Modern martial artists regularly utilise hand held pads to improve footwork, balance, power and endurance. Physically striking a target rather than hitting air’ provides valuable performance feedback, especially when the pad holder offers constructive comment on the techniques they’re receiving. Pad work offers many advantages over bag work, the most obvious being interaction with a real opponent. Bag work is an excellent tool for developing power, but for realistic fighting skill, pad work is far superior when used effectively.


The type of pads that you’re using will dictate the way in which you can train with them. There are several designs of hand held pad each developed for specific uses. The main types are as follows: Kicking Shields Kicking shields are usually large vinyl covered dense foam targets, with mounted holding straps. They are particularly useful for developing power techniques. The design means that they can easily be used to receive both hand and leg techniques. They don’t offer much in the way of accuracy training due to the larger target area but are very effective when drilling techniques such as jump spinning back-kicks, were lack of accuracy can easily result in an injured pad holder! Target Paddles Target paddles were developed for dynamic kicking movements. Although hand techniques can also be applied. The design of this pad presents the target at a distance to the holder’s hand, making it far less likely to be accidentally kicked. Another advantage of this pad is that it’s flexible, allowing kicking techniques to follow through. This is particularly useful when practising jumping kicks, allowing a safe landing while developing speed and accuracy.

Boxing Focus Mitts

Focus mitt gloves are essential for developing fast accurate punching techniques, a boxing coach’s tool that translates directly to martial arts. These pads can be quickly re-positioned at various angles to simulate different body targets and allow the holder to move as a fighter, working their partner in a more realistic manner. All types of hand and elbow strikes can be trained on these pads, but kicking them will injure the holder unless the kicks are particularly light.

Long Mitts or Thai Pads

These rectangular forearm pads are becoming increasingly popular with all fighting arts. Developed in Thailand for Muay Thai fighters to practice full power techniques, long mitts combine the power absorption of a kicking shield with the versatility and manoeuvrability of boxing focus milts. They can be used one at a time, or in pairs with each pad strapped to the Visit for free training articles.

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