Holding Focus Mitts for Kickboxing 101

Training in Jeet Kune Do is doubly hard compared to most traditional martial arts because, with its emphasis on partner training, you have to become a good Trainer as well as a student. And holding equipment for your partner is as much an artform as striking the damn things.

But the better you are at holding pads for your partner, the better they’ll hold the pads for you. And the more others will want to train with you.

So here are some tips to get you started with holding Focus Mitts, one of the most common, most useful, and most complicated training tools there is for Kickboxing.

Tip #1:  Learn the 6 Basic Focus Mitt Positions
Before you try to learn every single way to hold the mitts for every single punch or kick, you might want to spend some time getting good at holding for these basic 6 lines:

Rear Uppercut
Lead Round Kick
Rear Round Kick
These are the most common lines you’ll set for your partner, and they are easily sufficient for leading your partner through a full kickboxing workout.

Tip #2:  Know what techniques set up for others
First, the Jab is the staple set-up punch.

Second, every right-side strike sets up for a left-side strike, and every left-side strike sets up for a right-side one.

And third, make note of any two strikes that flow together in your own training and try them out on your partner. For instance, I love throwing a rear uppercut followed by a cross. It’s a bit unorthodox, but since it works for me, I enjoy using it for my partners.

Tip #3:  Create Stems
One of the biggest issues people have when holding mitts is coming up with combos, especially complex combos.

Sometimes half the round can be spent trying to think of a good one, then trying to get your training partner on the same page with you.

Instead, I recommend building off of stems.

When I say “stems” I mean start with something really basic, like a Jab-Cross-Hook.

Then add 1 or 2 techniques after a few times of doing the initial combo–the “stem”.

Say you add a Weave-Hook. So now you have Jab-Cross-Hook-Weave-Hook.

Once that one flows well, add more. For instance, Cross-Pivot Step-Cross.

Now you’ve got Jab-Cross-Hook-Weave-Hook-Cross-Pivot Step-Cross.

Maybe finish with a Lead Round Kick.

An entire round can be built off of a single stem, then come up with a new one for the next round.

In the end, you want to give your partner an experience similar to sparring, where they’re combining offense with defense as well as movement.

The more you can develop your mitt holding skills, the more easily you can spend your time during the round focusing on moving with your partner and helping them fix any holes in their offense or defense.

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