8 Best Punch Mitts | March 2017
- d-ring attachment secures to wrist
- rear finger cover for protection
- wrist padding on front and back
- more padding than most models
- secure hook and loop closure
- wide face is easy to hit
- moisture-wicking interiors
- closures are tight and reliable
- easy to break in
- innovative impact-minimizing foam
- double hook support straps
- weigh only 15 ounces
- ventilated channels keep hands dry
- very lightweight for fluidity
- domed palm pads for a good grip
What Separates a Good Punch Mitt From a Great One?
The key to a great punch mitt is its ability to absorb a shot. This is important for the boxer, but even more so for the trainer, whose palms need to maintain their position even after a flurry of blows.
Most punching mitts feature a leather exterior which is both durable and resilient. Beneath the leather is a reinforced layer of foam padding. Top-of-the-line gloves sometimes combine that foam padding with gel, which cushions the contact while ensuring that the mitt retains its shape. Shape is important in that most mitts bend inward, complementing the curved shape of a boxer's glove. If the mitt has no cushion, that could impact a boxer's wrist. A lack of cushion could also end up fracturing a trainer's metacarpals or phalanges.
Consequently, you may want to take note of a punching mitt's weight. If a mitt weighs less than a pound, chances are you're going to experience some blowback whenever sustaining any hitter's punches. If, on the other hand, the mitt weighs more than 3 lbs., that weight could impede your ability to swing quickly whenever taking part in any slipping drills (please see below).
From a trainer's perspective, it is critical to account for the fact that you'll be sweating in these mitts for several minutes at a time. Consequently, any worthwhile pair of mitts should allow your fingers to either breathe or rest comfortably inside a cushioned glove. Be sure to read some of each mitt's customer reviews before making a final purchasing decision. This way you can get a sense of whether there might be any risk of the gloves fitting too tight, or falling apart.
Several Training Drills That Are Centered Around Punch Mitts
Punch mitts, which are also referred to as focus mitts, are beneficial because they allow a fighter to simulate hitting a precise target while simultaneously slipping any punch that could be hurtling his way. As any trainer will attest, a fighter is never more exposed than in the seconds immediately after he has thrown a fist.
This may explain why one of the most common focus mitt drills involves both the boxer and the trainer throwing a straight jab at the same time. The goal of this drill is for a boxer to practice sidestepping the trainer's jab, while also landing his own punch (This is usually accomplished by striking upward at an angle, from a crouching position). Once the boxer has thrown an initial jab, the trainer may insist that he follow it up with a combination to work on timing: counter-jab-cut-hook-repeat, for example, and so on.
The trainer and the boxer develop a kind of shorthand for these drills, wherein every combination is represented via a number. If the trainer calls out, "Three!" for instance, then the boxer may respond by throwing a right-hand jab followed by a left-hand cross. Each number corresponds to a pattern. Over time, this focuses the boxer's precision. As a result, the trainer might call out any one of these combinations during an actual match in the same way that an NFL quarterback might call out a well-choreographed play.
One of the best drills for practicing combinations is called "The 4 Count." The 4 Count consists of throwing four repetitive combinations (e.g., "1-6-3-9!") in rapid succession. These combinations may vary based on style, and perhaps even upcoming opponents. As the boxer establishes a rhythm, the trainer might begin to increase the tempo, or even incorporate some slipping drills to keep the boxer on his toes. The purpose of a slipping drill is to teach a boxer how to maintain balance despite turning, or crouching, or otherwise disrupting his stance. During the majority of these drills, a boxer is made to duck or swivel, as the trainer swings the focus mitts to simulate incoming blows.
How The Focus Mitt Arrived Full Circle
Punch mitts were originally designed for training martial artists, who would use these mitts to harness their power. The goal for any martial artist was to hit each mitt in its central pocket, which was painted like a bull's-eye. The more adept a fighter became at placing his punches, the more successful he could be when squaring off against any opponent.
These early "focus mitts" were an asset in that - up until the early 1900s - martial artists had been forced to practice blocking or punching on a wooden dummy or the blunt exterior of a Thai pad. These apparatuses had little give, and they were ineffective in terms of teaching a fighter how to respond. Sparring was beneficial, but it also increased the chances that a fighter could get hurt. Focus mitts, on the other hand, were being worn by a sensei who was working with the martial artist, as opposed to against him.
There is no landmark patent for a focus mitt, although everyone from Rocky Marciano to Bruce Lee has been credited with either inventing these mitts, or bringing them into the mainstream. What is evident is that these mitts really took off throughout professional boxing's golden era (i.e., 1950-2000), a period during which the designation "punch mitts" became more apropos.
Today, focus mitts are experiencing a commercial resurgence thanks in large part to mixed martial arts. There is an irony to this in that martial artists were the first athletes to train by using focus mitts. This was, of course, eons before the UFC came along, and transformed martial arts into a billion-dollar sport.