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How to Hold Thai Pads for 4 Basic Fitness Moves

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Working with Thai pads was always one of my favorite parts of martial arts training. At the start of every kickboxing class, the woman I normally partnered with and I would ask our coach, “Thai pads or focus mitts?” hoping for the former (sometimes we’d just grab Thai pads without asking, hoping to subliminally sway Coach).

There were several reasons we liked the pads so much. For one, partner training let us be each other’s accountability partner. It’s a lot easier to slack off on a heavy bag, because the heavy bag isn’t going to call you out on it. Partner training also keeps your heart rate up by making you react to what the pad- holder says or does: instead of thinking, “Okay now I’ll punch. Okay now I’ll kick,” you have to follow (sometimes rapid-fire!) instructions.

Thai pad training is also a lot of fun. That’s the main reason it’s become such a popular component of fitness classes, even outside of martial arts. However, striking is the easy part. Being able to hold pads correctly is a little trickier, and essential for the effectiveness of the workout.

Thinking about training with Thai pads? We’ve prepared these videos to show you how to correctly hold pads for some basic cardio moves and combos.

1) The Jab


2) The Cross


3) Hooks


4) Roundhouse Kicks


Of course, punches are like potato chips in that you can’t have just one! The best workouts come from combination moves: throwing multiple strikes back-to-back with no rest in between. Combos take a little more skill from pad holders, since you’ll have to move the pads quickly to transition between different strikes. However, the way you hold the pads for each strike remains the same. Here are some simple combos that use the moves shown above:


1) Jab-Cross (also called “Two Count” or just “Two.”)


2) Jab-Cross-Hook (also called “Three Count” or just “Three.”)


3) Jab-Cross-Hook, Right Roundhouse 


In general, you should strive for symmetry in your combos. Don’t have your partner throw too many kicks or punches from one side of their body without also calling a similar number on the other side. For example, if you use the last combo (Jab-Cross-Hook, Right Roundhouse) a lot, make sure that you have them throw some combos with a left kick, like Jab-Cross, Left Roundhouse, or even just a few left kicks in a row.

That’s all for now! Sarah and I will go over some advanced moves and combos in the next blog, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, happy training! :) 



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