If you ever watched a martial arts movie or two boxers preparing for a fight, then before the gloves go on, you’ll almost always see the fighters wrap their hands. Have you ever wondered why?
Why do martial artists wear hand wraps and bandages? Martial artists wear hand wraps and bandages because they can prevent injuries and improve the power of their punches. Wraps and bandages also protect the martial artist’s skin and soften the impact on hard surfaces.
Of course, you have to put wraps on the right way! And you should be aware of the rules surrounding the use of hand wraps in your particular martial art. So, let’s take a look at the details.
Why Martial Artists Wear Hand Wraps & Bandages
If you’re a fan of the old school Jean Claude Van Damme movies then you’ve probably seen a movie or two when he toughened up his hands by punching trees and boards over and over again. Even Daniel in the 2nd Karate Kid movie was fooled into this practice.
It’s not a good idea and if you want to be able to use your hands as more than weapons – you ought to use hand wraps instead. This is why:
Hand Wraps Can Prevent Injuries
There’s a term known as “boxer’s fracture”. This is where boxers break the bones inside their hands while punching. In fact, it’s not just boxers that suffer from this – all martial artists involved in striking arts can suffer from boxer’s fracture.
When you wrap your hands, you essentially help to keep the “metacarpals” (that is, the very small and delicate bones inside the hand) in place. This reduces the risks of accidentally fracturing those bones.
You’ll also find that when your wrists are properly wrapped, they keep the whole hand in proper alignment inside the glove and this stops you from injuring your wrists easily.
The fewer injuries that you sustain in your martial arts life, the more practice, training and competing that you can do.
Hand Wraps Can Improve Your Punching Power
Hand wraps compress the whole hand and oddly, when you form a tighter fist, it hurts less to punch with it. When it hurts less to punch, you can put more force into your blows.
At the same time, this wrapping prevents you from breaking anything in your hand due to the increased force which is kind of important.
How You Should Use Hand Wraps: Boxing Style
Boxers tend to wrap their hands differently from MMA fighters. This reflects two things: the first is that the boxing glove is not designed in the same manner as an MMA glove and you want to ensure that your hand wraps work with your glove.
The second is that punching is all that you have in boxing and it’s important to achieve the maximum velocity in your punch when needed. In MMA, a fighter’s hands may be required for more than just striking.
To learn how to wrap your hands for boxing, the best way is to follow the steps in this video:
How You Should Use Hand Wraps: Muay Thai Style
MMA fighters, on the other hand, will tend to follow the Muay Thai style of hand wrapping. This offers more protection for wrists and knuckles than when a boxer wraps his or her hands and this reflects the lighter, thinner gloves in Muay Thai, which allow for a faster movement.
If you spend a lot of time on bag workouts, then a Muay Thai style hand wrap can make it much less painful to punch the bag over and over again.
You can see how to wrap your hands Muay Thai style in the video below:
What Can Go Wrong When Using Hand Wraps?
You need to ensure that you wrap your hands properly because if you don’t then you can end up facing some unpleasant consequences.
Cuts To The Hand
The first thing to check out when you find that wraps are cutting your hands is if the material of the wrap is good enough quality. Saving money by buying cheap wraps is the number one reason for cuts on your hands when punching – so, make sure to buy decent quality wraps. The second thing to check is the style of wrap (ask someone for help with this) to ensure you’re not creating friction points in the wrap.
Wrist Pain Appears During Punching
The most obvious sign that your wrap isn’t right is that you go and do a bag workout and feel pain in your hands. The purpose of wrapping is to align your wrist and to protect the bones in your hands, if the wraps aren’t correctly done – you feel pain. Stop as soon as you feel pain and then rewrap your hands carefully.
The Wraps Disintegrate
If your wraps just fall to pieces in your gloves after you’ve landed a few blows then the odds are pretty good that you’re not tying them tight enough or you’re not tying them correctly. Rewrap your hands and if it keeps happening, seek advice from the other fighters that you practice with.
Your Hands Go Blue/Numb
It’s important to wrap your hands up tight but there is, unfortunately, such a thing as too tight. When your hands go blue or numb – you’re wrapping them too tightly and cutting off the blood flow in your hand. You may even find this makes you dizzy. Stop immediately, rewrap your bindings when you find that your hands have turned back to their normal color and you’ve regained sensation and this time, wrap them a little less tightly.
Do You Need To Wear Wraps During Training?
Yes, though training isn’t as intense as fighting, you’re still putting your hands through a thorough workout and wraps are going to help you to prevent injuries and other problems. It’s also good practice for when you actually fight in a competition.
If you wrap your hands each time that you work out – you’re going to get into a routine which allows you to wrap efficiently and comfortably. You don’t need the extra pressure of learning to wrap your hands properly when you’re about to fight competitively, do you? There’s enough to worry about on tournament days as it is.
Why Do Some Fighters Refuse To Wear Wraps?
Gunnar Nelson, the UFC fighter says, “I never wrap my hands. I like to get as much feel for my hands and my opponents as I can, and I’ve never really felt any difference wrapping my hands. I’ve never broken my hands, that’s probably why. If you like to work with your hands, you like to get the feel for what you’re doing, and I feel like I have more feel for what I’m doing with no wraps.”
Thus, he’s saying that the feedback he gets from bare hands is more important to him than the protection wraps bring. It’s worth noting that Gunnar excels in grappling, which is a part of MMA that might really benefit from more sensitive hands.
If you’re a boxer, however, wrapping is essential. There are no boxers that refuse to use wraps because they’d have broken hands and no longer be boxing.
Do The Rules Of Competition Require You To Wear Wraps?
There are no rules in MMA competitive rules that force fighter to wear wraps. However, your club or dojo might still require wraps even if the “authorities” don’t. If you do wear gloves though there are rules which specify how much tape, gauze, etc. you can use in your wraps.
The final say in any MMA bout lays with the fight commissioner. They may still refuse to let someone without wraps to fight and they may refuse someone with bad wraps the right to fight too.
Boxers, again, are required to use wraps.
Why do martial artists wear hand wraps and bandages: It’s because wraps can protect your hands and improve the power you put into punching.
As we said, however, wraps can end up causing you an injury if you don’t put them on right. You are not required to wear wraps, either, and if you feel they are interfering with your fighting, you are able to leave them off even in competitions as there are no rules governing their use in MMA or other sports except for boxing.