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Muay Thai Vs Boxing Gloves: A Head-To-Head Comparison

muay thai vs boxing gloves comparison
muay thai vs boxing gloves

There are many differences between boxing and Muay Thai – rounds, equipment, rules, judges, rituals before the fight… But the ancient Siamese martial art and one of the oldest fighting disciplines in the world share two things – ring and gloves.

There are very few different details between the rings. But gloves are way dissimilar. Muay Thai offers various types of gloves for clinching, pad work, sparring, even bag work. Some promotions even force their fighters to take part in bouts with very thin models, which pushes the entertainment to a whole new level.

So, Muay Thai vs boxing gloves, which one should you choose and why? Which pair will fulfill your needs better? Please read my guide and get to know the good and bad sides of both. I’ll tell you something – I am a diehard Thai addict but a boxing glove can come in handy.

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Muay Thai Vs Boxing Gloves – Differences Or Abilities To Put Your Training Sessions To The Next Level?

There are so many different things between the two types of gloves, and I could write Muay Thai vs boxing gloves comparison for days. I will try to focus on key attributes, plus I will try to explain how it affects your performance. Please read this carefully, you don’t want to downgrade your performance!

Padding

I’d call this the greatest on the list of Muay Thai vs boxing gloves’ differences. Muay Thai is the science of 8 limbs, you can hurt your foe with kicks, knees, elbows, and punches. Boxing allows only some specific punches – jabs, straights, hooks, uppercuts, swings, and overhands (all right, I have to put haymakers on the list, hence I’m not a fan of street style).

Also, spinning back fists and Superman punches are strictly prohibited in boxing, while there are many masters of these two strikes in Muay Thai.

In boxing, the majority of padding is focused around knuckles, but the side of the Muay Thai glove takes way more damage. The boxing product protects the front side of the glove way more, compared to a Thai boxing product.

The Thai glove is known for the uniformed distribution of padding all around the glove. Front, rear, and lateral sides are evenly protected, as you have to defend shins and knees too.

Boxing judges don’t allow much activity of the clinch, while Muay Thai is centered around the clinching game. Too much padding on the front of Thai products would lead to fewer options in a close-range battle.

Wrist Support

I call this a downside of Muay Thai gloves, but you might disagree with me. There’s way more wrist support in boxing gloves as the sport allows only punches.

Padded cuffs are pretty much longer and wider. It means you’ll hardly hurt yourself during haymakers or when you land a violent uppercut to the opponent’s hip. In Thai boxing, unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Thinner and tighter wrists of boxing gloves will keep your punch, wrist, and the lower areas of radius and ulna stiffer during strikes. Short cuffs and a more relaxed nature of a Muay Thai punching tool will lead to a more flexible product but less wrist support. It could mean a greater number of injuries when you unload one-punch knockout bombs.

Shape

It is easy to notice Muay Thai vs boxing gloves difference, even when you know nothing about the products.

Thai boxing products are way puffier and rounder because of the all-around distribution of the padding. Thai fighter keeps his hands high and more relaxed throughout the bout, so the glove fits its needs. It lets you keep your fingers relaxed and clench the fist only when you have to, as you can defend some strikes with elbows.

On the other hand, the western-based punching martial art’s items are recognizable for their compact design and boxy rectangular shape. New generation boxers often defend via double pillars and Mexican style, but take a look at old school guys – Cross Arm and the Philly Shell guard are pretty often. The hand is almost always in a fist thanks to the glove specifications.

Flexibility

The area around the wrists is way more flexible for Muay Thai products, and that’s the reason why I’d favor Thai items here. When you meet a fighter from eastern Asia, your close-range skills must rock or you’re gonna get destroyed.

It gets worse when you have to deal with a sweep specialist. Muay Thai pair of gloves close your fist less than the boxing pair.

The stiff wrist construction is the trademark of boxing gloves. The boxing rule says – as long as one hand is free, the referee will not stop the fight. But you cannot hold the opponent with your leading arm and piece him up with your stronger punch.

On the other hand, Muay Thai is more focused on holding and variations of close-range combat. It’s pretty hard to control the opponent’s arms and head due to a stiffer design.

Covering Up And Defense

Boxing gloves help you cover up way easier. For example, put double pillars and tuck your elbows against the ribs and your opponent’s opportunities for a successful point are reduced to a straight punch to the body and a hook or a weaving overhand behind the ear. It leads to so many different guards, depending on schools and dojos.

Muay Thai gloves are your worst enemy when it comes to covering up. Even when you defend properly, your knee or elbow must assist, and you’re forced to move your limb towards the striking arm of your opponent to minimize the damage. A good horizontal elbow can cut you open through the glove as it goes around it.

Well, Muay Thai vs boxing gloves comparison makes no sense here, as boxing glove offers way more protection and let you defend in many more different ways.

Injury Prevention And Different Aspects Of The Game

This is pretty tricky, so I’ll try to sound clear. I am trying to describe the potential situations in your training sessions.

Frankly, the boxing glove offers fabulous levels of protection when you throw all kinds of fists at your opponent, even Superman punches and Anthony Pettis’ Superman hook. But you can hurt yourself badly during hammer-fists and spinning back fist as the boxing glove’s not designed to protect the lateral side of your hand.

Thanks to the evenly distributed padding, a Muay Thai glove leads to a moderate level of protection during the offense. It means less damage while eating all kinds of lateral strikes – hooks, overhands, oblique, crescent, and spinning heel kicks.

ladies sparing

But you can hurt yourself more while punching the opponent, heavy bag, or mitts. Thai boxing item is better for spinning back fist and that’s it.

The defensive aspect of the game also demands detailed analysis. Boxing glove prevents better from nearly all kinds of punches, horizontal and spinning elbows, axe kicks, and a spinning back kick to the head.

But where are the prevention from clinch knees, uppercut and slashing elbows, high kicks, and spinning strikes to the head? Even a teep or a front kick could hurt your metacarpal bones. An opponent can unload a jumping crane kick or a switch kick to the head too. Boxing gloves have many bad sides when it comes to defense.

Well, Muay Thai vs boxing gloves – the score is tied here. Boxing product is better for protection when you attack, while a Muay Thai pair of gloves help you more when you’re dealing with a pressure fighter or defending various strikes and level changes.

Can You Use Boxing Gloves For Muay Thai?

I was asked this question thousands of times, so I decided to give you a good explanation. I’d kindly advise you to stay away from that in the competition, especially if it’s an elite one. Sometimes, the tournament officials might give you their set of gloves.

You might use boxing gloves for Muay Thai in some minor competitions without strict control but I am telling you, please don’t do it, you will downgrade your clinch and defensive skills. Yeah, you will protect your punches better but that’s not the solution.

If the ref sees you’re using an inappropriate model, it might even lead to disqualification (luckily, they usually warn you before the fight to change your gloves, but referees are humans, they might make a mistake). I see it as a too risky move.

On the other hand, training is something different. For example, you can use sparring gloves for clinching when you train dirty boxing, as you don’t need much of the control. Yet, you can’t do it for close-range knees and elbows because you’ll have to move and set your foe up.

Boxing gloves are a top-notch pick for heavy bag and uppercut bag workouts. You can land the hardest strikes in the world without fear of injury. You’ll just have to pay maximum attention during spinning back fists. I’ll be honest, 16 or 18oz gloves are filled with a lot of layers of protection, injury potential is reduced to a minimum.

Body Weight (LBS)Body Weight (KG)Gloves Size (OZ)
100lbs & below45kg & below8oz – 10oz
101lbs – 120lbs46 – 54kg10oz – 12oz
121lbs – 150lbs55 – 68kg12oz – 14oz
151lbs – 180lbs69 – 82kg14oz – 16oz
181lbs & above83kg & above16oz
Muay Thai Gloves Size Chart

A banana-shaped bag is not that hard, just like a curved (angle-shaped) bag. So boxing gloves could spoil your performance, as these two training items are mostly used for level changes and combinations. Your speed will decrease, which will lead to problems in the fight.

Mitt workout is another critical category for Muay Thai vs boxing gloves comparison. I’d kindly advise you to ask your coach what aspects of the game are you going to work on (some of them will tell you, better equipment leads to more positive effects). Please read my explanation carefully.

When you plan to work on your boxing performance and nothing else, boxing gloves might slow you down. Yet, you’ll get more protection when you land skull-crushing bombs to the foe’s head. But if you throw strikes to the belly and thigh, you should give advantage to a Muay Thai piece of equipment, as it will help you land quicker and crisper shots. You will need less time to perform a combo.

Will The Use Of Boxing Gloves Affect My Muay Thai Performance?

Well, yes and no. It depends on your fighting style and the goal of your training sessions. Beginners shouldn’t pay much attention to this, their goal is to learn, they can freely forget about the competitive aspect of the game.

Intermediate fighters should build their fighting styles and decide which direction is their fighting performance going to go. So the use of the wrong glove can be harmful if you, for example, use boxing gloves for quick combinations.

But again, this kind of mistake will not cost you much. You’re not aiming for maximum result, you’re still discovering yourself.

In professional sport, every mistake costs too much. You’ll have to make a training plan with your coach and pay close attention to equipment. Let me give you an example. The coach plans a clinch training session, and you bring boxing gloves to the gym.

This leads to a massive problem as you won’t be able to control your opponent well, which will downgrade your performance in the competition. You might even get knocked out (outworked if lucky) in the ring.

So pay attention to the Muay Thai vs boxing gloves aspect when you take part in a training session. This is especially important for professional athletes and intermediates. Your goal is to progress and you must follow the instructions. There’s no room for negotiations.

Conclusion

I like all kinds of training equipment, but a good combination leads to balance and progress. I’ve got nothing against a boxing training tool in the Muay Thai session if it helps you grow, but I don’t like making mistakes. It affects the growth of your skills and leads to poor performance in the competition.

I think that Muay Thai vs boxing gloves are a tricky comparison, as you must get to know many important details. Please read this guide more than once and notify me if you have questions, I will gladly answer each one of them!

Deni

Deni

Hi, I started training Muay Thai back in 2016 and fell in love with it. So I decided to create this blog in the pursuit of this passion and share my experience with you.

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