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Partner padholding difficulties


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In all the gyms I've tried (three so far in Sydney, Australia) partner pad-holding has always had a prominent place in Muay Thai classes.

Unfortunately I've found that holding pads for roundhouse kicks is my least favourite part of training. I'm a smaller man (162cm, 53-54kg) so there's a significant size disparity with most partners. Even with smaller ones I think that because of the pads the hits aren't localised to, say, the legs, arms, or body. Instead what I think happens is that the impact is spread across the whole body and is transmitted to the head and neck. Sometimes I'll get slight headaches. It's got me a bit worried about brain injuries.

I do see some benefits to it: it helps my fight vision and understanding of how techniques work but I feel like if I'm going to take light hits I'd rather do it in sparring or if I'm going to take hard hits then I'd rather do it in a fight.

Is partners holding pads a thing in Thailand as well? If not, what do they have instead and can I do that?

Is this just a "learn to hold pads correctly and strengthen your neck" issue? There's not been a lot of instruction on that and there are conflicting opinions on the Internet on whether to meet the kick with the pads or resist it. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac as well so it's hard to gauge if I'm overreacting.

I don't think it's a "toughen up" issue. Arm, body, shin pain, whatever is fine. But the head stuff is scary.

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I'm a bit shorter and weight a bit less and I often hold pads for people who are 70 to 75kg, sometimes more. 

I don't find it affects my head in anyway, so there could be something going on. I lean in to every kick, so give the fighter resistance. 

But what I think could be going wrong for you is the fighter isn't hitting the pads correctly. You see that with newbies a lot. The try go high to slap the pads. Make sure to remind them that the pads isn't their target. Your waist is their target. They should never be hitting the top part of the pads. 

Also don't take the pads away from your body to meet their kick. 

 

Obviously I have no idea what's actually happening. But I would imagine they're not hitting correctly from what you described. 

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If you hold the pads away from your body and elbows close together, you will naturally extend your neck (with your head looking slightly up) which is a weak position to stabilize your brain for impact.

Here's something for reference - tip #4 in this video:

https://youtu.be/0500ZQltjck 

I'm small statured and have been able hold for much bigger partners.  It's tiring because of their power but no headaches or any injuries.  I stand firm, tense up my body to brace for impacts for kicks. If the impact is to much even with bracing and it ends up throwing me back, I simply go with it by walking backwards a few steps.  I turn my shoulder in towards the punches to meet the impact instead of meeting the punch with my arm, which can hurt my shoulder.  Also breathing out on impact can help also.

I totally get your concern with headaches and head injuries.  It might be worthwhile to ask your instructor to watch you hold pads and give you advice on holding pads safely.

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Pad holding is a skill in itself and it takes time to become comfortable with it. To add to the good points people have made above, what make of pads do they use at your gym? A good set of pads makes a huge difference. The pads at my old gym were awful and didn't provide much protection. I had sore fore arms for 2 weeks after one session. I bought a nice set of Twins pads after that, one of the best investments I ever made. Maybe consider buying your own set?

On 4/24/2022 at 8:20 AM, jpmoral said:

 

Is partners holding pads a thing in Thailand as well? If not, what do they have instead and can I do that?

 

As a Westerner training in Thailand you're paying a premium (in Thai Baht terms) to train there. Say 500 baht a session, 500 baht would be a trainer's daily wage. So they can afford to have more trainers at the gym. In the West, it just wouldn't be economically viable. Only way to avoid holding pads would be to pay for private lessons (or go train in Thailand).

Watch videos on youtube of Thai trainers holding pads. They tend to have their elbows by their waist, form a triangle with the tip of the pads, then push down with the pads just before the kick lands.

 

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I don't think it's a tough dude issue or whatever like this, it's a technique issue. 

To answer about thailand, no, there is no padholding from fighters or students only pad holders and pad hitters, but you don't exchange role cause you pay more to get "personalized" training. 

In the "west" or anywhere else, if you're a member of a gym, you'll hit pads and hold pads alternatively. 

I am 6'4" and 230 lbs, so I kick pretty hard. I had big guys struggling holding pads for me and I had tiny girls holding pads just fine. As a kicker, you can see when the pad holder would pay to be somewhere else and when they is some sort of wiplast effect in the movement of the pad holder. 

Like other said, pad holding is an art and good pad holding is quite rare, even in Thailand where in my opinon, lots of pad holder, to protect themself, are holding the pad way to hard. 

My guess is you do not "come to meet" enough, you're a bit to loose, so the power transfer from the kick to your arms and then your neck. 

I would ask a more advance big dude at your gym to help with that. Try to find the sweet spot between been to loose and leaning to hard and preventing the kicker to kick properly. You want to meet the kick with force but without going through if you see what I mean. Like a short, brief, intense shove, leaning a bit, keeping your elbows tucked and absorbing the blow with your core more than with your arms. 

Good luck and hope you'll be fine and don't hate on us big guys, we were born this way. Not our fault. 

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Thanks everyone for all the replies! Lots to take in:

  • pad distance from body
  • pad angle from body
  • angle with partner
  • forming a sort of triangle with the top of the pads and my elbows
  • how to meet the kicks

We didn't hold pads today but I'll try your tips next time we do. I've got a private tomorrow so I'll ask the instructor to spend a few minutes on that.

On 4/25/2022 at 9:59 PM, Snack Payback said:

To add to the good points people have made above, what make of pads do they use at your gym? A good set of pads makes a huge difference. The pads at my old gym were awful and didn't provide much protection. I had sore fore arms for 2 weeks after one session. I bought a nice set of Twins pads after that, one of the best investments I ever made. Maybe consider buying your own set?

They have some Fairtex and SKS ones. Not sure of the models but to my untrained eye similar to these:

https://www.fairtexaustralia.com.au/~4953465

https://sksboxing.com/shop/coaching-training-equipment/kick-pads/sks-sakyant-kickpad-black/

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On 4/29/2022 at 12:10 AM, jpmoral said:

Thanks everyone for all the replies! Lots to take in:

  • pad distance from body
  • pad angle from body
  • angle with partner
  • forming a sort of triangle with the top of the pads and my elbows
  • how to meet the kicks

We didn't hold pads today but I'll try your tips next time we do. I've got a private tomorrow so I'll ask the instructor to spend a few minutes on that.

They have some Fairtex and SKS ones. Not sure of the models but to my untrained eye similar to these:

https://www.fairtexaustralia.com.au/~4953465

https://sksboxing.com/shop/coaching-training-equipment/kick-pads/sks-sakyant-kickpad-black/

Those Fairtex pads are some of the best on the market. Have had a pair in my gym still going strong after 6 years.

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I actually think the harder the hitter, the closer to your body you want the pads.  For example holding for body round kicks I have the tips of the pads touching on top and some space at the bottoms so it makes a ^ sort of shape.  Tighter angle than that but you get the idea.  Anyways, I’m popping as the kick lands.  But I don’t really reach out with my arms very much, maybe an inch or two.  Since there is a lot of surface area of pads touching my body I have a lot of support from my core and legs.  Which I use both to brace.  And then of course if I’m doing with a REALLY hard kicker I just let the kick move me back and take a step.  I feel very little shock in my head and neck.  Some people at first may not be comfortable hitting me with the pads this close but I insist on it and they get the picture pretty quick.  I value my elbows and my head.  This has been my solution.  I have no idea if it’s “good” but I assure you it’s a lot more comfortable for me.  Now holding for head kicks is a different beast.  I dislike holding for head kicks because everything I just told you to absorb impact better flies out the window.  Fortunately I’ve found a lot of people simply can’t or don’t generate the same amount of force on them.  But yeah your arms are in a much worse position, and the penalty for messing up holding for a head kick is severe.  

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In gyms in the US it's hard because you have to switch. I had a small gym, so I held pads for 7 years with 4 fighters. all above 70 kilos, one 200 pounds of molten muscle who competed in the UFC 2x and all over the world. I'm going to tell you, I was in my 30's when I took to training full time and those years too Years off my elbows and shoulders. My elbows especially. If I had smaller guys, mai pen rai. 

I'm pround/ humble to say I was the best thai pad holder in the region. People used to come to me to get pad work done. I had numerous Thais and other known fighters look at us training and say, you pad holding good. You train in thailand? That felt good and validating but it didn't come overnight, nor did I want to be one. An injury sidelined me after only 13 fights. Yes I did train in Thailand for 2 months. Not much but enough to learn some fundamentals especially how they hold pads.

7 years of imitating the best in the world hurt me physically but eye wise, I could see things coming from a mile away, the only problem is when I had a couple of fights, I fought like a pad holder. My defense was impeccable but my offense, well, lost me those fights.

Unless you are a fighter, you should be gentle with smaller people. You aren't winning any fights just training. work your form and don't be a jerk. If you are a trainer and have fighters you should be holding pads for them. They shouldn't be holding pads while training for a fight much if at all. If you are a small guy, just tell the person, you are killing me, can you go lighter and you work some defense. 

Everyone gets the deer in the scope look and attitude when they see a bag or pad. If you want to go hard and no one is available to meet your needs, there is nothing better than a heavy bag that swings and there are plenty of tools out there for boxers to work with. 

Oh and for positioning the pads, there are plenty of youtube videos to help with pad holding and combos. hundreds of thhem. 

Everyone wants to get 5 rounds with the pad man. He can't do it all in the west. If you want a full time pad holder, join a gym, become a top fighter or go to thailand or get privates. It's just our reality. 

Karuhat in the free videos online didn't hold pads but worked on movement. Unique for a thai trainer, I'd guess. Very effective in a private session. You can't expect that in the west. 

In BJJ it seems like everyone wants to be a 'teacher' because it confers rank or seniority. It is becoming a TMA mentality except for heavy competitors or MMA fighters. 

Pad holding for me was like a sculptor with a hammer and chisel to craft the statue I envisioned. But I was limited in my time.

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Also technically, it helps to push back at the point of impact. It helps you keep from getting mowed over or your elbow and shoulder wrenched and it puts resistance to the fighter. Relax in between combos and inbetween blows. It takes years to get proficient at it but doing 10/15 rounds 4 days a week, you got to learn how to survive. One good thing is I developed forearms like popey and my wrist bomes literally grew over an inch over the years. Shows you the impact and how your body adapts.

Also for trainers, don't just go up and down a line. Pair people of same size and hopefully skill together. I wrote a small book on how to teach MMA and have a big section on teaching 'striking'. I won't promote it yest because I don't want to think I'm here to hock my wares. I googled best muay thai forums on the internet and this came up. 

MMA is king but when you go there and people are so ignorant they say 'when you throw a Thai kick' they mean a leg kick' or his Thai is good, it's time to move on because it's like saying his Brazilian is good. simply no knowledge of the subject. 

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