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Thai Boxing Gloves Vs Western Boxing Gloves?

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Thai Boxing Gloves Vs Western Boxing Gloves?
So Whats the Difference between Thai Boxing Gloves and Western Boxing Gloves? Like many of the Oriental martial arts Muay Thai has a history traceable back over centuries and previously was one of many systems used as a practical form of unarmed combat however unlike many martial arts of the orient it’s sporting pedigree is traceable back almost 500 years more similar in fact to its more western counterpart of Boxing also traceable back as a sport as far back as the 16th Century. These parallels with western boxing continue with modernisation beginning in the 19th Century and culminating in a structured rule set being introduced in the 1920’s much like the famous Queensbury rules of 1867 in western boxing. Muay Thai did not adopt boxing gloves until fights against foreign opponents started in the 1950’s and matches between Thais were still using traditional rope binding over the hands until the death of a fighter in the ring prompted the standardisation of using boxing gloves and cottons anklets over the feet; This was when the term “Muay Thai” separated from its older format “Muay Boran” which became more of an exhibition based traditional style than a combat sport. Thai Boxing Gloves As Thai boxing gloves started by adopting gloves from western boxing it is over time and with innovation specific to the two different sports that differences between Thai gloves and western boxing gloves have arisen. It is within the style of fighting that the first clues to the differences can be found. In boxing the fists are the only weapon allowed and it is fairly common acceptance that the western form has the superior hand skill however in Muay Thai punching is only one of the many tools available to the fighter and often used to set up more powerful strikes from the legs and knees. The Thai boxing glove requires greater flexibility in the wrist area especially to allow for clinch techniques therefore usually Thai gloves have shorter wrist cuffs than western boxing gloves. The padding in Western gloves tends to be stiffer (although this is quite variable from brand to brand) arguably down to the sheer volume of hand strikes a western boxer will achieve in a round whereas the Thai counterpart will use less hand strikes in favour of kicks, knee strikes and elbows from the clinch. In competition Thai boxing may use 8oz or 10oz gloves depending on the weight of the fighter which are generally of the lace up variety. Whilst the western boxer favours lace up gloves much of the time in training too, the popularity of Velcro cuffed gloves for sparring has become the more popular choice in modern Thai boxing. Types of Muay Thai Boxing Gloves Just as with western boxing there are several different types and sizes of gloves basically split into three categories: Competition aka Fight gloves, Sparring aka training gloves and bag gloves or mitts. The choice of lace up or Velcro fastenings makes another variation the advantage of laces being longevity of the glove and also less cutting and scuffing for training partners especially in the clinch whilst the obvious advantage of Velcro fastening being the ease of getting the glove on and off. Lace up Thai gloves are still broadly favoured by competitors and are usually compulsory at events above a certain level. Gloves for sparring and training come in sizes of between 10oz (usually reserved for females and very light fighters) up to 18oz for super heavyweights with the average sparring glove being a 14 or 16 oz glove. Bag gloves are a smaller and usually cheaper glove designed only for bag and pad training, many fighters prefer to use an old pair of boxing gloves for this purpose coupled with wraps for greater hand protection however using bag gloves can prolong the life of more expensive sparring gloves and is well worth some consideration. Glove Innovations and styles Unlike western boxing gloves there is a much more varied and colourful variance in the many designs and styles within the Thai boxing arena. Manufacturers such as Twins Special, Top King and Fairtex all produce a wide range of colours, contrast tones and “fancy print” designs to appeal to the more flamboyant world of Muay Thai. Dragons, Tattoos, Thai flowers, flags and many other designs find their way onto the printed leather of the gloves whilst more traditional manufacturers such as Windy and Boon make solid high quality but somewhat less fancy boxing gloves. One recent innovation is the “Breathable” glove which first appeared in the UK via the manufacturer Topking. The glove (later copied by Fairtex, Windy and Twins) features a layered strip of synthetic material across the palm which allows air to get to the hand compartment of the glove both whilst wearing it and when drying out after a session. Although it cannot do anything other than weaken the structure of the glove overall the breathable innovation can increase the gloves comfort and longevity by avoiding the common issue of them rotting from the inside out due to not being dried properly between training sessions.

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  • Alex Wright
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