Today we’re going to over the essential gear types you need for Muay Thai, as well as our top picks for which brand is best for each category. So without further ado, let’s start!
Essentials – Don’t Even Start Without These
No matter whether you are sparring or training, make sure you have the below.
Wrist Guards/Hand Wraps
You probably thought the first item would be boxing gloves, and while gloves are essential, there is one item that should be taken into account before choosing a pair of gloves – and that is your hand wrap.
Hand wraps serve a few purposes. The first is to tighten up your hands so that you don’t injure them during practice. But, wait, isn’t that the purpose of the gloves? Yes, but the gloves and wraps serve different purposes. Wraps protect your hand from itself – one hand has dozens of small bones with multiple joints and soft cartilage in between. When the hand receives a hard shock from the outside, any flexibility in the hand causes the bones and joints to rub against each other, possibly causing fractures or sprains (or worse). A hand wrap tightens up the fist so the fragile bones stay solid like a rock and don’t move against each other.
The second purpose of wraps is to create a barrier between your hands the and boxing gloves to keep moisture in and bacteria out. Boxing gloves, unlike wraps, can’t easily be washed, so any soilage in the glove is harder to remove. As well, bacteria can build up in the glove and infect your hand. A wrap serves to keep the moisture from your hand out of the glove, both to keep the leather and padding in the glove from weakening over time and to keep any bacteria in the glove from getting new food. For this reason, it is important to have several pairs of wraps so you can train while the others are being washed or, at the very least, drying out between sessions. A good rule is to have a pair of wraps for every training session each week (so, 6 days a week twice a day would be 12 pairs, though most people won’t need so many).
The last purpose of wraps is to supplement the glove. While traditional wrapping styles merely serve to tighten the hand as above, some people like to train with thin gloves that don’t offer much padding, and wrapping variations exist that give extra protection to the knuckles without incurring the extra weight of a thicker glove.
So now that you know why hand wraps are essential, why did we put them above boxing gloves? Because how you wrap your hands and how thick your wraps are will effect how your hand fits in a glove, and thus, which gloves will fit you best. Using very thick wraps may require a bigger glove than you would require without one. When sizing yourself for gloves, make sure to wrap your hands as you normally do.
Now, onto the second essential - Boxing Gloves. While originally boxers didn’t use gloves, once they were invented they quickly caught in due to the dramatic drop in injuries. Apparently people found that not getting injured and taking months to recover was really nice and dramatically accelerated their training progress.
There are two uses for Boxing Gloves – Training and Sparring. Bag Gloves, aptly named, are used for punching bags, not people. They are much harder and lighter due to their thin padding (represented by lower weights), which helps the trainee throw faster punches and get much better feedback about punching alignment and impact. However, they should never be used for sparring, as while the main purpose of bag gloves is to protect the trainee, the main purpose of sparring gloves is to protect the opponent. Sparring gloves, for this reason, are heavier and have much thicker padding (represented by higher weights). Most sparring matches require 16oz sparring gloves (for smaller men or women, 14oz may be allowed).
A word of warning: don’t buy gloves for sparring and use them for bag training to save money. Using gloves on bags will compress the padding, making them less suitable for sparring and quickly making potential opponents unwilling to practice with you. Don’t skimp on your sparring gloves – your opponents will respect you for respecting them. As you will them when you receive their punches during practice.
Because Muai Thai is a contact sport with a high fitness requirement, it is essential to wear loose clothing that allows full range of motion – not your everyday jeans. While Muai Thai has fairly relaxed standards for what is allowed, nothings says you take the sport seriously like Muai Thai branded clothing. You wouldn’t show up to Taekwondo or Tai Qi practice in your grandmother’s sweatpants, so why not get some practice clothes that show you mean business?