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Go, glove, lovely glove!

February 22, 2010

Yesterday I started a singlesword class with Mike Yahn of Combat Inc (“Sink into your stance. Breathe. Do you look awesome?”), and of the four women in the class, I noticed that three of us were wearing the exact same gloves.

I think a lot about gloves.

In my renfaire stage combat haunt, period leather gauntlets were the gold standard, but I have tiny hands and sensitive skin that objects to heat and sweat, not to mention black dye. For a while, I wore the plain black leather gloves that I wore in winter, until Ricki Ravitts mentioned at the Sling that youth batting gloves were perfect for her: they come in small sizes, they’re comfortable and flexible right away, the wrist strap keeps them from riding up like my winter gloves did, and you can pick them up pretty much anywhere. Bingo. Brilliant. The trick was finding a plainish pair — no pink, no stripes, no huge logos I couldn’t take off with a seam ripper — and I guess Ruby, Elizabeth, and I came to the same conclusion: Nike’s Keystone youth batting gloves.

And now when this pair wears out and I don’t remember what they were called, I might remember that I wrote it down somewhere on the internet….

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2013 10:56 am

    Why wear gloves? I have never heard a convincing reason to do so, other than one chooses to do it?

  2. May 15, 2013 4:39 am

    To protect your hands from the swords and the swords from your hands. Little dings on the hand that might have been bloody will just be bruises if you’re wearing gloves — especially when you’re using weapons without a big fancy guard, or working in styles with hand beats or half-swording. And any moisture or sweat on your hands will start the high-carbon steel rusting.

    • May 15, 2013 11:07 am

      It is up to the individual, of course, but these reasons don’t and have never convinced me, The best protection for the hands is to not allow them to get hit in the first place, I almost never wear gloves when I fight and don’t get hit on the hands, In my experience of teaching for over 20 years and previously to that my fathers 30 years is that people look after unprotected hands more than they do when they wear gloves. The gloves give both sides a false sense of security, especially the gloves that most stage combatants wear as they are unpadded and do nothing against a meaningful hit. Though an increase of padding just makes things worse as an increased perception of safety leads to greater risk taking. Hand beats and half swording again can be done fine, even with non rebated weapons without gloves, I have seen no real reason to use them with rebated weapons. I also hear the arguments about chips on the blades etc, but that is not a problem with well maintained blades or those crafted properly.

      In regards to moisture, depends on the person, but most people don’t get sweaty hands unless they are either gripping to tightly, or wearing gloves which hold in the heat. As to moisture and possible rust on the sword, that can be dealt with by a quick clean or wipe of the weapons after use, something that should be done anyway, IMO
      Hands can get hit, but they are not being specifically targeted and with properly blade placement and parries etc. they are in no more danger danger than another body part. One could argue that same chances of things going wrong could be applied to mistakes leading to face or head hits, yet no one I am aware of recommends that stage combat should be done with fencing masks or eye protection.
      It is my belief that the use of gloves is received wisdom, people do it because that is what is done, the reasons for them seems to make sense and no one questions it. Or they receive a hit on the hands, caused in part because of a lack of awareness due to feeling safer in gloves and poor technique and then praise the gloves for having saved the day, rather than looking at the fact that the gloves are a major part in why the hand got hit in first place.

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