One thing that sets Muay Thai apart from other martial arts is the use of the Muay Thai pads in training. The purpose of the Thai pads are to allow students to develop speed, power and technique in their kicks against a real target, while at the same time offering protection to the pad holder.
Muay Thai kick pads are the most versatile piece of equipment in the Muay Thai gym. While Thai pads that come in a number of shapes and sizes, they are all designed to take punishment from kickers.
If you take a look for Thai pads online you will notice there are dozens of different options available. There are some Thai pads sold ridiculously cheap (made in China), while others are overpriced. This article is designed to provide you with a set of things you can look for when selecting Thai pads.
Before I start talking about the factors to look for when selecting a Thai Kick pad, I will give you my personal recommendation on which Thai pad I prefer.
My Favorite Thai Kick Pads
If you are in the process of buying a new set of Thai pads for your training, I recommend you take a look at the Fairtex Curved Kick Pads. If these pads are good enough for Yodsanklai to train with (he has the hardest kick in Muay Thai) then I think they can pass the test.
These Thai kick pads are designed with a curve, to ensure that you have an easy target to kick. The pads are built to withstand even the heaviest kicks, so you won’t have to worry about your arm being destroyed.
Made with all leather, these pads are built with quality in mind and will last you. The lighter weight of the pads will also ensure that your arms don’t tire out after a few rounds of holding them.
If you want to get a good pair of Thai Boxing pads that will last years, the Fairtex curved pads are the ideal choice. These pads are made in Thailand are built to last. These are my favorite Thai pads to kick because of the strong feedback they give on every kick. There is definitely a reason why Fairtex is a premium Muay Thai brand. I suggest you invest the money and buy these pads if you need to replace your old ones.
Now that we have finished looking at which Thai pads I like using, lets have a further look at what makes a great set of Thai pads. The following are specific factors that you should look for when selecting your Thai Kick pads.
Factors To Consider When Selecting Thai Boxing Pads
Thickness of the Pads
The first thing you should look at when selecting Thai pads is the size and thickness of the pads. While smaller pads might be easier to hold and won’t tire out your arms as much, they won’t provide the same level of protection that thicker pads offer.
If you use cheap Thai pads you will feel the shock up your arm every time a kick lands. As a result, every time you hold pads for a heavy kicker your arms will end up bruised.
A good pair of Muay Thai pads should have enough padding so the pad holder doesn’t feel the shock of every kick. I know a guy who had his arm broken holding Thai pads because of the impact of heavy kicks, so don’t ever take it lightly when I say that adequate protection is important when selecting your pads.
Choosing the Size
The next decision you need to make when selecting your pads is the size of pads you want. Most brands offer 4 sizes of Muay Thai pads that you can select. This will range from small to extra large. The small size is suitable for women and smaller guys.
I am an average height and build of 5′ 10 (178cm) and the medium size pads work perfect for me. If you are a taller male you might want to consider a larger pad, but I won’t get an XL unless you are a lot bigger than average.
The size of the pad will dictate how it fits when you hold it. Considering you will probably use these pads for a few years, it is important to purchase a set of pads that will last you a good deal of time. Keep in mind that pads are adjustable with a strap, so you can always make sure that it fits to your arm by tightening or loosening the straps.
Choosing the shape
Different brands produce pads that have slight variation in the shape of the pads. Some pads are smaller in height, but the same level of thickness. These pads are less forgiving if a student doesn’t kick the pads on the exact spot that you want.
Other pads are longer, which can make them a little bit bulky and difficult to hold for punches. It often comes down to your own preferences in choosing what set of Muay Thai pads works best for your pad holding style. Larger pads give more surface area to kick, but are bigger and heavier to hold.
The hybrid Thai pads are usually a cross between boxing and Thai pads, which allows the pad holder to be more active with the punches during the pad rounds.
The downside of the hybrid pads is they are much less thick than the traditional pads, so if you are holding the pads for a hard kicker you can expect to feel every ounce of kick they through. These pads are great secondary pads, once you already purchase a set of regular Thai pads.
A lot of trainers in Thailand actually hold one Thai pad and one boxing mitt. To do this you need to have toughened up your hand and know how to brace for hard kicks. This is not something I would recommend doing if you don’t have much experience pad holding.
Curved vs Straight Pads
Another thing to consider when purchasing new Thai Boxing pads is the curvature of the pad. Pads that have no curve are more difficult to kick and usually take a few months to break in. This is the equivalent to buying a brand new pair of shoes that are uncomfortable for the first few months, but eventually fall into place.
Some brands sell Thai pads that have a curve when you buy the pads. This allows you to have more comfortable kicks right away, without having that awkward month of breaking in the new pads. I recommend you choose pads that have the curved design because they are much more comfortable for the pad holder and the kicker.
All of the top Muay Thai brands will sell pads that have curves, but they usually cost a little bit more than the regular pads. The added curve is definitely worth the extra cost of the pads.
Quality vs. Price
When it comes to quality, Muay Thai products that are made in Thailand a much better quality than those manufactured elsewhere. If you are purchasing cheaper Thai pads that are made in China or Mexico, expect to get a product that won’t last you.
Thailand has been manufacturing Thai pads for almost a century, so it is not surprising that they produce the best products available. Nobody kicks harder than the Thais, which is why they understand the importance of protection and functionality.
Expect to pay around of $150 USD for a set of good Thai pads. Keep in mind that these pads will last you for years if you maintain them and don’t use them on a full time basis. If you are full time trainer holding pads all day long, the heavy use will affect the longevity of the pads.
While you might be tempted to by a cheap set of Thai pads online, your forearms will end up taking a lot more damage than they should. Even though Muay Thai is a contact sport, you should still do what you can to protect your body from unnecessary contact.
Brands to Avoid
As I mentioned before, any brand that manufacturers their Thai boxing pads in Thailand is going to offer a quality pad. This being said, you should avoid using FBT (Thai sports brand) pads because they are over priced and poorly built. All of the top brands of Top King, Fairtex, and Twins offer excellent Muay Thai pads.
A good set of Thai pads will cost you around $150. If you see pads listed for under $100, don’t bother wasting your money. The lower quality pads will provide very little protection. This means you will feel the impact of every kick against your arm. In addition to the poor padding, they will end up falling apart 10 times faster than the rest.
I have used a few MMA brands that sell Thai pads and I don’t like the quality that they offer. Most MMA products are built cheaply so they can sell them at low prices. So if you want to get a good set of pads make sure you buy the ones that are made in Thailand.
Smart Tip – Some manufacturers sell pads individually and not in a pair (left and right arm). If you purchase pads online make sure you are buying a pair of pads and not the individual pad. There would be nothing worse than having one pad show up at your door step when you order them.
When should you replace your Muay Thai pads?
While Muay Thai pads are designed to last, they will start to deteriorate after a lot of use. Father time has a way of making sure that nothing lasts for ever, including your Thai pads.
After a lot of use, the padding inside the pads will start to bend inwards in a concave shape. When this starts to happen the cushioning on the middle of the pads will be pushed out to the side.
The first sign that you need to start looking for a Muay Thai pad replacement is when you start to feel the impact of the kicks on your forearm directly through the padding.
While you might notice the impact of a very heavy kicker, if you notice a huge difference in impact when you hold a brand new set of pads, compared to your old ones, it might be time to hang up the pads and get a new pair.
The next thing that will deteriorate on your Thai Kick pads is the stitching along the side of the pad. Once the stitching starts to go, the material inside the pad will start coming out. When this happens you can be sure that you will have even less protection when you are holding pads.
***Another Excellent Choice***
If you want to purchase a premium pair of Kick pads, the Top King “Super” pads is another excellent choice. One of the benefits of these kick pads is they have an extra layer of protection behind the arm.
The curve of the pad also makes for an easy target for the person who is kicking the pads. Top King makes excellent Muay Thai equipment and these Thai pads live up to their high standards.
If you don’t like Fairtex, this is another good pair of kick pads that will last you.
If you want to get a good pair of Thai pads that will last years, these Top King curved pads are the ideal choice. These pads are made in Thailand are built to last. These are my favorite Thai pads to kick because of the strong feedback they give on every kick. There is definitely a reason why Top King is a premium Muay Thai brand. I suggest you invest the money and buy these pads if you need to replace your old ones.
Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
If you want to make your pads last longer, it is important that you make sure that you dry them properly after every use. If the leather gets soaked from your training and you leave it in your bag, it can stay moist.
While this will be fine for a few times, if you do this on a consistent basis you will find that the leather starts tearing near the stitches. This is especially true if you are in a country that is cold or one that is humid. Humidity is the reason why Thai pads don’t last that long in Thailand, especially when trainers are holding them for up to 6 hours a day.
To clean your pads you can rub them with a natural cleaning product like Dettol (a disinfectant) or you can use another sanitary spray that you have. You want to make sure that you wipe them down thoroughly so that the bacteria from the gym does not stay on the pads. You should never hold dirty pads because that is disrespectful to the person who is kicking your pads.
You don’t have to clean your pads after every use, but once a week you should be wiping them down to ensure that they are clean. If you are working with different people on the same pads, you should wipe them down between uses. (even though they don’t do that in Thailand)
This is often how skin infections likes Staph end up spreading from student to student. If someone is kicking your pads with an infection on their skin, the next guy who kicks those pads will get that infection. So be sure to clean your pads when you hold them for different people on the same day.
While you might be tempted to purchase a cheap pair of Muay Thai kick pads, I strongly recommend you purchase something that is built with quality. A quality pair of pads can end up lasting years and provide enough protection so your arms don’t suffer any long term damage.
I recommend going with the Fairtex curved pads if you want a quality kick pad that will last you for the best price.
The best Thai pads are the ones that come with a curve, which makes it easier when you throw kicks against the pads. The kicks will natural slide to the middle of the pad, instead of bouncing off the sides. If you choose a quality pair of pads from a brand like Fairtex, Top King, or Twins, you will have something that will last you.