There’s always a temptation to use bare knuckles on the heavybag. After all, it seems more natural than punching the bag while wearing wraps, knuckle guards, and gloves.
Plus, lots of guys start training so they can win a bare knuckle street fight.
These guys reason that hitting the punching bag bare-handed is more realistic. After all, they’re training for a real fight, not a sporting event. The reasoning is: if I ever get attacked on the street, I won’t be wearing gloves, so why should I wear them when I punch the heavybag?
This reasoning is fallacious. Let me explain why.
You need to protect your hands and wrists
Hands are delicate. You can’t bash them against something over and over again without causing problems:
- Punching without padded gloves causes sore knuckles and bone bruises.
- Avoiding the use of hand wraps leads to sore wrists, inflammation, and repetitive-stress injuries to the delicate bones and connective tissue of the hands and wrists.
- The heavybag will scrape up your knuckles. If you work out in a gym with others, this can cause a serious skin infection.
If you practice bare-handed punches, your technique will suffer
Once your knuckles start hurting, you’ll try to reduce the pain by altering your punching technique. This just leads to stress and eventual pain in some other part of your hand.
Without proper protective equipment:
- You won’t punch as hard as you are capable of.
- Your progress will stall.
- Without realizing it, you will alter your technique to accomodate the pain instead of using the good form which maximizes power, speed, and precision.
The bottom line is: hitting the heavybag barehanded means you’ll never be able to work out as effectively as you can when you’re wearing wraps and gloves.
Martial artists punch bare handed, so why can’t I?
Yes, you’ll find karate guys who have practiced bareknuckle fighting for many years, and they’re still OK.
But consider what they’re actually doing. Most of their workouts consist of punching nothing but air. And when they work with a partner, they are very careful to let the partner know exactly what target area they’re attacking. There are few surprises in traditional martial arts training.
Most importantly, they are very careful to always punch safely in a controlled manner, with the knuckles landing first. You’ll never find a martial artist swinging away with an overhand right, for instance, because although it’s a very powerful punch, it’s difficult to control how the punch lands. And when it lands wrong the result is injury or broken bones.
You have a choice, you can work out like a traditional martial artist — by limiting yourself to a select number of relatively “safe”, straight punches, or you can wear wraps and gloves and work out at full intensity, with a full range of punches and maximum power. Even karate experts wear gloves and wraps when they practice non-traditional punches like hooks and uppercuts on the bag.
So sure, you can play around with the punching bag and whack it barehanded a few times. But if you want a serious workout that is sustainable, do what all the professionals — boxers, bouncers, security guys, mma athletes, etc. — do: wrap your hands and wear padded gloves.
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