Strike shields are great for working on your kicks. That’s why they’re sometimes called “kicking shields,” after all! But there’s more to strike shield training than partner kicking drills.
Shields like the Proforce® Tombstone Shield or the ProForce® Foam Shield are far more versatile pieces of martial arts gear than their nickname might suggest. You can use them for all sorts of partner and solo striking work. You can even use them for grappling and fitness exercises. Strike shields are a great substitute for heavy bags if you don’t have the room in your budget or your at-home training space for a hanging or freestranding bag. And they’re a great addition to any home gym that does feature a heavy bag.
Let’s take a closer look at strike shields and how to get the most out of your training with them.
Kicking Technique Training and Drills
No look at the value of a strike shield would be complete without some striking! These pieces of martial arts gear are good for more than just kicking. But they’re also really good for kicking!
In a class setting, strike shields are a useful training tool because they’re easy to use. If you’re working with a group with varying skill levels, it can be more effective — and maybe even safer — to set your students up on strike shields. Focus mitts and Thai pads are great for developing focus, coordination, and precision in both the striker and holder. But it does take time to learn how to hold them properly. Beginners can easily pick up the details of how to hold a strike shield, which opens up a world of possibilities for teachers and students alike.
Because they’re easy to learn how to hold, strike shields are also a great choice for at-home training. Especially if you’re working with someone who doesn’t know how to hold pads. If you have someone in your life who is willing to help you work on your striking at home, but isn’t a martial artist themselves, this is the tool to use. You can teach them how to hold it pretty quickly, and then get going on your drills!
And even if you are an expert pad holder and striker, a multi-angle striking shield like the Proforce® Tombstone Shield will give you a whole range of training opportunities.
Ground ‘n’ Pound Drills
If you want to work on your striking from the mount, guard, and knee-on-belly position, a strike shield is an excellent choice. We’ve talked about using heavy bags for ground ‘n’ pound drills in the blog before. All of those ideas can be adapted to the strike shield. In many cases, the strike shield might actually be the better option. Unless you’re a heavyweight, chances are that you and your potential opponents will be closer in size to a shield than a bag. It will be much easier to get into and to hold your position for mount and guard drills with a shield. And more effective, too!
Almost any grappling drill that you can do on a heavy bag can also be adapted for the strike shield. So can some grappling dummy drills. Shields might not be ideal for top pressure drills, for example. But with a little creativity, you should be able to make any other position or submission technique training work. Like the ground ‘n’ pound drills, there are also some drills that will be easier for smaller people on a shield. You can even dress your strike shield up in a gi top and martial arts belt. This will help you work on your grip training and collar choke drills.
Strike shields can also be used for martial arts cross-training. The shield’s size and shape make it a decent substitute for a plyometric hurdle. Which means that you can adapt a large portion of hurdle-based plyometric drills for use with the strike shield. If you really want to get creative, you can also use your shield as a very light sandbag for beginner sandbag training.
If you want to get even more creative than that, you can also try Pilates with your strike shield! In Pilates, there’s a piece of small equipment called an arc or an arc barrel. Pilates practitioners use it as an assistant for some challenging exercises. It’s great for helping beginners learn the roll over, for example. But it can also be used to add balance and body awareness to your workouts.
An arc barrel is usually made of more solid materials than a foam shield, so you won’t be able to do everything on a strike shield that you’d do on the arc. But the shape of the Proforce® Tombstone Shield is close enough to the arc to allow you to add some moves to your martial arts cross-training. Like swimming: