Martial arts targets have a long history of use for military training. Some kind of target or dummy is used for practice and endurance. Heavy bags, targets and other apparatuses are important training devices. For example a punching bag is a martial arts target and so is a strike shield and a human shape grappling dummy.

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Generally targets consist of a bag usually filled with cloth rag and/or foam and are either suspended from an overhead support beam, wall hanger, hand held or free standing. Whatever kind of martial arts target you choose it is important that it is designed to accommodate the level of punishment you plan to dish out without breaking the target or your hand or foot. To maximise efficiency it helps to know each kind of martial arts target and what they are supposed to be used for. The toughest bags that handle the heaviest of hits from multiple users are the larger punching bags that hang from an overhead beam. The reason the big hanging punching bags can take more punishment is simply because they are able to swing freely enabling them to absorb much more impact than a bag that is on the ground or attached to a stand or heavy base or to the wall. For the purposes of this discussion consider all punching bags, belly pad body guards, boxing balls, grappling dummies, ground and pound bags, kung-fu dummies, re-breakable boards, focus mitts, strike pads and shields, target station stands and wall mounted targets. One of the most extensive range of martial arts target can be found on the Universal Self Defence online web store and delivered to your door to most locations throughout Australia. One great way to save on long distance shipping costs is to purchase an unfilled empty punching bag, as they are easy to fill yourself with old clothes stripped up into cut rags. Cut rags and left over offcuts are readily available from most clothing manufacturers or secondhand clothes shops.

All Punching Bags
Punching bags were traditionally a round cylinder shape rock solid heavy bag that hung from an overhead beam with chains or ropes. They were primarily used to toughen hands or build strength. The old style heavy punching bags were so big and condensed only trained adults could use them. Improper use would often damage the fighter more than the punching bag. As times changed, punching bags became more purpose built to suit the needs of the users. Modern day punching bags incorporate many different shapes, sizes and configurations. Whilst the traditional round cylinder shape bag is still the most popular, punching bags are no longer filled with sand or sawdust but usually with cut rag cloth so they do not compact like concrete. Punching bags are still relatively heavy and solid but are now made to absorb impact more. This actually makes your bones and muscles stronger when hitting a firm but not rock hard bag as it takes away the damaging jarring of the joints whilst providing enough impact to increase the density of the bone fibre. Also to protect muscles and joints from repetitive strain injury the use of bag gloves and hand wraps is highly recommended. Good quality large punching bags also now come with a steel ring around the top or maybe foam lined so they are able to maintain their overall shape better right to the top of the bag. Some of the purpose built custom Australian made punching bag shapes available at Universal Self Defence are teardrop, bowling pin, hourglass, mushroom, wrecking ball, vertical uppercut, horizontal uppercut and human shape punching bags.

Belly Pad Body Guards
Belly pads and body guard protectors are used mostly by trainers and coaches for combination target practice drills. They are often used whilst holding focus pads or kick pads so the fighter has more targets to play with. Belly pads and body guard protectors provide the most realistic body shot angles because they are worn around an actual human. Boxers favour the belly pad whilst kickboxers like the full body guard protector as there is more target area for kicking. All trainers love using the belly pads and body guard protectors because the fighter can hit them as hard as they like without the trainer feeling much at all. Also the trainer can imitate real fight situations by moving around and changing positions forcing the fighter to use his footwork, timing and accuracy and improve his angles of attack. Not hard to see why these well designed martial arts training targets available at Universal Self Defence are so popular with both the martial arts trainer and their students.

Boxing Balls
There are two main types of boxing balls, a speed ball and a floor to ceiling boxing ball. Speed balls are attached by a high speed swivel to a horizontal platform usually coming out from the wall. As the name suggest, the speed ball can move at lighting fast speeds rebounding off the speed ball platform when punched repeatedly by an experienced user. Use of the speed ball teaches the fighter to hold their hands up high even when exhausted and improves eye hand coordination. The floor to ceiling boxing ball is sometimes referred to as a crazy ball as it can go in erratic directions when not hit properly. Once the user gets the timing right, which does not take long, the floor to ceiling ball is actually better than the speed ball for improving the technique of hitting a moving target. Also the fighter can incorporate more realistic footwork and punching combinations once in sync with the way the floor to ceiling ball moves. Universal Self Defence not only has big range of boxing balls to choose from but also the speed ball platforms, swivels and all the attachments you need to set up a boxing ball either at home or in a commercial gym.

There are various examples of human body shaped training aids that have been used throughout history. The Muk Yan Jong is a wooden dummy used for kung fu and other kinds of Chinese martial arts training. In the medieval sport of jousting a quintain was a wooden target jousters would try to hit with a lance. There are a lot of grappling dummies that are somewhat like punching bags shaped like the human body. They are excellent for honing wrestling, carrying and lifting and other ground fighting techniques. There are also grapple pound and throw bags that can double as ceiling-hanging punching bag.

Re-Breakable Boards
The breaking of boards and other available objects to demonstrate power has a long history in the martial arts. Still to this day breaking boards is a very popular way to test and demonstrate with martial arts such as karate, taekwondo, kung fu and Universal Self Defence. The main problems with testing and demonstrating with real wooden boards has always been the inconsistency of the strength of the timber boards and the waste and ongoing expense of having to buy new boards. When re-breakable boards were first introduced they become instantly popular as a training aid as they were easily reset which solved the problem of having to constantly replace boards, even though the re-breakable boards would eventually crack and break depending on hard and how often they were hit there is still a substantial cost savings. The other reason the re-breakable board caught on so quickly is because it is a far more accurate measurement of power and accuracy as it only breaks in the middle and the strength of board is consistently the same. At first no one thought re-breakable boards would replace the traditional “real” boards for demonstrating and grading tests. It was thought that the audience would see the re-breakable boards were not real and therefore would not appreciate a “fake” board being used. When Universal Self Defence was the first school in Australia to use the new re-breakable boards for grading tests the response and acceptance surprised everyone. Using the so called fake boards actually had the opposite effect and made the tests look more real as the audience and the contestants knew exactly what they were up against with the strength, power and accuracy required to break the re-breakable boards. Also the loud cracking sound of a well-hit re-breakable board in a large hall, followed instantly by the crowd bursting into cheers and applause adds to effect that these boards are the real deal and are here to stay.

Focus Mitts
Another way to improve precision and speed is using focus mitts. Focus pads or focus mitts are a good way to practice with a moving target. Focus mitts are special boxing focus pads with a glove attached to the back. They are ergonomically designed so they are an easy way to hold a padded target for mainly boxing punches. Such martial arts targets are specially designed to absorb shock for anything from light gym use to professional use. To maximize the value of focus pads make sure a trained individual who can call out combinations wears them. In turn the puncher will be the counter force that is working on certain skills like punching combinations whilst ducking and weaving.

Strike Pads & Shields
Martial arts styles that employ kicking need specially designed kick pads and the larger kick shields on which to practice. These are a special kind of focus pad only bigger and are designed to withstand kicks. Kick pads or Thai pads usually consist of a thick, curved or straight pad with a row of arm handles attached to it. They can be soft to firm to the touch and very dense and durable and designed to take hard impact with minimal jarring to the holder. This is important especially since kicks tend to pack more force than a punch. Kick pads are a good option for fighting styles like Muay Thai and kickboxing. They come in a wide range of styles, shapes, sizes and colours including red, blue, black and pink.

Target Station Stands
It is also always best to hang a punching bag from an overhead support beam but when that is not possible a target station stand is a good alternative. You can either have a 2 station target stand with a punching bag and a speed ball or 3 stations so you can also hang a floor to ceiling boxing ball. Make sure you read carefully the products full description to be sure you purchase the correct target stand for your needs and the area it is to be used. Keep in mind the sound of a boxing speed ball pounding against the platform is the not the sound many people would want to hear late at night so this type of equipment is definitely more suited to a dedicated gym area.

Wall Mounted Targets
There are various types of martial arts targets that can be mounted on the wall that do not take up so much space and offer an alternative for when your ceiling is too high to attach a hanging target. Wall pads are the easiest to hang and you can fill them with cut rags and/or foam depending on how solid you like your target. Universal Self Defence have multipurpose wall bags that come with extra strapping so they can be hand held and used as a strike shield as well as hanging on the wall. There is also a padded paddle shape target that you can mount on the wall and is spring loaded so it bends and rebounds. One of the most popular wall targets are the Punch, Uppercut & Knee Wall Units as they offer multiple striking angles which is much preferred for working combinations drills.

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