If you’ve been training Muay Thai or boxing for some time, you probably understand the importance of being a good pad or mitt holder. Apart from the fact that your partner can benefit from the session and sharpen his/her technique, you can also enjoy a good core and shoulder workout – provided you hold the pads correctly, of course.
If you happen to be new to pad holding, or you aren’t sure whether you’re on the right track, then perhaps this article can help you. With that said, of course, the best way to learn is to actually hold the pads and get your instructor to observe you and correct your mistakes.
“If you don’t hold the pads correctly you may cause your training partner to execute strikes wrongly,” reveals legendary trainer of World Champions Yodkunsup Por Pongsawang (Kru Yod).
Kru Yod is widely regarded as one of the top striking coaches in Asia. He has worked with the greatest athletes in Muay Thai, K-1 kickboxing, and MMA and has taught in 11 countries. Today, he shares with Evolve Daily some tips on How To Be A Better Pad Holder:
1) Stay relaxed and focused
The first tip, staying relaxed and focused, may be an obvious one but it is important.
“Be careful and observant when holding the pads,” advises Kru Yod. “If you let your mind drift and tune out while your partner is throwing the strikes, you won’t be able to time the pads properly.”
According to Kru Yod, tensing up too much while holding the pads can tire your arms quickly. “Keep your shoulders soft and relaxed until it is time to meet the shots,” he says. “Those who are new to pad holding can end up being very tense and holding the pads at the wrong angle. It helps to keep your arms tight when holding the pads and focusing on accuracy.” Staying focused on your partner is also very important as you will need to notice their tendencies and mistakes to help them correct them. A lot of the time errors are the subtle and small and your partner won’t notice them unless you provide feedback.
2) Meet the strikes
The last thing you want to do is to push past and through your partner’s strikes. Hence, it’s important to ensure that the strikes connect at the correct point, with a good amount of resistance and impact. “You should stand in a fighting stance and keep your back relatively straight,” explains Kru Yod. “If your training partner happens to be smaller or shorter than you, don’t hunch. Instead, bend your knees and keep the pads at chest height.”
“Don’t reach too far to absorb the strike,” he adds.
If your pads fly back with every punch or kick your partner executes, then it means that you’re not giving enough resistance and that your partner isn’t getting good targets! “Ideally, you should push back with about 20% of your partner’s power,” shares Kru Yod. “Not resisting is bad, but too much resistance is also not good.”
By holding the pads against the intended point of contact, you will be helping your partner with his/her power and also sharpening his/her technique.
3) Develop rhythm and timing
“Rhythm and timing is very important in a fight,” reveals Kru Yod. “It is something that you can work on with the pads, by getting your partner to throw the strikes at certain timings. After every combination, take a brief moment to reset before the next one. Keep your combinations crisp and short.”
When holding the pads, it helps to establish a rhythm that connects the strikes into combinations. By developing rhythm and timing to simulate a fight, you’re better preparing both your partner and yourself when it comes to reacting to and handling a fight.
4) Incorporate defensive techniques
Apart from working on offense, it is crucial to incorporate defense into pad work. After all, you won’t only be throwing strikes but also defending yourself from your opponent’s strikes during a fight. By doing so, you and your partner will be able to switch between offense and defense, as well as learn to counter.
While holding the pads, you can occasionally throw punches and/or kicks, so as to get your partner to block or catch them. With that said, it helps to understand your partner’s experience level before proceeding. If your partner is someone less experienced, then it helps to call out the defensive move (e.g. block, lean back, etc.) – so that your partner will be ready to defend.
5) Practice footwork
“Don’t be afraid to move around while doing pad work,” advises Kru Yod. “While it’s ok to get them to execute the combinations more stationary, to begin with, it’s important to occasionally move around because footwork is a vital part of a fight.”
When you change things up by getting your partner to move forward, backward, circle out, or move out at certain angles, you’re teaching him/her how to deal with different angles they will find in a fight. Apart from that, by incorporating footwork into your pad rounds, your partner will get the chance to practice staying light on his/her feet.
6) Ensure a good mixture/variety of techniques
In class, there’s a higher chance you will be given specific combinations to drill with your partner when it comes to pad work. However, when you’re given the freedom to go about deciding what combinations you want your partner to execute, you shouldn’t feel the need to call out complex combinations every single time.
“Getting your basic techniques on point is important,” shares Kru Yod. “It can benefit your partner to drill basic strikes and combinations, but with the right technique of course.”
With that said, it is also important to not stick to the same few combinations or your partner will get too comfortable. So make it a point to switch things up and get a good variety of techniques, which you then link up in the correct fashion. By doing so, you will enable your partner to learn to transition smoothly between techniques and include more combinations in his/her arsenal.
So tell us, are you ready to be a better pad holder? Now go forth and make every training session count!