s more important to have a well-fitting glove that will provide adequate protection for your hands, than to worry about the type of glove.
Did You Train in Boxing Before Muay Thai?
If that’s you, then you may want to use boxing gloves first since you’re likely to be throwing a lot of hand combos as opposed to the 1-2-style power shots that are more prevalent in Muay Thai.
Do You Like Working on the Heavy Bag and Hitting Pads?
Pure boxing gloves will provide you with the support and protection that your hands and wrists need. In this instance, you will benefit from choosing boxing gloves over Muay Thai gloves for your training.
Are You a Very “Hand-Heavy” Type of Fighter?
If so, you may be better off using a boxing glove. The term hand-heavy refers to fighters who tend to use their hands a lot more than any other point of contact during fights. Muay Thai does encourage the use of different points of contact, but if you’re someone who favors fists, you will benefit more from using boxing gloves due to the shape and weight distribution of the glove.
Are You a Competitive Muay Thai Fighter?
If you fight competitively, you definitely need to use Muay Thai gloves. This is also the case even if you’re a hand-heavy fighter. If you intend to fight in the future, you should start using the right gloves right away since you’ll have to use them in the ring.
When using the right gloves for the sport, you will be able to practice properly, particularly when it comes to getting a better grip or being able to grab or block your opponent’s hands. These are things that you certainly need to do well if you’re going to succeed as a Muay Thai fighter.
In short, using Muay Thai gloves for your training will make it easier to practice all the moves and techniques, and ultimately help you perform more effectively.
Muay Thai Gloves vs. Boxing Gloves: Should You Buy Both?
As you can see, each type of glove has its own uses. If budget permits, it’s a good idea to buy one of each type. This will make it easy for you to use them interchangeably during your training. Doing this is particularly helpful if you’re a fighter who likes mixing things up a little.
As you train, you can focus on traditional Muay Thai as well as boxing-centric drills. There’s no rule that says you can’t have both, so if you can, go ahead and get yourself a good pair of each.
Types of Gloves
Although Muay Thai gloves come in a large selection of weights, styles, materials, and designs, there are really only five main types of gloves. You’ll need to be familiar with each of these if you’re going to choose the right pair to suit your needs.
By knowing the difference between punching gloves, you will be able to avoid getting a pair that is too heavy for training, too light for sparring, or one that just doesn’t fit right.
Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the activity-specific types of gloves available on the market right now.
Training gloves are used for standard training routines, including clinching, bag work, pad work, sparring. These “workman” gloves are typically light, weighing between 10oz (284g) and 12oz (340g).
However, some go for gloves up to 16oz (454g) since they are generally thought to be ideal for traditional Muay Thai training. Training gloves should be the first type of gloves you buy since they can be used for pretty much everything.
- Suggested Weights: You can start with 12oz (284g), which is the most popular. For 180lbs (82kg) or heavier, go with 14oz (397g). For women and lighter men under 130lbs (59kg), 10oz (284g) is a great option.
These types of gloves are ideal for use in sanctioned fights. They are a lot smaller than training gloves and are usually lace-up. Although it’s nice to own your own pair, most fighters never have to worry about owning a pair since most venues provide gloves for competitors.
- Suggested Weights: Competition gloves are typically in the 8-10oz (226-284g) range. Most Muay Thai competitions in Thailand use 8oz (226g) gloves for the fights, with heavy fighters using 10oz (284g).
Sparring gloves are more angular in shape, and they tend to have a larger design that offers more protection when throwing punches. They have more padding in the knuckle and wrist areas.
This acts as a protective cushion that absorbs a lot of the impact in order to protect both you and your training partner during sparring. You can think of Muay Thai sparring gloves as a sort of specialized version of the training glove.
- Suggested Weights: 16oz (454g) sparring gloves are considered to be the standard weight for most weight classes. Women and lighter guys can use 14oz (397g) gloves, while heavyweight classes can opt for 18-20oz (510-567g).
Bag gloves are extremely light. They are great for hitting the bag or pads, but they don’t have adequate protection to protect your knuckles if you’re punching a hard bag. These types of gloves are ideal for those who love the feeling of lightweight gloves on the pads or bag.
However, you must never use this type of glove for sparring as it could result in injury for both you and your fighting partner due to the lack of protective padding.
- Suggested Weights: Most people make use of 8-10oz (226-284g) bag gloves so they can hit the pads or heavy bag with minimally weighted gloves. Some modern designs have padding and shock-absorbing material to help protect your hands.
These are very similar to bag gloves, and many people actually use them interchangeably. However, one main difference between the two is that clinch gloves are specifically designed to help you achieve a grip that is as close as possible as you would using your bare hands.
For this purpose, they are very lightly padded. Clinch gloves also have Velcro lining protection that gives you the ability to clinch while still wearing boxing-like gloves.
- Suggested Weights: The most commonly used glove weight for cinching is 12-24oz (284-397g).
There are significant differences between the gloves, and the ones you choose will depend on your individual requirements. Some fighters have a glove for each specific activity, while others use the same glove for all activities.
As a general rule, owning two pairs of gloves is more than enough. Ideally, you’ll want to have one pair of gloves for training and another for sparring. From there, you’ll have the option to add clinching or bag gloves, although most fighters won’t find it necessary.
Now you know the five types of Muay Thai gloves, as well as their purpose. It’s time to discover the factors to consider before choosing the best gloves to meet your needs.
How to Choose the Best Muay Thai Gloves for You
Need a new pair of gloves for sparring? Do you want to add to your collection of gloves? Or maybe you’re simply looking for an alternate pair of gloves for rotation? Whatever the case, if you are in the market for a new pair of Muay Thai gloves, you shouldn’t reach for the first or least expensive pair that you lay eyes on.
There are several things you need to know about choosing the right gloves to suit your needs, and it’s worth investing a bit of time in discovering how to pick the perfect pair of gloves to train in this pugilistic sport.
Listed below are some essential factors that you must consider before making your purchase.
Punching gloves typically run from 4oz (113g) to 18oz (510g). Heavier gloves have more padding, which means that they provide better protection (in theory, at least). 10-14oz (284-397g) gloves are most commonly used for training purposes. Those on the heavyweight scale should consider using 16-18oz (454-510g).
If you are budget-conscious, you will be happy to know that most gloves are priced affordably. Online prices normally range between $70 and $100 for pure leather gloves. However, you should not reach for the first pair you think you can afford. There are still other factors for you to consider.
Being a high-impact sport, Muay Thai involves hitting a lot of dense, heavy bags and tough pads. This means that if you want your gloves to last, you’ll need to choose a pair made of high-quality, durable material that can withstand constant punishment.
Some fighters favor genuine leather over synthetic leather, which is stiffer and slightly less durable. However, it’s important to note that the quality and durability of synthetic leather has improved dramatically over the years. Today, a lot of people prefer animal-free synthetic material, including microfiber leather, over real leather.
Velcro vs. Lace-Up
You can choose either lace-up punching gloves or the Velcro version. With lace-ups, you get a more secure fit that won’t shift easily when in use. The downside is that you need someone else to assist you in lacing up your gloves. This is both inconvenient and impractical when training in the gym.
You can quickly and easily put on and take off Velcro gloves on your own. This makes them a good option for typical training sessions where you have to do different exercises, some with gloves, and others without.
Pro Tip: Do you have sweaty hands? Genuine leather is more breathable than most other materials. Synthetic leather tends to cause the hands to sweat more and feels markedly warmer during training.
If you’re someone who sweats a lot, you should avoid gloves with poor ventilation as this will not only make your training session uncomfortable, but it will also result in a buildup of bacteria that causes odors. If you choose synthetic leather, go for a pair with mesh panels on the palms to aid in quicker drying.
The Bottom Line
Now you know everything we know about whether or not you can use boxing gloves for Muay Thai. When it comes to punching gloves, there are countless options available to you. The good news is that many of the gloves can be used for a variety of activities. You can get away with using regular boxing gloves for Muay Thai if you are a beginner who is just starting out in the sport.
However, if you often engage in sparring, or if you want to move past the beginner level and enter competitions, either at the amateur or professional level, then you will need to train in the right type of glove that will help move you toward success.
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