All about punching bags and how to choose them
ALL ABOUT PUNCHING BAGS AND HOW TO CHOOSE THEM
How one is to select a punching bag can be a difficult question. We here at Kontact sports have been manufacturing and selling punching bags since the mid 1990’s and are happy to help you make the right choices.
There are several different types of punching bags available on the market today: Pre-filled hanging bags, horizontal bags, non-filled bags, Thai style bags, water bags and water filled plastic base bags.
HANGING PUNCHING BAGS
Hanging bags are by far the most popular punching bags sold as they are inexpensive and relatively easy to install. They normally come with support chains and swivels and occasionally with a bottom ring for those who want to tie them down to the floor. Models can be made of canvas, leather, vinyl or Vintex (a very resistant combination of vinyl and textile) and can come in several sizes including, 30 lbs, 50 lbs, 65 lbs, 75 lbs, 100 lbs and 150 lbs. Thirty and 50 lbs bags are basically for children although some practitioners of traditional Asian arts may use them to condition their hands (they train their chops and bare-knuckle strikes). Most adults will choose 65 lbs or 75 lbs bags as they are good enough for hand and foot strikes. Heavy hitters and kicking specialists may choose either 100 lbs or 150 lbs bags. One hundred and fifty pound bags are generally 6 feet long so as to permit the training of low shin kicks. They are popular with hard core martial artists and full contact fighters.
Relating to the materials used to make these punching bags there are several including: canvas, leather and Vintex. In the past, canvas bags were popular as they were inexpensive while leather bags were for the wealthy or for pro boxing gyms. Today, 90 % of people opt for Vintex bags as they are very resistant and easy to clean. Leather bags are much less popular as they are expensive and need regular maintenance so as to stop the leather from drying out. If you do opt for a leather bag, we suggest using mink oil to rub leather bags (at least once or twice a year), to avoid drying and cracking in dry environments. Although leather bags feel great, they will most likely not last anywhere as long as the Vintex bags consequently they are not as commonly sold anymore.
As shipping filled bags can be very expensive due to the weight, bags that are not filled are also being sold. Most of these bags are made of fine quality materials and can satisfy a very real demand in outlying areas where shipping cost make any other bag too expensive to purchase. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for individuals to successfully stuff these bags like the commercially made pre-filled ones, the reason being the latter are stuffed by compression machines.
Some punching bags are also made of water resistant materials and can therefore be hung outdoors indefinitely. But please be aware that most bags are not water proof and should be kept dry so as to avoid moisture build-up and mold developing in the stuffing materials.
WATER-FILLED PUNCHING BAGS
Water-filled hanging bags are also becoming relatively popular. Sometimes called wave bags, these bags are sold empty and you simply fill them with water. They are marketed as being easier on the hands than regular a bag which is true. They tend to be very heavy for their size, so this needs to be taken into account if you plan on hanging one up at home or in a gym. Make sure that you have adequate support for it. They are generally made from thick and though flexible material to avoid breaks and leaks, which would be disastrous. We have not heard of any of these bags leaking which is good news because it would make quite a mess!
FREE STANDING PUNCHING BAGS
Striking bags with plastic support bases or “free standing bags” are the latest thing and are quite popular. These are in demand with people who cannot hang traditional punching bags in their homes or apartments. These bags have solid plastic bases that can be filled with water (the majority of standard bases will weigh around 270 lbs when filled with water). Their advantages are mobility and the fact that one does not need to hang them from the ceiling. Their disadvantages are a higher price point, the fact that they cannot swing like a hanging bag (some people like to chase, dodge or stop moving bags) and finally, the fact that they may fall down if hit quite hard (Powerful kicks can lay them down).
Some people fill them with sand (standard bases will weigh around 300 lbs with sand) as the water filled base tend to tip over when hit with full power kicks from heavy hitters (particularly a side kick or push kick). This seems to work, but keep in mind that the less the base moves, the more stress gets transferred to the supporting pillar in your bag. Using sand increases your chances of cracking the support pillar when hit repeatedly with very powerful strikes. We suggest you check if this voids the warranty with the manufacturer. You should also remember that moving them (getting the sand out) becomes difficult compared to water filled bags. We prefer filling them with water.
Free standing bags come in a variety of sizes including children and adult sizes. Children’s sizes are smaller and are geared for children up to 10 years old approximately, the base of the bag being generally fairly light (around 75 lbs with water). The age limit may vary, but generally speaking, once children are taller than the bag, it is likely that they will be strong enough to tip it over fairly easily. At this point, you should consider an adult sized bag. Free standing bags can have a circular striking surface like hanging bags or can also have rubber body’s that are anatomically correct. These “Body Opponent bags” (BOB) were initially made by Century martial arts and come in regular or XL sizes. We recommend BOB XL as the larger striking surface on the XL is well worth the added expense, allowing you to train low kicks to the upper leg or strikes to the groin area. There are also other more recent variations to the Century BOB, notably the BOB Vs Versys. It consists in a BOB torso mounted on a padded tripod allowing low strikes, and featuring padded arms for an even greater array of possibilities in your training. Be aware that this type of bag has been copied and that the copies tend to not be quite as good as the original Century BOB. For example, the original BOB and BOB XL has adjustable heights for convenient training whereas the copies often do not. Also the imitations are often made of lesser materials. So buyers beware!
SPECIALIZED PUCHING BAGS
Another type of bag is the horizontal uppercut bag. As the name implies, it was conceived to practice uppercuts and is not good for much else. For this reason it is most often seen in pro boxing gyms and rarely elsewhere. As this is really a specialty item, even specialty stores may have to order it. You can also find other specialty bags like the tear drop bag, which is generally a smaller heavy and hard pear shaped bag that boxers use to train heavy shots to the head. Another boxing specialty bag is the wrecking ball bag. Usually a spherical very heavy hard ball made to train heavy body blows, like the low hook.
When choosing what type of bag you desire, the first thing to understand is that you generally get what you pay for. For instance, be weary of inexpensive leather bags (good leather bags are quite expensive due to the high price of quality leather) as they are most likely made with cheap leather. Canvas is fine but will dirty with use and is a little obsolete in today’s market.
It is probably wiser to get a good Vintex bag. Vintex is very resistant, will last for years and is easy to clean. We recommend purchasing your bags in a good martial arts supply store where the personnel are familiar with the products. As in most specialty items, it is worth going to the specialists rather than the local chain stores where the personnel knows little or nothing about the products or how to use them. Finally, If you are striking with circular blows (most people do), you also need to get some good bag gloves to protect your hands. Boxers and Kickboxers also tend to use hand wraps to further protect the tools of their trade.
We hope that this text presenting the majority of classic options for punching bags with their pros and cons will help you make an enlightened choice.
Fun and safe training!
Kontact Sports martial arts supplies