In this edition of Muay Thai Wisdom, resident world champion blogger and Chok Dee York Gym head trainer, Rich Cadden discusses the art of holding Thai pads. Rich talks about what to learn as both holder and kicker as well as specific things you should focus on while holding Thai pads and/or kicking them.
Taken from Rich Cadden’s Chok Dee York Blog…
One of the things that I hear people saying is that they love hitting pads….while also adding in that they hate holding pads. What most people miss is the learning opportunities that you can glean from holding pads.
NEWS FLASH – PAD WORK IS NOT A PASSIVE PROCESS
Pad work should almost be the same as sparring, with the hitter unleashing their techniques at 100%, but the pad holder isn’t just waiting to be hit. This is an interactive blend. This is why experienced fighters make better pad men.So what should the pad man be focusing on?
Here are my top 5 tips for pad holding:
3. Noticing opportunities/counters
5. Work rate
One of the fundamental skills of a true nak-muay is in the footwork they use around the ring. This is an ideal time to practice your own footwork and ring craft, knowing how to move about the ring and utilize the space to your advantage. This is one of the reasons why it isn’t important to have a ring, so that you do not start being lazy, relying on the ring ropes to bounce off, and it forces you move correctly.
As a pad-holder sometimes I like to test my balance and see if I can stand on one leg while the hitter is hitting the pads. This develops my own core stability, and the avid readers of this site, and the class attendees, will know how important that is in muay thai scoring.
And leading on from the last point about balance, if you have more time after the pads have been hit, you will notice when the hitter over-commits/telegraphs or falls off balance. As the pad-holder, it is your duty to capitalise on these mistakes and counter back by either slapping with the flat of the pad or kicking back with good technique.
As the hitter is hitting the pads you will notice a particular tempo that they pick up. Beginners can be quite static and wait to be told things, whereas the more advanced guys are bouncing techniques back and forth. The pad holder can be throwing kicks while the hitter is blocking or catching, and the pad holder can then offer another counter opportunity. Its this to-and-fro which makes pad work enjoyable, and this is a trait than can be carried over in to sparring. This should lend itself to learning to keep your balance, predicting where counters are coming from and being able to evade/block while still thinking 2/3/4 moves ahead, ex. If I throw this and he blocks, then he is more than likely to counter with this technique so I can trump his counter with this. This to-and-fro shows how these legends from Thailand train and are able to stay in the trading pocket and not show pain/tiredness, as their mind is already thinking about the next few moves.
One of the beautiful things about pad work is that you can simulate the intensity of competition and push the pace hard in the opening rounds so that the hitters can be carried in to unconscious learning and automatic reaction learning stages a lot sooner. A personal favourite of mine is starting and ending every round with 10-kicks on both sides.
So, in short, make the most of your time when holding pads and see what you can notice about your training partners. See how you can serve them best to improve their technique, because if their technique improves, so will yours.
Also as a side note:
Thai pads are multi-level foam packed shields designed to withstand impact shocks from kicks, knees, punches and elbows. They are designed to withstand impact…As the person hitting the pads, I take that as a challenge.
Next time you hit the pads, see if you can break them!