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Finding the Perfect Fit: What size glove is best for Muay Thai Training?

The use of big gloves in Muay Thai training has become increasingly common. However, during my initial training experience in Thailand back in 1994, the situation was quite different. At that time, the gym possessed only one set of two pairs of lace-up gloves, likely weighing around 12 ounces. To accommodate all bag and pad work, rows of bag mitts with elastic cuffs were utilized.

Even now, after all these years, I continue to hold the belief that oversized 16-ounce gloves are unnecessary during training sessions. Instead, I prefer using a modest pair of bag gloves for both bag and pad work. Additionally, I keep a separate pair of 12-ounce gloves exclusively for sparring purposes.

As a self proclaimed dinosaur and traditionalist, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I may have overlooked certain aspects, and perhaps there are benefits to using 16-ounce gloves. Could the old methods be better, or has the sport progressed, leaving me in its wake? I'm open to the possibility that I may be mistaken. Let's explore the pros and cons, but before we delve into that, allow me to share my reasoning.

My 12 0z Sparring Gloves - Windy, solid and well made gloves without fancy designs that just come of after a few uses. (I am unsponsored)

The association of a macho attitude with 16-ounce gloves is evident, as some individuals adopt the belief that bigger gloves are necessary to showcase their strength. Moreover, many non-Thailand-based practitioners argue in favour of heavy sparring, using it as a justification for the use of larger gloves. However, it's worth noting that hard sparring is seldom practiced in Thailand, challenging the validity of that argument.

The utilization of 16-ounce gloves can clumsy and hinder the execution of various Muay Thai techniques. Their bulkiness poses challenges when it comes to catching kicks, engaging in clinching, and executing hand manoeuvres like parrying or deflecting strikes. It's akin to preparing for a marathon while wearing heavy work boots—just as impractical.

Another crucial aspect to consider is the issue of guarding. I believe that larger gloves can deceive fighters into a false sense of security due to the additional coverage they provide compared to the smaller gloves worn in actual fights. It can be quite shocking for a fighter who has solely trained with big gloves to realize how little of their head they can effectively shield with the smaller, fighting-sized 8-ounce gloves.

My trusted bag mitts, Fairtex brand, I use these for all pad and bag work. (I am unsponsored)

What factors have driven the evolution of the sport and led to the widespread adoption of big gloves? Could there be reasons that have eluded my understanding? Looking back to the 90s, it was unimaginable for anyone to buy their own gloves. The market wasn't flooded with the multitude of manufacturers we see today, and even if they were available, they might have been financially out of reach for many. Perhaps the introduction of Velcro has played a significant role in enhancing glove practicality. In the 90s, gloves were predominantly available as either lace-up or elastic-cuffed options, but the advent of Velcro has undoubtedly been a game changer in the industry.

Let's explore the topic of sparring. In my case, I opt for 12-ounce gloves, which strike a balance between realism and partner protection. As previously mentioned, the practice of hard sparring is infrequent in Thailand. Instead, the focus is on timing, distance, and targeting during sparring sessions. We are encouraged to flow with our opponents, avoiding disruptive actions that snatch away their strikes. It's important to note that Muay Thai is a demanding combat sport, and even with light-contact flow sparring, the occasional bloody nose or split lip may occur. However, when these minor injuries result from hours of sparring practice with realistic gloves, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Sparring in the 90s was often performed like this with no gloves or shinpads, when the contact is light this is a great way to hone your fighting skills. Flowing with your opponent is important. (Burklerk Gym - Lampang)

Using 16 oz Gloves in Muay Thai Training


  • Extra weight may improve conditioning

  • Better protection when sparring hard


  • Difficult to clinch

  • Difficult to catch kicks

  • Difficult for hand play and parrying etc

  • False sense of security re guard

  • Lack of realism

What do you think? Please comment below.

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