Out With The Old – Pad Holding 2.0

The following post is written by amateur fighter and founder of VSL Fighting Equipment, Stephane Smarth

manny pacquiao freddie roach trainingAs a fighter there are always things we need to worry about when it comes to being 100% ready for training and or competition.

Whether we’re focused on our diet, performing proper warm up drills to get our muscles loose, executing perfect technique, or all of the above, fighters will do whatever it takes to make sure they perform at their max potential;

But what about their trainers and coaches?

It’s easy to forget about the guys that make it possible for fighters to excel the way they have, but coming from a person who has a lot of experience in each aspect of fighting, I understand both worlds.

If you YouTube videos of Floyd and Roger Mayweather or Freddy Roach and Manny Pacquiao, you will watch some of the most jaw dropping mitt work between fighter and coach.

While their work is nothing short of amazing, trainers have to endure a lot more punishment than people think.  It’s the price you pay for being a trainer, but at what cost?  The most common complaints as a trainer—and even as a fighter—are pain in the hands, shoulders and elbows.

Think about it.

In a simpler explanation, you put your hand inside a two inch foam padded, leather or vinyl mitt and instruct someone to hit it with as much force and as many times as you can, from all sorts of angles.  Let’s say the person you’re training is a novice and is just learning the ropes, well then it’s not so bad.


How about a professional whose life is dedicated to this one sport? Now you’re talking about a great amount of impact on your joints on a daily basis

Sure there are several theories and practices of how to properly use focus mitts and prevent injuries.  The most common one is that when using focus mitts it is important to not just hold them, but to also “feed” them into punches.  This balances out the force delivered by the fighter and prevents injuries to both parties, but despite reducing a good amount of impact utilizing this method there is impact nonetheless.  What if there were a new training tool that could take away more of the impact on the trainer, without taking anything away from the fighter?

Queue in…The HITSTIX.

For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. In other words, the force delivered by a fighter striking a focus mitt is equal to the force received by the trainer holding them.

As a trainer and an active fighter I’ve been on both sides of a focus mitt, but I prefer delivering the blow.  It’s not fun holding for some of the hard hitting fighters I’ve held pads for and I’ve taken a ton of abuse over the years; primarily in my elbows.

hiitstix boxing equipmentMy boxing coach and VSL co-owner, Joey Valle, has also experienced the same types of injuries.  So one day we devised a plan to create a tool that would help minimize some of the impact on our joints and prevent further damage.  After almost a year of drawing, planning, nearly a dozen prototypes and testing, I am proud to finally introduce to you our finished product; The HITSTIX.

The HITSTIX were created with both the trainer and fighter in mind.  As a trainer we wanted to take away impact, but as a fighter we didn’t want to lose the feeling of our knuckles digging into the pads when we threw with power.

The idea was to take our hands away from the point of impact by creating long, tubular, mitts.  In doing so, the point of impact wouldn’t be directly behind our hands, but rather at the top of the HITSTIX.

We also wanted it to give enough resistance for a fighter so they did not lose any power while also maintaining great response and feed back so fighters did not lose speed either.  Here’s the bonus part.  Its sleek design has a reduced target area so you will also increase accuracy!

A tough, vinyl finish at the top of the HITSTIX gives it strength, sturdiness and longevity.  We also added an adjustable strap and finger loops, which help with maintaining great handling capabilities, as well as a non-slip, anti-sweat grip at the base of the HITSTIX, which gives added support and control.

stephane smart vsl fightingThere is no doubt that focus mitts will always be a primary training tool when it comes to all combat sports.  We certainly aren’t trying to replace them and I’d be lying if I said we were.  We just want to give people options and be the solution to a problem.  I love working on focus mitts—as a fighter.  However, as a trainer I prefer to take as little to no impact when holding for my fighters or clients so the HITSTIX are perfect for me.

The HITSTIX are truly a mark of innovation.  There are a lot of great benefits using them.  If you don’t believe me, get a pair today at www.vslfighting.com and you be the judge.  You won’t be disappointed!

To find out more about Stephane, his company, and the HITSTIX, listen to my podcast interview with him where he goes into even further detail about his career, VSL equipment and more.

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Sean Fagan
Sean "Muay Thai Guy" Fagan owns & operates the largest online Muay Thai community and the #1 training resource for nak muay of all levels.

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