Martial arts involve a wide variety of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows, so targets and shields play a critical role in effective training. Although both targets and shields are handheld items, they have very different applications in martial arts training. You may find that investing in both is worth your while.
Types of Targets
Targets provide a visible object where you can direct your strikes. Many targets are handheld or strap onto the body; however, some types are stationary, so you can practice without a sparring partner.
- Hand Paddle: This type of target is handheld and easy to use. Your partner holds the paddle and you direct your strikes at it. Paddles such as the ProForce® Lightning Single Hand Paddle are usually oblong, which directs hits away from your opponent’s arms.
- Striking Ball: These items are not only small enough to function as targets, but also have many similarities to training bags. You fasten the balls to the ceiling and floor to keep them in place and direct strikes at the target. They provide a smaller target, forcing you to deliver more precise strikes, and are great options for smaller spaces where you cannot install a full-sized training bag.
- Target Pads: Target pads are a mix between shields and hand paddles. Your opponent straps these onto his or her forearm, giving you a more realistic target for strikes. Some pads even wrap around training bags, posts, and other objects in the gym.
- Shock Bag: This type of target is lightweight and is handy to install at home. You can hang shock bags such as the ProForce® Vinyl Shock Bag in a door frame or closet and use it to practice punches.
Types of Shields
When it comes to training, shields are similar to targets in that they provide safe points of impact for strikes. However, they also serve a protective purpose for the holder; shields protect the holder from the strikes of their partners. Shields are also useful for sword and staff-based martial arts, as they keep the hard surfaces of these weapons from bruising the skin. AWMA carries several types of shields.
- Strike Shield: A strike shield such as the ProForce® Round Strike Shield looks much like a padded version of a traditional combat shield. It is usually round, and you hold it on your forearm. This equipment is great for protecting against strikes and blows from wooden swords or staffs and helps you safely learn how to block against these attacks. It also works well as a target.
- Thai Pads: Thai pads are most common in Muay Thai training but can also be used in other martial arts. These strap around your forearms and include handles so that you can hold them firmly in place. They are used as targets for those throwing strikes and offer protection from strikes for pad holders, allowing them to work on their blocks without injuring their arms.
- Body Shield: There are a variety of body shields available. Some of these look like larger versions of Thai pads and strap around your forearms, whereas others are even larger and strap around your torso. Body shields protect more of your body from strikes.
Training with Targets and Shields
Although it is possible to practice new techniques without targets or shields, these training accessories help reduce the likelihood of injury and add to the peace of mind of all practitioners. Asian World of Martial Arts (AWMA) offers a wide range of high-quality protective products to add to your training equipment collection.