Wrapping your hands is a skill that any martial artist should learn. While I do typically prefer to practice bare-fisted (for the same reason I like to have sex without a condom—it simulates realistic fighting conditions), I also recognize the utility of the shod fist. It allows you to punch harder due to reducing the risk of bone breakage by keeping the little bones of the wrist and hands locked together, it increases the “power line” and “Wrist snap” I have previously discussed for the same reason, and it protects the hands from laceration damage (should you want to put your fist through a window). Plus it’s kind of a requirement if you want to box/kickbox in an organized setting.
So with all that being said, how does one wrap their hands? The first thing you’ll need are, of course, hand wraps. While I suppose any sufficiently long and thin fabric could serve as a makeshift device, you’ll get the best results with those specifically designed to be wraps.
There are several different types of handwrap based on fabric composition and elasticity-I personally prefer the semi-elastic cotton wraps, colloquially known as Mexican-style wraps. The new-fangled handwrap gloves they sell nowadays should be avoided. When purchasing, the product name and/or description should specify which sort of wrap it is.
The length of the wrap will depends based on the size of your hands and arms. If you’re an adult man (and I imagine all of you reading are), you will want the 180 inch handwraps, but they also come in smaller sizes like 120 inches. Again, the product description should make this clear.
So once you get your handwraps, how do you go about ensnaring your fist? You certainly don’t want to just throw the fabric every which way, as improper hand wraps can actually put more stress on the bones and increase risk of breaking fingers/knuckles.
A proper wrapping of the hands is as follows:
1) Your wrap should have a thumb loop. Place it around your thumb with the back of the hand facing you. All wrapping is done with the back of the hand facing you.
2) Begin looping the tape around your wrist, starting the tape at the back of the hand and moving to the front. Doing it the other way makes the wrap loosen as you move your fingers.
3) Wrap the tape around the wrist three times. The key is three COMPLETE wraps ie: the skin is completely covered with the tape ( that’s one wrap), then that space is completely covered, and then again. A full turn is you start at a location, then you wrap it completely around and bring it back to that starting location. That is the complete wrap. Any further movement is the second wrap.
4) Then, wrapping in the same direction, wrap around the palm of the hand. You do not cover the knuckles completely here, but partially covering them is acceptable. After three wraps, wrap it around one more time, but stop when you reach the inner base of your thumb. In other words, you’re doing 3 and a half wraps.
5) Now you begin wrapping the Xs. Finish wrapping around the base of the thumb, bring it up and between the ring and pinky finger, and then wrap it around the palm, making an X (one complete wrap in other words, bring it back to the pinky/ring conjunction and THEN do another turn). Bring it around another half time, and then wrap it down and around the base of the thumb.
6) Repeat the process for the space in between the middle and ring finger, be sure to make the X and then do a half wrap
7) And repeat once more for the space between the index and middle finger.
8) Now that your fingers are separated, begin wrapping once around the thumb, and then behind the wrist
9) Then do a half wrap around the thumb, but rather than complete the wrap, go down and across the palm
10) Now you wrap around the knuckles. Three times.
11) Now you have some extra tape. You can wrap another time around the knuckle, the palm, or the wrist. Or you can have them dangling free like prayer flags (note: don’t actually do this.) Anyway, once you’re done with your “supplementary wraps, velcro them down (most handwraps today come with velcro, and if yours don’t, use adhesive tape).
And then repeat the process for the other hand.
It’s a little bit tricky to learn, but once you do, you’ll have a martial skill that can be improvised with many materials, and will greatly increase the power behind your punches when done properly.
For the visual learners, please observe my video on the subject