Quite recently I shared a video on my Instagram account (trainor103) of me doing some combinations for people to practice.

Someone tagged (I’m assuming) their coach in the post and they replied with “we don’t do fixed combinations”.

So I thought I’d address this as I’ve seen a few people try to insinuate that freestyle pads is better than doing repetitive combination drills.

First things first, neither is better than the other and both practice methods should be incorporated into your training.

Fixed combination drills, in my opinion, are beneficial for a number of reasons. The first is being able to get your technique correct when throwing an actual combination in a fluent motion. If you only ever do freestyle pads and you’re working with a not so experienced student, then the chances are that they won’t be able to react to what you want them to do effectively and as they haven’t built up that muscle memory. Having a fixed drill to practice, means that the student can make sure that their position is correct, their mechanics for the techniques are spot on and that they don’t have to be in rush to react to what you want them to do.

Also if any of you have followed my stuff then you’ll be aware I’m pretty big on volume training. This generally helps to increase your overall output in an actual contest. You won’t be able to do this with fluidity with freestyle pad work. The pad holder can try to keep the flow going but the rhythm would not be the same and would have slight pauses between each shot.

As mentioned earlier, fixed drills will also aid the development of muscle memory. This helps massively with offensive attacks and defensive counters. It will also improve your freestyle pad training (which I’ll go over later in the blog).

Freestyle pads…..The people that look down their noses at fixed combination drills are generally the ones that think all training should be done as it is Thailand.

A couple of things here. One: Professional Thai fighters have generally been training since they were kids. Their fixed drill work, which is done differently to the Dutch Kickboxing method, is done at a very early age with them spending hours and hours perfecting the techniques through repetition on the bags or pads. I’ve seen young Thai kids go over jab, cross, body kick for days.

Two: Most fighters have one padman. They will be with this person twice a day, 6 days a week and in most cases for years and years. They will know each other inside and out. The pad holder will be fully aware of what combinations (developed over time via fixed drills) the fighter likes to throw, he’ll also be fully aware of how his fighter moves so will be apt at reading him when he chooses to throw those combinations.

Freestyle pads, when done correctly, can almost mimic a fight, as long as you have a good pad holder. This style of training is fantastic for developing reactive counters and reactive strikes. In combat sports openings aren’t there often so it’s important that you learn to build on this reflex training method.

Again, for this style of training your mechanics of the techniques must be done correctly otherwise you will not get the maximum output that you’re looking for.

As stated earlier I believe both methods should be in your training program. Neither is more important than the other so make sure you find time to fit them in.

Please suggest any other pros and cons for both methods as I’m interested in other people’s opinions.

Fixed combo work with Mohammed Jayara

Freestyle pad work with Saenchai