Home » Advice » Using bare hands on the punching bag? Bad Idea!

Using bare hands on the punching bag? Bad Idea!

Bareknuckle fighting is fine, but wear wraps and gloves in training.

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.

Damaged knuckles from punching

The ultimate in stupidity: This poor fellow will be lucky to avoid long-term damage to his hands, and ironically he can't train anywhere near as hard as someone who wears proper hand protection. All that pain and damage for what? To prove he's a tough guy?

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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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Franklin August 13, 2010 at 4:40 am

Hitting things barehanded is for movie stars in action movies. To get good at fighting, you have to go slow at first so your hands adapt to the pounding. Good advice.


Ymarsakar February 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

Only applies to beginners and people who need external tools like gloves and wraps to make up for their bad arm and hand alignments.


admin February 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Your statement is untrue.

Perhaps you’ll explain to every pro boxer, pro MMA fighter, etc. that their “hand and arm alignment” is wrong and if they just listened to you, they wouldn’t need “external tools” like gloves and wraps? (I didn’t think so).

The truth is, no matter who you are, you can train with more intensity if you properly protect your hands. Additionally, hand protection prevents the injuries that will otherwise occur no matter how careful you try to be.

Anyone who tries to tell a beginner that there is some “secret” way of punching that makes you invulnerable is simply trying to separate the beginner from his money, or they’re trying to create a disciple who can’t think for himself.


sam jones February 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm

are you serious? they didnt even use the small gloves they do now until recently i thought? all that said and done im here cos ive let anger get the better of me and punched things over the past few years and done some damage to my knucles periodically. more recently i punched some carpeted stairs and hurt the bone that goes from middle finger to wrist and i just angrily punched my bag while it was on the floor, without thinking, because someone got a bit petty and it hurt that bone a fuck load lol. trying to find how to treat it to heal best now..


admin March 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

In this article http://heavyfists.com/sore-wrists-heavy-bag I give a general strategy for rehabbing an injury. Check it out for some pointers. But i recommend talking to a physical therapist or perhaps a doctor, rather than using the internet to get your info.


sam joens June 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

Oh thanks, never checked back on this reply. Lol, was one of those, light headed ‘sicky’ feeling pains when i hit the bag on the floor; I guess i must have bruised a bone, was back to normal after a week. I shall have to get my knuckles checked when im a bit older, i can say ill go easier on them… but i know ill probs be stupid at least once or twice more before then, i have hit just the bag since then and i think my technique is better as the whole punch and my hand/wrist feels a lot stronger.

Your point in the article about ‘having to adjust your technique to avoid pain’ is actually a positive in street fights, i think; if you go in and land a hard punch near the start, that hurts your hand a bunch, you could have lost yourself the fight(?) You could find that you cant use that hand anymore if you bust a knuckle or summin; you are punching another persons hard bones afterall!
Training with gloves is still useful so you can have the confidence you CAN throw a powerful punch when needed, but in my opinion (definitely not an expert one) protective punching technique is more important in a street fight. You need to deal as much damage as possible, while taking as little as possible in my mind. hopefully i dont have to put it into practise though lol

Anyways, Thanks for the tips brother, hope my rambling didnt make you go and start hitting the bag bare handed lol

Speechless March 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm

For me it’s simple. A puncher – even a novice boxer will injure their hands, suffer immense pain and bleed profusely with moderate training.
Someone who trains bare handed and does NOT injure themselves, has not developed sufficient power, and is therefore training to endure pain, but not develop power. Those who train bare handed and manage to avoid injury, will also manage to avoid injuring their opponents. And that defeats the whole purpose of training.

Once you punch hard enough – you know it, cuz your hands will hurt like crazy – even while using 16 oz gloves. I wouldn’t dream of applying that power gloveless.


neal March 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Traditional martial artists do not just punch air, they emphasize the use of the heavy bag as well. My sensei has told me to use the heavy bag many times, and it is great for developing power, but I train both without and with gloves. Yes of course my knuckles get sore after a while of hitting the bag, but then I can build up my “pain resistance”. I believe that one should know how to be able to rely on knowing how to punch correctly and not letting the hand wraps cushion you until you get sloppy. I dont like how the author of this article based traditional martial artists, as Enshin and karate guys practice bare fist and use dit dai jow to help their knuckles recover. They are intense fighters. Even MMA fighters use gloves in their matches, but wrist support is something that is learned and gained, not left untrained. I otherwise agree with this article, i just didn’t like all of the bashing on traditional martial artists. :)


captaincameron June 11, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Traditional martial artists get bashed more and more often these days (as do people who practice many other traditional things).
The MMA grew in popularity in the mid-90’s with the Gracies–and I don’t dispute the 1:1 fighting ability of BJJ. But the rules were rigged very early to favor the grapplers–one real striker would have changed things drastically, but that would mean a much shorter fight in many instances. Heavy bags, makiwara striking, iron training–these build not just tough knuckles, but also good form. And I’ve been in the martial arts for 20 years of my adult life, plus years when I dd not take training seriously when I was in high school and college. It is very unlikely that any hand strike that I use is going to involve a closed fist.


scott March 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm

mas oyama who was world renowned for his punching prowess,as he aged could barely let anything touch his hand with out pain.even resting a towel across them hurt.protecting every part of your body when able is a good idea in any endeavor.wear a helmet on a bike,wrap your hands when hitting an object.i open hand strikes now after busing both hands.except for a little wrist discomfort occasionaly,they work well.you can really develop some power as well.God gives us one body,take care of it.


captaincameron June 11, 2015 at 10:00 pm

Tak Kubota is world renowned for his punching prowess as well. He killed pigs for a slaughterhouse (so the story goes) with single punches instead of using the hammer. He also toughened his hands by hitting them with a hammer.
Granted, much of that was before I began training in the IKA (and also much before I was born). But in the 90’s, when he had to be in his 60’s, Kubota’s hands were still flexible, fast, and hard.
Yes, God gives us our bodies and we must thank Him and take care of them, but how we strengthen them varies.


Raven Lee July 5, 2015 at 4:22 am

As far as I recall, The Godhand had no problems with hand damage. He used to kill charging bulls in a field with 1 punch. Do you have a source that says he suffered from severe pain in his hands?


A July 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm

He had osteoarthritis. You can find that information pretty much anywhere.


Tim March 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm

It’s good to see that my hands hurting is normal. Even wrapped and with a padded glove my knuckle stake a beating. Part of it is I seem to have prominent knuckles on my middle fingers. But no amount of wrapping keeps them perfectly protected. I know in time, it will get better.

Speechless made a good point. With as hard as I punch, I cannot imagine doing that with any regularity without protection on my hands.


Blue May 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I have a hydrocore heavy bag. It’s got a dense foam exterior layer and a container in the center that I fill with water. When completely filled the bag weighs about 120lbs and feels more like hitting a real body than a traditional heavy bag.
For a long time I have been using thin leather “speed bag” gloves to hit this heavy bag. My wrists have become quite strong, and my punches have gotten very hard too. So much that I began rubbing the skin off of my knuckles through the gloves.
I decided it was time to invest in proper protection (hand wraps and heavily padded MMA heavy bag gloves). I learned to wrap hands properly and went at the heavy bag after my hands healed with my new gloves. I was shocked at how much more pain I am having in my knuckles with all of this protection. My punches seem to be weaker (they don’t throw the bag as much) with all of this gear, and the pain in my knuckles is far greater than when I simply used my old thin leather speed bag gloves.
I kept the hand wraps on and put on my old, inferior speed bag gloves and went right back to pounding the heavy bag full force, and with almost no knuckle pain.
This makes no sense to me. Do heavily padded gloves have some kind of a break-in period of enhanced pain that I just have to punch my way through?


busted X-D December 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I use Harbinger wrist wrap gloves. I don’t know how heavily padded you would consider them to be (they’re on Amazon if u wanna judge fir yourself :)) but when I started training I had lots of knuckle pain. And it has gone down by now. Then again when I started out I had never done intensive training with the bag, I went from traditional martial arts to krav maga. Quality leather gloves will mold to your hand eventually.


Derek June 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm

If trained correctly, training bare knuckles has it’s pros. ..especially if your using a good Dit Dow Jow medicine


admin June 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I would never recommend anyone resort to mystical quackery like Dit Dow Jow. If one needs a topical analgesic, it’s best to use a proven sports cream manufactured by a reputable company. I wonder what the ‘pros’ of bare-knuckle training are? I can’t think of any.


peinek June 22, 2012 at 11:36 am

My daughter attends a Kung fu school and even the sifus won’t work the bags without wearing gloves


BG November 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

What kind of gloves does your daughter and the other practitioners use in kung fu?


hardhitter July 6, 2012 at 12:23 am

I agree with everything in your article. However please show some respect traditional chinese medicine. Dit Dow Jow is not quackery. If anyone plans on using it please seek advice from an actual sifu or an expert in chinese medicine.


admin January 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm

There is no such thing as “Chinese medicine”.

There is medicine. And there is traditional Chinese quackery that involves ridiculous concepts like ‘chi’, powdered rhinoceros horns, ‘yin and yang’, ‘elementalism’, and numerous other helpings of hogwash.

If Chinese quackery was logical, provable, and efficacious, it would be part of Medicine.

But it’s not. It’s no better than voodoo, reflexology, chiropractic, bloodletting, or any other quack system built on ridiculous anti-scientific, mystical premises. It has no place on this website.


David July 8, 2012 at 9:22 am

I’m a heavyweight MMA fighter and I often do heavy bag work without gloves/wraps. I have focused specifically on mastering the technical aspects of boxing and my punching power reflects this. I think your article raises good points but well-applied common sense mitigates the negative points you raise.

For example, at the first twinge of knuckle or wrist soreness, stop. Your point about the risks of altering technique to minimize pain is accurate–but only if you keep punching with pain. So don’t.

Calluses on the knuckles protect them from bleeding, and calluses develop from unprotected bag work. If you develop a knuckle abrasion, stop. Then use gloves or at least wraps 100% of the time until the skin has fully healed.

Your wrists and fists will become stronger if you do unprotected bag work and if you do push-ups on your fists (on a mat) rather than on your palms.

What’s the upside to developing hands that can punch a heavy bag for several minutes without protection and without soreness and bleeding? Simple. The head is hard. People capable of developing knockout power in their punches have in effect developed enough power to break their hands/sprain their wrists on their opponent’s head in a self-defense street fight. Your only options for avoiding this are to condition your hands or avoid punching the head, The latter, of course, reduces your ability to end the fight quickly.


BG November 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Could you suggest a no gloves work out for novice on a heavy bag for me? I’ve been reading the articles here looking for helpful information and have appreciated the thoughts shared..


Michelle September 8, 2012 at 4:23 am

To me this article is some what upsetting. Very offensive and very vague. I completely understand the point you tried to make but it had gotten very obscured in what I would call rubbish.

Bruce Lee trained effortlessly without any gloves or protection. I even know his exact method as I’m sure many do. He started from sand bags, from rock filled bags to bags filled with nails. Am I saying it did not cause damage of course not but it also built his knuckles like solid rocks once they started adapting to the changes.

People like him are perfect example that it can be done correctly. Clearly he did not start off punching nails and I highly doubt any person who takes training seriously with common sense would do the same.

Fighting in general all throughout your life is of course going to cause damage in the long run. I am pretty sure if you are training, you are probably fighting eventually also. Let’s be realistic though everything little thing we do in life is damaging to our health over time, there is no avoiding that simple aspect.

So the point of this article is what exactly? Attempting to teach proper techniques that clearly aren’t that proper. Monks do not train with gloves or protection either, they are some of the strongest and most sophisticated fighters in the world.

They get this way through training with bare fist, if you train all the time with protection how will that fair in real life situations? Not well, any serious fighter will train with bare hands because it will pay off when your hands and knuckles develop from the training. Just like when a body becomes sick due to a virus it quickly builds immunity.

Practically everything on us works this way, so the knuckles and hands are no different.. Sure they may sustain some damage but what does not break them will only make them stronger literally with the correct training.

I think I’ll take a couple monks burning themselves in public to death without flinching or showing any pain over the likes of this article. They made a point that with proper training mind, body and soul humans are capable of surpassing the limits they have set for themselves. The human body easily adapts over time.

The Martial Artist part of this article in all honesty really pissed me off. Are you serious? Only punch air.. Only fight controlled and only aim at soft spots… They warn their partners of their strikes… I just found that very disrespectful.

Once I read that I knew this article is just full of shit for the most part. Take it how you want it but seriously your narrow minded view on what a real Martial Artist is and does is quite frankly disgusting and a complete insult to anyone who has not only
faithfully followed the art but mastered it.

Obviously I am not the only person who felt this way. David clearly understands that as well.

“I think your article raises good points but well-applied common sense mitigates the negative points you raise.. “.

I agree completely, like I had said before I understand where you were trying to go with this but it took so many wrong turns that literally all come down to common sense and bad training.

Proper training will indeed strengthen your body over time unless your’e training wrong. All this article is pretty much focusing on is just that, the people who are being stupid.


admin September 8, 2012 at 10:57 am

Do you know you’re a crackpot?


Mike January 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm

WoW you seem to be uptight over any kind of judgement on you’re Article. I have hit Heavy Bag for almost 20 years. I remember having my mom buy me boxing gloves to hit it with when i was 12. I remember how quick those 50$ gloves ripped open like a stuffed animal. I personally don’t think It is to bad to hit the bag without gloves up till a certian degree. As the people who posted before me have stated that it builds strength in your hands and knuckles. But once you hit a bag enough you should know what is going to cause damage that can be avoided from wearing gloves. Kind of like watching a new person hitting a heavy bag and messing up thier wrist because they punched into an incoming bag… Just my 2 cents.. Lighten up man It is good to see the feed bag from people on this topic. The answer you should be saying there is a no clear cut yes and no answer..


BG November 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I appreciate your thoughts from years of experience.
What is some of your counsel for someone just starting out punching a heavy bag without gloves?


Fred September 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Admin and everyone else, What do you think about foam or gel-lined fingerless gloves worn inside any boxing gloves? I read about this combination under “Wrist Wraps” on Wikipedia.


john September 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm

i have broken my small knckle and i have my arm in a plaster gutter cast ,the knuckle was twisted and manipulated back into place ,it is known as boxers fist injury will this affect martialarts training in the future ?ie wing chun


Dave October 25, 2012 at 11:37 am

I’ll just leave this here…
“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.”
Really? News to me!

“You’ll never find a martial artist swinging away with an overhand right”
True 9 times out of 10, but it isn’t to control how their fist lands, it’s so their opponent has a smaller window to attack.


Joe November 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Interesting article with some valid poits but you generalize far too much when mentioning martial arts.

There are numerous Asian and American martial arts the emphasize different training concepts. More sport based systems utilze gloves wraps, etc for bag work such as Tae Kwon Do for example, others don’t.

Iron hand type training is a longstanding practice in many martial arts. The training consists of conditioning not only your hands but legs, shins and forearms by using progessive striking on objects such as sand bags, bean bags, heavy bags, books and bare wood to increase power and desensitize the extremeties and being struck by hands or implements for the same purposes.

The training takes years of practice and includes restorative massage and breathing exercises. It is not something you do by starting out on a heavybag unprotected.

As the photo you used showed the gentleman pictured did considerable damage to himself and by the location of his injuries he doesn’t yet know how to strike properly.

So while your points are valid there are other training methods that work if done correctly.


Gary December 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm

My Krav Maga instructors tell us to punch most of the time using gloves or wraps, but occasionally do it without them. That way your hands are protected, but you can ensure you don’t pick up bad habits because you can feel them in your bare knuckles. Seems like good advice to me.


BG November 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Thank you for your thoughts. Can you use wraps in place of gloves when striking a punching bag as a martial artist?


Rico January 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Admin, I came accross your website looking for some simple advice on what gloves are best used for training with a free standing bag – I found your article very useful for a 100% novice; thank you……but jeez you sure stirred up a hornets nest…! :-) Great readin’ though Lol


Bright and MorningStar January 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

Guys, listen to the man as what he is saying save more skinned knuckles. The are very few arts that incorporate any drastic level of toughening the hand to a level where you hand is any kind of safer- and it is a slow and painful process if you want to anyways go to Japan, find a retiree age karate instructor that has guys using old school straight hand finger tip plunging sets in his classes or, go find some pikers and just like they do learn how to fight the old fashion way- learn the basic of punching and low contact sparring turns ti half contact and full contact sparring…. Every example turns out to be the same, unless you plan on dedicating you life to the art and science of because you love combat and cant get enough, a concealed weapons permit and a black widdow .22 revolver + practice at a range= lethal mechanical advantage from a distance. If you really expect training to work when “you need it” learn you study through insruction or, osmosis, get in a butt load of fights.


soldier March 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Admin, please refrain from taking personal shots at people who are posting to your site. It is very unprofessional, shows how immature you are that you can’t properly refute any statements brought up, as well it shows your ignorance on the subject matter discussed.
As for the Chinese medicine, it is not crack pot anything. There are large portions of Chinese medicine that have been adopted into “medicine.” Just to name one such item even one as ignorant as you might be familiar with is Tiger Balm, the large majority of it composition was initially designed within the realm of Chinese medicine. And if you really believe chiropractors are anti-scientific I am led to believe you are running a sight based on false premise. If you really were such an avid boxer or athlete you would know a chiropractor and sports medicine are two integral parts of elite physical fitness which OFTEN will lead to injuries. They are backed by both science and medicine community and used by professional athletes and olympic athletes as source/evidence based proof of their effectiveness.
As for punching bare-knuckled? Who do you think you are? You provide no proof, no evidence, to back your claims that this is bad for you other than asking people if they have sore knuckles. As well there are several pros for going bare knuckles on the bag. First, for all this talk about technique you clearly don’t know shit if you think anything but bare-knuckles will give you anything close to the best feedback on how you are punching. Second, it will tremendously strengthen the bones and ligaments within your hands. I have taken X-rays of my hand compared to one of my battle buddies I am deployed with right now and you can clearly see the difference between our hands. Mine have taken years of martial arts and combative training growing up, his were spent playing guitar. I recently started teaching him how to fight. I can go for hours on the punching bag throughout the week and the worst I get is a little soreness and slight discoloration in my knuckles not quite even a bruise and thats because I use proper technique and I am not throwing wild over hand punches or haymakers. I am using effective powerful controlled and fast punches the very same I would and have used when forced to fight. I hit hard enough that even when I hit my buddy in his body armor he feels it and I can leave a bruise. So do not try to say I am not hitting hard enough on the bag. It takes years of training yes along with proper diet. But telling people hitting without gloves is stupid and wrong without backing it up with any sort of evidence is wrong.
As for why professional boxers don’t do it. Its preached everywhere you fight the way you train. Boxers fight with gloves and wraps. Of Course they will use at LEAST wraps when they train if does give you support and will HELP keep you from getting injured and sore. It provides that extra little something so that if you do throw a bad punch or buckle your wrist you are not quite as likely for something to break. I have had my wrist buckle a few times from hitting the bag at just the wrong angle in its swing having not timed it properly and yeah if my wrists weren’t as built up or my reflexes not as sharp to where I could pull my punch at least slightly at the last minute I might break something. But if I had spent all my time training in gloves or with wraps my whole life the moment I had this happen when it really matters I would be SOL and probably snap my wrist. I have seen it happen to others, I am currently on deployment as a Medic so I treat most of these injuries. I have seen and treated a handful of hand/wrist injuries in the past few months and every single one of those guys regularly hit the bag with wraps and gloves, but then when they didn’t have the wraps and gloves they got hurt because they hadn’t trained their body without them. So please DO NOT continue to preach your ignorant rhetoric. You are making my job harder to do and giving me more work and people like you are getting people hurt. Bare-Knuckles has its place. That is to train and prepare people for when its real. Instead of telling people not to do it and giving shitty reasons for it, try giving safe guidelines for practice and training application.
1. when your knuckles hurt or hands hurt stop call it a day. Remember where you got and try not to quite go so hard the next day.
2. when you first start going bare-knuckles do not go all out start out at 50% and monitor where your knuckles are bruising and where you hurt that will let you know where you are hitting the bag and you can more easily identify your form mistakes and make the corrections
3. If you are new to bare-knuckles only go at it once every week or two weeks. DO NOT go so hard as to make your hands hurt so bad you can’t come back and hit the bag for a week.
5. PROPER FORM! punching bare-knuckles is all about teaching you proper form and body mechanics so that you can learn how to make your body strike as hard as you can correctly so that you DO NOT get hurt when it really matters and you have to defend yourself, loved ones, or country.
6. ICE! Ice when you are done it will alleviate swelling if you went a little too hard in one practice.
7. Remember, bare-knuckle should not be used for cardio/fitness purposes initially. When you first begin going at it bare you need to build up and perfect technique and form so that you do not hurt yourself. You aren’t doing it for fitness reasons. Imagine yourself as a knife, your fitness is the body of the knife, practicing bare-knuckles is like sharpening the blade. If your blade is weak sharpening is only mildly useful in the case of a scalpel it may be sharp but in a fight it will only do so much good. Having a huge knife with no edge is more useful but without the edge all it is would be a thin club. Where as a good knife with a razor sharp edge is an unparalleled weapon for fighting. Train to be like the knife, incorporate bare knuckles into your routine to properly train and prepare your body for a real fight.


admin March 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm

You’re an angry, disrespectful young man who has a lot to learn. And you seem to think you’re in a position to bargain with me. But i suppose you’re sincere, in your own way. Your belief in chiropractic and in Chinese so-called ‘medicine’ is troubling. They’re both anti-intellectual, non-scientific quackery. Best you take some time to learn why i say that instead of making a fool of yourself by contradicting me. My advice to you: keep your mouth shut and your ears open, then take the opportunity you have (as a medic) to talk to a real doctor and ask him why a serious, informed fellow like myself might call chiropractic and Chinese baloney quackery. One last thing: lighten up!


bob August 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

You’re an idiot kid.

Anyways, the writer of this article is completely right. I trained in kung fu for a few years, most of that was forms (katas), 2-man forms, and light sparring using mouth pieces and gloves with a strict no punching below the belt or above the belt rules.

Boxing is different – you learn to mostly do headshots, and there is a lot of stamina, endurance, and conditioning. Always wrap and always glove. Bare knuckle boxing used to be done hundreds of years ago, but they rarely punched anyone in the head, and fights would last a long long time.

On the street, if it’s for survival, then I could punch bare knuckle, but I’d rather kick, elbow, knee, or palm if I needed to. I don’t act like a douche and get into fights though. If it’s home defense, well, shotgun usually comes into play there.


admin May 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm

“I don’t care who you are… guaranteed, I don’t care how strong you are [or how] big you are, [if you punch a guy on the street] you’re going to break your hand because your hands are not meant to be hitting things.” — Mike Tyson in an interview with Howard Stern on April 29th, 2013


4ptcontact August 12, 2013 at 8:00 am

There’s a solid combination of fact and fiction on this thread. Its primarily good advice concerning heavy bag work for BOXING. I’ve boxed, practiced martial arts, and wrestled. It’s not wise to use advanced boxing techniques without wraps/gloves because of the angles you use in combinations. Endurance training should be done with gloves because like a another person mentioned, “you fight like you train” which would make your distance gauging pointless if training bare-knuckled. Training without protection however has far more history and evidence for effectiveness in non-sporting martial arts. Taekwondo, kung fu, and karate(-do) cannot be properly executed with gloves. The admin has a serious issue with oriental research I guess, but I’d like to see the admin punch through 10+ concrete slabs without knowing what you’re doing…bare-knuckled. As far as the “quackery” comments, I guess the admin has never seen the several class action lawsuits filed for medical malpractice, and faulty drug experiments in “real scientific” medicine. There are several professional athletes who’s trainers use these so-called voodoo techniques, and apparently you’ve never witnessed the results of holistic medicine. That’s all fine too, because your words won’t make bare-knuckle training ineffective. A solid combination of both protected, and non-protected striking can make a fighter well rounded.


Timmy March 16, 2014 at 7:57 am

Admin, relax. If people want to break their hands and put some magic juju-balm on them afterwards, let them.


WiSeEyesinTHeShADoWs July 7, 2014 at 3:26 am

This only really applies to beginners. I’m 17 years old and I’ve studied in boxing, Yoshikai karate, Shobayashi shorin ryu karate, wrestling, Muay Thai, and some spec ops Navy Seal takedowns from an army buddy of my dad’s. “Probably shouldn’t have put the last one on there. All the frickin retards on here are gonna call me out on that.” But anyway, I work the heavybag all the time without using gloves. And there is absolutely no pain and no physical damage. But I’ve also built my hands up enough were I can do so, by punching a makawara. “Hope I spelled that right.” And if you don’t know what that is, it’s a wooden plank you put in the ground about up to your solar plexus, and usually wrap the upper part in rice string. Like they do over in Okinawa. But since I live in Florida I didn’t really know were I could find anything like that so I used twine string. But you know, I didn’t just start striking it as hard as I could when I first started though. I started to lightly strike at it and as time went on and my knuckles started to get stronger I hit it harder. But technique and knowledge play a huge part in building up your hands like this, and with just martial arts and fighting in general. You see there are a lot of things that people do when they are punching that are huge no-no’s. I’ll give a couple. Punching with your thumb tucked under your fingers. Now the first martial art instructor I ever met and trained under taught me to punch like that and told me it was okay…. Well he was also an idiot. For punching with your thumb tucked under your fingers is an absolutely wonderful way to break your frickin thumb kids! You would not even believe the number of American martial art dojos I’ve visited were I have seen people doing this. Another thing I see people do is try to punch with all their knuckles. Your only actually supposed to punch with the first two. Punching with the other ones “The weak knuckles.” can lead to an injury known as the infamous boxer’s fracture. Which hurts like hell. In the end, I can sit here and type till I’m blue in the face about how it’s okay to train up your hands by small degrees and then punch a punching bag without gloves if you want. Now that I think about it, you could probably use a punching bag the same way as a makawara. But before I get off the subject about what I was about to say. In the end it’s really all about what you wanna do with the stuff your learning. I couldn’t help but notice above how you used a quote from Mike Tyson to help your argument. Which I think is a little unfair. Here is a guy who doesn’t need/want to train up his knuckles because why? Because he was a pro boxer who fought in the ring and didn’t need to go bear knuckled, because the sport didn’t require it. He wanted to fight in the ring and make money, were gloves are required. If you don’t know what I’m trying to say, I’ll say it like this…. I train, workout, and build my knuckles up for self defence reasons. I want my attacker to feel like someone just smashed a brick over his face when I punch him, opposed to him feeling like some average joe just flung his fist at his face in fear for his life, and managed to hit him with it. Mike Tyson did not train for this. Mike Tyson was in a gym punching a heavybag and a speedbag with gloves on, training for the night his next fight was on so he could go however many rounds he needed to go to beat the guy, earn the money, and put bread on the table. See the difference? And I really didn’t want to go into it this far, because this is gonna make quite a few people piss their pants, but that thing ol’ Mikey said about anyone would break their hand if they punched someone on the street was stupid and arrogant. Maybe he’d break his hands from wearing gloves his whole life, and being in fake, referee controlled, simulated fights, but not me. And you don’t even really need to train your hands up that much just to make sure you don’t break them in a street fight. Most of that is just commonsense. As long as your not sitting there bashing your fists against someone’s forehead, kneecaps, or elbows, your not gonna get a broken hand. Do yourself a favor, go to youtube and type in street fight videos. See how many people walk away from those with broken hands. None of them do. You’ll see just how bs that statement by MT was. Alright I think I’m gonna wrap this up and get off of here. Like I keep saying [in the end] lol, what you learn is always going to be applied in what you wanna do whether it be self defence, a pro fighting career, or whatever. And as stubborn martial artist in general we’re just gonna have to all figure out the truths, lies, and what works for us anyway. Martial arts is just like religion. There’s a lot of lies and delusion floating around about it. You just have to have enough commonsense and knowledge to be able to figure out and discern the lies from the truths. Well hope I didn’t piss to many people off this time. Everytime I get a hold of a keyboard I tend to accidently do that. Just wanted to tell you that I appreciate your opinion, just wanted to put mine out there. It looks like you put a bit of time into this and I thank you for it. It’s always nice to hear someone else’s voice on a matter. So frickin awesome man, great job, keep puttin’ them out there, and take care man!


Bret September 13, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Wow. Take your pick: Proper hand alignment or pads. If pads then proper hand alignment is less important I suppose (if your objective is not to hurt your hands). Street fighting (martial arts) and boxing don’t have the same goals.



Mr. A January 5, 2015 at 6:57 pm

I liked the article and see it’s merits. I think that people should not so easily judge it for it has it’s strongest point at preserving a boxer and his art. However, based on the Martial Arts side- which is more where I hail from- it may have a very modern approach to understanding the resistance and endurance training that goes into old school bare-knuckled training.

In truth, all the points of each Martial Artist and every budding Boxer are basically my view points on it but I’d also like to add to them by explaining my story and how I’ve benefited from both worlds.

I started off, actually- in Judo. It’s an art completely devoid of striking but it humbles you by making you some guy’s rag-doll every day as he randomly toss you left and right and you return the favor in search for the perfect form to execute a flawless throw.

The training is very old school and incorporates a lot of the “Budo” spirit found in most Japanese arts that forces someone to take up a mindset of “take it and keep moving forward” without limitations. In this training- I did not realize that being thrown and even lifted every day and slammed hard to the ground had made my body incredibly used to the pain level that it no longer bothered me after years of being a wrestling-puppet. I can now execute good throws but I thank my resilience and body endurance entirely to this old school training.

Now, I was introduced to boxing by actually overstepping my own knowledge and taking up a fight with a man who was well-versed in it and getting hit – to my count- well over a hundred times. The only damage I had done to him was to his knees- through hard sweeps aimed to unbalance him. He couldn’t walk easily after it but I was humbled (and badly bruised) because I thought my art beat all. This is the common problem in actual Martial Arts- we all preach that our style, technique, form, etc is the key ingredient to destroying and defeating legions of warriors in a battlefield and that our style and art, and only ours, is the best in the world- This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I took up boxing and Muay Thai shortly after, then expanded into Sanda, Sambo and eventually Wrestling and MMA where all can mix and found that I was still lacking in the striking department when I would hit wrongly because I was just shadow boxing every time- it ruined my ability to determine if my punches could hurt the person as I could now find them easily- but doing the damage had a price of hesitation and fear, always needing me to return to my initial stance just to make sure I’m well-protected [Gun shy..as they call it.] I could grapple and throw and pin and even submit a man easily…but my striking was atrocious from my hand- my kicks were good.

I was tired of getting hit in the body and head through successful boxing and winning fight by barely getting a good throw, grapple or kick in. So I first turned to traditional martial arts- a Shaolin practice of hitting the wall with layers of paper over it.

The instructions- as archaic as it is was to hit that paper-layered wall for two hours every day. At first, it hurt badly, I could only count to ten before I’d give up (I also added more layers of paper just to supplement my lack of dealing with pain in my knuckles)…but eventually, after a month of doing this- my knuckles, just like a body, got used to it and gained a resilience, the power I’d throw at the wall would bounce back into my wrist and arms and force me to take deep breaths to deal with the pain but after more months passed, eventually into a year- I reduced the layers of paper until it was bare wall I struck and the amazing part was the human body has it’s way of getting used to a chore to the point it aligned itself to deal with daily routine- even from the “pain” standpoint. I couldn’t feel pain in my hands anymore and eventually felt that I could hit anything and not fear my hands breaking- this was soon proven wrong the day I challenged a heavy bag.

I couldn’t feel the heavy bag when I hit it but eventually learned something that I couldn’t with a wall. A Heavy bag moves with your power and reduces it with motion. I would hit at it as hard as I could but feel my impact just wasn’t found on each hit- this was proven clear to me in a small sparring match where, even when my hands hit- no impact force was produced on my opponent enough to move him the way I planned.

It was there I tried my hand at wearing wraps and gloves and taking basic lessons in boxing. It was the most confusing thing to learn- everything was very rudimentary, the stances contradicted a basic kick-boxer’s understanding of balance and thank God by Judo gave me balance enough to make the boxing stance work.

With the 16lbs gloves on, I hit the bag and heard the real result of my work…I was hitting with no real understanding of powe ron a moving object…and so slowly worked toward fixing up my power on each punch on the bag- learned to move with motion…The gloves taught me to punch harder and with commitment- no restraint of losing the shot as I knew what would happen next.

I was able to overwhelm my opponent in my next spar. and mixed with the knowledge I gained and the endurance I had, deliver key combination that took his guard away from his head and open it up for a good kick.

Now I mix the two training together- using old school resilience training and modern boxing practices to complete my striking game. Boxers have amazing hand to eye coordination and can easily see through most conventional strikes a person throws at them but also has it’s limitation- we already know of the no-kicking problem and no take-down defense or submission problem- but for all it’s worth- it is, to me, the perfect hand striking art in the world with near 90% effectiveness that can be learned straight from it’s basics of the strikes, doing what it needs to do correctly compared to a lot of the hand strikes I’ve learned from other arts where the percentage of them working is greatly dependent on the number of years spent mastering the intricate movements and varying them from the original form to fit the person- this takes many years.

I hope people could take away from this as I had going through the hard time learning the lesson.

Thank you.


Erick August 1, 2015 at 7:31 pm

You had the best answer on this topic, hopefully administration takes something from you experience


Max la menace April 22, 2015 at 9:11 pm

No matter what you say you’re still scared of hitting the bag real hard, for a pro I understand he’s got a carreer but anyone that isn’t can break his fists no problems, they’ll heal and even if they don’t heal to full capacity it doesn’t mean he won’t be able to punch as powerfully as before.

Plus if you’re scared of hitting a sandbag how can you expect to take a kick to the head ? I’m pretty sure getting knocked out causes waay more injuries than hitting something full force.


Jay May 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

As a martial artist, yes you must wrap your hands when hitting a moving object such as a suspended heavy bag. The direction of the heavy bag or whether the bag will spin can harms our wrist if it’s not properly reinforced for handling awkward impact points. Your knuckles can also be split. Keep in mind as martial artists we do conditioning where we build up to hitting harder things from rice, to sand, to gravel, to steel shots. Fist hardening and striking technique are two different exercises, confusing them as the same is a mistake you would want to correct sooner than later.

Gloves add weight to the fists also, so when they come off, your fists and shoulders feel far more light and natural in a brawl. I like this aspect of using gloves. It also insures I don’t fatally hurt my opponent in sparring sessions (although I do control my strikes also, I can’t be accountable if he runs into my fists)..


hoangkamam July 17, 2015 at 4:28 am

I’ve been punching bag with bare hand for over a year now, got bleeding sometimes. Don’t know why my joint and palm hurt alot while wearing boxing gloves.


Jayden July 25, 2015 at 9:14 am

Guys can anybody tell me that should I kick with my bare foot on the sand / punching bag or do I need to wear shoes? Because my ankles seems to have dislocated a bit but I don’t know whether that helps or not.


HolyMoly December 22, 2015 at 12:42 am

You shouldn’t hit with your foot, but with the lower part of your shin. And when you kick your foot should be aligned with your shin, meaning you straigthen it out when kicking. It will give you a stronger kick, and put your foot in a stronger position.


Sonny October 2, 2015 at 4:19 pm

I am getting a ppulre cruiser tomorrow, I am kind of terrified about riding in the road. I’ve never ridden in the road before, haven’t ridden a bike in 10 years. I just want a bike so bad, and the free feeling of it is great, so I hope I don’t regret this purchase.


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HolyMoly December 22, 2015 at 12:35 am

You couldn’t be anymore wrong. When you hit the bag, bare knuckle. It will put pressure on your bones and ligaments. If it hurts your bones, it’s because they are not strong enough, but with time they will get stronger, adapt. It’s like training sny other part of your body, overtrain and what you write in your article will happen. Do it right, train with intellect and your hands and wrist will get stronger. Punching with Gloves doesn’t teach you proper striking technique. David Hayes once broke his hand against “the beast from the east”‘s head, in a match. He did so because, hes bones are weak. Now you say western medicinen and science is the only way. Well, then you would know that our body adapts to the pressure we put it trough, given that we don’t pressure it too hard. The same goes with the bones, were science tells us, that if the bones experience a progressive overload, they will form more dense bones. So when you punch the bag with protection, your bones wont get any noticeable progressive overload, meaning that when you get stronger and stronger, you will in the end punch so hard that your bones will break, because you protected them with Gloves, but now the Gloves protection aren’t enough, and your bones aren’t dense enough to handle it without protection, because they didn’t know they had too. It is called Wollf’s Law, who were a scientist, that figured out that your bones will adapt over time to the load it is put under.
I’m always glad to help and enlighten those who doesn’t know. So now you know, that you just have to do it right and in moderation, just like you would training anything else.


k January 11, 2016 at 2:01 am

These bare knuckle arguments are ridiculous. He is writing these articles from the standpoint of speaking to novices who want to use the heavy bag for overall co conditioning. A novice who is cardio conditioning has zero need to ever go bare handed, and every reason to use protective gear. I find it appalling that so many missed that point and are ready and willing to tell anyone and everyone to go bare. “Gloves and wraps suck! Just buy a heavy bag and adapt, newbie looking to lose weight.” I sincerely hope people looking for advice before starting a heavy bag workout for plain old health and fitness do not take this bare handed carp to heart.


k January 11, 2016 at 2:02 am



Yuri February 12, 2016 at 12:04 am

The author’s point of view on anything ancient or non-western is truly symptomatic of contemporary lack of historical and cultural perspective. This type of stereotyping should be absent from any serious martial arts discussion… Where I live (a Western country), Chinese medicine is offered in most hospitals as standard treatment. Educate yourself first before exposing your xenophobic assumptions; they are ridiculous.


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