Here’s a clip I recently made during my Sanshou class. I’m the pad man and am using the focus mitts to drill in some basics with some of my students.
Some more info on why I’m doing the specific work with each student:
- Simon’s still in his early development as a fighter and has a couple of technical issues he needs to work on (releasing the hips and rear shoulder for one) but that wasn’t my focus in this round.
- The goal was footwork: I wanted him to feel the contrast between stepping in and out with a punch, stationary striking and moving forward continuously. These are three very different things.
- This forces him to become more fluid in his stance and footwork, which is the most important issue he needs to work on right now.
- Kevin has a tendency to “launch” his techniques instead of driving them from his feet through his body, to the arms or legs. As a result, he often has a hard time controlling them. This in turn leaves him vulnerable to counters every time he has to put extra effort in staying in balance before retracting a technique. Power is great but it’s nothing without control.
- That’s why I made him do knees and middle kicks on the focus mitts, right after he does the punch. This forces him to stay in balance during the punches or he won’t be able to perform the kick or knee strike.
- I have to correct him a few times on his loss of balance (hanging in the right cross, switching feet during the cross) because otherwise the whole goal of this round is out the window.
- As a pad man, the way you correct somebody is just as important as the fact that you’re doing it. You see me quickly demonstrating both the mistake and the correction, along with verbal cues to be as clear as possible. This is the approach that works best with Kevin right now. As he progresses, he’ll learn to take corrections with just a few words from me or a quick demo of the mistake alone.
- Yannick has fast footwork and moves well enough so I didn’t have to focus on those issues with him. His biggest issue right now is a tendency to retreat as he defends against a punch or kick. That’s not necessarily bad but it does make it more difficult for him to counter-attack.
- I had to cut half the footage with him because we went out of the camera frame for a long time. But you still catch it in the end: I tell him to stay put and then immediately advance with the punch.
- This forces him to do something he isn’t comfortable with right now and gives him the confidence to slowly implement it into his game.
The whole purpose of being a pad man is not just holding the focus mitts in the air and let your partner or student hit them. On the contrary, you have to think about it and have specific goals in mind when you work with somebody. These goals and the methods you use to achieve them are always tailored to the individual in front of you. That takes some effort on the part of the pad man but it’s a crucial issue. Otherwise you’re just going through the motions or you make him train something that’s not a priority for him at that time.
For lots more information on how to hold the focus mitts and other equipment, check out my Pad Man instructional video.