How to hold targets and not get hurt

Here is something we definitely never talk about – how to hold targets. Did you know there is a correct way to hold targets so that you aren’t hurt? Read on to learn more from my experience. A lot of this I have been doing for years unconsciously without even realizing I am doing it!

Pork chop & square targets

For hand-held targets like pork chop targets and square targets, the key here is to try to hold the target such that the direction of strike will cause your elbow to bend, and not bend against your elbow. This isn’t strictly mandatory, but can make your experience a bit easier.

Kicking shields

With kicking shields, you need to do a really unintuitive thing, which is to hold the target as close to your body as you can. The reason for this is because in between the soft target and your body is the hard bones of your arms. If there is space between your arm and your body, then when the target is struck, you will essentially be hitting yourself with your own arms. So hug that target as much as you can!

The second thing to keep in mind is that even if you do this, it won’t always completely protect you, so another trick you can use is to tense up your stomach and breathe out with each strike. This technique helps you both resist the impact of the strike through the target and protect against having the wind knocked out of you, because you are breathing out, so there won’t be any wind to have knocked out. And really, this technique is also useful during sparring or an actual fight.


As with holding a board for breaking, you need to be aware and try to not flinch when holding targets. This makes for a better training experience for your partner.

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