Taekwondo Training using Kickshields and Airshields

MARTIAL ARTS ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE, December 2003, Vol.16, No.7, p.108 -109.

In this article, Frank Murphy’s Masterclass goes into detail about the use of larger equipment in the training dojo such as airshields and kickshields. He writes about  how to hold the equipment safely and get the best results for the different types of kicks, which mainly apply to Taekwondo, Kickboxing or any kicking within the martial arts.  For the full article with pictures click on the image of this Martial Arts Illustrated magazine or continue to read below:


This is the fourth article we have covered on equipment and this month we look at air shields or the larger target pad. As the name suggests this means a target pad full of air but some of the larger and squarer types, although they may be called airshields may be filled with lightweight padding.

Although there are many types on the market the two most common are the curved version and the straight square version.

If you ever look at the old photos of Bruce Lee in training he used about every size and dimension of airshield that he could find or devise to enhance a wide variety of kicks. Now while we all just want to kick the thing, holding one is something a lot of us either picked up along the way or we just take for granted that everyone knows how to hold one.

However if you are an instructor holding any type of training equipment to benefit the wide range of kicking techniques is not something to take for granted. In today’s litigation society proper care in holding airshields is a must and will ensure that training is carried safely.


The way an airshield is held really depends on how or what kick is practiced and from which angle the kick is coming from. For example holding a curved shield for a roundhouse or turning kick is fine but would be awkward as a target for a straight kick like a back kick.



This is ideal for kicks of a circular nature, for example the turning or roundhouse kick, the hooking kick and the spinning reverse turning kick. Because it’s light, it can easily be held away from your body, offering the kicker a few alternative angles. Most shields will have two vertical straps at the bottom and one horizontal strap at the top.

In Figure One (1) Take position on your favourite and strongest side and adopt a stance that will offer maximum support. Because it’s light you can hold the shield away from your body slightly out to the side. Insert one arm at the bottom and connect with the two bottom straps and hold the top strap supporting your forearm with your elbow. Remember also to make sure that you can clearly see the kick coming.

This is ideal for turning kicks, and if a line of let’s say four shields are used it makes for a really good workout for eight students working in a line, and the changeover should be quick.


I would not recommend however that you use the same airshield for a straight kick as in Figure Two (2) which shows a sidekick being delivered. Because of the curved shape at the edges there is a greater chance of connecting and landing awkwardly.

It allows no margin for error as the blade of the foot must connect bang on in the middle of the shield. If the kicker and the holder are not concentrating totally,

accuracy is diminished and slipping off the shield and landing badly may result. For the side kick it is best to use the square target shield.



Figure three (3) shows the correct way to hold this type of square type of target shield. Although it may be a little heavy it is a larger target and therefore easier to connect with front and side kicks. Not only does this build confidence and accuracy but also offers less risk of injury. Again take up your strongest position, or your favourite side, taking hold of the straps and holding the shield fairly tightly into your body. Once again make sure that both kicker and holder can clearly see each other.

Figure four 4) shows an alternative position using the square target shield for low roundhouse kicks. Holding a shield this way for these low kicks allows the holders legs to bend and absorb the impact.

Note: One word that is very important when it comes to using focus pads and shields is intensity. The amount of power used in your training should vary from hitting with full force to holding your chambering knee up high and flicking your kicks and punches to the target. For example against the shield in figure four (4) an alternative to blasting the target with a hard side kick would be to stand next to the target and execute a jump back kick while spinning away from the target. This type of training still uses the shield but gives the kicker a handicap and the holder a brief respite.

Finally thanks to those readers who e mailed and enjoyed this series of articles. A number of your questions will be addressed in next months Masterclass which will focus on getting a really good workout while avoiding injuries, entitled and Equipment Sweating and Safety.

Frank Murphy will celebrate thirty years of training in 2004. Founder of Family Martial Arts International he has recently expanded to pioneering inspirational debate for the Martial arts industry in Europe. Founder of a dynamic new system which keeps students active, his company offers weekend or midweek intensive courses with nationally recognised certification in Kai Zen Do. Available for seminars and instructors workshops he can be contacted on 01474 326967 or e mail him on  mbs.blackbelt@virgin.net or visit www.familymartialarts.co.uk.


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