Kicks are a vital part of the MMA game. You can train them by striking against the heavy bag and the banana bags in your gym and of course, by using them in sparring.
However, if the bulk of your kicking training is only kicking heavy bags and then trying to land those same strikes in sparring sessions then you might be disappointed.
You may even feel that there’s an enormous gulf between being able to land body kicks to a bag and then trying to connect with those kicks against an opponent that can think and move and defend themselves intelligently.
This is where hitting pads come in. Your trainer will use training pads, such as focus mitts, to simulate how you’ll throw and land punches and kicks in real time, whilst moving around, striking you back occasionally to make sure your head movement is on point, etc.
You can think of hitting pads as the bridge or stepping stone that sits between bag training and full, live sparring.
With kicks, however, focus mitts won’t cut it.
Focus mitts are designed and shaped specifically for punching and boxing purposes. Trying to catch round kicks with focus mitts can even be dangerous. You’ll need a good, quality set of Thai pads.
Thai pads are much larger/longer than focus mitts and are designed to be able to bear the brunt of ferocious kicks and knees without left over limbs swinging past and hitting the pad holder.
Best Thai Pads Reviewed
You’ll want to make sure that you have the best possible set of Thai pads you can find if you take your training seriously. We’ve selected five of the best products around that will hold up to whatever punishment you can dish out to them.
Fairtex Muay Thai/MMA Curved Pads
These are the pads used by the pros. If you were to travel to Thailand and train from the source, it’s extremely likely that your Muay Thai trainer would be holding a set of pads just like these ones.
Fairtex have been producing the highest possible quality Muay Thai gear for years. They know exactly how to make pads that can withstand a beating and provide you with the optimal striking surface for your kicks, knees, punches and elbows. They’ve even included a target on the surface of the pads so you can be as precise as possible.
The lightweight pads and sturdy forearm supports allow the holder to hold the pads comfortably and safely for longer. Holding pads for someone can be tougher than it looks so it’s great that these pads are optimised for both kicker and holder.
Everlast Thai Pad (Black)
Everlast have crafted these expert pads out of professional-grade materials for the best possible longevity and impact dispersal. They’re made of premium, durably constructed synthetic leather for that long-lasting durability and functionality. Everlast is more than just a name with this product.
The dense foam padding is arranged in multiple layers to better absorb the impact so that your hands, feet, shins, etc. don’t take undue punishment. Nothing worse than being in the middle of a pad workout and having to stop because of aching wrists or joints. Let the pad take the punishment.
The pads are designed with an authentic Muay Thai style in mind, optimising them for taking heavy kicks and knees.
Sanabul BattleForged Muay Thai Kickboxing Pads
Aesthetics and visual style are something that is often completely overlooked when making Muay Thai and MMA gear. Most pieces of gear look the same, with the same colours and the same boring designs reused again and again.
Sanabul have bucked this trend by producing some of the most stunning Thai pads you’ve ever seen. They offer these minimalist-styled pads in three different colours; white, black and brown. Whilst they are minimally designed, they still somehow manage to look both beautiful and high-class. Nice to have something to choose from other than black with fire motifs.
Beyond the visual elements, these pads are incredibly tough and durable whilst remaining lightweight, which is perfect for the holder/trainer. These pads can withstand any kind of strike that you can throw at them.
RDX MMA and Muay Thai Strike Shield
The cheap/entry level MMA gear market has been completely cornered by the company, RDX. They destroy their competition by producing cheap gear that doesn’t feel or perform like cheap gear. You can get great quality equipment from RDX but without paying out the nose for it.
RDX use their IMT technology which features three layers of gel-integrated foam padding for heavy-duty shock absorption. It can withstand a heavy pounding and long-term use without ripping, tearing or falling apart.
You have a choice of three vibrant colours to choose from including red, white and blue. These pads are purchased individually also, so you can even mix and match colours if you desire to do so.
Contender Fight Sports Kickboxing Muay Thai Pads
These pads from Contender Fight Sports have been crafted with nothing but function in mind.
No vibrant colours or wacky styles. No gimmicks and no frills. If you want a set of pads that will take an absolute hammering from people of all sizes, day in and day out, for months or years on end, then these are the pads for you.
They’re made of durable vinyl that will resist rips and tears and is also easy to clean as an added bonus. The none-more-black colour also better hides any scuffs or wear and tear that will accrue over months of use.
It comes complete with two hook-and-loop straps that you can set and forget. Once you’re locked in. You don’t have to worry about them slipping or moving around mid-workout, you’re tight and secure. Though despite this, they’re also quick and easy to slip on or off without any fuss.
Thai pads are invaluable to your training and are considered a mandatory piece of kit. If you never practice your kicks on a set of pads then you are always going to be lagging behind.
Get yourself a set and you can grow your skills in the comfort of your own home.