Touching gloves

One of my pet peeves is—touching gloves. The sport of boxing uses touching gloves as a traditional sign of respect for the opponent, and it was probably where the gesture originated. The sport of Mixed Martial Arts also uses glove touching, but then, since the only thing in MMA that is related to the martial arts is its name, it’s an appropriate gesture. However, in traditional martial arts, especially the ones that originated in counties that use the bow as a part of their culture, we bow toward our opponents as a traditional sign of respect.

Nowadays, see martial artists bow toward each other before a sparring match, walk forward and touch gloves, and then assume their fighting positions. Glove touching is nontraditional, not needed, and repetitious. Bowing to an opponent and then touching gloves is like saying “I am bowing to you to show my respect for you as a fighter,” and then walking up and saying “In case you were too ignorant to understand the purpose of the bow, I am touching gloves with you to show my respect for you as a fighter.”

The use of glove touching has increased in the martial arts since the rise in popularity of the sport of MMA fighting. It appears that novice martial arts students, and even experienced ones, think that touching gloves is now the way things are supposed to be done. As traditional martial artists, it is our responsibility to correct this behavior.

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