Twins Special BEPL-2 Belly Pad
After 6+ years of heavy use, this belly pad is still strong
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Twins Special BEPL-2 Belly Pad
In my many years of working as a Thai boxing trainer – both sparring and training Muay Thai fighters in Thailand – one of the things which becomes apparent is that the role demands that you absorb countless heavy impact strikes every day. Knees, punches, elbows, kicks… all destined to shatter ribs and damage internal organs. To avoid and minimize injury its essential to wear adequate protection, with arguably the most important item being a good quality belly pad to shield your abdomen.
Product Review- Muay Thai Belly Pad- Twins Special BEPL-2
When it comes to fight gear- Muay Thai gear, especially, there is no better place than Thailand to find quality equipment in varying styles and colors at a good price. If you are a Nak Muay (student of Muay Thai) you may not have given much thought to the equipment that your Muay Thai instructor (Khru Muay) uses. But there’s no doubt that he has!
When Muay Thai instructors hold pads for students at almost any level, they make it a point to wear a belly pad. These are essential pieces of training gear for any strike training sports instructor.
How is a Belly Pad Used for Muay Thai training?
Most good belly pads these days are formed with a thick (maybe up to 8-10cm) foam padding covered with a rugged stitched leather or PVC-type shell and secured with either a traditional belt-buckle-type of system or, these days, a thick Velcro band around the waist.
They are meant to allow your students to perform body shots on you with either hands, knees or kicks (usually front kicks/teeps). As a Muay Thai trainer and gym owner, I can give you a bit of insight…
We do rely on the belly pads for all levels of students. There may be times when you see a Muay Thai trainer hold pads for students without using the belly pad. That may be a sign that he is training for a fight and wants to get in a few harder shots to prepare the abs for a later assault. Perhaps, he is prepping a fighter to deliver those front kicks on actual skin as he will in a real, upcoming fight. A teep on a belly pad is somewhat different from skin, which can be slick with sweat. If an opponent turns their body as that teep kick comes in, you could easily slip by and find yourself off-balance and eating an elbow or some other strike. Or it could just be that he is not concerned with that particular student being able to do damage in the round.
Belly pads cover a pretty large area. When I have students who have been training for awhile, or those that are taller, I wear the belly pad higher. With new students, I usually wear the pad lower. The reason for that is that newer students tend to be extremely inaccurate with their strikes, especially with their kicks, and kicks to the groin are quite common. I wear the belly pad low enough to cover my junk with newbies. Anytime a Muay Thai trainer gets kicked in the balls by a new student, he has no one to blame but himself. It is quite predictable that new trainees will end up kicking low.
We also know that if we get kicked high, over the bellypad- even in the sternum- it does very little damage and causes no pain. That is, as long as we are expecting it. Those shots to the middle of the chest that take the air out of fighters, or drop them, are ALWAYS shots that they didn’t see coming. A quick flex of the stomach and the instinctive ‘roll with the punch’ is enough to ensure our safety.
For better fighters, we don’t expect to get kicks to the groin, so we wear the belly pad higher. This allows them to work spleen and liver shots with both the hands and the teep kicks.
You’ve seen that when you train Muay Thai, the trainers are always directing the shots that you take. In the beginning they will call out the shots- uppercut, hook, kick, elbow, etc. As you progress, they may not call out the shot, but they will hold their pads in a familiar way so that you know the strike. They may call out a number so that you know that 2 or 5 kicks or knees are expected.
As you get even better, this is when the beauty of the belly pad really comes into play. Now, fighters can start to freelance a bit on the pads. They can mix in their own shots to the midsection, liver, spleen, whether they are with the hands or knees, the trainer can let them get into a fighting rhythm without having it so “directed”. In essence the pad session can become more or less a defacto sparring session.
This is EXTREMELY important for fighters. Good Muay Thai trainers know that once people have mastered the basics of striking and defending, as well as clinching, throws and conditioning (a lot really), they will need to adapt their own style.
Probably most Muay Thai trainers don’t spend enough time giving their students targets across the body, at least not punching targets. I know that for years I didn’t spend enough of my time giving students enough time to work body shots. And in traditional boxing there is an old adage “Kill the body and the brain will follow.” This is something all fighters and trainers should keep in mind.
Some combinations that trainers teach just don’t fit well with some fighters. Body physiologies, musculature, centers of balance, right/left side dominance, previous injuries, etc. all become factors when getting a personal Muay Thai style. And simply stated, some things work better for some people. Giving students the freedom to unleash strikes that feel comfortable for them is a good thing. But that adds the element of surprise, which can be neutralized with the belly pad.
In my gym, we have used belly pads, and pretty much all training equipment from many different manufacturers. There is no single manufacturer that is great at everything. Some make gloves that are unmatched. Others make great bags, shinpads or hand wraps. But for my money, the best Muay Thai belly pads come from Twins Special.
Twins Special BEPL- 2
So what makes a great belly pad? First, I would say the construction and materials. There are MANY suppliers in Thailand and throughout the world that make really cool gear. Flashy design is a great way to sell merchandise to the uninitiated. But gym owners who are counting their pennies (or Thai Baht) know that what matters is function. Twins gear is probably on the low end when it comes to “curb appeal”. They’ve been in business for decades and it does seem like they haven’t made too many major upgrades to their basic line. And in this case, that’s a good thing.
When it comes to belly pads, these are fairly old school. I think the only major upgrade that I have seen in 20+ years owning a gym is that they have introduced the Velcro strap to secure them to trainers rather than the old school belt buckle.
More than anything else, you want to make sure when you purchase fight gear, you avoid PVC covering on anything. I have some Twins BEPL-2 belly pads that have been in heavy use for 6+ years. And that is because they are made from 100% cowhide. There is just no comparison when it comes to strength and durability. Leather is the first thing I look for and this product offers it.
On the inside of the pad, which is against the trainer’s belly, you have a breathable nylon fabric which is also nice because it allows the pads to air out and is much cooler than if you had leather here. The dense microfiber padding offering the most protection to the trainer is actually bonded directly to the nylon fabric and it is stitched to the leather front along the edges only. The glue is a fantastic replacement for stitching as it results in no seams to irritate you if you are training without a shirt, as many of our boys do. I always wear a shirt when training because I have fairly sensitive skin and am wary of picking up strange bacteria. And as much as I try to keep my own personal set of training equipment, invariably my stuff gets mixed in with that of the rest of the trainers both upsetting my OCD, and triggering my “ick” response.
Just under the leather cover on the front you have a large patch of some kind of an injected molding of padded material, which is raised along the surface of the target area in the middle. There are 2 smaller targets on either side (liver/spleen targets).
The leather straps that wrap around your waist are covered completely in Velcro giving you a really secure fit. Again, after 6+ years, these show no signs of slowing down.
The Twins BEPL-2 comes in sizes from M-XL (possibly even S) but it doesn’t show up on my pricelist. As for retail price, you should be able to find them in Thailand for around 70-80 USD. I think in most places outside of Thailand you can purchase this product for 100-135 USD.
How do I care for my Belly Pad?
Well there’s not really much you can do to clean this item. We spray ours down with a disinfectant (Bio-Aid, which is amazing and economical) e very few days. And we also leave them Nylon side up in the sun when not in use. This seems to cut down on some of the odors and probably extends the life if you can keep them as dry as possible between use.
I can’t say that I have had experience with every make of belly pad on the market. But I can say that I have used or purchased most of them. For my money the Twins BEPL-2 is probably the best I have come across. If you’re in the market for a belly pad for Muay Thai or boxing, you can’t go wrong with this product!