Pad holding, continuing from “Are You A Good Training Partner?”
There is a fine art to holding pads for someone, and there are people out there who make a lot of money holding pads for the pros. While I’m not expecting you to flawlessly shift the pads to catch a 15 strike combo for the likes of Connor McGregor, if you’re training regularly you should have a firm grasp on how to safely and effectively hold pads for your partner so that you both get the best out of your session (and come out if it without injuries.)
So, here are a few places to start if you’re not sure how to properly hold pads for people, and points to focus on if you want to up your “pad game” a little.
Each time you hold a pad, whether it be a focus mitt or kick shield, you have to understand that the pad is there to represent a body part, one that we are training to attack. Therefore, when you position your pads make sure they are in a position that mimics that body part on an opponent. The centre of the pad should align with that same body part on you, so keep focus mitts at your head height for punches, kick shields at your knee height for low round house kicks and on your torso for push kicks or knees. Of course, you can’t just hold the pad directly in front of your body and expect to be absorbed, which brings me to my next point.
The pads are there to provide a target for your partner to strike, more so than they are designed to keep you, as the pad holder, safe or protected. To hold pads safely you need to keep your body in a position and stance that can take the impact without causing your joints to hyperextend or bend in directions they weren’t meant to. For your basic jab/cross, hooks, and uppercuts the target we are training to strike is usually the head, so, as I said earlier, you need to hold the focus mitts (or “target pads”) at your head height. Obviously, you can’t hold them in front of your face unless you want to cop a blow to the face from the back of your own hand, so you need to hold them at either side of your head, again, mimicking a real opponent’s positioning. That being said, if you are holding the pads further out than shoulder width apart they are no longer in a position that resembles a realistic head position.
So here is my guide to holding Focus Mitts:
Let’s start with positioning; just either side of your head and about 30cm (1′) in front of your shoulders (note: while this range works best for me, you may want to adjust according to your arm length). This positioning is important for two reasons;
1. It creates a target as close to your real head position as possible.
2. It protects your shoulders from hyperextension (and your face from the back of your own hand.)
Now, once you have the mitts in the right position, here’s how use them;
Imagine you are “catching” each punch. That distance in front of your shoulders becomes really important, as you need to add a little bit of forward resistance to “meet” the incoming strike. This catching motion and added resistance pays off two-fold; it protects your shoulders by not letting your hands fly backwards over them from the force of the punch, and it stops your partner’s arms from hyperextending and damaging their elbows.
That covers your basic, straight jab/cross (1,2) punches. For your hooks (3,4) everything remains the same that except you turn the mitts 90 degrees, to face inward and apply your resistance inward. With uppercuts (5,6), hold the pads facing downward, one on top the other, at your chin height (still with distance from your face) and apply the resistance downward to catch the impact.
As you become comfortable with each individual strike, work on combinations; slow at first, speed will come in time.
Kick shields are a different animal completely, as they are used for a much larger range of strikes and will mimic more parts of the opponent’s body.
They deserve their own post, so perhaps I will cover those in the future.
Written by: Evan J
UTKM: Yellow Belt