Review: Sparring Gloves

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Review: Sparring Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 08 Dec 2014 22:33

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Protection

This is what is most important to most people, so it will be discussed first.

Thumb

The thumb is very well protected with hard plastic as well as the usual hard foam. It can take a solid hit and protect the thumb inside from damage.

Fingers

The fingers are all encased in a mitten gauntlet made from hard foam and an internal layer of what feels like softer foam. This combination proves excellent protection against direct strikes. Because all the fingers are protected with the one piece of construction in mitten form, they are significantly safer than could be achieved with a fingered gauntlet.

Fingertips

There is not really any fingertip protection - but then again, there are no fingertips that need to be protected in the same fashion as with fingers gauntlets. The fingertips are covered by the same protective material as the rest of the fingers, meaning that they require no additional padding.

Back of Hand

The back of the hand has the same padding as the fingers: hard foam and soft foam, with some additional lengths of leather to help cover the creases that allow for mobility and dexterity. The back of the hand is therefore well protected.

Wrist

There is a series of hard plates going across the wrist, overlapping, that allow for dexterity as well as significant protection. The wrist is probably protected somewhat less than the back of the hand and the fingers, but nonetheless it combines good protection with adequate mobility.

General Notes

The gloves are superb for fencing with the longsword. They absorb heavy hits without transferring damage to the fingers, and they cover every part of the hand and wrist that requires protection during a match.

Visual Appeal

The gloves come in black and look very sleek and professional. They fit the form of the hand very well and are not particularly bulky or over-sized - I was pleasantly surprised by just how form-fitting they were. They look significantly better and more professional than the Absolute Force gloves. In terms of colour, the standard is black all-over, but there are options to customise the stitching colour or the colour of the strips of leather across the back of the hand. They can therefore be customised to fit club colours or for personal taste.

Dexterity / Mobility

After my previous experiences with the Absolute Force gloves, I was expecting to find my dexterity impaired significantly. However, to my delight, I found that I was able to move my hands about my sword grip, move my thumb around the blade and grip, and do everything I need to do with my hands while sparring. My wrists were mobile enough to assume the various guard positions and to perform cuts.

In fact, the slim fit of these gloves made the position of right Ochs with crossed wrists easier than with any other well padded gloves I have used.

The gloves did require a little breaking in, but I spent an evening sitting with them, just moving them around between my hands, forcing them to bend in different directions and generally loosen off. Just an hour or so of this and they were ready for use in sparring without any negative impacts on my mobility or dexterity.

Durability / Comfort

The material from which these gloves are made is clearly good quality foam and leather. The stitching has been done professionally, and it is clear that the craftsmanship behind these gloves is excellent. Even after receiving several heavy hits during the course of a long weekend of sparring, they remained in good condition without anything breaking or falling off. It is very helpful to be able to rely on the gloves not only for protection, but for longevity as well!

One disadvantage of these gloves is that they are not very comfortable to wear without an underglove. I am wearing a pair of thin woollen gloves beneath my Sparring Gloves to alleviate the discomfort of my knuckles rubbing against the insides of the gloves. However, when wearing undergloves, there is no pain and very little discomfort from rubbing. it is a problem with a very simple and easy solution.

Grip

The palm of the gloves is not covered by any material. The gauntlet is effectively a shell around the outside of the hand and joints, leaving the palm free and open. This means that the hand can breathe a little better than in an all-encompassing glove, and it allows for better grip of the sword as a result.

Size

The gloves fit the hands well and are not very bulky at all. They are quite possibly the slimmest gloves I have, other than gloves that are intended to be thin and not padded! The cuffs fit tidily over the sleeves of a fencing jacket without excessive bulk to get in the way.

The gloves come in sizes "small" through to "large", although the manufacturers will happily make you a custom pair to fit your unique measurements and circumstances.

Conclusions

The Sparring Gloves are tremendous items for longsword practitioners. To be perfectly honest, I wish I had just shelled out the cash and bought them a couple of years ago. They keep my hands wonderfully safe and secure (although they are not bombproof, and should not be treated as "the perfect armour"), more so than any other gloves I have tried.

They are pleasantly slim fitting, with lots of protection yet also sufficient mobility and dexterity to allow me to go into positions such as the right Ochs with crossed wrists. The lack of bulk makes the hands less of a target, and the dexterity allows me to turn my crossguard into a parry to help keep my hands safe.

For anyone who wants to do longsword seriously, I would strongly recommend acquiring a pair of these gloves.

The Sparring Gloves are on sale through Corsair's Wares for £150 per pair, and are available here: http://www.corsairs-wares.com/martial-arts/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=26
-- Keith Farrell --
Academy of Historical Arts: website | Facebook | blog
Fallen Rook Publishing: website | Facebook
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