Taekwondo Training – Using Paddle Pads

Murphy’s Masterclass - Using Paddle Pads

This month we look at the paddle target pad. While the paddle pad is not strictly a focus pad, it still is a very valuable and important piece of equipment. The story behind the paddle is that a group of Korean Taekwondo experts who were looking to warm up prior to an exhibition held a martial arts shoe by the heel and held it so that the wider top end of the shoe could act as a target.

On the market today the improved version has a design that is tailor made for kicking. With a narrow end shaped for the handle and supporting elastic that acts as a tie around the hand should the paddle be knocked from your hand, the top end resembles the top of a small tennis racket. Sometimes this top end is doubled up with a second pad to allow for extra absorpsion.

For the beginner and the intermediate martial artist this piece of equipment is very easy to hold without the fear of getting hurt. It is also easy to quickly to change over to your partner during class and of course it does not hold sweat like the focus pad.



Martial Arts Training Equipment - Holding a Paddle PadWhen holding a paddle target focus pad for turning or roundhouse kicks try and tilt the pad up at an angle to your wrist so the kicker does not kick your hand as your wrist will be in line with his or her kick.






Martial Arts Training Equipment - Holding a Paddle Pad


If the holder is holding the paddle incorrectly the target and his wrist are in line. It is best to hold the paddle tilted to avoid injury.







So how many times do you practice and what drills are beneficial and safe ?

One of the best drills with the paddles is:

  1.  First practice from a stationary position, some standard techniques, like the front kick, jumping back fist, and the turning kick.
  2. Then do the same whilst moving around except it is very important how the commands are called.

For the command of “front kick” the holder holds the paddle flat about waist height to accommodate the front kick.

The easy way is to have the person kicking the paddle call out the commands to the holder. This will build the confidence quickly in the kicker and also keep the holder awake as he or she will have to adjust to holding the paddle to accommodate the kicker’s requests.

Keeping the holder focused on the kicker is important as sometimes the holder loses concentration and may get distracted, especially if not fully involved in the exercise.

The next way is have the instructor count the exact commands. This keeps the intensity of the exercise under control. A good idea to add an extra dimension to the drill is to incorporate switches along with the kicks.

The paddle is a lot safer than most equipment and is ideally suited for practicing all the major kicks especially the spinning variety. It’s safer because it’s easier to hold and the kicking is all directed at the paddle with hardly any need for the holder to absorb any impact from a passionate kicker.

This also helps when partners are of unequal weight and height.

Martial Arts Training Equipment - Using Paddle PadsWhen practising for axe kicks. Hold the opposite way round so you turn the paddle around so that you hold the handle up as high as possible and the round part of the paddle underneath. This is great for axe kicks and is safer for the holder.





Try to build up a number of repetitions when training that is why the paddle is also ideal for inclusion in circuit training for example:

The holder counts out the number of repetitions the kicker performs in one minute while the time is taken by the instructor. A good level would be approximately 90 to 95 turning kicks in one minute.

The same exercise working against the clock can be used to practice the axe kick or the axe kick with a switch. As this could be heavy and unbalanced on one side of the body for as long as a minute, it is still a good exercise for 30 seconds.



The purpose of the paddle is to improve correct distance, timing and accuracy. These three aspects are vital to understand before any sparring is undertaken. For example if someone cannot hit a paddle target correctly at least seven out of ten attempts what is the point of practising with a willing ( mostly unwilling if they know that accuracy is lacking) partner.

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