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Should You Train Clinch Barehanded or With Gloves? Pros and Cons

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I'm posting my article on the pros and cons of training clinch barehanded (the Thai way) or with gloves (the way we fight), creating a space for longer form conversation of our experiences. I found benefits to both, but lately I've turned to gloves for reasons outlined in the article.

Should You Train Clinch With Gloves or Barehanded?


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I've been training both recently - mainly training without gloves when doing technical sessions or trying new things out; like you say, the transitions are much easier without the added bulk of gloves. However, I'm wary of becoming too comfortable without gloves so when we're doing more competitive clinch sessions we've been using gloves to get us used to the restriction of movement . My trainers tend to mix it up with us as well, although they don't split it directly between the technical/freestyle sessions and I've never actually discussed it with them. It may change but at the moment I'm happy with the mix - not using gloves makes me see how I want things to work and what my technical options are, but having gloves on allows me to have a more "realistic" experience of what I can physically achieve and adjustments I need to make.

On a related note, I've found that training with gloves when clinching with guys that are bigger than me is easier than clinching with girls the same size - the size difference, especially when their technique isn't particularly strong in clinch, provides a lot more space for me to use for transitions and less for them. Again I'm wary of getting too comfortable so it's nice to get a balance of training partners of difference sizes as well as gloved/ungloved training.

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I've trained both ways for many years. 

What I have found is training without gloves offers me more imagination, creativity and choice. I combine clinching techniques from wrestling, judo and sambo into my traditional muay thai clinching. So I have many more options than those who are limited by only using muay thai clinching. 

Training with the gloves allows me to distinguish which tactics transfer to the ring. 

I'd rather have an abundance of choices via training without gloves rather than limited choices training with gloves. 

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I consider myself a beginner at clinching and the times when I do it without gloves allow me to feel out the movements and the strenght movement in the clinch, which is still very foreign to me.

In gloves I just grab on to the head and do nothing fancy ;)

Actually I currently train under two trainers. The first one, with whom I've beed training for over a year now usually has us clinching in gloves. It's rare that we do it bare-handed. The other one does it completetly different (although I've only been training with him for 2 months) - first we learn a technique bare-handed and then we have to try it in light sparring with gloves on.

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At my gym we are generally told to take our gloves and wraps off before clinching so we don't scratch each other's faces with any velcro. I would prefer to clinch with gloves as this is what happens in fights, but instead I just ball my fists up a little bit and try to not to use my fingers to grip.

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  • 1 year later...

Primarily I like to train without gloves on in as relaxed a manner as possible. It allows me to get a better feel for the technique without resorting to trying to overpower with strength. You appreciate this a lot more when the smallest guy in the gym throws you around like a rag doll without even trying.

Techniques feel different when performed with gloves on and I think it's important to experience the difference once you've gotten a grasp of how the technique should feel without gloves. I see no harm in the odd session here and there with gloves on but you can usually do this type of practice during sparring really (at least from a western training perspective anyway).

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  • 2 weeks later...

My trainer has me doing both. Sometimes bare handed, sometimes with gloves; both ways sometimes slowly with lots of technique input, or fast and furious, or in play mode! I find it a lot easier without gloves, but gloves are how it would happen in the ring, so I like that we do both. Damn difficult either way! :teehee:

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