Focus Mitts VS Thai Pads | Which Should You Buy?

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Summary: If you only have budget for only one set of equipment for training Muay Thai, what would it be? Let’s compare focus mitts vs Thai pads, explore the pros/cons for each equipment and help you make your choice.

Pad work is an integral part of Muay Thai and pretty much all combat sports training. Being able to work your strikes with a coach in real-time is vital to a fighter’s preparation. It can also be really fun and a great workout even if you aren’t looking to compete. 

In Muay Thai, you’ll generally see that coaches use two different types of pads when they are holding for students. These two pads are generally known as Focus Mitts and Thai Pads.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages. If you’re a coach, fitness trainer or just looking to get some pads, it’s overall best to get both. But if for some reason you had to pick one of the other, which one should you choose? 

Let’s first look at the differences between Focus mitts vs Thai pads:

Focus Mitts 

Focus mitts are those small, usually circular or pear-shaped mitts that go on your hands like a glove. These mitts were created for the sport of boxing and they were made not too long ago. While tools have been used in a similar function to focus mitts for hundreds of years, the modern-day focus mitt is much younger than that. 

The modern-day focus mitt came into popularity in the 60s and 70s. They possibly became popular after Bruce Lee was seen training with them. Ever since then they have become an integral part of combat sports training, especially in Boxing. 

Advantages Of Focus Mitts 

focus mitts vs thai pads

Focus Mitts have some great advantages, so it’s no wonder why they are a stable of boxing and even Muay Thai training.

The first is that they are very portable. Focus mitts are generally small and slim, especially when compared to Thai pads. This means that focus mitts can more easily fit into gym bags and be carried around. 

Since focus mitts were created for boxing, it also makes sense that they are the best pad for working punches. Most focus mitts have a slight curve to them, this allows the pad to take punches better, but it is also a safer object to be punched. The curve makes the pad easier on the wrist and the knuckle for the person who is striking it. 

Disadvantages of Focus Mitts 

The main disadvantage of training with focus mitts for Muay Thai is that they aren’t that good to use for kicks. The vast majority of focus mitts aren’t thick enough to take kicks without degrading quickly.

They are also likely to be open up from cuts, though this is somewhat less of an issue. This makes sense, as focus mitts were built solely for punches, they don’t hold up so well against other strikes. 

Since focus mitts are small, there is also a bigger risk of a kick missing its target and accidentally landing on the pad holder instead. However, they will perform reasonably well as kick pads for children or beginners.

Check out “Best Focus Mitts for Muay Thai Boxing MMA” for more information and recommendations on the best mitts in the market.

Thai Pads 

Thai pads are a piece of equipment that pretty much every nak muay has a love-hate relationship with. The thick blocks with straps on them have been the developmental tool, as well as the punishment tool for many a person training in Muay Thai. 

Thai pads are a fair bit older than focus mitts but there isn’t much solid information about their origins or when they came into popularity. That just goes to show how old they must be. 

They are also known as kick pads because they are designed to train with both punches and kicks (and all manners or striking).

Advantages of Thai Pads

The biggest advantage of Thai pads is that they are usually pretty thick and sturdy. This allows them to take the damage from all eight limbs of the body for years without much degradation. Thai pads are built to take kicks, punches, knees and elbows. 

Standard-sized Thai pads are very long, meaning that there is less chance of a kick missing the pad and hitting the holder instead. They also provide a lot of feedback when someone lands a roundhouse kick on them, meaning that you can develop stronger shins. 

They are also able to be held in different formations which allows the person training more options in the way they strike, like with push kicks to the body. 

Disadvantages Of Thai Pads

The main problem with Thai Pads is that they are usually pretty bulky. This makes them hard to carry around in a gym bag because they take up so much space. Thai pads can also be pretty annoying to strap on and hold for newer nak muays. 

Thai pads can especially be annoying for smaller and physically weaker nak muays to hold, as a strong enough fighter could easily send their pad holders arm flying with a single strike. This is especially likely to happen with punches, which are easily the hardest strike for the Thai pad to take, as they aren’t built for it. 

Thai pads are thick blocks and some have minimal to no curve. Taking punches on these type of Thai pads can lead to wrist damage to the puncher. There are now more curved Thai pads which offer better ergonomics and protection. 

Check out “Best Muay Thai Pads for Striking Training” for more information and recommendations on the best Thai pads in the market.

Focus Mitts vs Thai Pads: Which Should You Get?

We make the best out of what we have. Ultimately, the right attitude is more important than the best equipment. 

If cost is not a big factor, ideally, you should get both focus mitts and Thai pads. Having both on hand will give you more options as a trainer or even as a practitioner. But If you can only have one, the Thai Pads versatility makes it the ideal tool for Muay Thai practitioners.

That’s not to say that if you only have focus mitts, you’re screwed. That’s not true at all. But if you want to train Muay Thai, you might as well get the tools made for the job.

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