Focus mitts and chest protectors (don’t confuse these with belly pads which are used primarily with Thai pads and only cover the stomach) are primarily used by boxing coaches to improve their fighters punching power and accuracy. Focus mitts are smaller than Thai pads and consist of a padded target attached to a glove. They are usually, but not always, used in conjunction with a chest protector. Chest protectors cover the chest, stomach and sides to allow the trainee more realistic target options.
Interestingly, when I originally asked these coaches about pads I was referring specifically to Thai pads. What ended up happening was an almost forum-like discussion about what they felt were some limitations with Thai and belly pads, and what focus mitts and chest protectors did to address those issues.
Fairtex Muay Thai Focus Mitt Reviews
One coach in particular, Jason Farrell , uses mitts and a chest protector almost exclusively (sometimes with a Fairtex leg pad). “That’s my preference for the most part. As realistic targets as possible. Every now and then I’ll switch it up.” He says that with Thai pads, “I feel like it’s hard to create a similar surface to what you are actually kicking when you kick a body. And I feel like you can’t catch punches right with them, and I like punches haha.”
There’s a whole slew of styles used by coaches worldwide when it comes to focus mitts, but the most common are the panther style mitts. These are a slightly curved mitt with extra padding in the palm and at the wrist to accommodate a stronger puncher. Mini focus mitts are another popular style used more for speed and accuracy because of their smaller profile.
What I found just as interesting, is how western brands quickly closed the performance gap when compared to Thai brands in this particular category. Unlike with the Thai pads, where the Thai brands dominated, western brands held equal weight with these coaches.
Ring to Cage (RtC) Muay Thai Focus Mitt Reviews
Ring to Cage (RtC) was the overall favorite brand. RtC, a gear company specializing in fight gear for mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and Muay Thai, is located in New Jersey, USA.
I myself have a few styles of mitts by RtC, ranging from Thai pads, to panther style mitts to mini focus mitts. Unlike some more famous western brands made for boxing, RtC has modeled themselves after Thai style and quality. This sets them apart, at least in the western region.
Larry Maxon (Muay Thai and striking for MMA coach at Long View MMA, Longview, TX) also uses focus mitts from RtC along with some of their other equipment, “…really happy with 99% of what I’ve got from them.”
Honorable Mentions: Muay Thai Focus Mitt Reviews
Another strong western brand choice is the Leone Curved Mini Mitts used by Chadrick Turner (Muay Thai coach out of Fort Hood, TX), he says “Best pair I’ve owned so far…best middle ground for absorption and profile.”
Coach Jonathan Balgame (Fight Capitol Las Vegas, NV) likes the same style but from either Ringside or Title boxing, saying “I’ve been using mini hand mitts for a long time and Title or Ringside are great for precision. Not too much for power, just speed and timing.”
One Thai brand stood out among all the western brands in the mini mitts category: Boon’s mini curved focus mitts. Both Alexander Palma (Blue Ocean Muay Thai San Diego, CA) and Marcus Oakley (aka Charlie Hustle, Goblin Muay Thai) swears by them and I’ve become a fan recently as well. With a thicker profile than my RtC minis, they absorb hard shots better than what most mini mitts are intended for. Marcus says, “My favorite focus mitts are my Boon focus mitts.” Alexander “I personally use the Boon mini focus mitts or the Ringside mini mitts for punch speed and punch frequency drills. I also like them for clinching and elbows. I use the body shield with the mitts if the knees are added…”
My RtC minis hold up well to even middle-weights, but these little Boons feel like you could even use them against heavy-weights. It’s probably just a figment of my imagination, but there’s a feeling of Thai durability to them that I don’t get from many other pads I’ve used. They feel like they weren’t just made with the enthusiast in mind, but for the coach that has the type of fighters that show up every day to grind it out.
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