Thai Pads aka Muay Thai Kick pads– A Buyers guide

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A boxing coaches preferred  equipment choice will always be a set of quality focus mitts however for the Muay Thai coach then usually they will favour the larger rectangular Thai Kick Pads often using them for both punching and kicking drills. This practice is often copied in the MMA world too although the ever evolving sport is throwing up some design innovations which may well soon produce its own middle option hybrid (More later)
The main advantage of the Thai pads is their availability for a full range of striking techniques ; kicks, punches, knee and elbow strikes can all be practiced and when used in conjunction with the Thai belly protector can allow a really good range of combinations aiming at both the head and body; finally if you add in a set of thai shinguards then the low point kick can also be brought into play giving the Thai boxing practitioner the full range of options.
Over the last few years prices for quality thai pads have consistently risen whilst the market is flooded with some fairly shoddy cheaply made versions often under MMA brand banners. So what are the best options for what can nowadays be an expensive piece of essential kit?
We’ve split this upto into three sections Premium (RRP over £100), Club (RRP Under £100) and Budget (RRP under £70)
Our top three picks here are as follows and are not in an order of which we think are best; simply what we think represent the best three buys in this price range.  All three are Thai made and all three full leather as you would expect from top of the line products.
  1. Boon M/L Buckle Thai Pads. (RRP £129.99) A classic design and handmade of very high grade leather. Mid weight and with the old school buckles a very tough and durable set of Thai kick pads
  2. Twins KPL2 – Standard Thai Pads (RRP £129.99) Like the Boon a classic design this time sporting Velcro fastenings. Slightly larger than the Boon version and finished differently with a shinier look.  Tough, durable and stylish.
  3. Top King “Ultimate” Thai Kick Pads (RRP £124.99) A different more rounded shape to the other two in this category we include them due to design and quality. Smaller but thicker than our other picks these pads have excellent manoeuvrability.  Top King Boxing equipment has won a lot of friends in both the Thai boxing world and MMA fraternity.
Finding a set of great pads under £100 nowadays is difficult and there are plenty available which are neither durable or worth the asking price.  The three we have selected are close in many respects to the Premium sets just managing to keep their price down!
  1. DE (Danger Equipment) Standard Kick Pads (RRP £84.99) – Thai made to a very high standard these are excellent quality, full leather and almost certainly the best thing available under £100 in the UK at this moment. They will stand next to most the premium level pads whilst being over 30% cheaper than many.
  2. REVGEAR Curved Thai pads (RRP £89.99) – High quality materials (Full leather) and an innovative design not to mention guys such as Rafael Cordiero regularly using these pads makes this a contender in a busy market.   These pads are smaller than most regular Thai pads with only one arm strap and have a distinct curve, are light and fast to use making them almost a bridging pad between focus mitts and Thai kick pads.
  3. MTG Medium Thai Pads (RRP £79.99) – A copy of Twins version these Thai made leather pads are consistent and well made.
This is a difficult category as there are simply very few options at under £70 worth talking about.  To be fair under £70 should really be under £60 as with pads such as the DE and Revgear at the £80 mark there is little point in not just going the extra £10 and getting something really good. 
Blitz, RDX and several other budget manufacturers make Thai pads at this level but none of them tend to be even half as durable as the mid ranged price bracket.  Blackeye standard pads are great for approx £50 full leather and will more than likely outlast RDX and Blitz. Rogue produce a leather Thai pad for under £60 which are too light and a little roomy in the padding but again not so bad for that price.  Our advice would however be always strive for the better quality pads.
The MMA new boys.
You may have noticed the exclusion of many of the MMA branded Thai pads such as Hayabusa and Venum who have both brought out versions of Thai pads looking to cash in on the Thais natural turf.  Venum have gone the whole hog and have their pads made in Thailand with the choice between full leather and synthetic. The Venum pads are evidently well made and with the recent price increases of many of the Thai brands they could have become a really excellent alternative to any of the more traditional Thai brands however they have generally all failed to make anything as well or durable as the Thai manufacturers and the pricing has placed them in the realms of the premium ranges.

General Advice

Unless you are sure or have used the equipment you are about to purchase then plump for a well known Thai manufacturer for Thai pads as you won’t go too far wrong, these companies have been doing this for decades and are far ahead of the MMA new boys on this level, aside from Fairtex the reverse could often be said in terms of MMA clothing made by Thai manufacturers!

MMA practitioners should certainly look to invest in a quality set of Thai pads and also a belly protector if at all possible. A good set will now set you back anything up to £200 for the set (especially after the January 2011 price rises) but investing in a quality set should see you only do this once or at least once in a decade and choosing wisely will certainly avoid having to replace them. Top King Thai Pads have removable straps which is the only real weak point on Thai pads which I thought was a pretty nifty innovation allowing you to replace the straps easily if need be. Avoid MMA branded pads unless you have given them a good go as in the main the Thai versions are higher quality and better thought through.
Don’t just rely on Thai Boxing drills with your Thai pads, mixed martial arts has a very different striking pace to Muay Thai.  Mixing a focus mitt (for jabs) Thai pad and belly protector can really produce so interesting drills. Take a look at the many drills available on You Tube and the like, there are some top MMA coaches showing their favourite pad routines online which may not suit everyone’s style but with the quantity available you would be hard pressed not to find something of use.  One dvd set I would heartily recommend for MMA pad drills would be Eric Paulson’s Striking for MMA.  The guy is an MMA legend and has obviously spent quite some time developing these drills for the sport.
All in all, a mix of a quality set of Thai pads, focus mitts and a belly protector is a great addition to any MMA practitioners training kit. 
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