Boxing pads are essential in boxing, there are no two ways about it. That’s why they benefit everyone, whether a complete novice or your favorite boxer training in front of the cameras. Traditionally pads for sports such as boxing were made from sacks of rice, straws, or dried beans.
Today we have pads that are more practical in use (and not made from food!). The beauty about boxing pads is that their use really is limitless, you can never use them enough. So once you start practicing with them, a few years down the line (if you’re still training…and why wouldn’t you be?) they will still be part of your routine. They are very beneficial and provide great conditioning for your muscles.
There are countless other benefits to boxing pads you can read about here (Why use Boxing Pads?). So if you are
serious about boxing or learning how to box, it’s simple, boxing pads are a necessity.
There are different types of pads that are used and that you can purchase. The following are the main ones that can be bought and used for practicing your boxing, as well as other striking arts such as kickboxing and muay thai, among many others.
You will always require a partner, just make sure you find someone as dedicated as you are (I have a feeling you are!). Punching is fundamental to many arts, that is why you will find these pads used outside the sport of boxing itself. For example, arts such as Muay Thai, Ju-Jitsu, Karate, Taekwondo, and Wing Chun all implement punching, as well as others.
Some such as Thai Pads are not as common in traditional boxing as they are in other arts, which emphasize the use of legs as well as hands. If you go down to a boxing gym, the most obvious pads you will see are the Focus Pads (Focus Mitts). These are the most associated with traditional boxing. Below is a selection of the most common boxing pads used in gyms across the country and at home.
- Boxing Pads
- Focus Pads
- Thai Pads
- Strike Shields
- Body Pads
If you are starting out in boxing, or want to purchase some pads for home use, then Focus Pads are essential. They are fantastic, all you need is a partner with some gloves and you are set to go. If you are wanting to incorporate other strikes such as knees, elbows, and kicks, then the Thai Pads are very versatile and can easily be used to practice and improve each of these strikes.
Body Pads are best used when you have some experience with punching and can be brilliantly implemented to be used in sparring. They are also fantastic for practicing kicks since they give your partner protection while allowing you to perfect your kicks, such as the roundhouse and push kick. Strike Shields are a necessity if you want to practice all the different strikes, and are more suited to the experienced trainer.
Why use Boxing Pads?
As you may know, there are various types of boxing pads available including but not limited to, Focus Pads, Thai Pads, Body Pads, and Strike Shields. These can be used for training your boxing skills, and much more, including other forms of striking such as elbows, knees, and kicks.
Whether you are using boxing pads purely for fitness and enjoyment reasons (such as in boxercise) or more seriously to compete, boxing pads provide many benefits, which is why since martial arts first emerged, they have had an essential role in training (and it doesn’t really matter what martial art we are talking about here).
There are many skills that are learned when training with boxing pads that are essential in improving your ability
to defend yourself. We are going to have a look at some of these reasons. Essentially the purpose of boxing pads is to resemble the scenario in combat, with the pads representing the target/combatant.
Thus training with pads develops the skills required in combat. There are many skills that are developed. Part 1 of this article will look at some of these, and the remaining skills will be discussed in Part 2.
Some of the skills you will develop:
This is essential in combat. If you lose your balance, you can easily be toppled over without being able to defend yourself. When you are practicing on pads, you are shown how to balance your body by using a certain stance. All martial arts emphasize the importance of this while ensuring that you are also in a position to launch strikes of your own. But balance is much more than just your stance.
It is being able to regain that same balance when or after striking. If you are throwing a combination, having your body balanced well will make your strikes much more effective, and it is important you regain your stance as effectively as possible after your attack. A well-balanced body can attack and defend much better. This is actively trained during pad work, where you will see improvements in how you balance when you are attacking and defending.
Coordination is vital in combat and this is actively trained during pad work. One type of coordination you are working on during padwork training is hand-to-eye coordination. This essentially means being able to hit your target where you want to hit it.
This will improve as you train since your brain will be better at judging how to hit the target where your eyes want to hit it. Coordination is also worked on in other ways, such as being able to move your body in sync when throwing a punch for example. It is about hitting the pad the way it should be hit. When punching, for example, your hips should rotate while your arm extends. Such coordination in kicks, elbows, knees, and hands is vital to attack effectively.
This includes your hand-to-eye coordination but is much more. Essentially you are developing strength of mind and the ability to concentrate on what you need to do. This applies to when you are defending (pads such as focus mitts can be used to punch back with so the striker has to defend), when you are moving around in your stance, and when you are striking. When you are punching, for example, you must focus on what you need to do and then be able to execute it. Padwork develops this focus and mental attitude so that you can successfully strike where you want to strike and how you want to strike. This is essential in combat, a lack of focus and not being able to concentrate on what you need to do would be detrimental.
This is possibly the first skill you acquire when doing pad work. It is being able to judge where the pad is so that you can strike the pad effectively and with the correct technique. This applies to all forms of striking. The aim is to maintain your balance, which would mean that if you were punching, not overextending or punching too short so you cannot generate any power.
Being able to judge the distance between you and your opponent is essential, so you know when to strike and how to strike. Pads can be moved around by the person holding them, to improve your ability since you may be required to move around in order to connect properly. Ultimately, the aim is to time the strikes properly and effectively.
Being able to time your punches or other strikes is vital to striking effect and maximizing the damage. You only have to look at the best boxers in the world to see how effective their timing is, and ultimately this is what makes or breaks a fighter. Timing is all about hitting the pad at the right moment for the best result.
This is developed as you do pad work, and it is a combination of the skills we have mentioned so far; balance, coordination, focus, and distance which are essential if you want to be able to time properly. As you improve these skills when doing your pad work, your timing will naturally increase and get better. When in combat, being able to time your strike is what determines how effective the strike is.
Another skill you develop when doing pad work is speed. If you use pads for striking, such as when punching, you will improve your hand speed because you are continually practicing punching. Other skills we have mentioned such as balance, coordination, and focus are vital to increasing your speed.
You must be punching with the correct technique, and as you train with pad work your speed will naturally increase. This is important when in combat, the quicker you punch the harder it is to defend, simple.
Power is also developed when you are punching. As you practice your punching and improve the skills we have mentioned so far; balance, coordination, focus, distance, timing and speed, the power in your punches will also increase. Speed is extremely important.
The amount of energy you put into any one punch normally determines how hard it hits (does not necessarily make it more effective) and doing pad work will allow you to hit with the same power while decreasing the energy used. The beauty of pads is that you can practice both quick light punches, as well as power punches. But regardless of the type of punching you practice, as long as you improve on the skills that are required to punch effectively, your strikes will be more powerful.
Once you are developing the skills we have mentioned, your ability to strike will have vastly improved. This means that your combinations will be much more effective. Padwork gives benefits when it comes to combinations. Firstly it allows us to practice different combinations, involving the same or different parts of the body. Secondly, pad work improves the skills we have mentioned above which means the punches we throw and the combinations we strike with, will be much more effective.
In combat, combinations are much more beneficial to you than single punches, so being able to subconsciously throw different combinations and execute them in a manner that does maximum damage is essential. This is what continued use of pads allows you to do.
So far we have discussed the many benefits of pad work in developing many of the skills that are essential in combat. Fitness could take up a whole new section, but I am assuming that we all know that exercise (especially boxing training which develops many energy systems and many muscles) has an extremely positive effect on our bodies physically.
There are many benefits, such as improved overall fitness, stamina, and muscle endurance as well as improving the efficiency of your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Fitness is essential in combat, it allows you to use your energy effectively. Continued pad work develops you in this aspect too.
Exercise also has a great effect on our mind too, releasing the same chemicals as when we are happy. It is no coincidence that of those who are physically active and train in one way or another, are generally happier and have greater self-confidence.
You may also have noticed that some of the skills we have discussed, that you develop when doing pad work overlap and are interrelated. This is true. That is why when you use pads you will likely see an improvement in each of the skills discussed since improving one skill means that you will also develop in another.
So for example, if you improve your distancing and balance, you will certainly improve your timing. The bottom line is pad work is a fantastic form of training, not only does it develop skills required in combat but it also vastly improves your fitness (where the workouts can be adjusted to suit you!).