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Thai pads work (Som Pao)

Pao mitts are unequalled as a mean to refine the combinations of strikes and to increase the explosiveness of each attack; therefore, their use should be included in every Nak Muay’s weekly training routines. By hitting these tools on a regular basis with kicks, fists, elbows and knees, great explosiveness can be developed and as a result, all blows will gain greater power. The goal is to have at one’s disposal an array of fighting tools capable of annihilating the opponent with the least possible number of blows, when the latter are properly directed against the enemy’s sensitive spots.
When working the pads, one of the key element to be considered is the creation of a good “feeling” between the boxer and the pad holder. Pad holding is an Art in itself: in every thai boxing or western boxing gym, the best pad men are considered a great added value to the gym’s team.
Good pad holders can bring boxers to develop their footwork, timing, and coordination by feeding them the right pad at the right moment. The best pad men can actually become the boxer’s best sparring partner: when the feeling between the trainer and the fighter is right, a pad work sessions becomes the closest thing to a real fight that may be reproduced without the high risks connected to receiving full power blows.

From the introduction of new techniques and strategies (Mae Mai and Look Mai Muay Thai), to the development of muscle memory involved in the execution of advanced combinations of strikes, from the shortening of the reaction time in the execution of defense and counter blows, to the development of superior cardiovascular capability. These are just a few of the many possible uses of pad work that can give a definite edge to every trainee’s fighting attributes.
In Muay Thai 3 kinds of mitts are commonly used: Pao Jiao, Pao San, Pao Phasom.
Pao Jiao Koo
: two long pads strapped on the forearms. Mostly used for kicking (straight and round kicks) and for kneeing. Punches and elbow strikes can also be used, even though to a slightly lesser extent.
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Four possible kinds of exercises are commonly employed by experienced fighters:
1.Single attacks: in this modality each blow is rehearsed over and over again, in search of perfection. A single punch may be trained for a whole 4 minutes round or it may be combined with the execution of other strikes by the same arm, by the other arm or by the legs.
2.Combinations of strikes: up to four strikes may be executed when training in this modality. The goal is creating muscle memory, so that each blow will flow smoothly into the next in order to unleash powerful series of strikes.
3.Defense and counter maneuvers: the pad man feeds the boxer with any kind of attack in order to push him to develop quick reflexes. The athlete must dodge or block the incoming blow and counter attack as quickly as possible with one or more blows. This represents one of the best overall technical exercises for every serious Nak Muay.
4.Free style:when a trainer and a boxer know each other very well, they are allowed to work the pads in free style mode. The trainee attacks at will and the pad man anticipates the blows coming at him and intercepts them with the pads, as he would do with his arms in a real hard sparring sessions. The only difference here is that no punches are pulled back. This is one of the most difficult yet efficient technical drill that may be employed to train a top level thai boxer.
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