Hand-wrapping 101 for combat sports

The importance of hand wraps is a given in terms of the style you’re training in, as well as your personal approach to training. What I mean by that is, whether you’re a karate practitioner, a boxer, practicing Muay Thai, or mixed martial arts, you use your hands to punch but that also means you’ll probably end up taking a different approach style by style.

No point being dogmatic about there being only one way to do it. in this case especially I’ve always been more about the actual function: if the form supports the function and you get the support you need, where you need it, that’s a good hand wrap. I’ve done them all, from boxing and kickboxing with 16/14 oz gloves to wrapping for a mixed martial arts fight with 4 oz gloves. Totally different setups compared to a professional boxing wrap.

It is 100 percent in your best interest to be able to punch without a wrap as well

Karate-Ka use the makiwara as a training tool to condition the hands and whole body

Karate-Ka use the makiwara as a training tool to condition the hands and whole body

Some people believe you have to wrap all the time, but it’s not an all-the-time thing because you’re not always going to be doing the same style of training. If you only punch successfully when you have a hand wrap on, you can’t really punch because you’re not walking all day with hand wraps on. And if you hit something without a hand wrap and that results in breaking your hand because you never learned how to make a proper fist, that’s not smart. Look at a karate practitioner; they never wear hand wraps. They actually punch wooden boards and hard objects with their hands to teach you how to make that solid fist, in line with their methodology of “one punch, one kill”. Does that always happen? No, not necessarily.

But then you look at the other side of the spectrum—boxing, where your only tool allowed to be used is your hands. No knees, elbows, takedowns, or kicks, just punches. This is going to ensure that you become a very impactful puncher, and as a result, it’s probably in your best interest to protect those hands because you would physically break them. The anatomy of the human body can’t take the impact like a professional boxer’s; forget about the person you’re hitting, you’d also break your hands. If you look at early mixed martial arts, before it was widely followed, when it was called Vale Tudo (everything goes, no holds barred) coming from Brazil and Russia, these guys were fighting with no rational blows, no rules, and it was a completely different fight than what you see today. You can’t go out throwing ten-punch combinations into someone’s elbows; you’ll simply break your hands.

Wrapping Hands for Striking Arts |A Few Ways to Get the Job Done 

So, I suggest, personally, balance, because everyone is different and your need for the wrap is going to change its use.

But in most cases, I suggest learning how to wrap the hands properly if you’re doing any type of sparring or heavy pad hitting. It’s probably to your benefit, especially if you don’t have your best gloves on.

Below are a few options in terms of the hand wrap structure