How do you implement striking pads and impact training in your various classes?
For most of my time as a traditionalist, my instructors have deemphasized the striking of pads and solid obejects. Rarely have my instructors insisted that such training is ineffective or not worthwhile--normally they just identify other areas of training as being more important or beneficial and so pad striking is pushed aside and only practiced on occassion.
During my time abroad, I studied at an MMA gym, where pad striking was approximately 1/3 of what was done in class. Over the months that I trained in MMA I started to feel as if I were gaining noticeable benefits from spending so much time striking focus mitts. It improved my striking power and the confidence that I have in my strikes. It also taught me focus, made my fist tighter, and seemed to improve my wrist strength. From this experience, I've come to realize that impact training for strikes is very beneficial to the point where I'd want to include it in my karate training regularly (either every session or every other session). I'd, of course, hope that this training compliments the time I spend practicing kata, bunkai, and kihon.
My issue is that the most time I spent studying pad striking was with this MMA gym--and I am not an MMA fighter, nor do I want pad striking to feel as if I'm trying to cross train with MMA. The pad striking practiced in that gym was obviously designed to benefit students in the ring--where as the pad striking I'd want to practice would benefit striking as it is used in self-defense situations--as it is manifest in bunkai.
Has anyone else grappled with a similar dilemma? How do you impliment pad striking in your training so that it doesn't merely feel like you are training students to box? How can striking pads as a regular part of training feel more like it aligns with the goals of self-defense oriented karate training?
Thanks for your help everyone!