Tag Archives: elbow strikes


Force Necessary: Hand Level 6 Strike: The Elbow Strike

Yes, the popular elbow strike is number 6 in the strike list. Not that it is 6th in importance, it’s just that everything cannot be number 1, and things need to be stretched out for digestion. Remember our mission is not to create champion kick or Thai boxers, but develop self defense, survival skills.

The elbows are very close quarters strikes. Sport applications can easily be confused with survival applications by naive instructors within the spinning worlds of self defense and sport. I have heard various self defense system instructors regurgitate a lot of sport doctrine. Survivorialist borrow (some like to say “steal”) from sports and shouldn’t automatically, completely replicate them. So what’s different? 

Cutting AND Smashing? Take for example the generic instruction that the elbow is used for both cutting and smashing. Suffice to say that the best smashing impact deliveries are the striking surfaces just a bit below and above the elbow. 

The Striking Version. Many experts suggest incorporating your big bones as much as possible. You might say, “elbow-area” striking for self defense and elbow tip striking possibilities for sports cutting. It’s more than semantics.

The Cutting Version. Hitting with the very tip of the elbow may cause pain and bone chipping injury to the striker (and yes and damage to the receiver). Ever walk through a doorway and nick the tip your elbow? Your elbow tip is nicknamed the “Funny Bone,” but the sharp pain comes from the Ulnar nerve that is near-surface at the hard elbow tip.  This hurts in an odd way. Merely cutting the opponent’s face with your elbow tip is a sports assignment to mostly cause bleeding. Such is a “clock move.” A street survivor cannot, should not count on, or watch the clock tick-tock away for debilitating bleeding into the eyes. There’s no time for that. And also there are no refs studying the intensity of medical injuries to call the fight. I believe if you took a survey, Thai fighters would probably be hoping for, working toward smash hits and not little,  superficial cuts when striking the head zone. Cutting is an after  thought when a full smash failed. (Also, classic boxers will try to “cut” the face with twisting boxing gloves and maybe illegal, sneaky elbows to cause bleeding. Once again in boxing the clock and rounds and refs count for a lot strategy.)

Never an elbow tip? In being comprehensive, I would be remiss not to mention this “blocking” move. Some systems suggest stopping-blocking an incoming face punch with an elbow positioned in front of the face. Very Filipino. Standing or on the ground, this involves raising your bent arm up quickly, getting your elbow aimed at an incoming bare fist. Yes, this can damage the incoming fist. Some people have the wrong impression about hitting the incoming fist with one’s elbow in general – they think it’s like hitting a bullet with a bullet. “Chasing the fist.” The supporters say the attacker is punching your face, and your mission is to position your elbow up into the line, the punch’s common path. You are not chasing anything. You are placing not chasing. But, when upright, standing there are a lot of ancillary skills like prediction, athleticism and situations involved with this whereas simple dodging and blocking basics might be way more reflexive, comprehensive and simpler. And actually it’s easier on your back, on the ground. Less…”geography.” We report. You decide.

Better to Give than Receive. When in elbow delivery range, you are in elbow reception range, a common Thai Boxing theme.  Where does your support hand and arm go? Inexperienced practitioners, especially those who have played American football often innocently go fist-to-fist, or fists-near-fists, striking in what sometimes looks looks like an overly-done torso upper body pivot. This is an unsafe in that it  leaves the head exposed. Elbow striking Thai boxers usually put their support arm forearm up and somewhat straight up. Some Thai systems will place the back of their thumb on their the top of their foreheads as a matter of routine, creating a vertical “bar” in front of their face.

Catching-Trapping. Then at times the support hand might be used to capture targets like the head, and even the arms. And the thrusting elbow can be used like a strike for elbow hyperextensions and for shoves inside takedowns. 

Note: Thai boxers often deliver horizontal and near horizontal incoming elbow strikes with that arm’s wrist bent and hand pointing down. This allows for the deeper range and penetration of the strike, whereas the straight wrist and hand inhibits that deeper strike because your hand hits your torso. In big gloved Thai fights, this hand position is hard to observe. The bent wrist might not matter much. This is just what I was taught in the Master Chai Sirisute Thai Boxing system. We report. You decide.

The Basic Elbow Smash List:  The old saying is, “if you have a good hook (punch) you have a good elbow (and vice-versa), as the body dynamics are somewhat similar. The combinations seem endless and class time should be spent working on them. Do these standing, kneeling and on the ground (as in top, bottom, right side, left side), all where feasible.

Horizontal or mostly horizontal elbows.
– right traveling left.
– left traveling right.

Vertical or mostly vertical elbows.
– mostly downward direction, including diagnials.
– mostly upward direction, including diagnials.  

Thrusting elbow.
– to the front, sides and back.

Spinning elbow.
– mostly horizontal.
– 1/4 or 1/2 or 360  spins. Requires some foot and torso set up that at times can be similar to spinning kicks.
– should you feel uncomfortable spinning, you still need to see them used on you and defend against it.

This Level 6 Elbow Module includes all this and elbow scenarios, tricks and skill drills, all too much to to list here. Level 6 also includes the Level 6 kick – the Thrust Kick Module, the Level 6 Emergency Medical Module, and the 6th Stop of the Stop 6  Program which is the survival ground fighting module. Ask for the new and improved Force Necessary: Level 6 Requirements Outline. It’s free and available after 15 February, 2024. 

See all the free full training films on Hock’s Combatives TV Channel, click here.