Muay Thai Pads: Types & Shopping Tips

Muay Thai Pads: What You Need to Know

thai boxing pads

Muay Thai Pads: What You Need to Know

“Muay Thai Pads: Types and Shopping Tips” By James Poidog, World Thai Boxing Association Expert Contributor

Muay Thai pads are different from the pads used in other fighting styles due to the use of elbows, knees, tiips, and shin rather than foot [Related: Muay Thai Words Decoded – Thai to English].  Many Muay Thai students often ask, “What types of pads should I be using?”

After searching online, I found that most of the responses were from other students. But, what do the experts think? What brand and/or type of pads do they buy? As a student and then a coach, my feelings about what I like in a pad have changed over the years as I went from just hitting and kicking them to holding them. So who better to suggest what you should invest your money in than some top experts in their field? Expert reviews will be in the next post. For now, I think it would be a good idea to define different types of pads so you have a better idea of what to search for.

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Kru Chris demonstrating a Muay Thai technique using Thai Pads

What are Muay Thai Pads?

If you aren’t familiar with the word, search “pad” online, you might find a confusing assortment ranging from feminine hygiene to hockey gear. For Muay Thai, boxing, MMA, and other combat sports, pads are essentially defined as the tool of a coach (or even other students) used to allow students to punch, elbow, knee, and kick without much risk to themselves. At certain levels, that means you can throw your attack as hard as you can and not hurt them or get hurt yourself. [Related: Muay Thai History]

King of Muay Thai Pads: Thai Pads

Pads come in different sizes, shapes, and weights. The most common Muay Thai pads, are referred to as ‘Thai pads’.  These rectangular shaped pads are filled with foam padding and covered in a leather or synthetic material shell. Thai pads have straps on the back side that attach to the holder’s forearms and allow them to take the brunt of your hits in a way that can be absorbed a little easier than a kick shield.  Even though Thai pads come in different sizes and weights, their profile is still smaller than a kick shield so targeting human anatomy is a little clearer.

Thai pads aren’t the only pads used in Muay Thai either. Commonly referred to as focus mitts, boxing hand pads are frequently used by themselves for punching accuracy or in conjunction with a Thai pad to vary a student’s lessons.

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Different Types of Muay Thai Pads

Over time, other types of pads have come into existence for specific techniques used in Muay Thai, kickboxing and MMA.

Belly pads use padding that covers all of the stomach and part of the torso. Belly pads strap around the back and have been used for a long time in Thailand.Similar to a belly pad, chest protectors cover the whole torso and are common in the boxing world. They are frequently used with focus mitts, allowing the boxer to hit body targets as well as the head shots the focus mitts mimic, but are a little harder to use with Thai pads.The most recent addition to the pad world, and one a lot of trainers use is the leg shield. The leg shield has thick pad straps for the leg and a waist belt to help keep it in place.  The leg shield is used exclusively for leg kicks and is rapidly becoming a mainstay for coaches worldwide.

Shopping for Muay Thai Pads

It should be easy to just recommend a brand and style, right? Well, that’s where you might be surprised. If there was one style of pad or mitts that fit everyone, we might not have the large amount of differences you can find the minute you try and purchase a pair (yes, they’re sold in pairs. Don’t buy from places that sell in singular unless the price is so good you can buy two.).

There are a lot of variations in students, from weight to height to gender to body type. Just like coaches have to be able to adapt to the different needs of each student, pads need to come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate these differences as well.  It would be almost impossible to purchase every type and style. Stay tuned for my next post, Muay Thai Pads: Expert Reviews to see why Fairtex Muay Thai pads came in first place with Muay Thai and MMA coaches, with close seconds going to several other Muay Thai pad brands.

—Want to know more about Muay Thai or becoming a member of the World Thai Boxing Association (WTBA)? Visit the helpful links below:

World Thai Boxing Association HistoryWTBA Instructor Apprentice Membership 

WTBA Affiliate MembershipWTBA Online Academy Membership

Kru Chris

Head Instructor, federal law enforcement officer.