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Karate training, especially when they involve a lot of fighting, can be a flurry of punching, kicking, blocking, and throwing. It is a lot of fun, it is very educational and also useful, but at the end of the day, it can also be very dangerous. Knocking someone out isn’t the worst part, it is the breaking of jaws, the consequences of concussions, and also other types of bone fractures, internal damage, etc. This is the reason most modern sports have some sort of protective gear; to protect the people who are taking part in any martial arts or combat sports training. In today’s article, we will be looking into the best sparring gloves for karate, so read on if you are searching for one.
1. Wesing WKF Sparring Karate Gloves – Best Overall
In our quest to find the best karate sparring gloves, there was one which came out as the victor in the overall category, and by a pretty large margin. When looking for an overall good pair of sparring gloves, the average karateka doesn’t want anything fancy and expensive, but they want something of high-quality that is going to be durable and which won’t break the bank. In short, they are looking for something which performs at least decently in all areas in which a karate glove can be analyzed.
The winner in this category is the Wesing WKF Sparring Karate Gloves Without Thumb Protection which is available in blue and red colors. It is a really well-performing, overall great product, perfect for sparring and also for bag work. It can be ordered in different sizes as well to fit everyone’s hands. The elastic strap keeps it properly in place and the similarly elastic band which runs along the finger-part of the glove provides great comfort when holding.
We tested this product, however, we didn’t need to order one since we already have a colleague who trains karate and uses these very gloves when necessary. He says that most of the dojo uses them as well since they are affordable, reliable, and also pretty high-quality. Clearly, they aren’t the highest quality karate gloves on the market, but as an overall option, it is second to none. We would warmly recommend it, especially for beginners and people who just want to make a quick decision about which glove they want to buy and move on. It is a perfect choice, and if you are interested, you can check it out here on Amazon, by clicking on this link here!
2. Otomix Sparring Karate Gloves – Budget Pick
Not everyone requires a pair of quality gloves, or maybe some might even not be able to afford them. Perhaps you want to buy a lot of gloves at once because you are opening a karate dojo and just need a quick alternative to supply basic-level gloves to your students until they get themselves one they like. Whatever the reason, if you are in search of a budget pick pair of gloves for karate training, we have got your back.
For the budget pick category, we chose the Otomix Sparring Karate Gloves. They are a very cheap alternative to any karate glove, perfect if you don’t have anything else to start training with or you need to buy a heap at once. It is made of foam and is dipped in vinyl for the finish. There is extra padding across the knuckles for more protection, which works great for sparring since the reason gloves are needed in the first place is to reduce the stress on the hand of the person punching, but more on that later.
Our colleague tested these gloves as well, and they were clearly below the standard he is used to, but in his words: “nobody who is just starting out in karate will like giving money for something they don’t even know whether they like or not, so for beginners or children, it is a great option”. We would also warmly recommend this option since money should never be the reason for anyone to stop training or to never even start in the first place. If you are interested in relatively good quality karate sparring gloves for a steal, check out this link to Amazon!
For those of you reading this article who might have not been satisfied with the products, we mentioned thus far, here is a short list of alternatives you can also choose from.
3. Venum Impact Sparring Gloves – The Expensive Pair
The Venum Impact Sparring Gloves are great for karate, MMA, and many other types of combat, since they are durable and have stood the test of time. The company is famous for making high-quality combat sports equipment, and this product isn’t an exception. It is, however, more expensive than the other ones on this list, but it isn’t one that should break the bank if you are really passionate about karate. Check out this link to Amazon if you are interested!
4. Pro-Force Lighting Punches – Children’s Pair
There are also high-quality pairs of karate gloves available on Amazon, and they are made by the company Pro-Force. One of them is the Pro-Force Lightning Punches pair of training gloves, which has a really interesting metallic silver finish to it. It is a good-quality children’s pair which your child will definitely be happy about getting. It is the standard karate shape, with an open palm-area and holes for one’s fingers as well. The strap also holds the hand in perfectly, so your children won’t have to worry about the glove falling off. Check it out here on Amazon!
However, if you have a daughter, or a young sister, who is very much into the color pink, you can have the same Pro-Force shape and design in a girly and nice pink color. Always check out the size charts, since they might be different for one model than they are for another. This pink pair of gloves will surely be something your daughter will proudly wear to training and show off, so if that is the reaction you want to get, click on this link here to check out this product on Amazon!
5. Everlast Train Advanced – The Grappler
Though you can grapple in most of the gloves we mentioned, and the grappling you do on a karate training will probably require you to take your gloves off, but if you happen to train a form of karate which is has a very prominent grappling and Judo-like element, you might want to look into the Everlast Train Advanced MMA 7-Ounce Striking/Training Gloves, since they provide more room for your fingers to move around and to properly execute grappling throws, locks, and other such movements. Check out this link here to go to Amazon if you are interested in the product!
6. Liberlupus MMA Gloves
A great alternative if you are looking for a lightweight and high-quality pair of gloves. It is primarily an MMA glove, which is great if you train a style of karate that includes grappling and wrestling-like elements, like Goju-Ryu or any other more traditional style. When Gichin Funakoshi created the Shotokan style, he was actually creating an alternative to Western boxing, which at the time was starting to gain popularity. For this reason, Shotokan doesn’t really contain any grappling and is only focused on striking and kicking. These gloves are great for that purpose as well, but you might want to look into somewhat more padded gloves if you are training a more impact-based style of karate like Shotokan, in order to protect both our hand and your sparring partner as well.
We tested the product, and are more than satisfied with it. It is made of synthetic leather which feels like real leather and also promises long life and durability. It feels really well made and comfortable to train in. The light padding makes it almost feel like sparring is a bare-knuckle fight, but it provides enough protection for one to be able to hit confidently and with power. We highly recommend this product if you want a high-quality pair of gloves that look good, feel good, and are also great for grappling-like karate. Do consult with your Sensei whether this sort of gloves are acceptable in your dojo or not, or if there is one he or she may require instead. If the choice is left up to you, check out this link to Amazon and get a pair!
7. RDX Boxing Hand Wraps Inner Gloves
The RDX inner gloves are not the typical gloves you would use for karate, boxing, or MMA. This is perfect for those training Kyokushin and other types of full-contact karate if they want to give their hands a break. Hand wraps or inner gloves are meant to provide an extra layer of protection under the gloves themselves, however, if you really want minimalistic protection which really isn’t much more than protecting your knuckles, this is the best choice for you.
After testing, we concluded that these gloves truly are for the ones who don’t want too much protection. The neoprene material which it is made of provides just enough so that the impact of hitting a sparring partner or a bag doesn’t hurt at all in the way it would with bare hands. It feels really comfortable and also really fresh since the fabric is 4-way breathable, so your hands won’t sweat like in an all-leather glove. Check out this link to Amazon if you are interested!
8. Everlast Women’s Everstrike Training Gloves
This one we chose for the female readers of this article. The reason there are not more specifically female gloves is that most gloves are unisex anyway, so it really doesn’t matter which gender you are. However, these gloves have a design and sizing which is feminine and tailored to female martial artists’ hands. They are typical martial arts gloves, not specific to karate but perfect for that use as well.
There are multiple women in the dojo our colleague trains at who wear these gloves, and we asked them to give their opinion. Some of them have been using these gloves for more than 2 years, and there was one who bought it a month ago. They all praised it, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Everlast is known for high-quality sports products, and these gloves aren’t an exception in that either. Check out this link to Amazon if you are interested!
9. RDX MMA Gloves for Grappling Martial Arts
RDX is a big name in the combat equipment industry since they make quality products. One of these high-quality products is the pair of RDX MAA Gloves for grappling martial arts. It is made of genuine cowhide leather and is one of those lighter, smaller, MMA-style gloves. What’s more, the palm of these gloves is open, which means a more realistic grappling feel.
We tested this product as well, but there really is not much to say about it except that it is a high-quality, comfortable, well-made product. Though our colleague uses different types of gloves, the Wesing WKF approved typical karate gloves, he said that he could very easily get used to this pair since they really feel premium and well-built. If you are interested in buying a pair of gloves that will definitely be able to last you up to a couple of years, check out the RDX MMA gloves for grappling martial arts by clicking on this link, which will lead you to Amazon.
10. Sanabul Funk Strike Tie Dye 7 oz MMA Hybrid Sparring Gloves
As the name suggests, these are probably some of the funkiest gloves out there. Sanabul is a company that is very highly thought of in the industry; they make very high-quality products and they became somewhat of an industry-standard in the combat gloves business. Aside from the comfort, protection, design, and functionality, with these gloves, you also get the style. They are available in several different color schemes, all of which look amazing and will definitely steal all the looks when you put them on.
Our colleague actually owns one of these hybrid gloves (which means that it is a hybrid between a traditional boxing glove and other martial arts gloves like MMA or karate gloves), but he only uses them for special occasions like an exam or when a higher profile guest comes to visit the dojo and he is one of the people who will spar with them. It isn’t even a very expensive glove, but it is surely of high quality and one that you will try to keep in good shape for as long as possible. Check out this link to Amazon’s website if you are interested in buying a glove that won’t only be very comfortable and functional, but also extremely stylish.
What gloves should I use for sparring?
One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to protective gear, more specifically gloves, is that it defends people’s jaws and faces from getting demolished. That is actually wrong, the reason they were created is to protect the hands of the person hitting. Even one bare-knuckle fight can cause serious damage to the bones in one’s hand, which is really hard to fully repair. The hand and wrist contain a total of 27 bones, which are connected in a really specific and precise way, and even a small change in the structure of a bone (which can result from a healed fracture) may limit the movement of the wrist permanently.
On the other hand, boxing gloves and martial arts gloves do not defend the head at all from injury. Clearly, it reduces somewhat the change of bone fracture, but that change isn’t anything significant. It is very easy for a fighter to break somebody’s jaw even with a large glove, or perhaps break their nose. Furthermore, science shows that concussions, brain damage, and all associated with these don’t result from the impact of the hand but rather the shaking of the brain, the change in the direction it is moving into, and the speed as well. With martial arts gloves and boxing gloves, fighters can punch much more powerfully since they can forget the fear of hurting their own bones. This results in boxing being one of the most dangerous sports ever since almost all professional boxers develop some sort of condition from repeated traumatic brain damage.
Now that we have that cleared we will talk about exactly what type of gloves you are supposed to be used for sparring. In general, sparring gloves tend to have somewhat more padding than bag gloves to protect the bones in your hand and your opponent’s face or body. However, we must also note that there are all different shapes and sizes of specialized gloves for given situations. For example, many arts have huge heavy gloves which they use on bags for tougher training and exercise, so the case isn’t that large gloves are always used for sparring while the light is used for bag training.
In karate, one almost always has only one pair of gloves, however, since there is not much emphasis placed on the type of glove you are using and what you use it for. Generally speaking, karate gloves are lighter than boxing gloves and have a different shape, with the palm of the hand often being exposed, oftentimes without a thumb holder.
For training and sparring in your dojo, you wear the gloves that you are most comfortable with using. You will probably have to talk about the exact glove with your instructor, but there are no specific objective guidelines here as there are in some competitions. There are gloves made of different materials and of different designs, your job is to choose the one that will give you the right amount of protection and allow you to improve your technique and sparring game the most.
What are sparring gloves?
Sparring gloves are the types of gloves that are meant to be worn when practicing sparring, which is a one-on-one pseudo-fight. Sparring isn’t about knocking out the other person and winning a prize, it isn’t about coming out victorious at all, it is actually much more focused on both parties learning from the encounter. Sparring is about bettering the other person’s and your own technique by simulating a fight.
Sparring gloves, for this purpose, are usually quite large and vary in weight. Depending on the type of fight and training, sometimes fighters might use relatively heavy gloves for an intense exercise, on the other hand, they also might use lighter ones if they want to try to focus on the technique and speed.
Sparring gloves for karate are rarely made of leather since as we have mentioned, they don’t play that large of a role in the art like they do in for example boxing. They are usually made of simple contoured foam and some sort of wrist-band material to keep it on firmly. This might be just an elastic band that has to be slid onto the wrist, but it can also be a traditional strap like on any boxing glove, which might be even more secure and it also helps more with protecting the wrist bones.
What is the difference between sparring gloves and bag gloves?
Let’s talk about the difference between sparring gloves and bag gloves. So, first of all, we have to clarify again that there are countless different types of gloves, made out of different materials, in different shapes, and for different purposes and goals. All of these already create a large variety of gloves to choose from, but the fact that not everyone uses the same type of gloves for the same practice might complicate the situation even more. For some people, it might be more productive and useful to use a heavy pair of gloves for bag training to be able to work on building up massive strength, and at the same time, they might like light gloves for sparring to have a more bare-knuckles feel and more speed.
Generally speaking, however, the difference between sparring gloves and bag gloves is in the padding and the size. Sparring gloves need more space and more padding since you don’t want to cause any injuries to your opponent. They are somewhat heavier as well, whereas bag gloves tend to be a lot smaller and lighter since the only target you are going to be using them on are bags and striking pads.
In karate, however, as we have mentioned before, there is usually only one pair of gloves used. Sparring has much more to it than boxing, there are kicks, body and leg shots, and punches as well, whereas, in boxing, most of what you do is punch at the head. Karate is an art form in which the arms are used as the most important weapon, legs are used somewhat less, but the fact that this art isn’t as punch-heavy as boxing makes the need for high-quality gloves, or perhaps the usage of multiple gloves for separate functions, very unnecessary.
Can sparring gloves be used for bag work?
In karate, as we have mentioned, people usually use only one pair of gloves for everything. This means that in karate, sparring gloves are in fact used for bag training if any gloves are used there at all. Karate isn’t as focused on punching the bag as many times as a boxer would. If you took a boxer and karateka and told them to record the number of punches they each land on bags throughout a year’s worth of training, the boxer would probably give you a number multiple times higher than the karateka would, simply because that is the main aim of boxing, while it isn’t for karate.
Outside of karate, sparring gloves can be used for bag work and sometimes actually are, but it isn’t very frequent because of how unnecessary it is. In boxing, having trained with the bag is somewhat like Kata in karate. You mostly practice form, speed, fluidity amongst a lot of other things, and thus you don’t need large gloves that will only slow you down. Large gloves are large in the first place in order to defend the person you are hitting. When your target is already a padded or soft punching bag, there is no need for extra-padded gloves to protect anyone.
You can, however, use sparring gloves for bag work if you want to have an intense power-workout. Punching with the same speed and precision while wearing a larger weight on your hand which is also phyiósically larger can make training more power-intensive and you can use this to strengthen the muscles you generally use for punching even more.