Finding the best Muay Thai pads should be a priority for any gym or training facility that focuses on Muay Thai training. This is because, like most martial arts, Muay Thai relies heavily on drills and exercises on Muay Thai pads to work on technique, improve speed and accuracy, develop confidence in throwing kicks, punches, knees, and elbows.
In this guide, we run you through the most important bits of information regarding Muay Thai training pads. We discuss its core functions, the numerous benefits, how to properly utilize them, and of course, our list of the best Muay Thai pads in the market today.
What are Muay Thai Pads (Kick Pads)?
MMA/Muay Thai Pads, kickboxing pads, and boxing pads are heavily used gear for Muay Thai, MMA, kickboxing, and boxing training that are meant to facilitate striking combinations with minimum risk of injury and maximum potential for the development of techniques, power, speed, and other attributes of a practitioner of martial arts.
Pads for Muay Thai are commonly known as Muay Thai kick pads and are elongated versions of the standard boxing pads, meant to absorb heavy strikes.
These training pads are designed to take a beating and are amazing for combat sports practitioners of any skill level (beginner, intermediate, advanced).
Benefits of Using Muay Thai Pads
Below are the most significant benefits of and advantages to using a pair of the best Thai pads on a regular basis in training.
Thai pad work is similar to simulating actual real-world Muay Thai bouts, without the risk of injury or retaliation.
With this in mind, Thai pad work makes it significantly easier to master footwork and overall ring movement during training, which should effectively transfer over to sparring training and actual amateur and professional sanctioned bouts.
As long as the pad holder incorporates movement and footwork during Thai pad work, then combat sports practitioners will definitely see leaps and bounds of improvements in their fight game.
Technique not only involves the act of throwing punches, kicks, knees, and elbows but also touches on incorporating the proper angles, speed, momentum, and body mechanics.
Muay Thai kickboxing or Muay Thai kicking, in particular, requires a high level of technique and commitment with every strike and is not something that can be trained exclusively on a heavy bag or Muay Thai bag.
This is why a variety of Muay Thai gear is important, and in this case, good quality Muay Thai kick pads are the best Thai pads to develop a good foundation for strikes, combinations, movement, and overall proficiency in combat sports.
To develop great technique with MMA/Muay Thai pads, the pad holder should be able to give notes/suggestions to the student/combat sports practitioner during or after each training session. Problem areas could easily be identified during pad training.
A properly-timed shot to the jaw or the body can instantly lead to a knockdown, even if it is not the most powerful shot thrown.
Luckily, the skill of timing can be worked on during training, specifically in single-pad training.
In single-pad training, the pad holder can focus more precisely on the positioning and angle of the pad to simulate scenarios that may arise during actual competition.
To develop excellent timing mechanics in Muay Thai and combat sports, the pad holder must be able to communicate well with the student/combat sports practitioner and only put up the pad when a specific shot/strike is called for.
Muay Thai may be considered as a game of inches, especially when the rules forbid strikes to certain portions of the body such as the groin or the back of the head.
It is, therefore, crucial to work on accuracy to make the shots landed legal, which is where a pair of Thai pads can really be a great benefit.
To develop accuracy in shots, kick pad training must be done using a variety of positions and angles. It also helps if the pair of Thai pads is smaller than average to really prioritize accuracy in training.
Another great benefit of training with kick pads is the development of power in each shot.
This is because a good quality pair of Thai pads contains extra thick padding, premium leather (or synthetic durable leather), and a good quality hook-and-loop mechanism, allowing for the pads to take a beating for several months to several years, with minimal depreciation of quality.
For power to be fully developed, we suggest having a Muay Thai Kru (trainer) that can steadily hold up the pads even during consecutive strikes or hits. This can be done if the trainer is more or less in the same weight class/division as the practitioner/trainee.
Familiarity and Muscle Memory
Familiarity and muscle memory are important and can only be acquired through several hours of training repetition using various types of Muay Thai gear and equipment.
Both attributes can be observed in professional athletes from other sports such as basketball and football (think of the ball-handling skills of Kyrie Irving or the passing skills of Tom Brady) and even in actions as common as driving and playing video games.
To work on familiarity and muscle memory through kick pad gear, it is best to simply allot more time to the drill/exercise and to repeatedly focus on certain strikes and combinations.
Typically, quality training on Muay Thai pads revolves around aggressive, offensive movements and striking combinations, but for intermediate and advanced training, reflexes could also be trained.
This happens when the pad holder integrates strike motions mid-combo, prompting the student/trainee to evade/weave out of the trajectory of the incoming strikes with the Muay Thai pads.
For the best results in terms of reflexes, we suggest having an expert pad holder to incorporate shots that would force you to take defensive measures in the middle of striking combinations.
With all the aforementioned benefits from training with pads, students/trainees will ultimately become more confident in their Muay Thai abilities.
Confidence is a very important attribute to have in any type of sport, but it is especially important in combat sports such as Muay Thai because as much as it is physical, it is also about mental fortitude and belief in yourself.
Building confidence may vary from one person to another, but the most important thing to know is the more you train, the greater the chance of developing confidence in your skills and abilities.
Muay Thai pads can definitely help work on your cardiovascular endurance. Even a single 3-minute round of work on the pads will result in intense cardio training.
This not only applies to the person who hits the pads but also works well with the person holding pads, as both sides of this training activity will truly tire you out.
For the best results, we would ultimately recommend going as far and as long with pad work training based on your current skill level, as going overboard with the Thai pads or kick pads may lead to injury or fatigue that might prevent you from continuing training on a regular basis.
Another important aspect you can obtain from training with Thai pads or kick pads is weight loss, which is usually one of the most important aspects of Muay Thai for beginners or casual practitioners.
Muay Thai training can burn up to 600-700 calories per hour, which is slightly better than the average for walking and jogging.
On top of learning new skills for self-defense and combat training, you get to burn off the excess fat around your body. Muay Thai is definitely a win-win.
Understanding Muay Thai Padwork and How to Properly Hold Muay Thai Pads
Holding Muay Thai pads may seem intuitive, particularly for pads with a hook-and-loop or two-hook mechanism, but it is very important to take note of how to hold them properly to prevent any injury, bruising, or fatigue for both the pad holder and the student/trainee.
Listed below are a few tips to ensure that the pads are properly held:
What to Consider When Choosing Muay Thai Pads
Choosing Muay Thai pads can be one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of purchasing gear and equipment for Muay Thai training.
In this particular session, let us break down a few key aspects of Muay Thai pads and what to look out for before finalizing the purchase.
Curved or Straight
The age-old debate between curved pads or straight pad gear is not just exclusive to Muay Thai. This conversation has been happening in boxing, kickboxing, and MMA for several years.
As a general distinction, curved pads are known to have a wider margin for error as they can catch strikes easier with less recoil primarily due to the curved design. Straight or flat pads, on the other hand, are more traditional and rely more on the accuracy and timing of the striker to get a good quality strike (and accompanying thud sound).
In any case, we recommend going with the type of pads you are most comfortable with or more accustomed to, whether it be the curved design or flat design. Curved Muay Thai pads and straight Muay Thai pads, as long as they come from reputable manufacturers, will always get the job done.
Materials and Durability
Materials and durability are arguably the most important attributes of a quality piece of Muay Thai gear.
For Thai pads, in particular, the best material to get would be good-quality leather. Quality leather typically comes in the form of cowhide leather, goatskin leather, and sheepskin leather, and although any of the three types of leather are durable leather, we recommend going with the more rigid and rough cowhide leather as it offers better longevity.
An alternative to premium leather of genuine quality is the light weight synthetic leather. Back then, synthetic leather was frowned upon because of its poor build quality and lax manufacturing standards.
These days, synthetic leather is now seen as a great, viable, and more affordable option to genuine leather or real leather.
Synthetic leather can be extra thick and as competitively priced as extra thick genuine quality leather, and no one would be able to tell the difference between the two.
Therefore, with regard to materials and durability, all you have to do is to make sure that the quality of the leather and the quality of the manufacturing process is great, which you should safely expect out of the bigger Muay Thai manufacturers out there such as Fairtex and Twins.
A good set of Thai pads also comes with good forearm straps. Forearm straps are the most underrated portion of any type of kick pads simply because people tend to focus more on the padding and shape of the pads.
The forearm straps are important because the holder of the Thai pads should be able to effectively and efficiently grip the pads with minimal effort so he could focus on the positioning of the pads and bracing for impact, rather than worrying about how loosely or tightly the pads fit around his forearms.
Size is another factor that must be considered when buying Thai pads.
Bigger Thai pads are more helpful for larger individuals as the bigger Thai pads would have a bigger strike zone for the incoming kicks.
Smaller Thai pads, on the other hand, are more affordable, lightweight, and easier to move and manage.
The size of the Thai pads would ultimately depend on how the Thai pads would be used, so think of the intended users of the pads to pick the right size.
In choosing the thickness of the Thai Pads, it is important to remember that thickness equates not just to impact absorption, but also to injury prevention.
The thicker the Thai pads are, the more difficult it would be to get injured.
This is why we recommend going with Thai pads that are really thick and durable to minimize the risk of injury for both the holder of the Thai pads and the Muay Thai student/practitioner.
Other Types of Pads Used in Muay Thai
The best Muay Thai training is found in a variety of different drills and exercises. This means that the gear and equipment used must also be varied. Listed below are the pads used in Muay Thai other than the typical Muay Thai kick pads.
As the name suggests, boxing pads are used for boxing techniques and combinations.
Typically circular in shape, these mitts are great for working on jabs, straights, hooks, uppercuts, and even elbows.
Strike shields are the largest type of pads available in the market today.
Akin to its name, a strike shield takes the form of a shield and serves as a near-human-sized barrier between the holder of the pad and the striker.
Strike shields are a great all-around option for those who want to throw unique strike combinations that incorporate kicks, elbows, knees, and punches to the head, body, and legs.
A unique variation of pads, and somewhat of a hybrid between strike shields and conventional boxing pads, the strike pad is an excellent tool to work on power shots.
The strike pad is rather large and is circular in shape. The handles are found on opposite sides of the pad and can be held at awkward angles and positions to give the striker different views and angles to throw really powerful punches.
Belly pads, as the name states, are pads built to be strapped around the belly.
This type of pad is great for training on push kicks, body shots, knees, hooks, and uppercuts.
The best thing about belly pads is the fact that it is situated around the actual human strike zone, making it easier to visualize how and where the strikes should land.
Thigh pads are the best choice for working on leg kicks, as they are positioned right where most leg kicks are supposed to land.
Designed to wrap around the thigh area and made with a lot of padding and cushioning for impact absorption, thigh pads should be part of every Muay Thai gym's training gear arsenal.
The Best Muay Thai Pads in the Market Today
There is no doubt that the combat sports market is saturated with several amazing gear and equipment.
Kick pads are no exception to this predicament. Therefore, we have curated a list of the best pads available in the market today. Check them out below!
The Sanabul Battle Forged Thai boxing pads are meant for those who are serious about training and serious about gear.
Made with tougher material and a stylish cast iron-style finish, showcasing its durability and grit, these slightly curved kick pads are one of the best in the sport.
Backed by former UFC middleweight champion and well-versed striker Michael Bisping, this pair will definitely not disappoint.
The Contender Fight Sports Thai boxing pads may look simple and unapologetic, but you are sure to have an amazing session with this highly-rated pair of pads.
Crafter with a two-hook strap system to securely fasten the pads onto the forearms of the coach or holder, what you get out of these Contender Fight Sports pads is maximum stability and comfort.
This pair is durable and easy to maintain as it is built with a vinyl base and is designed to take maximum physical impact.
The Twins Special line from Twins needs no introduction. The products that have come from the Twins Special line are one of the best in the market and have been for several years. The company's Thai pads are no exception to this.
Made with dense foam and genuine leather, this Twins Special product comes in a flat strike zone configuration and four different sizes, accommodating fighters of all sizes.
The Fairtex Muay Thai MMA Training Curved Thai Pads are perfect in terms of value, function, durability, and overall performance.
These Fairtex Muay Thai pads allow for safe leg and knee drills due to their durable leather construction and lightweight build.
This Fairtex pair come as curved kick pads, which makes this Fairtex product more forgiving in terms of kick catching and kicking accuracy.
Another great thing about this Fairtex training curved Thai pads is how it can easily translate to MMA preparation and kickboxing preparation.
If you need a versatile product from a reliable brand, then this Fairtex pair would be a great pick-up.
The Ring to Cage Leg Kick Pad may not be as popular as its Fairtex and Twins Special counterparts, but believe us when we say that this can be considered as one of the best Muay Thai pads for kids due to its size and weight.
Each Muay Thai pad of Ring to Cage is crafted with shock-absorbing multi-layered foam padding with a synthetic leather exterior to strike a balance between affordability and durability.
For young beginners or adults looking to introduce their children to the world of combat sports, this is the entry-level pair of sports Thai pads to get.
Cleaning and Maintenance Tips for Thai Pads
Cleaning and maintaining pads are relatively easy to understand but are difficult to do on a regular basis, especially if a lot of people use them day in and day out.
To start with, every facility should have an alcohol-water or soap-water spray solution and a microfiber cloth to clean commonly used areas and equipment.
For the pads, in particular, the best-case scenario is to wipe them down after every use, but if this is not practical, we advise cleaning each pair of pads at least twice a day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding kick pads.
How do you use Muay Thai kick pads?
Kick pads are easy to use. For the holder, simply strap them onto your forearms and make sure that the fit is good. For the kicker, aim for the pads when kicking and properly communicate with the holder to ensure a safe training session.
Are Thai kick pads durable?
Quality kick pads are very durable. Look for products manufactured by Twins and Fairtex, as their gear and equipment are known to last for several months to years, as long as they are properly maintained and stored.
What are the best Thai pads?
The best pads come from the most reliable and reputable brands in the market today. Look to get pads from brands such as Twins and Fairtex for the best value and aftersales service.
Conclusion (Plus Our Personal Favorite)
Choosing kick pads is not supposed to be easy. Aspects such as quality, materials, durability, and performance should always be considered and hopefully, this guide has helped lead the way in helping you acquire the right product for your needs and circumstances.
As for our favorite Muay Thai pads, we have to go with the Fairtex Muay Thai MMA pads. We have had several pairs for years and there is no doubt in our minds that this product belongs in the Hall of Fame of combat sports equipment.
We consider this Fairtex pair to be one of the best Muay Thai kick pads, if not the best, simply because of how durable they are and how comfortable it is to wear.
Remember, if you need to refresh your knowledge on the best Muay Thai pads and why they are so, do not hesitate to come back to this guide. If you would like to learn more about Muay Thai, MMA, kickboxing, boxing, or martial arts in general, then check out the rest of our website! We post informative content on a regular basis.