Monthly Archives: May 2015

Tactical Taekwondo Pad work

Padwork is an integral part of TKD training. It is often seen as only having sport application but with a little bit of imagination we can make it suitable training aid to pattern application and self defence.

The drills I am going to talk about are hand orientated I am going to leave the leg drills for another time. Before we get to the drills I think we should look at some equipment prefrences.

The Pads and The Holder

I personally like stiff focus mitts to train punches. I find with softer pads you don’t get the same feedback. Feedback is also important when learning to hold pads for someone. There should be a small amount of tension in your arms when you are holding. Just a little bit of resistance when the punch lands so the puncher can feel how hard the strikes are. If too much the punches can be jammed or the holder can end up generating more power than the puncher. If too loose there is a danger to both the puncher and the holder for injury and strikes will never be delivered at full power as there is nothing to absorb the power. It takes time to get the skills for holding but it is an important aspect of training.


There is some discussion about whether to wear gloves for pad work or not. For me it is a matter of what your goals are in a particular session. If you are going to be working for a long time at your max power then maybe you should protect your hands a little. If you are working on technique then I suggest you go without gloves, this helps better with the form of your hands and hand conditioning. A while back I found after working with gloves for too long that the form of my fist hand changed and still to this day I can spot people in my classes that have maybe over used gloves in their training.

The drills

These are a few examples of drills that I use in my classes. Before doing these drills you should have basic abilities in punching so that you can train safely. Time should be spent just going through basic punching combinations. This is good for the puncher and the holder to practice.

The first two pad drills are taken directly from the techniques shown in the patterns

Stripping and clearing

This drill is essentially to train your non punching hand. The drill starts as normal with the holder presenting the pads to the puncher. Jabs, straights, hooks, and uppercuts can all be used. Randomly the holder also has the choice of holding the pad for a punch but covering it with the other pad. The puncher should then clear the obstructing pad with their non-punching and then delivering the strike. I like to call for multiple strikes each time this happens, you have just cleared a pathway may as well make the most of it.

Pad control

This drill is also based on keeping both hands active. Instead of letting the holder dictate the strike used, the punch takes control of the pad by holding from behind. Essentially grabbing the holder’s hand. The puncher then moves the pad and delivers three fast strikes, then shifts the pad and delivers another three fast strikes. The strikes again range from, jabs, crosses, uppercuts, hooks, and can also include downward hammer fist and various elbow strikes. The changes and strikes should be fast, after all the puncher is punching their own hand the pad is merely in the way.

When you are well practiced at this you should try the same drill with your eyes closed.

Last three strikes of your life

This is for developing power. Once a variety of strikes have been practiced. The holder calls for a strike or punch. The Puncher then deliver three of the prescribed strikes as hard and as fast as possible. As soon as they have finished then another strike should be called. This continues till the power or form of the strikes starts to drop. Then either the partners switch roles or the puncher gets a short break and goes again.


Similar to a boxing drill, during a punching drill the holder can attack the puncher with the pads. They should be strikes aimed and the head and the puncher should cover. The reaction of the puncher should be to either grab, clear or grapple the holder. Not just to ride out the punches and continue.


The holder engages the puncher in conversation. At a random moment the holder bring up the pad and shouts at the puncher. The puncher should respond as quickly as possible in an appropriate manner ie. Striking and backing off. The more relaxed each person can be before the strike is called the better the practice is. This can also be done with multiple people

These are just a few of the pad drill I use with my students to practice movement straight from the patterns. Of course nothing beats live practice but I find padwork an invaluable part of my, and my students, development. I hope you try some of these drills and see how they work into the TKD self defence system


Strength Training

Ok, so the topic of strength training has been covered by many people. Despite this, there still seems to be a little confusion over whether people should train with weights and the benefits of lifting heavy. In this article will be throwing my two cents in to the discussion.

The martial arts world and in fact the world in general has largely opened up to the idea that lifting weights is good for everybody. The idea of the huge, stiff bodybuilder has been replaced by a strong supple muscular human body. The question of should a martial artist should spend some time on strength training should have finally been answered. However, there are still some people that feel it somehow demeans what they do. These are the people that maybe believe that technique is enough and would rather spending their time in seated mediation than sweating in the gym or even the dojang.

Whereas meditation can be seen as an important part of marital arts training, we should not lose the site that our training is physical and having a strong body can only serve to make our practice better.

In my personal practice I use kettlebell training and some basic barbell work. I find the two complement each other and gives me a good balance of general strength and explosive power. Certainly at time when I have gone to training camps I have performed better and been more injury free than I would have been had I not spent some time on strength training.


This is not the whole story, you cannot go in start a strength program and improve.  Our training should be balanced, if we add something to our training then we need to balance it in other areas of what we do.

As an example, a little while ago i was going through a  specific strength training program, through the time spent in the gym gripping the barbell etc. I found that when I was working with my Arnis teacher I started to grip the stick too hard. This made disarming me as simple as snapping a dry twig. I didn’t want to stop my strength training so I had to balance out my training. I believe that this lack of balance in training was more responsible for the ‘stiff muscleman’ image that used to be held up as a reason for not touching weights.

To quote one of the UK’s best throwing and strength athletes you need to pay attention to the 5 Ss, Strength, speed, skill, suppleness, stamina. If you ignore or focus on one of these too much you won’t reach your full potential

One last word on strength training, if you are going to lift weights then learn how to do it right. Find a good instructor and tell them your goals. Lifting weights is as technical and dangerous as practicing martial arts