Just like coaches have to be able to adapt to the different needs of each student, pads need to come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate these differences as well. It would be almost impossible to purchase every type and style, so we’ve asked experts who coach Muay Thai and MMA what Thai pads they prefer to use.
Almost exclusively, Muay Thai and MMA agree that brand names rule when it comes to Thai pads. Even though there is variation on brand choice, the general consensus is that Thai brands come closest to that perfect balance of padding, protection and being lightweight. The padding might seem an obvious feature to consider, but why care about the weight? Remember this, Muay Thai and MMA coaches hold these Thai pads day in and day out. Imagine holding pads for up to 20 students a day, 3+ rounds a piece, and there’s your answer.
Fairtex Thai Pad Reviews (from 5 coaches):
- Jonathan Balgame of Fight Capital training Center, Las Vegas, NV
- Jason Andrada of Fight Capital Training Center (Current pro Muay Thai fighter Alexander Palma of Blue Ocean Muay Thai San Diego, CA
- Larry Maxon of Longview Mma/Team 515 Longview, TX
- Chadrick Turner of CBT Muay Thai, Fort Hood, TX
- “I usually have my particular favorites and have been sticking to them. I break it down like this, when it comes to equipment manufacturers, there are those that specialize in equipment for the coach/trainer and or equipment for the athlete. Fairtex makes a decent job at balancing their equipment to meet the demands of both end users.” – Coach Alexander Palma
- “Fairtex has been my favorite so far…I also have a custom hybrid pair from Trevor Whittman but most of my time has been spent on the Fairtex. Also, I would recommend the super thigh pads by Fairtex.” –Larry Maxon[Related: If you want to check out how custom pads are done and wish to enquire with Trevor, here’s a video showing him making some for Duane Ludwig https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCnvEqEeL3c.]
- “I like the Fairtex curved pads. Durable and comfortable to hold.” – Jason Andrada
With a large vote for Fairtex, the only difference tends to be in what size the coaches use, with most preferring the smaller sized pads (double strap to single strap). Besides Fairtex, a few coaches offered up other suggestions in Thai brands that were either their preferred choice or a close second.
- “I actually have a pair of Thai made Everlast that are very similar to my top Kings in every way except for weight. I’ve had them since 2012. They’re light yet durable. They appear to be the exact same design as those Windy (Thai pads).” – Manalo Hernandez, coach at San Diego Combat Academy Hernandez has a pair of small Everlast Thai pads actually made in Thailand. It’s interesting because Everlast doesn’t typically make long lasting or high-quality equipment other than certain more expensive types of gloves. They usually stick with lower cost material for the average consumer to be able to afford at such retail places as Big 5.Everlast used to make equipment with quality material in Thailand, to Thai standards. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the case. However, Manolo loves his pair of pads (you can actually see him use them in promo spots promoting Bellator’s upcoming rematch between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie).
- “I like them (K-Pads) because they absorb a good kick for the size. Lightweight. K-Pads are not…well the easiest way I can describe it is, they’re easier on you if you’ve put in your time, and can kind of ride the wave a bit better, if that makes sense. I’ve seen a student or two at the gym hold them, and the first kick lands and the holder’s eyes get that really big eyed shocked look. But they’re good for being small.” – Coach Bryan Popejoy of Boxing WorksK Pads is not a brand that many people have ever heard of outside of Thailand and for those that have, they quickly find out how hard K Pads can be to obtain. K Pads are a very small brand of Thai pad sold in various sizes (along with belly pads) and are handmade in a small Thai shop. These are the pads of a lot of trainers off the grid in Thailand who have to spend their own money on pads, instead of being sponsored by a company who gives them a pair.Buyers beware, there are plenty of Australian-made K Pad knockoffs online. Bryan Dobler (Head coach and owner of Double Dose Muay Thai) has said that for knockoffs they’re actually alright, close if not better in quality than some western brands out there.
Honorable Mentions: Thai Pad Reviews
Top King showed strong as Mark Beecher of Houston, TX at Revolution Dojo and soon to be Hyena Muay Thai and Marcus Oakley (aka Charlie Hustle in Fishers, IN) and myself all love these. Windy (one of my personal favorites and my longest lasting pair of pads, both light weight and strong at medium/small size) and Twins (one of Jonathan Balgame’s favorites) also made the list.
Nods to Western Brands: Thai Pad Reviews
Both Ring to Cage and Triumph united got the nod for good resilient pads that handle punishment without transferring it to the wearer. These were second choices but were endorsed quickly as pads to get if you can’t afford to get the brands mentioned above.
Personally, I’ve used both brands and have a pair of RtC pads that work very well when I don’t have my favorites with me. Both Triumph United and RtC have a whole line of different sizes and set ups, so you can easily find a pair to fit you.
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