Foam dipped gloves are the most popular kind of hand protection in traditional martial arts, and for good reason. They are affordable, functional, and easy to take on and off.
Nevertheless, there are some common pitfalls and bad habits associated with foam dip that you want to make sure to avoid. Be mindful of these top five faux pas and you'll maximum the form and function of your gloves.
1. Don't Store Near Weapons
Foam dipped gloves have pretty good durability, but are extremely susceptible to all things pointy. If you happen to store your gloves with sai, kama, or other pokables, you're liable to encounter premature ripping and tearing.
If you can, grab a separate bag for your gloves and other sparring gear (or secure a big bag with separate compartments).
2. Don't Be Afraid of Little Repairs
The shelf life of your handpads will grow exponentially if you aren't afraid of doing minor repairs from time to time.
Some common places that are prone to wear and tear include: around the knuckle region on the outside of the padding, around the elastic loop that secures the glove, and around the finger holders that are used to grip while making a fist. A little bit of duct tape (especially if it's the same color as your glove) and super glue can get you right back in the game.
3. Don't Ignore the Elements
I was going to label this one "watch where you store your gloves", but that wouldn't have been a "don't".
The elements can do funky things to your hand guards, so if you leave them lying around (like in the trunk of your car) you will reap some unfortunate results. Heat and cold will expand and contract them into malformed shapes, especially if you have them packed with other equipment. The cold will make them stiff and hard to put on, and the heat will make them sticky and unpleasant.
4. Don't Cheat the Distance
Foam dip gloves can actually give you a little bit of distance advantage as the top of the glove (near the finger tips) protrudes past the hand in order to cover the entire fist when closed. Some unscrupulous individuals have discovered that by keeping the hand open and doing a reverse, open hand "back slap" they can get some added inches to their strikes.
This kind of play developed out of tournaments and can help you get cheap taps (see point #5), but in the long run will degrade your ability to fight effectively.
5. Don't Play For the Tap
You can make a really satisfying tap when you get a snappy shot in on your opponent. Unfortunately, that tap can be so alluring that some fighters will mentally focus in on it (either intentionally or inadvertently). Playing for the tap not only distracts your mind from the task at hand, but it can actually weaken your technique and limit your arsenal.
Think about it. The good tap comes from a whip-lashing technique that strikes and recoils quickly. Certainly those kinds of techniques have their place and demonstrate good control, but you also want the ability to finish through your opponent. A driving strike rarely makes a tap (it's more of a thud).
Also consider the amount of strikes you can do with the palm, fingertips, and other striking surfaces of your body. These areas will not produce audible results and might not be as good for tournaments, but are certainly important in the realm of fighting.