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Mixed Martial Arts: Mastering Elbow Strikes

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Elbow strikes are one of the most effective types of strikes for use in close quarters unarmed combat. The point of the elbow makes for an incredibly hard impact delivering deadly blows and is especially useful at close range, often catching your opponent by surprise.

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While different styles of martial art often teach one of two types of elbow strike, Krav Maga probably includes the largest number of elbow strikes in their training. See the list below:

  1. The horizontal forward elbow strike.
  2. Horizontal side ways strike to the left or right.
  3. Horizontal backwards strike at shoulder level.
  4. Backward vertical strike to the ribs.
  5. Backward vertical strike to the chin.
  6. Forward vertical strike to the chin.
  7. Downward spike with the tip of the elbow used against the back and spine. This is not allowed in the UFC, and is not taught in many classes as is considered too dangerous as can result in paralysis.

The best way to condition muscle memory for rapid use of these elbow strikes is to practice them like a form in order as a above 1-7 on each arm. Performed correctly your head should turn to look at your target, and should be done with speed and twisting of the body with full body weight behind them. As the range of motion is shorter than with a punch or kick, speed and technique play a bigger role.

If training by yourself, working a heavy bag or Wavemaster is a great way to test the power and accuracy of your elbow strikes. While working with a sparring partner can be done using focus mitts or a small padded shield. When working with a partner have them call out strikes by number for you to execute. Try working in 2 minute rounds and then switching out with your partner. Also sparring only using elbows will get you used to using your elbows more frequently and which strike is most effective in different positions.


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