Summary: This is the third of a 3-part Home Training Special series where I look at equipment that is used in Muay Thai and most stand-up combat training. In this article, we explore the very “handy” focus mitts. Let’s find out the benefits of mitt training and review the best focus mitts for Muay Thai, boxing and MMA training.
Muay Thai is a kickboxing style with a wide range of weapons. As we know, the Thai combat sport is also known as the art of 8 limbs with kicks, elbows and knees at disposal beyond punching. It is a complete all-rounded fighting system where it is favorable to be proficient in every aspect.
When it comes to stand-up fighting, throwing hands is more natural and effective. Boxing techniques typically target the head which can end fights more easily. However, punches actually score less than kicks and knees in the traditional Muay Thai scoring system.
But if you follow the sport closely, you may know about the Muay Mat. It is a class of Muay Thai fighters or fighting style which puts emphasis on boxing. Many Muay Thai legends also found great success in pro or amateur boxing.
It is certainly advantageous to have good hands in Muay Thai and having the best focus mitts to train with can boost your performance for the best results.
What are the Best Focus Mitts for Muay Thai Boxing MMA?
The best focus mitts feature high-quality leather with a solid reinforced stitching and long-lasting foam padding. These qualities contribute to the durability of the focus mitts. You also need to look out for the impact-absorption qualities of the foam padding for optimal protection.
When in doubt regarding the type of focus mitts, go for the standard size focus mitts (more about sizes down in the article) with close-finger design. They offer the best versatility, protection, stability and comfort.
In a hurry? Check my top 5 picks straight away: (Did you know that there are different types/sizes of focus mitts for different training purposes? If you would like to learn more in detail, scroll down to read the article to see which focus mitts suits your needs best):
What are Focus Mitts used for?
Focus mitts are padded targets worn over hands like gloves or mitts (hence focus mitts) that are used in boxing training. A trainer wears them, holding them up as targets for the training partner to hit at.
Focus mitts training basically allows striking practice that mimics fighting without full-contact sparring. It is a great way to drill techniques and train movement.
Besides boxing, they are used in a variety of striking arts including Muay Thai, Karate, Taekwondo and the likes. As combat sports become more mainstream in the last decade, many fitness instructors are incorporating focus mitts training into their workout routines.
Types of Focus Mitts
Before we get into the reviews and recommendations, it’s good to know which focus mitt size to go for. If you don’t already know, focus mitts come in different sizes.
Standard Focus Mitts
Standard focus mitts (above middle) are the most common of the hand held mitts. There is some variation in size among different manufacturers but it’s not usually too significant.
The standard focus mitts are the best size to get for boxing training. They can also double as pads if you work with young children or average-sized beginners.
Overall, they offer the right balance of protection and mobility.
Small Focus Mitts
Small focus mitts (above left) have a smaller striking surface area which make them the best option for working on speed and precision. They are lighter than the standard mitts and so are easier to handle/maneuver for the trainer.
Besides speed and precision training, small focus mitts can function like standard mitts for smaller martial artists and young children.
Long Focus Mitts
Long Focus Mitts (above right) measure in between the sizes of standard focus mitts and regular Muay Thai pads. They have a larger striking surface area and so are better for kicks and knees than standard mitts.
The key difference between long focus mitts and regular Thai pads is the strap and closure system. Long focus mitts are worn like gloves/mitts like with standard focus mitts (close-finger) and feature an additional arm strap for extra support.
Thai pads are held in hands using the handles and supported by arm strap for extra stability. In terms of protection, Thai pads are generally the better option for protection but overall, choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference.
|Should you get Muay Thai pads or focus mitts? Read about the differences and the pros/cons of each equipment in “Focus Mitts vs Thai Pads: Which Should You Buy?” to help you decide.|
Best Focus Mitts for Muay Thai Boxing MMA
Focus mitts have become a standard piece of training equipment in striking sports. Many fitness instructors also incorporate mitt training as a part of their training routine for clients because of its benefits and portability.
These days, you can buy focus mitts from almost every fight brand. All fight gear are not equal and the same goes for focus mitts. The materials, craftsmanship and quality control all make a big difference.
Without further ado, here’s a list of the best focus mitts to get your hands on (in?):
Fairtex Contoured Focus Mitts
- Soft hand compartment w/ protective finger hood
- Ultra-light & shock-absorbing layered foam striking surface
- Leather construction
Fairtex is always a dependable choice when it comes to fight gear or training equipment. It’s the go-to brand for many Muay Thai gyms all around the world. In terms of high-quality materials and craftsmanship, they sit right on top among the Muay Thai brands.
These contoured focus mitts are lightweight while giving protection with the generous padding. Ideal for transitions during training while keeping the wearer safe.
The contours feel more natural and the mitts have a nice snap for those of you who knows that feeling. A sign of great foam padding which translates to good impact absorption.
They do fit a little small and will be a little snug for those of you with large hands. Expect them to feel stiff at first but will feel more comfortable after a month of usage/breaking in.
|– “The best punch Mitts that I buy. Excellent for kick and punch combination. Good weight and handler. I love it.”
– “These pads have a great feel. They are just now breaking in after a few months of use. I can tell, these are going to last decades and get better with time.”
Yokkao Curved Focus Mitts
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Another Thai brand on the list and this is a piece of equipment to rival the best.
There is usually a fair amount of adjusting when training with focus mitts. This is largely due to the absence of sizing. Yokkao gets around this by having extended wrist support with cuffs quite similar to boxing gloves.
The wrist cuffs are more form-fitting which offers extra support and stability.
Yokkao gear is always ahead of others in terms of design and style. With their training equipment, there are some outstanding colors unlike anything else in the market.
If you want something professional-looking and lasting, go for these. Highly recommended for personal trainers for that premium look and feel.
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Sanabul Essentials Curved Punching Mitts
- The Perfect Fit: Don’t spend months breaking in your pads. Sananbul’s punching mitts are hand moulded to fit the natural curvature of your hands
- Feel the Impact, Not the Pain: Our mitts are infused with Santec Ultra Light Foam so you can absorb the hardest punches without holding extra weight
- Designed to Endure: We want Sanabul gear to be a staple of your gym bag. So we make equipment that lasts. Essentials mitts are made with Performance Engineered Leather that will take thousands of hits...
As of writing this review, these Sanabul punching mitts are the bestselling boxing mitts on Amazon. These have over 6000 customer reviews with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.
Sanabul is a regular on our gear recommendation lists for its wallet-friendly prices and decent quality.
Besides the price, I like that these mitts incorporate mesh panels which help to keep the palms cool and dry. This helps to minimize dampness and odor-causing bacteria.
Look elsewhere if you want top-of-the-line real leather gear with the best impact absorption or extra durability. But if you want something affordable for lightweight training, then these will suit your needs.
The padding is a little stiff with no snap when you hit the mitts. It is also a little too thin and you will most definitely feel the impact if you work with adults. For kids or lightweight boxers, these will suffice.
They are certainly not the best focus mitts. But for the price and general overall quality, they definitely deserve a spot on the list.
|– “Useful for non-professional training. We purchased this for practicing with friends. You will need to break it in first time. Holder might feel strong punches but it makes good poppling. For the price it’s not bad at all.”
– “For a casual user, I wouldn’t even consider anything else.”
– “These things can’t be beaten for the price. They pop really nicely when your doing mitt work with a student and because of the sufficient fit you can transition between different punches and combos very easily.”
Windy Curved Punch Mitts
- 100% Genuine leather construction
- Handcrafted in Thailand
- Padded wrist straps
If you want high-quality training equipment with long-lasting durability, Windy is a dependable brand. The Muay Thai brand has been in business since 1961 and clearly knows what they are doing.
These curved punch mitts are solid workhorses that many Muay Thai camps in Thailand still rely on. Nice classic Thai design, nothing flashy but they get the job done superbly.
Superior padding will provide you with the best protection you can find even with the heaviest punchers.
Like with most Thai brands, the fit tends to be a little snug. But if you get past the break-in phase and hold them without hand wraps, these will be some of the best mitts you will ever use.
Regrettably, these are rather pricey on Amazon compared to their retail prices in Thailand. Otherwise, I will rank these at the top. But if you can afford them, they will not disappoint.
|– “There is no grip ball – and it is not needed – it’s a very comfortable and secure feeling mitt – it’s like just using your hands, but with superior padding”
– “these are all leather and my go to mitts. They will be a little stiff when you first get them but after you break them in there gold. Love them.”
– “They handle the newest of punchers to the heaviest of punches – they absorb amazingly well and I can use them all day.”
Meister Target Punch Mitts
- 3in Power Center Padding to Absorb Strikes
- Ultra Durable Synthetic Leather Body - Super Lightweight
- Slightly Curved to Sharpen Striking Accuracy
Meister Target punch mitts are small training mitts most suitable for developing speed and precision. They are small and compact which also makes them easy to travel with.
Like the Sanabuls, Meister gear and equipment are made with affordability in mind. So you can expect synthetic leather and stiff padding.
The fit is snug for most hands which is good as it will not move much or require much adjustments during training. They are also slighting curved which helps with the grip.
Not a lot to say here. These are nothing exceptional quality-wise but they are great for training with beginners or speedwork fitness workouts with less power.
|– “These feel great on the hands super light, has great inside palm contour, well made.”
– “Bought these for my husband to practice karate with my children. He really likes them- they fit well and seem to be of good quality and are a good price.”
– “Love these mitts. They are small and compact. I use them with beginner boxing amateurs.”
Title Boxing Zero Impact Punch Mitts
- Constructed of thick cut, heavy-duty cowhide leather
- More than 3" of shock dispersing layered foams surround the "Rare Air" target zone for an intense Zero Impact training session
- Rear D-ring leather wrist strap with 2" wide hook-and-loop closure keeps mitts firm and intact
Title Boxing offers a number of focus mitts models but if you want their best focus mitts, these are the ones to get.
I find that Title often offer the best value-to-price ratio and these are no exception. Genuine leather at this kind of pricing is unbeatable. I usually recommend real leather equipment as they will not stink up as easily as synthetic leather.
A wide hook-n-loop closure around the wrists helps to keep them secured.
As its name suggests, the Zero Impact Punch Mitts are designed for maximum impact absorption so you feel little impact when wearing them. The padding is a thick 3 inches which is almost comparable to Muay Thai pads.
These are not top-tier gear but if you want real leather mitts without breaking the bank, go for these.
|– “I coach for a boxing gym and these are some great quality mitts. Good leather construction and they’ve been through hell and back.”
– “Really good for power punches.”
– “Love these focus mitts, very comfortable and virtually no pain on impact. Even good protection against knees and kicks, but probably no as good as Thai pads.”
Elite Sports Boxing Mitts
- LONG LASTING - Made from durable ultra-lightweight PU leather, your Essential Curved Punching Mitts are easy to maintain and clean. You’ll be amazed at how long they last.
- INCREASE STRIKING PRECISION, POWER, & SPEED - The pre-curved concave technology offers you a superior striking surface every time because the mitts follow the natural curve of the hand.
- PUSH YOUR BOUNDARIES - High-density impact protection & shock absorbent foam will provide both fighter and trainer with outstanding hand and wrist protection.
Elite Sports is a fan-favorite among the budget-conscious martial artist. The California-based fight brand offers a wide variety of gear and equipment at affordable prices with reasonably good quality.
Like the Sanabuls and Title mitts, Elite Sports mitts also come with mesh panels for better ventilation. This design is especially appreciated for synthetic leather gear which is less breathable than real leather.
Although they are lightweight, the foam padding is firm enough to provide comfort and protection to parties on both sides of the mitts.
These are just slightly bigger than your usual mitts so they can function like Thai pads if you work with young children or teens.
If you want mitts at the best price with reasonable durability, Elite Sports boxing mitts are fantastic value for money.
|– “These Mitts are solid enough to protect my hands from the hardest puncher on our team, light enough that I can keep up with the fastest, and soft enough that no one scrapes their knuckles hitting pads in the little MMA glovezs.”
– “Great quality mitts for the price. Lightweight, durable, and the fit is perfect. Easy to hold and feel good on the palm.”
– “They’re a great back-up pair for home (with my kids). I also think they’d be great as entry-level pads, if you’re just getting started.”
RDX Cowhide Leather Focus Mitts
- Filled with 'IMT' three layers of Gel integrated thick Foam with air channels
- Air Ventilated channels with new easy grip technology A domed palm pad to give better grip
- RDX G-Core Advance Technology, A domed palm pad to give better grip
RDX is a mid-tier fight gear brand that is based in the UK. They offer a range of gear and equipment that targets the mainstream fitness community. You will not see RDX at any authentic Muay Thai gyms as it is not their target market.
That aside, RDX makes decent-quality gear much like Title and Elite Sports. Their products are also moderately-priced to appeal to the broader market hence they tend to use synthetic leather a lot.
The padding is around 2.5 inches thick (around 6cm) which offers a good deal of protection. There’s a hook-n-loop strap for more wrist support and stability just like the Elite Sports and Title Boxing models.
This is one of the few occasions where RDX uses real cowhide leather instead of their usual synthetic Maya Hide leather.
As I highlighted above, real leather is often a far better option for fight gear as it is more durable and breathable. You pay a premium compared to the cheaper alternatives but it is worth every cent.
|– “Heavy padding, well ventilated, quality construction, real leather, great price point.”
– “Well cushioned, so you don’t feel a thing. Sounds great, like a bomb is exploding in the gym. They look great. These are great mitts all the way around. ”
– “I train with guys whose power takes a lot to contain, these pads are certainly up to the job. 5 star rating from me.”
Pro Impact Curved Focus Mitts
- DURABLE LEATHER MATERIAL. For durability and scratch-resistant protection, the Pro Impact Focus Mitts are are made using genuine leather combined with a curved design, resulting in a comfortable...
- PADDED CONSTRUCTION. Providing a satisfying rebound on the punch, these Curved Focus Mitts are made with 35% more padding for better shock absorption during vigorous workouts. As such, users can hit...
- GREAT EXERCISE ACTIVITY. Versatile and portable, focus mitts can help you quickly develop excellent punching and defensive skills. If you want to improve your footwork, accuracy and timing or want to...
Pro Impact’s curved focus mitts round up the list.
If you have not heard of Pro Impact, it’s because they are a general sporting goods brand. Meaning they offer gear and equipment for a wide range of sports including boxing, rugby, badminton, table tennis, swimming and whole more.
Pro Impact has no presence outside of Amazon.com. This tells me it is likely that the brand outsources its manufacturing to China or Pakistan factories. Or equally likely they went on Aliexpress.com, contacted the manufacturer and customize it with their branding. Yikes!
These guys probably don’t even train any combat sports. I’m not touching their gear so I’ll let their customers do the reviewing instead (customer ratings are surprisingly good):
|– “I use these mitts for Muay Thai and boxing training and man are these comfortable to the core! I am a heavy weight at 200lbs and these withheld and absorbed all my punches with minimal impact per my sparing partner.”
– “The gloves are great, but for some odd reason the smell of dead fish is saturated into the gloves. I put them into the washing machine, but they still are a little smelly.”
– “Excellent for kickboxing. Light and perfect for speed drills. Provide excellent protection of the hand since snag fit, fingers are covered completely and has ball to grab inside.”
Focus Mitts Maintenance
To get the most out of your focus mitts, maintenance is important to make them last.
The biggest and most common problem with focus mitts is odor just like your boxing gloves. They soak up sweat which becomes a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria.
The key to keep your mitts odor-free is to always clean them right after training and keeping them dry in areas with good ventilation.
Essentially, you can take care of your focus mitts the same way you care for your boxing gloves. Check out “How to clean boxing gloves” for more tips.
Benefits of Training with Focus Mitts
Punches may score less than kicks or knees in Muay Thai but they are quicker and easier to execute. Punches tax the body less than kicks and a powerful, accurate head or body shot will likely knock an opponent out in a flash.
Training with heavy bags is a great way to develop punching power. It is also a convenient home training workout that can be performed alone and at any time.
However, Muay Thai training works best with a trainer or at least a training partner. It is a competitive sport between two people in the ring so training with another person is more natural. A trainer or training partner can also help to motivate and push your limits more effectively.
Pad work is the most common training method in Muay Thai but mitts take centerstage for boxing training even in Muay Thai gyms. Here are some of the benefits of training with focus mitts:
Speed is a key focus (no pun intended) when training with focus mitts.
Thai pads are more suitable for training the complete suite of Muay Thai weaponry while focus mitts are more ideal for boxing training. Thai pads weigh more than mitts and are bulkier. This makes them less mobile for speed.
If you are looking for high-speed, high intensity workouts, then it’s more applicable to get the focus mitts.
If you hit fast and hard, you can hurt your opponent. But a precise punch may be all it takes to finish a fight. Heavy bags allow you to work on power but a powerful punch is pointless if it doesn’t connect.
There are things that you can’t do in solo training with heavy bags or speed bags. You can’t work on your uppercuts with standard heavy bags and the big surface area means you will hit anywhere, effectively stripping the opportunity to work on precision.
This is where focus mitts come in to fill the gap. Working with the small target area helps to develop pinpoint precision with consistent practice.
Head movement, footwork, blocks and evasions are all defense techniques which are critical in stand-up striking sports. The best way to train defense is by drilling, followed by padwork/mitt training and then sparring.
Mitt training allows you to put striking techniques, head movement (slips & rolls) and footwork all into practice. This is another advantage of training with focus mitts over heavy bags where you can’t really drill defense techniques or movement.
Focus mitts are small and light, ideal for carrying around in a small gym bag – you can bring them anywhere to train. They can also substitute the bulkier Thai pads for Muay Thai padwork especially when training with children or beginners.
Generally speaking, focus mitts are cheaper than Thai pads. Take Fairtex for example, their focus mitts retail for around $100 a pair while their kick pads go for $140-150. The cost goes down even more if you aren’t particular with the brand. You can get a decent pair of focus mitts for less than $50 a pair.
Injury Prevention when holding Focus Mitts
Holding pads or focus mitts is a high-impact activity. If you are not doing it the right way, it can be easy to pick up wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries along the way. These injuries can be mild but can lead to chronic problems if compounded over time.
Besides going for a pair of high-quality well-padded focus mitts, you can also work on the right mitt-holding techniques and form. Here are a few tips from my Muay Thai trainer:
Best Focus Mitts
It is important to get the best focus mitts with adequate impact absorption. The padding needs to be thick enough with the right amount of firmness.
Repetitive impact and stress to your joints is the quickest way to getting injuries. Take breaks in between rounds, and even in the midst of the round to avoid over-stressing your shoulder, elbow and wrist joints.
The Right Form
Equally important is having the right mitt-holding form. In fact, having the right form beats having the best focus mitts in the world. Click here to check out a series of mitt-holding tips to avoid injuries from Punch Equipment.
You can definitely train boxing with Thai pads which are more versatile and do not have to shell out more cash for an extra pair of focus mitts. However, adding focus mitts to your arsenal helps to level up your boxing game and keep things varied.
Happy training and as always,