The Thai Elbow

Thai Elbow: Note How the Back of the Hand Is at the Sternum

A great weapon to have in your self-defense arsenal is the Thai overhand elbow. Few martial artists examine their underlying assumptions, or really pause to consider the question, “What does it take to stop a fight?” Some styles believe in multiple strikes, some believe in pain compliance, others believe in strikes to vital points, etc. My belief is in mass (size/area and weight) delivered powerfully. As I’ve said earlier, if you have to drop someone bare-handed, go to the knee.

Another good choice is the Thai overhand elbow. Since I fight out of a right-forward stance, I deliver the overhand elbow with my left elbow. The overleft elbow comes from 10 o’clock and moves downward diagonally.

Because the elbow moves diagonally, rather than horizontally like other styles, it can slice in between the opponent’s guard.

What makes the Thai elbow different from other styles is that the shoulder joint is loose. The tip of the elbow is whipped into the opponent’s temple or bridge of the nose. In Thai boxing, they actually cut with the elbows, because they are moving fast and are hitting with the tip of the elbow, not pushing with the forearm. I think of it like pitching a baseball –the arm follows a diagonal downward path, the shoulder is loose, the arm is whipped, and the waist twists to add power.

Practice the right jab, overleft elbow combination on a focus mitt or heavy bag. When performed correctly, the elbow will “fwap” the bag, like a snapping jab, not land with a dull thud.


2 Responses to “The Thai Elbow”

  1. When I first learned boxing, my coach always told me to throw hooks with my fist in tight, that way if my punch missed my elbow would come through and land (dirty, I know, but effective) of course this is off the lead hand. The problem arises if your opponent reads your hook and covers, which happens. One way to “sneak” it in is to hook or elbow off the jab. When I learned Muay Thai I was introduced to this oblique downward elbow and it is nasty. One can’t cover like you can against a horizontal hook and it generates a lot of speed coming down when thrown from the rear hand. I like this weapon and like to follow it with a lead upper-cut or clinch and knee (or both!). Good stuff for if someone ever gets inside your long stick too.

  2. Tommy,

    Great tips. I especially like the hook to elbow idea.

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