Kicking Fresh Air Vs Kicking Pads

Discussion in 'General Taekwondo Discussions' started by Kevin, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. Kevin

    Kevin Administrator Staff Member

    At my club in Scotland we always hit pads during training. We'd initially start hitting low to medium kicks and then do higher kicks when we had warmed up. This has always suited me.

    In the past my stretch and control was much better than it is today. This allowed me to train with a partner and fully perform kicking techniques without hurting them as I could control it. At the moment my stretch isn't that great due to an 18 month absence from training. A few years ago I also pulled my hamstring and then popped my calf muscle in the other leg. This has given me much tighter hamstrings because of it though I have noticed a slight improvement over the last month as I've been training (which is encouraging).

    I'm living in Colombia at the moment and attending an WTF club three times a week (I came from an ITF background). The instructor occasionally puts a punching bag up in the but during training we never hit pads. Apart from that, no equipment is ever really used. I think he only brings two pads to the class - back home we have pads for everyone and everything - boxing pads, kicking shields, muay thai pads and lots of mats that we put down for doing MMA drills or just pure BJJ.

    In my current class, rather than punching pads, we normally practice kicks with an opponent. Most days everyone wears body shields which allows us to kick each other in the mid section. This isn't too bad. I would much prefer pads so that I can put more power into my kicks but at least I have a target. More often than not, we are kicking fresh air. Either we are performing a technique against our partner that they have to block or evade, or the partner puts up their hand as a target. I find this very frustrating as this type of drill is suited more towards those that have a good stretch and good technique. At the moment I don't so I feel I can't push myself and it's frustrating the hell out of me.

    I've experienced this in the past. In my experience, kicking pads is a better way to warm up, improve technique and put power into your kicks. Back in the UK, I wasn't known for being a powerhouse, perhaps because the level at my club is pretty high (more black belts than colour belts). After sparring tonight one of the girls and guys were saying that my kicks are really hard. We used to do muay thai style kicks in our class back home and I went to Thailand to do a few months of Muay Thai a few years ago too (where I popped my calf!) so when compared to students from other schools, my kicks are probably a bit more powerful.

    I expect this is more to do with a clash of styles. I haven't trained at other WTF schools before but the one I'm at is very sport orientated. The instructor frequently shows a flashy move that would get you a point in competition. When he does this all I can think is - yeah but you'd get knocked out if you did that in a real fight (or even sparring where punching is allowed).

    Some of the students have great technique though - really fast and accurate. Unfortunately, they have no substance and I reckon many would be in serious trouble if they got into a real fight outside due to their lack of sparring with their hands. Kicking fresh air instead of hitting pads certainly seems to influence the 'flicky flicky' style everyone at the club has. The thing is, if they started hitting pads and brought punching into the class, many students would be leathal.

    Sorry for rabbling on about this :) I'm curious as to what experienced members here think of kicking fresh air compared to hitting pads. Is my view on all of this influenced by my poor stretch or is hitting pads generally a better way to train, improve kicking and become a better fighter?

    (With regards to my club. Yes, it is mostly younger people there and I do think that the focus on point sparring is detrimental to a lot of the students but there aren't any other clubs around here. Everyone is really nice there and I'm planning on travelling in a few months time too so I want to stick it out for another two months. Perhaps if I stick at it I can take many positives from the class and become an overall better fighter) :)

  2. Mick King

    Mick King Member

    Hi Kevin sorry the club you are training with seems to be all about sport,90% of WTF clubs do not train this way however if you want to win competions thats what you have to do,most of us don't. We train the martial art which includes punching to the face, kicking to the leg, kicking from the floor,locks,takedowns,breakfalls,Pattern,one step,pressure point defence ,it seems people watch youtube and assume thats all we do,and we do keep our hands up,only tournament fighters don't because of the way they fight.Full contact sparring is not really full contact as in full contact there are no rules,in a sport there are rules for safety. As for using the paddles and pads we use one or two each,if using bags I prefer to use light bags you can hit hard rather than harder bags which in time will ruin your joints and cartilage.
  3. Kevin

    Kevin Administrator Staff Member

    I agree with you on heavy bags. In thailand there was only one or two bags that were was like they had filled it with concrete. I hurt my hand one day as one of the bags was soft down the bottom but brick hard higher up so when I punched it it felt like I had punched a brick. I don't like soft bags that swing around too much though.

    I don't think Taekwondo is as developed in Colombia as elsewhere. I do enjoy the club but just find many aspects of training there frustrating. The instructor is really flexible but I believe he is simply teaching the way he was trained. He has beautiful kicks but I've seen him punch the heavy bag and he punches like a white belt using strange punches to the mid section.

    It sounds like your school is much more traditional and has more in common with my own club back home where 90% focus is on self-defence rather than competitions. That's what I'm looking for.

    The students at the club here don't ever put their hands up. I was laughing last night as I was sparring with a yellow belt who hadn't been in the class before. As I don't have a dobok, I simply train in shorts and t-shirt, so whenever someone new starts they assume I'm a white belt (or someone who has just come back). I've sparred with others and no punches were ever thrown but he punched me in the stomach (he had a body guard, I didn't) and started doing all this Bruce Lee style feints to try and get me to attack....I was just looking at him strangely as he was doing it from 5 feet away! I got the impression he thought he was a movie star doing all this or was just trying to impress the new guy.

    I asked him if punching was permitted and he said yes so when he got close I jumped in and started throwing punches to the stomach (not hard, I'm not a bully) and he didn't know how to deal with it. After that, he didn't throw any more punches. He actually seemed like a nice guy though I find it funny that many people in classes only look at the other persons belt to determine how good the person is. At this club, this is certainly not the case.

    There's a white belt that's probably good enough to be a green belt, a green belt that should be a white and one of the nicest guys at the club is only yellow belt but if he didn't have the belt round his waist I would have guessed he was a blue or red belt at least as his reverse turning kick is awesome and he has great awareness about when to get out of the way of kicks etc.
    Mick King likes this.
  4. Randy

    Randy New Member

    Hi I'm in Colombia right now also, where about are you at, what city? I just started TKD and came across this post on my FB page and I'm very interested to know also an option to your question.
  5. Leighton

    Leighton Member

    Pads or air? I think pads are great for working on power and getting the speed upto scratch as you have an object to aim for where kicking to the air is better for working on the technical aspects. When teaching I have seen it where if you put a pad infront of someone they want to just pummel it, where if told to show a kick to the air alot more control is put into the kick as the concentration on technique can be better.
    Mark 42 likes this.
  6. Kevin

    Kevin Administrator Staff Member

    I'm staying in a small town just north of Bogota. :)
  7. Kevin

    Kevin Administrator Staff Member

    That's something I hadn't considered but I think you are right. I know that with a pad I do place more focus on power than technique.
    Mark 42 likes this.
  8. Johnno

    Johnno New Member

    I used to kick heave bags a lot, and was pretty happy with myself power wise, but found that it made me over reliant on having that heavy weight to stop me, rather than staying balanced through the kick. So if I missed a kick sparring I was more likely to throw myself off balance. I always had trouble kicking air, but found doing it, especially going through the motion really slowly, got my technique and balance back.
  9. Kevin

    Kevin Administrator Staff Member

    Perhaps I'm trying to avoid my problem by wanting to kick pads. Suppose there's an argument to be made that by relying on heavy bags and pads more to train you are likely to have more power but less technique.
    Mark 42 likes this.
  10. Leighton

    Leighton Member

    Kicking as slow as possible, to the air, I find is a great way to work on technique, balance and also leg strength as Johnno has said. I do this as a warm up and find it works rather well :)
  11. tkdlisa

    tkdlisa New Member

    A combination of air-kicks and use of bags/pads develops technique and power. My school is very focused on power so every class we kick with pads.
  12. Luke

    Luke New Member

    Hi first post for me :) After six years of WTF TKD I stopped and had a long break. Now Im back and more keen then ever. Working my way back up from white belt again, now red tip.

    I think a balanced mix of both kicking air and pads is best way of obtaining the most power and best technique. I find that hitting pads is very effective way to learn to judge distance. I think if you have a balanced mix of tag sparring and traditional training, they tend to compliment each other. In a street fight, tag sparring catch up and avoiding techniques would be very useful and combined with traditional techniques (including punches) TKD is a very effective form of martial art.
    crdomke likes this.
  13. Kevin

    Kevin Administrator Staff Member

    TKDLisa/Luke - Welcome to the forums :)

    @Luke - Good to see you get back into it. Have you found some elements of it frustrating since returning (i.e. lack of stretch).
  14. dojo

    dojo Member

    I think both are good to do, but I'd like to see more 'pads' and bags in the class, that's for sure. Not having too much access to these doesn't help a martial artist getting used to the feeling of hitting something and the small discomfort/pain that you get from doing it.I recall my first time at a bag was pretty tough, since it would really hurt punching and kicking it. Not to mention I almost broke my wrist, not being used to hitting something 'solid' :D
  15. Luke

    Luke New Member

    @Kevin - Well I've noticed no real difference from when I used to do it. We do a quick warm up and stretch for about 5-10mins. After that we go through kicks and punches, bag work, patterns, fitness and free sparring. That is pretty much how the class runs most sessions. I also attend the sparring classes which souley focusses on catch up techniques, contact sparring and drills which includes bag / paddle work. Lots of fun!

    I find that a bit of home stretching helps with flexibility too.

    The only differences I've noticed since starting again is the forward stance has been shortened and some of the patterns have changed. Of course instructional technique is differs wherever you go, but Im lucky to have a very professional well organised instructor.
  16. Kevin

    Kevin Administrator Staff Member

    Cool. Sounds like you're at a good club. I quite like the idea of having a class focused solely on sparring, bag work etc.

    I used to be proactive and go to the gym in between training days in order to do some cardio and stretch. Not so much anymore as I've been busy with work etc.
  17. crdomke

    crdomke New Member

    Leighton said:
    Pads or air? I think pads are great for working on power and getting the speed upto scratch as you have an object to aim for where kicking to the air is better for working on the technical aspects. When teaching I have seen it where if you put a pad infront of someone they want to just pummel it, where if told to show a kick to the air alot more control is put into the kick as the concentration on technique can be better.

    This is how our school practices. More air kicks for the beginners, more pads and partner kicking with sparring gear for the higher belts.
  18. Laurinda

    Laurinda New Member

    Crikey Luke! 5-10 minutes warm up! Our training sessions go for 1.5 - 2 hours, and the first 30-40 minutes are warm-ups and stretches. If it's cold or some people need to re-focus, we can sometimes have another stretching session part-way through.

    We usually do air kicking/punching to work on technique, even slow motion and 'holding' a kick midair, then we would break off in pairs and work on pads hard out.
  19. Christopher Halpin

    Christopher Halpin New Member

    Last night my class included seven stations of different workouts. We went through this twice the second time with different exercises. My whole body is sore today. Im just starting my second week of training after a long break maybe a half year or more. My technique is great but my back kick is iffy. I have to learn to throw it the right way. My instructor is a 4th dan and Ive known him since age 12 so I am excited again to train in forms. Im now 23.
  20. Mark 42

    Mark 42 Member

    When we first looked for a school for our kids, I thought I wanted them to do more traditional and
    self defense oriented martial arts. Long story short, eventually we changed and wanted something
    sport oriented (it is our kids' home school P.E. class).

    We may do another martial art in the future, but right now, WTF (Olympics) style TKD is
    just the ticket for us. I joined in for the exercise of it, and really enjoy it.

    We mostly kick at pads. On occasion, we do kicks in the air to refine motion & technique.

    I find that I use Poomses to work on refining my technique. I think poomses are a missed
    opportunity for a lot of students - they want to learn the motions well enough to pass
    the next belt test. I have an advantage in the fact that I practice every day at work,
    and I am very detail oriented. I watch videos on Youtube of TKD masters and study
    every movement. I also break down my movements into each individual movement
    and analyze them closely.

    For example, I noticed something, and it was like making a scientific discovery!

    I was practicing Taeguk Il Jang and Ee Jang... I didn't like what my hands were
    doing when I was doing the front kicks (they were close together, in front of me).
    So I thought about it, and figured they probably should be in the position they
    would be in when actually using the technique (e.g. sparring and when we
    kick pads in class).

    So I started to go from whatever movement was before the kick into a fighting
    stance with my hands up, one slightly forward and higher than the other hand.

    As I was doing it, I thought I noticed something - I said to myself "AHA!...
    if what I think is true really is true - I just may have made a huge discovery"

    So I tested my hypothesis, and it held true!

    What I discovered was... whatever hand is active in the move before a kick -
    whether it's a block or a punch - if I bring that active hand up and forward,
    it will put my hands in the best position for the move after the kick.

    If there is a punch after the kick, this always puts the punching hand
    back so that the punch will have speed and power.

    I talked to the instructor about it, and he was quite surprised (impressed?)
    that I discovered that on my own. The discover really brought me a huge amount
    of personal satisfaction. It made me feel encouraged that I actually am improving...
    not only in skills (though I have a really long way to go), but in understanding
    and in putting things together in ways that make tactical sense.

    These kinds of mindsets (the ability to link moves logically and tactically) should
    improve my sparring - I hope.

    So, for me, the poomses have provided a great supplement to kicking the pads.
    Pads are giving me power (which is a strong point for me anyways - I have to
    watch myself because I have enough power to injure myself easily - need to
    get more toughness to withstand the pounding I can give myself).
    Poomses are giving me precision and fluidity as well as helping me to learn
    the correct techniques and transition into muscle memory.

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