I have been in the privileged position of having been able to test and use the Thokk WeaponMaster BladeProof gauntlets since August 2021, a couple of months before the gloves started being shipped out to customers in October, with delivery increasing dramatically in March 2022. I have been involved in some of the testing and feedback process for an earlier prototype of the gloves as well, and therefore have seen some of the developments and improvements between models.
I would like to share my thoughts about these gloves so that people can read a review that comes from several months of experience of using the gloves for drilling and sparring.
This review: motivation and transparency
Thokk sent me a prototype pair of gloves in August 2019 for testing and feedback, and then a set of the current production gloves (BladeProof model) in August 2021 for testing and feedback and also for showing to people at FightCamp.
This review was not part of that arrangement. Since people have been asking me what I think about the gloves, this review is something I would like to write and publish in order to help people understand my thoughts, opinions, and experience with the gloves.
Edit as of 8th September 2022: because I have had good experiences with the gloves over the last year, the Academy of Historical Arts (an organisation and business that I run) has recently begun to stock these gloves for sale through our shop. I still think the gloves are good, and I still use the pair I received for review last year when I am sparring at my club and at events.
The gloves were designed as five-fingered gloves that would be slim and dextrous enough to fit into complex hilted sword, to make it easy to hold and use items such as sideswords and rapiers, and to be more protective than any other slim five-fingered gloves on the market.
I think they achieve this goal remarkably well. They offer so much more protection than Red Dragon gloves or other similar gloves. I cannot compare them with the Sparring Glove five-fingered gloves, because I have never had the opportunity to use those or try them for any length of time.
In terms of protection for disciplines such as longsword, messer, or sword and buckler, I think the Thokk gloves offer enough protection for any casual (even reasonably high intensity) sparring that is likely to happen at a club or event – especially if you use the longsword addon. I have been using my Thokk gloves for 6 months in a range of sparring intensities, from gentle through to quite heavy sparring, and they have kept me safe from all the hand and finger hits so far.
There have been some longsword strikes to my fingertips that didn’t make me very happy, and the longsword addon does not cover the fingertips, but I have no sustained any injuries. I think it is valuable and important to note that these gloves were not designed as heavy gloves for high intensity longsword fencing; they do an excellent job of providing protection for longsword fencing, but if I were to participate in a high intensity longsword competition, I might still use my Sparring Glove mittens, because those have been designed for precisely this purpose.
I think the best way to understand these gloves is that they offer a high level of protection for gloves that are fingered and quite slim. They are not “big heavy gloves”, and therefore do not (cannot) provide the protection that big heavy gloves are more able to provide against the heaviest longsword hits. They are not bomb proof – just very good.
The long cuffs that can be purchased for the gloves are surprisingly (and pleasantly) slim and form fitting while remaining protective. I usually don’t bother with any forearm protection on top of my jacket, because I hate the resulting bulk; but I really don’t mind these cuffs. I have worn these cuffs more often in the last six months than I have worn any forearm protection in the preceding six years. Taking repeated hits to the forearm during a broadsword or longsword private lesson, for example, has not been a problem at all.
One final relevant piece of information is that each different model of the gloves has a different penetration-proof material. The Training model meets CEN level 1 requirements; the Pro model has 350N rated polyester HT that meets CEN level 2 requirements; and the BladeProof model has 800N rated Dyneema that meets and exceeds CEN level 2 requirements. This protection covers the palm, the back of the hand, and between the fingers.
Sizing, bulk, and mobility
To deal with the simplest things first, the mobility is amazing. The gloves might take a bout or two to break in fully, but they are not painful out of the box and they become very dextrous very quickly. When working with a sabre or sidesword, I don’t notice much difference in mobility between going barehanded, wearing my thin leather gloves, or wearing these gloves.
The gloves have very little bulk and are slim and form-fitting. They don’t enlarge the hand very much and they fit quite comfortably into the hilt of my Kvetun sidesword. With the longsword addon, the bulk does increase slightly, but not very much. I can still get the gloves into the sidesword hilt while wearing the addon.
The options for sizing are quite inclusive, running from XS through S, M, L and XL. I have quite small hands for a man, and I usually take small Sparring Gloves (and my hands are almost lost in the small SPES Heavies). I have been using the medium Thokk gloves, although my hands were probably on the dividing line between S and M. Based on my experience with the prototype, I would probably recommend going for the larger of the two sizes if you are similarly on the dividing line between sizes.
The gloves are primarily black and come with a contrasting colour (red, white, or yellow) on each finger. Although I would prefer an all-black glove or a blue contrasting colour, I think the colours are reasonably muted and not particularly horrible to look at – much better than the horrific in-your-face branding on the Red Dragon gloves, for example.
The cuffs do show the Thokk logo, but it is merely embossed into the material, without any contrasting colour, so it is very subtle. This was a piece of feedback that Thokk took on board during the design process; I feel very strongly (and negatively) about the issue of looking like a walking billboard for companies, so the branding is very muted and restrained (as it should be).
The materials make the gloves look modern while also having a distinct look that isn’t just like fencing gloves, kendo kote, medieval gauntlets, or anything else.
The material on the palm is supple and designed specifically to allow you to keep a good grip on your sword. The inside of the glove is also moisture-wicking. I have not had any problems holding onto my sword or changing my grip during any drills or sparring bouts.
Price and availability
The RRP is expected to be as follows for the gloves once they become available for general purchase, although the details could easily change:
- WeaponMaster Training gloves: (still to be determined)
- WeaponMaster Pro gloves: €240 plus VAT
- WeaponMaster BladeProof gloves: €280 plus VAT
- Additional cuffs: €40 plus VAT
- Longsword addon: €40 plus VAT
These are quite expensive gloves, especially with the additional cuffs and addons. However, I think they are truly a premium design of gloves, and I would personally be happy to pay this kind of money for gloves that let me do the kind of fencing I want to do while providing sufficient protection for my hands. However, I do a lot of fencing every single week, so it would be a good decision for me to invest in my hands like this. A beginner or someone who fences less frequently might quite reasonably prioritise differently.
Currently, as of March 2022, the gloves are not yet available for general purchase. Thokk is fulfilling all the pre-orders from 2017 first.
Once the gloves are available for general purpose, the Academy of Historical Arts online shop will be carrying them for sale. The plan is for the AHA to have some boxes of stock available in the UK, so that UK customers will find it easier to buy the gloves without the hassle of having to deal with customs and import.
I am extremely happy with the Thokk WeaponMaster BladeProof gloves. I have been testing them for about six months at the time of writing this review, and they have served me well throughout this time. They have kept my hands safe, even when using sideswords where heavier gloves struggle to fit.
I have been quite happy using these gloves for sparring with the longsword. Hits to the fingertips are not nice to receive, but these are fingered gloves, so I would not expect better protection than can be found inside heavier mittens. These are generally my go-to gloves now whenever I need some hand protection while fencing with longsword.
If I were entering a hard-hitting longsword competition, I would probably still use my Sparring Gloves for the protection on my fingertips. However, for everything else, I feel perfectly safe using the Thokk gloves.
They are expensive, costing almost twice as much as the Sparring Glove mittens or SPES Heavies, but they are also more comfortable and allow five-fingered dexterity. They are intended to be as protective as it is possible for five-fingered gloves to be and should not be seen as a replacement for heavy mitten-style gloves. I would buy another pair quite happily should my current pair wear out through regular use.
Is there anything I don’t like about the gloves? I’d prefer a bit more protection in the fingertips, certainly, but I realise that is not very feasible in fingered gloves. I might prefer to have an all-black option in terms of colours. It would be great if they came with a beer. Beyond that, I haven’t found anything to dislike about them in the last six months of use.
Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. I teach regularly at Liverpool HEMA, and help behind the scenes with running HEMA in Glasgow at the Vanguard Centre.