If you have already spent the first few hours boxing, have mastered the general punching techniques and are now longing for a little more variety from punching bag training, you may stumble over the pads. Pad training is an integral part of boxing and other martial arts because it challenges you in all the necessary skills.
What you will learn in this post:
- What claws are at all
- What types of pads are there
- What you can train on the pads
- What equipment is needed for pad training
- Which basics have to be considered when training pads
- How pad training could be structured
What are pads in boxing & martial arts?
In boxing and other martial arts, a claw is a punch pad that the training person wears on their hands to ward off the boxer's punches and kicks. The boxing claw has a glove on which a large pad is attached. Depending on the type of claw, this punch pad can be larger or smaller. That always depends on the training goal or training level. But you will learn more about that later.
Are hook and jab pads also claws?
Often you will find many different names such as hook & jab pads, punch pads, box pads and the like: but they all refer to the claws.
What are the claws?
A claw is not the same as a claw. You'll find that out quickly. And that's good too. Because thanks to the different models, you can set your focus in pad training or practice according to your training level.
Punch pads - also called Thai or Cuban pads - are larger boxing pads, mostly in an angular shape. They are great for training with beginners or for martial arts in which kicks also play a major role. Due to the size, the punch pads also protect the forearm when kicking. In general, the Thai or Cuban pads offer a larger striking surface and thus higher accuracy.
(Curved) pads look oval or drop-shaped and are therefore narrower. This in turn increases the need for the boxer to hit the target. There are models that have a curved shape. The claws are thus based on the natural, slightly curved hand. On the one hand, it makes it easier for the pad holder to hold the punch pad in his hand. On the other hand, it prevents the boxing gloves from slipping off when hit.
Round jab pads are the smallest variant of the boxing pads. The padding often only extends briefly over the glove, so that the target area is very small. With these pads you train at a high level. You should therefore already have some practice in pad training, be able to hit precisely and react quickly.
Why do you train with boxing pads?
The pad training requires all skills from you that you have previously learned on the punching bag, shadow boxing or the punching ball. Because it simulates a fight with the opponent. While the trainer or training partner holds the pads on their hands, you apply the punching techniques you have learned.
In particular, you can train the following things during pad training:
While your punching power alone will not win you fights, it is one of the boxer's most important skills. Because without the necessary punch in your shot, you won't make your opponent stagger. Pad training is great for improving your punching power because you get immediate feedback. The trainer holding the pads feels the power of your punch and can tell you directly how powerful it was. A punching bag or a Big Berta cannot give you this feedback. You can also hear how weakly or powerfully you are hitting from the sound that your hit causes on the padding. The hit should ideally sound dull, then it was powerful.
With pad training, your trainer will vary the position of the pads so you can train different punching techniques and improve other skills (see below). In this way, you can also train your punching power with different punches - something that is not always possible with a classic punching bag. For example, if you were to practice hooks and upper cuts on a heavy bag, there is a high risk that you would twist your wrist or your punch would slip to the side when it hit the flat surface. This danger is significantly lower with the pads, since the trainer aligns the striking surface of the pads in such a way that your boxing glove lands on it.
Tip for a higher punch: Relax your muscles before the punch! If you are too tense, you use up too much energy that you can no longer transfer to your punching power. If you only use 80% of your power, you will usually achieve a high impact.
The pad training helps to create realistic training conditions. For this reason, your training partner will not only wait for your punches as a static target with the claws in his hands, but will be active himself. That doesn't just mean changing the position and height of the punch pads. He will also punch himself to simulate an opponent's attack. Trainers often point out mistakes that their offspring make - for example in cover. So now you have to hit the claws, take cover yourself, fend off blows, prepare counterattacks. This requires your entire repertoire of boxing skills: vary distance, pay attention to footwork, take cover, pay attention to your timing and precision.
In order to improve your reactions, your trainer will probably use two strategies on the pads: test your instincts and test your learned skills. A distinction is made between intuitive and learned reactions. You usually act intuitively when you perceive a visual stimulus. So you see that the trainer indicates a punch with a paw and you try to deflect it or dodge it with a pendulum movement in your upper body. You can also get out of this situation by adding more distance to your footwork. But all these processes happen automatically - intuitively. The learned reactions take place when you perceive a physical stimulus. So your trainer touches you with his claw and you now apply your learned techniques to ward off the next blow or to counter with a hit yourself.
Tip for your ability to react: Your reaction punch should come exactly when the trainer pulls the claw back and does not have closed cover himself.
A punching bag is a big target, which is more difficult to hit due to the pendulum movement, but is still significantly easier than the claw on the hand of your training partner. An important aspect of pad training is therefore accuracy. Only absolutely precise hits actually land on the striking surface of the jab pads. Thanks to the direct feedback in your own hands, the trainer can feel exactly how accurate your shots are. Due to the changing positions of the pads, you are required to be precise with every hitting technique.
your hitting technique
There are certainly other ways to learn punching techniques in boxing - for example on a punching bag or in shadow boxing. However, pad training is particularly effective because you can practice all punching techniques and boxing combinations. This is especially true for the upper cut and sideways hooks, which cannot be trained on every punching bag without the risk of slipping or injury.
You can execute the hitting techniques correctly, but still have problems actually hitting the opponent? Then you might need to work on your timing. Pad training is very dynamic - if the trainer has set it up that way - and challenges your concentration. You have to wait for exactly the right moment to hit at exactly the right speed and hit the hand pad.
Timing Tip: Timing isn't about hitting fast, it's about timing and tempo. So you have to learn to find the right "rhythm" to land the hit. This can also be a slower blow - or a lightning-fast one.
your sense of distance
Distance is something many boxers learn from a very young age. Because as soon as the punching bag hits them while swinging back, they quickly realize that they have to move. Since pad training can be very dynamic, it is ideal for improving the sense of distance. As a boxer, you are challenged to keep moving to hit the target. This also applies if the training partner stands still. You have to move just by changing the position of the pads and the alignment of the clubface. The training partner only has to pull the punch pads a little closer or hold them further away and you have to change your distance.
You don't bring distance into boxing just with your footwork - if you've neglected it, you'll notice it at the latest during pad training. You can also change your distance again and again by moving your upper body. This, in turn, is only possible with a very good sense of balance. It becomes more difficult if your training partner is also moving and you have to use many things in combination.
Basically, in boxing training you will have to call up all your skills more or less in parallel. But especially in pad training you can work specifically on the individual aspects.
Another reason why pad training is important: contact with a real training partner reduces inhibitions against hitting. Because many beginners have difficulties at the beginning to hit properly if it is not a punching bag. Above all, to improve your punching power, you should learn to break down inhibitions when hitting.
What do you need for pad training?
In contrast to training on a punching bag or speedball, you are always dependent on a pad holder - i.e. a training partner - for pad training. So while your training partner holds the claws in his hands (optionally only one claw can be used), you hit them with your boxing gloves. You should never do pad training - basically any training apart from shadow boxing - without boxing gloves . If you also want to train body punches or kicks, the training partner should definitely put on body protection to minimize the risk of injury.
Some boxers use a timer or stopwatch for pad training. This helps, for example, to carry out individual training rounds and also to take the breaks between the intensive phases.
What are the basics of pad training?
The most important basics of pad training apply primarily to the person holding the pads. Because the boxing part trains in the same way as he would train on a punching bag or speedball.
So what should be considered when holding the pads?
- Hold the pads like you would hold your fists when boxing: Slightly bent arms, relatively close in front of the head and the upper arms close to the upper body. Many beginners get this wrong. They extend their arms fully and keep their claws as far away from their heads as possible - for fear of getting hit in the face. As a result, the arms become much more unstable and the boxing pads shoot directly towards the head in the event of a punch. With bent arms, more stability can be created to better absorb the punches of the boxer. The same applies if you hold the pads sideways in front of the body to avoid a hit: Your shoulder could not sufficiently stabilize and cushion the hit on the pad. This carries a high risk of injury.
- Try to keep your shoulders and upper body relaxed: as soon as the punch lands on the pad, hold the tension and then relax. If you stood there with cramped muscles for the entire workout, the energy would be used up quickly. Your arms can't hold out for long and you quickly get tired. It is therefore more important to remain relaxed between the shots and only tense the muscles at the moment of the hit so that the blow can be cushioned in a stable manner.
- Move during claw training: A good training partner moves both the claws and varies the height, for example, as well as himself. The claw holder should behave as much as possible like a real opponent and challenge the opponent with his movements. Because if the pad holder moves backwards, the boxer must follow him; if he moves towards him, the boxer must retreat.
- Remain variable when aligning the hitting surface: A big advantage of pad training is that all hitting techniques can be trained. You should also use this during a training session and vary the striking surface of the pads again and again. If the claw is straight towards the boxer, you train straights. If the training partner holds the claw horizontally with the surface down, the boxer can practice upper cuts.
Pad training: how to build pad training!
Ideally, you only train on the pads with a partner who has mastered this training exercise, who is not afraid of unwanted hits and who gives you an effective procedure. For most beginners, practicing the individual punches is the first thing on the plan for pad training. Because you have to internalize which hit is required in which position of the pads. For example: Bent arm, claw points up, face inwards = head hook.
Only when you can execute the punches in a targeted manner should you start with the first punch combinations. Here you are absolutely flexible in training and can vary the different hitting techniques. This makes pad training unpredictable and very varied.
If you also prove yourself in this discipline, your training partner will slowly start to counterattack or throw out punches himself. Most trainers use this to alert the boxer to his mistakes - such as a gap in guard. Ideally, one tries to train individual processes repeatedly and not to mix several combinations. It gets a lot more challenging anyway when you don't just have to hit, you also have to deflect and hold your cover.
Now movement comes into the training, because footwork is also an important part of pad work. The more the pad holder moves forwards, backwards and sideways, the more your footwork is required. Repeat the processes over and over again to improve. It's not about "outsmarting" the boxer, but about developing structured punching and leg techniques.
For advanced users there is “free” pad training, in which individual movement sequences are no longer repeated over and over again, but the boxer reacts to the “instructions” of the trainer and uses everything he has learned.
Customers ask, we answer!
Which pads are the right ones?
You should choose pads that suit your level of training and martial arts. Large punch pads are essential for punching and kicking exercises in order to offer the best possible protection. The smaller the mitts get, the harder it is to hit them.
Which boxing gloves for pad training?
It is not necessary to wear special boxing gloves. It is particularly important that your boxing gloves fit well and offer sufficient shock absorption. We have summarized more on this topic for you in this article.
Do you need body protection for pad training?
If the pad holder has mastered the basics of this form of training, no body pads are actually necessary. However, if you want to train martial arts with kicking exercises, he should wear body pads for his own protection.