The best kicking pad
Are you a fighter who trains to strike hard and fast? Turn into the ultimate competitor with help from a formidable, no-mercy opponent: the kicking pad.
You need more than time in the ring (or octagon) to take your kicks to new heights. Kicking pads help you examine your technique -- particularly how and where you land kicks. These densely packed pads also provide moderate resistance, so you're able to experience a bit of realistic pushback.
To learn more, keep reading our buying guide on kicking pads for your martial arts training. Our top choice is the Fairtex Curved MMA Muay Thai Pads. Its elongated design provides a large striking surface as well as plenty of forearm protection for the holder.
Considerations when choosing kicking pads
Styles of kicking pads
Tae kwon do: Given their shape, these handhand pads are often called "pork chops" by practitioners of tae kwon do. They're crucial for training technique for tae kwon do's signature high and aerial kicks. The holder simply grasps the handle and can place it anywhere for the martial artist to fire off a series of explosive kicks.
Kickboxing: These pads are on the longer, thicker side to protect holders during striking. They're outfitted with secure hand or forearm straps to ensure a firm grip and reliable protection. Kickboxing pads are also densely packed to provide significant realistic resistance and to absorb intense force.
Low-kick: Low-kick pads (sometimes called strike or kick shields) are usually rectangular in shape. At an average of three feet in length, they protect the holder and provide a larger striking area. They're ideal to practice low kicks, scrapes, and sweeps, though the holders can raise them for mid- or high-level kicks.
Depending on their design, kicking pads have varying densities. Generally speaking, the more densely packed a kicking pad is, the more resistance you receive. In terms of thickness, it really depends on the nature of practice intended for the pad. With that said, the closer the kicking pad is held to the holder's body, the thicker it usually is, for obvious reasons.
Kicking pads have stability grips, straps, or handles to provide an ergonomic grip for the holder. These aim to prevent fatigue and eliminate rug burn on hands and forearms. Kicking pads that can be held in more than one way have handles or grips in several areas.
Kicking pads can be monochromatic, feature the brand's logo, or have target markings. Some fighters prefer buying plain kicking pads to apply target designs of their own with paint or markers. Keep in mind that with both stock and customized designs, over time, markings and logos usually wear off from constant contact with feet.
Lightweight yet durable kicking pads can be found for under $25, though if you're looking for better materials and design, expect to spend closer to $50 to $75. For advanced fighters who need top-quality kicking pads, it's best to go for those priced $100 to $200.
Q. What's the best kicking pad to buy for my kid who is a beginner martial artist?
A. For younger kids, especially lower-ranking belts, invest in low-kick pads. That way, you're able to protect yourself while they practice kicking at several levels. Low-kick pads can also be manipulated by kids as a piece of equipment, as is usually done in their martial arts studio.
Q. Are kicking pads made with latex?
A. Most kicking pads are made from leather or high-grade PU (polyurethane) and are marked accordingly on the packaging. Some kicking pads may contain latex, so if you have an allergy, contact the manufacturer directly to rule it out before buying.
Kicking pads we recommend
Best of the best: Fairtex's Curved MMA Muay Thai Pads
Our take: Well-made versatile design featuring a bullseye to improve precision and targeting.
What we like: Reinforced handles and forearm straps. Thick, durable material. Curved design gives with force.
What we dislike: Some holders feel the kicking pad is on the narrow side.
Best bang for your buck: Yosoo's Tae Kwon Do Kick Pads
Our take: Budget-friendly handheld targets that hold up through thousands of kicks.
What we like: Wipe to clean. Provides modest resistance. Hand strap ensures the target doesn't fly away from its holder.
What we dislike: Requires technique and precision, so best for intermediate and advanced kickers.
Choice 3: Everlast's Strike Shield
Our take: Simple, durable design from a leading brand in martial arts equipment.
What we like: High-quality synthetic leather. Proper length and width to protect the holder. Densely packed with good resistance.
What we dislike: Larger striking surface doesn't have target markings.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.