However, the benefits of punching with a vertical fist are neutralized when wearing gloves. Since the hand is protected, linear blows may be replaced by more circular blows, such as the “corkscrew” jab and the hook. These blows can be thrown with more power because they have the increased energy of momentum behind them. Since fighters do not need to worry much about breaking their fists, they can afford to punch with increased power.
In addition, gloves, due to their size, act as small shields around the hands that may be used to block incoming blows. With the hands held close to the body, it is easy to tuck and cover. Gloves also make getting through with linear punches more difficult, which works to the defender’s advantage when blocking shots to the stomach or sides with the elbows, forearms, and biceps.
Before hand protectors, the guards of martial arts fighters were more extended than today. Since the fighters could not rely on the extra protection gloves provide, they needed to block many blows farther away from their bodies. Combatants needed time to react and block since they had little protection close in. Therefore, the fighting range was considerably longer than today, being fought just outside the range where each opponent could hit the other without moving.