The Elbow Strikes Back! (diary entry)

elbow strike 2 elbow strike02.09.19

Monday saw my client reach the eighth hour of a 10 hour course on Muay Thai for Martial Arts Cross Training. Tonight we focused on elbow strikes.

The lesson began with some mirror foot-work. We worked within a more enclosed area to keep the fight at close range. Elbows are best suited to this range for obvious reasons, although Muay Thai also uses them in flying attacks. Before introducing these techniques, we trained teeps, shin checks, teep scoops, kick-catches, spear knees, diagonal knees and the long-guard along with some simple counters. Then we went through the four-punch combination with rear leg kicks and switch-kicks.

Elbows, although potentially very damaging and are often used to finish a fight, are not as dexterous and not as accurate as punches. Paradoxically Muay Thai is one of a family of Southeast Asian Indochinese boxing styles where sophisticated elbow strikes are regularly tested in a full contact environment and yet tend not to use them as knock out tools. Pradel Serey, Muay Thai’s close relative in Cambodia, is best known for using these strikes to finish matches. Although knockouts do occur, the elbows are generally used to create cuts that result in stoppages.

With this all in mind, we began with the horizontal elbow. This is a very common technique and is thrown in a manner that resembles the jab and the cross. Like all elbow strikes, getting the range right is crucial before the technique is flashed out at the target. Telegraphing problems often include adopting a “chicken wing” guard with flaring elbows. The art of throwing elbows revolves concealing the strikes until the last moment. Next I taught the spear elbow, which is typically thrown from the lead arm. Although it resembles an uppercut it executed in a very different manner. The strike pierces or cracks the opponent’s guard or the opponent runs onto the elbow. Next we covered the slashing elbow. Here I used a knife to demonstrate the pathway of the strike. We also looked at the overhand punch. Finally we covered the smash-down elbow from the rear hand. This is set up well using a pawing jab or long-guard to frame or set the datum for the target area.

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