Hitting heavy bag with no gloves?

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Morik, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I've been reading a lot of Sylvie's articles on 8limbs.us, and I came across this: Bare Fist Training and Fight Balance – Robert “Sifu” McInnes WKO

    I recall maybe a year ago looking into hitting heavy bags (right before I got mine) and reading that you shouldn't hit the heavy bag without gloves on.

    But I did some searching around today and found various sources saying that if you aren't blasting the bag it is fine.

    It may also make a slight difference:
    - I'm ~290 lbs. I can throw with a lot more force than a 100 lb person can. But my hand tissues/joints/bones/etc are not going to be much more injury resistant than a 100 lb person.
    - My heavy bag is 150 lbs
    - It is stuffed fabric, so is not as rigid as a sand-stuffed bag. (There was this one bag at a gym I used to go to... it was like hitting concrete. That was a really old bag though.)

    I'm very tempted to try out some sessions bare handed on my bag... though I also type all day at my job so if I messed up my hands to the point I couldn't type, that would be problematic.

    Am I crazy and gonna end up with two busted up hands?
    axelb likes this.
  2. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    You're going to rip the skin off your knuckles for sure. *That* is what the glove is for. Thought I was tough, so I did it ... once.

    And if your hand doesn't land square on, you'll sprain if not break something. *That* is what the wraps are for. I've made that mistake, too.
    axelb likes this.
  3. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I figure I can put tape on my knuckles.
    Maybe I'll just go down to the bag gloves I have (with wraps)--they are much less padding than the 16 oz gloves.
  4. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    It's something you need to build up to. It works the same as shins and sparring - they get banged-up black and blue for a while, and then they slowly become conditioned to impact until it takes a lot more to bruise them up.

    Short bursts are what get your knuckles used to it. Not going full whack is also a good idea to start off with. Displays of machismo as you describe above are only going to be counter-productive. Stop when you see the capillaries on your knuckles start to weep blood (any sign of blood at all, just beyond the point of red skin and tiny white rough bits like sandpaper). For this reason it's not cool to do this in someone else's gym without asking.

    If you corkscrew your punches - you're going to rip skin.

    If you have bad target alignment and strike across, rather than into, the bag - you're going to rip skin.

    You can't practice every kind of punch on a standard heavy bag, so just practice the punches that can land straight into it. Use pads for other punches.

    I would rather not rely on equipment to correct poor technique. Again, start off with a lighter touch and build it up.

    No-one should ever expect that it is sensible to hit as hard without gloves as with them. Look at bare-knuckle boxing compared to official rules boxing; by wearing massive gloves you are changing the weapons you are using, and so the technique adapts to those weapons.
  5. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Don't do it.

    Hopefully you are training for life and that means you want to be able to do what you can now into your sixties and beyond.

    Train smart.
    Monkey_Magic and axelb like this.
  6. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I do it from time to time. In some ways it's a hold over from doing bareknuckle knockdown karate.
    I generally start with boxing gloves (extra weight also adds to the workout), maybe do some rounds with smaller Thai style bag gloves, finish up with some careful bareknuckle shots to keep me honest about alignment, knuckle placement, etc and what my hands can do and finally my pre-emptive strike of choice (in my case a slap) so I keep that honed and in my back pocket.
    I think moderation is the key. Don't make it your main way of hitting the bag, doing it for extended rounds or not building up to it first and I don't think it's that bad.
    Unless of course you are a monster puncher with brittle hands.
    Dunc and David Harrison like this.
  7. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    You can equally make the same argument for the opposite.

    If you use it as a feedback mechanism for correcting form it could well help to preserve the joints in the hand and wrist and prevent injury in the long term. It will also give you more of a sense of how to strike without injuring yourself should you ever have to punch someone outside of training or sport matches.

    As Smitfire says, as an occasional thing practiced sensibly it's fine. It's surprising how quickly the skin on the knuckles adapt, and it is an entirely different deal than stupid stuff like trying to build up calluses or calcium deposits by deliberately damaging your hands.

    Being a guitarist, I'm particularly sensitive to wrist stability and joint inflammation around the hand, and this is something that improves that, it doesn't compromise it.
  8. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    You can always make counter arguments, but I wouldn't allow it in my class.

    You can always hit the speedball wearing hand wraps, but I would advise against doing so on the heavy bag.

    And to open a can of worms, lots of arts have punching and call it boxing. It isn't.

    I think many of us would benefit from learning how to punch correctly rather than thinking we're boxing.

    All that said I would be interested in long term studies on damage caused by hitting the bag without protection.
    Monkey_Magic and axelb like this.
  9. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Just a few more thoughts on this:
    - Sylvie's article may not be relevant for me... she's been punching heavy bags for hours basically every day for over 5 years. I have much less experience.
    - I.e., she is probably pretty accurate and has good technique to not sprain her hands hitting a bag with no gloves/wraps.
    - hours daily over 5+ years (with gloves) probably improves bones/tissues/etc in the hand.

    So for someone like me, who has relatively little experience, it is probably a bad idea:
    - I'm much more likely to use improper technique & injure myself
    - My hands are almost certainly less hardy than the hands of someone who has punched heavy bags daily for 5+ years.

    The attraction for me is:
    - Building up hand strength to reduce injury risk in case I do ever punch outside of a sport context.
    - More importantly, better physical feedback on my punching--better able to feel whether I hit properly or not.

    I think I can get a portion of those benefits by just going down to lighter bag gloves instead of 16 oz gloves.
    I have "Everlast Train Advanced Wristwrap Heavy Bag Gloves".
    David Harrison likes this.
  10. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Not sure what your "it isn't boxing" comments are about? Could you explain? I never claimed to be a boxer, or practice boxing...

    There is plenty of research into how common hand injuries are to boxers, so the gloves don't appear to be providing much protection from injury, other than superficial skin injuries. This is pure conjecture on my part, but I believe it is analogous to head injuries and head protection - it reduces sensory feedback that would prevent injury and so increases the risk of injury.
  11. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Good post. Shows that you're thinking carefully about your progression and choosing a training path that is appropriate for you.
    Knee Rider likes this.
  12. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Also...I like to use a lot of forearms, hammer fists, elbows, head and knees on the bag too so like the tactile feedback of having no gloves on. Grabbing the bag as I would a person or person's neck.
    I currently have an old belt tied around the top to use as an proxy limb or clothing to practice attached hitting and can't do that with gloves on.

    Although generally I'm with Simon. If I was practicing something more boxing centric I'd wrap and glove to protect the hands.
    David Harrison and axelb like this.
  13. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    You can do it, but generally speaking not very hard and you HAVE to have good form. I think that having good form is the point of it. If you were to do it I'd recommend hand wraps and four Oz MMA gloves.

    Again, I really wouldn't hit it hard.
    David Harrison and axelb like this.
  14. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    On occasion I do this on double end bag light to check fist alignment on contact.

    I also did it a few times without wraps on heavy bags in my younger training days, then scraped knuckles later and a minor facture in my 5th metacarpus from hitting incorrectly I decided it wasn't worth it. (D'oh)

    I work at a computer all day so typing is a big part of my profession, my hand still gives me trouble now 15 years after doing it.

    If you want to have stronger wrists and hands, take a look at the bigger picture as to why? To have a stronger punch? I imagine there are many better options for a longer term hand health.

    Wrist strength can be trained in many ways, grip strength training (weight lifting, calisthenics).

    You can condition your hands to a certain level, and I did some iron Palm in my kungfu days, but I started to question how it would benefit in long term, and how detrimental it would be to my hand health.
    I felt I was better spending that time on other training methods.
    Monkey_Magic and Pretty In Pink like this.
  15. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Yeah, stronger punches come from correct fist alignment, not conditioning your knuckles.
  16. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I am very anti idea of bag hitting without gloves.

    Saying that. I have done it before, found a bag in a gym. Hung it up and essentially drilled movement, kicks and elbows. Anytime I did punch, it was essentially "touch" contact.

    If i wanted to have the bag move, it'll be a from an elbow/knee then shuffle/circle around the bag as it swings back.

    I've done Chinese style wall bag punching. Essentially a cushion full of sand nailed to a wall and all straight punches. Didn't like it.

    At least with a makiwara, theres a bit of give.
    axelb likes this.
  17. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    If you're new to punching, and punching in a form that generates a lot of power such as boxing punches, you need to never hit the bag without hand wraps on. I'm no expert on punching but I know I'm powerful enough to crack somebody's ribs who is around the same size of me (I know because I unfortunately did it to somebody). That's around 230lbs, with a lot of muscle. When I was first starting out there were a couple of times I would have sprained my wrist really bad without wraps and gloves on. I still sprained my wrist though. It would have been 5x worse without them!

    That said, there were thai bags in the boxing gym I went to and they are pretty soft. I used to hit those with wraps only at times, but usually just for a warm up. There are benefits to working on punching without using heavy bag gloves that transfer over to speed and power development, but you still need to wrap your hands and throw on a set of bag gloves. I'm not sure if people call bag gloves something different, but they're basically a 1/2 layer of foam that covers the top of your hand and fingers and are extremely light. I wouldn't do any serious bag work without at least those and some wraps.

    If you want to strengthen your hand, do hand strengthening exercises. Trying to strengthen your hand via hitting the heavy bag is akin to wanting bigger calves by doing snatches. That's not the purpose of the heavy bag, just like growing bigger calves isn't the purpose of the snatch. You get used to hitting the bag, your hand isn't getting stronger, it's getting more durable. There's a major difference there.

    As a side note, unless you have freak of nature hands that are basically meat muffins that come from genetics, you're probably never going to hit somebody in their dome piece without cracking a knuckle or breaking your hand. If you're trying to condition yourself to attack somebody in the head bare handed you need to rethink your tactics, not make your fist stronger.
    Mushroom likes this.
  18. hewho

    hewho Valued Member

    Don't do what I did at 13 and jump in the deep end whacking bags full power with bare hands. It hurt then, and it sometimes hurts now. That said, I occasionally hit the bag without gloves, but the punches are more like touches to check range and set up, and I'll be drilling kicks with power.
    axelb likes this.
  19. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I meant durability when above I said strengthen. I'm don't mean making them more powerful, I mean making them harder to injure.

    But yeah I'll stick to bag gloves with wraps for now.
    axelb likes this.
  20. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    If you abused yourself when you were young, you will pay back when you get old. When you use meat, bone, and skin to hit object that has no life. That object will win.

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