One of the most under-appreciated pieces of Muay Thai training equipment is the belly pad. While the Thai pad is the most famous piece of equipment for pad holders, the belly pad is a quintessential item that every pad holder should also be using. The Muay Thai belly pad is used by pad holders to help absorb some of the impacts from knees, punches and front kicks that are aimed at the pad holders midsection.
Without wearing a belly pad, you will feel the full impact of the strikes that are thrown at you. While this will strengthen your midsection over time, the goal of a pad holder is to make their students better, not to absorb punishment during the pad rounds.
A skilled pad holder will utilize the combination of a Muay Thai pad with their belly pad to allow students to throw knee strikes at their midsection. Without a belly pad on, it is tough to land a clean knee strike on a pad holder.
Muay Thai belly pads are an essential piece of equipment for pad holders who want to work on combinations that involve knees and front teeps. In addition to the knee strikes, pad holders can work on multiple body punch combinations.
In Thailand, every trainer wears a belly pad when they are holding pads. This is not an optional piece of equipment when you are a pad holder, it is and essential item that everyone uses.
Top Pick at a Glance
If you are looking to purchase a new set of Muay Thai belly pads for your training, I recommend you take a look at Twins.
Out of all the belly pads that are available, I have used Twins by far the most. Twins are pretty much the de facto brand that is used by most trainers in Thailand. It is built to last, and the price is affordable when you compare it to other belly pads on the market.
Twins offer both buckle and velcro enclosures and 4 different sizing options for their pads. One of the reasons why I like Twins is because they provide good overall cushioning, without being too bulky and getting in the way when you are holding Thai pads.
These pads are also priced reasonable well. These aren’t the cheapest pads on the market, but they also aren’t the most expensive ones either.
I think Twins makes an exceptional belly pad. They are nothing fancy, but they get the job done. I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to Muay Thai equipment which is why I enjoy using Twins pads the most.
Belly Pad Features
Since the purpose of the belly pad is to absorb impact of strikes that are coming at your mid section, the most important thing you should look for in a Belly pad is something with adequate padding around the mid section of the pads.
If you buy a cheap belly pad that is made poorly, expect to feel much more impact from each strike. Especially if you are working with someone, who is a heavy hitter.
I am a traditionalist when it comes to belly pads, and I don’t really like working with anything that is too flashy. You should always look for more substance over style and gimmicky features that some products advertise.
Velcro vs. Buckle Enclosure
One choice you will need to make when you purchase Muay Thai belly pads is whether to choose a velcro or buckle enclosure. Each type of enclosure has its pros and cons, so it is really up to you to decide which one is right for you.
The benefit of the velcro enclosure is that you can easily take it on and take it off without having to deal with a buckle. Velcro straps are by far the easiest straps to deal with. However, the ease of use comes at a price. The downside of using velcro is the velcro will start rubbing off after time. This means you might not get a tight fit when your velcro starts to wear out after a few years of use.
Some velcro enclosures are designed with a hook and loop velcro strap. This gives a better-secured fit, but it also requires more effort to put the belly pads on. Fairtex offers hook and loop, while Twins have buckle and velcro straps.
The buckle straps take more time to put on, but they give you a longer lifespan because you don’t have to worry about velcro wearing out over time. Once you get the right size buckle adjusted for your waist, you can keep the positioning the same.
Cushion Areas on the Pads
On most Belly pads there are three areas that are heavily cushioned to absorb the impact of the strikes. While the entire belly pad will have some cushioning, these three areas are designed to absorb the most punishment. By far the heaviest padded area is the direct middle of the belly pads. Most pads have a large circular area around a foot in diameter. This area is designed to absorb straight body punches, teeps, and any knees to the mid section of the pad holder.
In addition to the large protection in the center of the pads, most pads have two smaller circular areas on the side of the pads that are designed to protect the side of your ribs and kidney. These smaller side cushions usually have target zones to give the student a target where they can throw a hook to the kidney or knee to the side.
While the other areas of the pad are cushioned as well, they do not have the same amount of cushioning as these three main spots on the pads.
Quality of Materials and Price
Most Muay Thai belly pads are made from either synthetic leather or real leather construction. When you purchase real leather pads, you are going to spend more money because it costs a lot more to use real quality leather than the fake stuff. I find that the real leather provides and excellent feel when you compare it to synthetic leather.
The price of the Belly pads come down to materials used and the brand. You will find that the pads will range from $60-100 depending on which type of pad and brand you choose. When you compare the difference between Twins and Fairtex, they are essentially the same pad, but you pay more for Fairtex because of the brand name. Any pads that are made in Thailand are usually built pretty good.
Design of the Pads
Another factor that you will need to consider when buying a belly pad is the design of the pads. As a general rule the more padding and protection a pad offers, the more bulky and heavier the pad will weigh. If you use the pads occasionally, this may not be an issue, but if you are training with pads on a daily basis you want something that doesn’t interfere with your pad holding.
When you have belly pads on they will not absorb 100% of the impact of the strikes. If you are holding pads for a big guy who hits hard, you will feel some of the impact. So don’t buy a pad expecting there to be no impact from knees or body punches.
The pads are designed to protect your vital areas and distribute the shock of a strike. Instead of your ribs feeling the pinch of a body hook, the pad will absorb the impact, and you will feel the strike on the side of your body.
Best Muay Thai Belly Pads
Now that we have discussed some of the basics of the belly pad, we can talk about a few brands that offer quality belly pads. As I mentioned before, most of the brands made in Thailand provide quality pads that are durable and built to last. So if you can get your hands on anything from there, then you won’t go wrong.
As I mentioned above, I love the Twins belly pads. These pads come in both Velcro and buckle enclosures so you can choose which option that suits you the best. There is nothing flashy about these belly pads, and they are built to last.
Twins is one of the most popular brands of Muay Thai because they offer quality at an affordable price. They only have a few color options available, but majority of people stick with the basic black color pads to blend in with the rest of the equipment.
I am personally fond of Twins because all of my trainers in Thailand always use twins when they are holding pads. So I know what it feels like to crack a strong knee on one of these pads. Don’t get me wrong, you will still feel some impact of the blows, but it protects all of the vital organs and softens each blow.
Quality-wise, it’s about the same (maybe slightly less) than Fairtex, but it’s about 30 percent cheaper.
As I mentioned above, these are my favorite belly pads simply because they are clean and functional. Nothing fancy going on here, just good quality pads that are designed to do their job.
Another top tier brand made in Thailand is Fairtex. I am a big fan of Fairtex because they make the best looking equipment. If you ever own a pair of Fairtex gloves, you will notice the leather is different than the other brands and the make is superb.
In my opinion, Fairtex belly pads are very similar to Twins regarding the make and overall design. They both have the same level of padding. The only difference is the color of the pads, and the Fairtex pads come with a hook and loop enclosure on the back of the pads.
If you are already a big fan of Fairtex, then you should try out their belly pads. They put the same level of quality that you can expect when you purchase any Fairtex products.
Buy it……If you don’t mind spending a little more
Fairtex always charges a little bit of a premium on their products because of their brand and their designs. If you don’t mind spending a little bit more then, by all means, you can check out the Fairtex belly pads.
The Combat Sports Belly Pad is a highly rated pad that is available on Amazon. The claim to fame is this belly pad is under $50 bucks — less than half the cost of the Fairtex or Twins belly pad.
This belly pad is a velcro belly pad that is light and durable. The air technology is advertised to distribute the impact of the strikes, but I personally think this is more of a gimmick than a real difference maker.
These belly pads have a lot of positive reviews on Amazon, so it may be worth having a look at them if you are looking for more of a generic belly pad that isn’t constructed from leather. Combat Sports is a decent brand and they, in my opinion, make some of the best value mid-range fight gear.
Since I haven’t used these pads myself, I will not make a comment on how the feel when you absorb strikes. If you aren’t dealing with professional fighters, this pad looks like a great option that is a little bit cheaper than the brands made in Thailand.
Buy it…….if you don’t like Twins or Fairtex
I personally think the Twins and Fairtex belly pads are better, but these pads are the cheapest pads available. If you are looking to find the cheapest option on the market, then consider grabbing a pair of the Combat Sports pads.
Best for Boxing
If you want to work on boxing, I suggest buying a chest pad which offers a more angular design for uppercuts and hooks over the Thai-style belly pads.
You can still use a Thai-belly pad, but I recommend the ones made for boxing (rather than the teeps). It’s just easier to angle your hooks and uppercuts.
Note, if you want a bit more stability when wearing the body pad, consider getting one with straps to offer additional support while wearing it. For example, the TITLE GEL Blunt Force Body Protector has the same basic design but features shoulder straps making it better to stabilize against power punches.
Best Full Body Protection
If you want to allow for more areas for punch work as a trainer (upper body & lower body), the Ringside Gel Super Body Protector is one of the best pads you can get. It offers the same coverage as the Thai Belly Pads, the additional tapered side coverage of the TITLE Gel belts, but offers additional coverage above the groin and the upper chest. It also has a harness strap to help support it.
This is ideal for boxing. However, there is LESS padding here than the Thai belts (or TITLE belt); as such this may not be the best pad to block high-powered front and rear teeps with.
For boxing work, though, this full body super pad is ideal.
If you plan on holding pads like a pro you should wear a belly pad to allow your students/training partners to throw hard knees, body punches, and teeps during the pad rounds. While you can hold regular Thai pads for knees and teeps, the feeling is completely different when you are teeping Thai pads versus a real belly pad.
The belly pad is an essential piece of equipment that is used by all trainers in Thailand. Given the fact that knee strikes and teeps are so important in traditional Muay Thai, it is not surprising that the belly pad is an essential item that is used.
When it comes to choosing a belly pad I recommend Twins or Fairtex. Both of these brands offer quality pads that are not too bulky and provide a good level of protection. Regarding the design, these pads are very similar and are made with the same materials. It really comes down to personal preference and what kind of pad that you like the best.