Light and Safe

Karate and the many other martial art disciplines have been and continue to be very popular worldwide. Once can participate on varying levels, from meditative to competitive. With the meteoric and mainstream rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the fact that many martial art activities include sparring, having optimal range and speed of movement while maintaining physical safety for all involved is a primary concern. Since many disciplines involve direct contact with hands and feet, having the right karate gloves can help keep these activities safe for both you and your opponent.

Glove Types and Materials

Karate gloves — often called sparring gloves — can come in many different styles and from different materials for different purposes. They may range from those suited for children to those suited for professionals. Some participants may simply want to train with a bag (with an exercise/health focus) and with no contact to others, so they often choose heavier gloves with extra padding and safety features and with weights up to 16 ounces or more. These are often called “training gloves” or “bag gloves.”Conversely, professional MMA competitors might usecomparatively light and thin gloves to allow for optimal quickness and movement. These are sometimes referred to as “gladiator gloves.”When looking for the proper gloves, common/standard features may include foam, horsehair, cotton, or polyurethane padding of one-half inch thickness or more with a strongly-stitched cover often made from a durable material such as leather or vinyl. They can also come in a contoured design for enhanced movement. As the overall attire for some martial arts can be very specific and even symbolic, gloves are often available in an array of colors.

Choosing the Right Type of Glove for You

When deciding which type of glove to use, consider what they will be used for. Will you simply train individually with a bag? Will you participate in light, semi-contact sparring? Or will you compete in tournaments or even professionally? If you are just beginning to participate in karate or another martial art, it is usually recommended that you start with heavier training gloves, such as 14 to 18 ounces. Doing so will help build endurance and technique. After basic technique is gained and you and your instructor feel prepared to begin light sparring and eventually even full contact sparring if you choose, it may be time to proceed to lighter sparring gloves, often weighing eight to 12 ounces. Once you decide exactly what you will be using the gloves for, it is important to make sure they fit properly. When trying gloves on, be sure that they fit tightly without interfering with circulation. The top of the glove should feel firm against your fingertips. Also, the gloves should hook and loop or lace up tightly.

Whether you are hitting a bag in private or competing against someone else in front of thousands of spectators, martial arts can yield great rewards, and participating safely can begin with the right equipment. Proper karate gloves can protect you and those around you, even if that includes your opponent.

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