Krav Maga Newcastle Coach Jeff Hollows explains the fundamental principles to being a good Pad Holder and how to get the most out of your time on the Pads.
One of my favourite parts of training has always been working on the Focus Mitts and Thai pads. It’s a great way to sharpen your skills, build up your cardio, and conditioning. At Krav Maga Newcastle we will often use Focus Mitts, Thai Pads or Kick Shields as part of our Combatives element in Class.
While on the pads, it’s important to flow with your partner and develop a rhythm appropriate to their level of skill and conditioning. This can easily be observed when watching a fighter and their trainer practice. It can be an amazing sight to witness. The coach gradually warms up the fighter, then starts to increase the intensity and difficulty level of holding patterns as the rounds progress. Learning to hold the Focus Mitts or Thai pads properly allows you to develop important coaching skills that will only benefit you as your level increases.
Below are 5 important tips that will help you learn how to effectively hold the Focus Mitts and Thai pads.
1. Keep it Simple
If you are new to holding pads, keep the combinations and strikes simple. Even if you are working with someone more advanced they will not benefit from advanced holding patterns that you don’t know. Krav Maga is Simple and pad holding should reflect that. Single strikes will help your partner much more than long, drawn out, complex combinations. Start with what you know and slowly link everything together as you get more comfortable holding.
2. Simulate the Intended Target
Always keep in mind that when holding pads you are simulating the role of your partner’s opponent. Pad holding has to mirror the intended targets one would normally strike at. If you are holding for a body kick, keep the pads right next to your ribs. If it’s a jab-cross, the pads should be right next to your face. By holding the pads in unrealistic places you end up training your partner for targets that aren’t real. You also subject yourself to possible injury. Just remember that when you hold it is your job to get the pads in the way of the oncoming strike. If your partner throws a kick to the ribs and your pads are way out in front of you, you’re eating that kick full force, believe me that’s not a nice feeling!
3. Giving the right energy to the hitter on Point of Contact
Giving the right energy to the hitter on point of contact is vital to holding pads, I can’t stress this enough. It ensures that your partner gets a good workout, but it also prevents you, the holder, from getting injured. For example, if your partner is throwing a hook and you receive it with a relaxed arm, you’re going to tweak your elbow and possibly strain your shoulder. When the strike reaches the pads, tense your body and meet the strike with force. That being said, never reach for the strike, allow it to come to you. Reaching for the strike is sure way to get kicked in the ribs or punched in the face. Keep in mind that your partner is aiming for you not the pads. A great way of acclimating to holding pads is to start slow and light. Tell your partner to start off hitting lightly and slowly increase the power and speed. By the end of the first round you’ll both be adjusted to each other and can really have some fun now.
4. Make it Real
As mentioned above, always remember that when holding pads, you assume the role of the opponent. Try to simulate a sparring session when holding pads but always remember to work at the level of your partner. Move around and throw strikes at your partner during the session. Doing this will benefit both parties. The holder observes the openings and flaws in the striker’s game, and the striker increases his defence and reaction time. Making a pad work session “real” will only help in building up the level of skill for both individuals.
5. No Verbal Commands
Pad holding in its self is an art form to some degree, so at a higher level the coach simply hold’s the pads in various places and allow’s you to find the target with whatever works for you, or let’s you throw whatever you want while they move the pads to receive it. This ‘freestyle’ kind of pad-work forces you to use your own initiative, which makes you better prepared to fight.
If your interested in learning more about Krav Maga, Combatives or Pad Work please feel free to get in touch with me here.