Training a champion is a full time job. You cannot be afraid, as a trainer to use every tool in your psychological toolkit to get the most out of a fighter. For some it means constant encouragement. For another it can mean well placed antagonism. It takes years to learn that skill of how to get the best from your fighter. It requires a brutal years long apprenticeship at another trainer’s side before you ever get a student of your own. As it should be. It takes time to know something worth teaching.
To impart this knowledge requires a massive amount of time, effort and understanding. It requires a certain fearlessness and physicality all it’s own. Anybody who ever held the pads or a bag for a good heavyweight can tell you, it can be nearly as dangerous as fighting him yourself. As a trainer you absorb as much force as any sparring partner. That is why pads are essential to the safety of both the trainer and fighter. So allow me to walk you through the basics of gear for trainers. What you need and why you need it.
In The Corner
There are things that no trainer or corner man can do without. First lets talk about the “consumables” of the fight game. Stuff that you need as a trainer to even bring a fighter to an amateur match. First off is fresh gauze. While hands wraps suffice for day to day training, fresh gauze is a must to wrap the hands of any reputable fighter working under an athletic commission. Gauze is the base layer of a fighters hand wraps on fight day.
The second layer of a fight day hand wrap is tape. The tape is use to hold the gauze in place and ensure that the base layer stay tight through out the fight. Also worth noting that tape is a god send to grappler. Nagging injuries caused by excessive range of motion, like say a finger caught in a gi fold, can be protected and stabilized using tape. Tape is also used to affix gloves to wrist on fight day. It also covers over the laces on the underside of the palm and wrist of a glove which can cause cuts..
Tape and Gauze for the professional trainer or gym owner are items you should absolutely buy in bulk. Buying in bulk makes the per unit price less expensive. Which a bit of simple math makes a good in investment. A good amateur boxer will fight around 20 times per year. There are 3 top level boxing champions in the pro’s right now with over 300+ amateur fights. Same with any number of prolific Muay Thai fighters like Saenchai who has over 300 fights on his pro record. That’s fresh Gauze and fresh tape every single time. Needless to say the savings of buying big adds up over the years.
For cornering the actual fight you’ll need some basics. You’ve seen it a million times. The water bottle, some ice, a bucket, towel, Vaseline. Stuff you can get anywhere. One of the more exotic pieces of the corner man’s kit is the end swell. This is a piece of convex iron kept on ice, to be used to control a fighter’ swelling between rounds. The cold causes the blood vessels to contract, hopefully keeping swelling in check as the fight wears on.
Not to mention you are going to need a pair of scissors to cut those wraps off when the fight is done. They are going to need to have a short blade and be sharp enough to cut through many layers of gauze and tape without much room to maneuver them. This pair was made specifically slide underneath a fighters wrap using as little space as possible to cut the tape and wrap and not the fighter. /trainers-scissors/
In the Gym
Let’s start with the striking pads. These are mitts/gloves with padding on the palm side, designed to catch and absorb strikes. These are held by the trainer who calls for a practiced sequence of combined punches and defense. There is usually an understanding or code for combos between both parties, though that bond and fluidity in tandem takes time to build. For the fighter, hitting the mitts is like having a responsive heavy bag giving constant feedback. And it knows what it’s talking about.
For a trainer, holding the pads can be everything from awkward to awesome to downright terrifying. At first holding pads can be a strange and painful experience. First thing is, expect soreness. It’s easy early on for a punch to only catch the edge of the mitt and tweak a wrist or elbow. You should always try to catch the strike so that it’s solid on impact, but there’s still enough give to not damage anything.
Mitts come in many different designs, often with very different applications in mind. We will start with smallest and end with the largest of the striking pads. At the small end of the scale we have the boxing focus mitts. Focus mitts are not much bigger than the surface area of a boxing glove. Focus mitts are smaller to allow a trainer to keep up with the speed and coordination of their student. It also helps the student punch as accurately as possible. /hmit-air-punch-mitts-green/
Then there are the Big Mitts. While normal focus mitts have you slide your hand straight into them, the Big Mitts Have an extra strap that goes around the trainers wrist to ensure the gloves stay firmly on. The Big Mitts also offer a slightly larger surface area than normal focus mitts and a more padding. These are great all round mitts for boxers with big power, who can send a mitt flying if they hit it at the right angle. Kevin Rooney used this style of mitt when holding pads for prime Mike Tyson. /hmit-big-mitts-black/
Then are the Thai pads. These cover the entire forearm and are designed to take just about any strike you can throw at them. Thai Pads will have 1 or 2 straps behind the pad to pass your forearms through. The grip handle as opposed to the flat palm fit in standard mitts ensuring the pad wont slip off when struck. The outside surface of these can be either flat or concave.
While a flat Thai pad absorbs more of the power of the strike, the concave versions do a better job funneling an errant strike into the sweet spot of the pad. While it’s nice to have the extra bit of padding between you and the kick on a flat pad like this… /std-thai-pads-regular/
That said a bit of curvature means it can save you an errant concussion as the Thai pad holder. This can be especially important early on when training a fighter, before you develop that flow with the pads. Before you know just how and where they like to throw their strikes using, concave pads is advisable. /premium-thai-pads-black/
Which leads us beautifully into body protectors. This is protection for the professional Muay Thai or Kickboxing trainer. It allows the most true to life offensive options for you fighter. And the most reliable protection against the power even kicks and knees can generate.
You can get a belly pad style protector which should cover all the soft spots of the human torso. Particular attention and padding is given to the dead center of the abs, and off to each side, extra padding help protect the fragile floating ribs. With a body protector a trainer takes another step to simulating a fight, by turning his own body into the target. /8-muay-thai-belly-pad-black/
When you combine this suit with a pair of Thai pads it allows a fighter to do realistic body work after getting past or clearing out the pads. This simulates creating openings in an opponents defense without the inherent risk of live sparring. These pads are designed to soften the blows and spread the power out. That said compression is still a thing. So if you are not up to taking a bit of a beating yourself, or you are training a much larger fighter. There are safer options.
Since Muay Thai allows attacks below the waist, a good trainer is going to need to pad up downstairs too. Leg kicks are an integral part of the game. The same way the belly pad helps a trainer realistically simulate body shots, the thigh pads are the most accurate way to simulate outside leg kicks.
Inside leg kicks can be tricky to simulate properly for a few reasons. Trying to pad the inside of the thigh can be uncomfortable and limit the trainers mobility. So instead many trainers opt instead to pad their shins, and lift their leg to take the inside kick on the lifted shin. By padding the points of contact it allows those shin on shin collisions to be carried out safely. Never, ever, go shin to shin without padding. /hmit-trainer-leg-pad-system-yellow/
An alternate to the leg and thigh pad is the kick shield. The Kick shield is a large rectangular pad designed to absorb even the heaviest shots a Thai fighter can produce. You can use both handles to catch middle and high kicks, or just one handle to drape the bag over your outer thigh you allow a fighter to work his low kicks. /hmit-yellow-suit-case-kick-shield/