Elbow Boxing is not a sport, it is a brutal martial art and self-defense method that originated in America’s prison syst
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English Pages 116 Year 2020
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Table of contents :
Posture Verses Stances
Striking Surfaces of the Elbow
Closing the Distance and Footwork
Methods of Entry
Footwork on the Inside
Elbow Boxing Strikes
Additional Elbow Attacking Concepts
Elbow Boxing with Joint Manipulation
Elbow Boxing with Hand Traps
What is Hand Trapping?
Knee Attacks and Kicking
Training and Conditioning
Additional Training Methods
An Example of a Focus Mitt Routine
About the Author
The Brutal Art of Elbow Boxing By Chuck Callaway
Copyright © 2020 Chuck Callaway Cover and illustrations by Chuck Callaway Photographs by Bryan Callaway Technical assistance by Conner Callaway All rights reserved.
Disclaimer and Warning The martial arts and self-defense involve the use of fighting skills and techniques designed to cause injury to an attacker. The practice and use of these skills can be dangerous and physically demanding. The improper use of any fighting technique could result in both criminal and civil action against the person responsible. The information provided in this book is for entertainment purposes only. The author and publisher are not responsible and assume no liability for any injury that might result from the practice, use, or misuse, of any information contained in this book. One should always consult a physician before engaging in any physical activity. The book is intended to document fighting techniques, skills, principles, and theory as studied and taught by the author to a select few students. While a tremendous amount can be learned from these pages, it is impossible to convey specific movement, subtleties and to correct a student’s errors in written form. The reader should seek out a qualified instructor to ensure safe and proper study.
Dedication This book is dedicated to my wife Laura and my sons Bryan and Conner Special thanks to Sifu Vic Butler For teaching me these skills
Contents Introduction The Basics Posture Verses Stances Striking Surfaces of the Elbow Primary target Areas Closing the Distance and Footwork Methods of Entry Footwork on the Inside The Clinch Elbow Boxing Strikes Additional Elbow Attacking Concepts Defensive Skills Checking/Jamming Evasion Additional Defensive Concepts Combinations Elbow Boxing with Joint Manipulation Elbow Boxing with Hand Traps What is Hand Trapping? Knee Attacks and Kicking Training and Conditioning Additional Training Methods An Example of a Focus Mitt Routine A Sample Elbow Boxing Workout Conclusion About the Author
Introduction When it comes to fighting skills, few martial arts are as lethal and relatively unknown as the art of elbow boxing. Developed in America’s prison system as a ruthless means of fighting and self-defense, elbow boxing is highly effective in tight, close quarter spaces. In addition to its deadly effectiveness and efficiency, elbow boxing is a fighting system that can easily be incorporated into other martial arts. I first began my study of elbow boxing in 1987, after returning from a military tour of duty overseas. Shortly after starting my new assignment, I had the good fortune of meeting an amazing martial artist by the name of Vic Butler. At the time, I had a black belt in Tang Soo Do and I thought I was invincible. After a few lessons with Sifu Butler, I quickly realized how little I knew about the martial arts. In addition to holding black belts in Shotokan Karate, Goshin Budo Jiujitsu, and Molum Kung-fu, Sifu Butler was also a master of elbow boxing. Over the many years that I have studied with him; elbow boxing techniques have always been the central core of our training. I have developed a great respect for these skills and learned firsthand how practical and powerful elbow boxing truly is. To this day I am honored to call Sifu Vic Butler my teacher and I am very thankful for the knowledge he has passed on to me. When I wrote my first book, Forging the Fighter, I dedicated one chapter to the art of elbow boxing. That chapter only scratched the surface of this devastating fighting system and I knew that a full book on the art was needed in order to do it justice. You will quickly discover that elbow boxing can stand alone as a unique fighting art or be easily integrated into other martial arts systems. I believe that the methods outlined in this book will provide the practitioner with a solid foundation in this remarkable close-range fighting system. I hope you find it useful and enjoy the art as much as I have. Chuck Callaway October 2020
The Basics What is Elbow Boxing? Elbow boxing is not a sport. It is a highly effective fighting system that was originally developed by inmates in America’s prison system and later refined by Sifu Vic Butler. It is an aggressive, close range, rapid fire, self-defense system that can be used to end a violent encounter quickly. As the name suggests, elbow boxing is composed of a variety of elbow fighting techniques that when used in combination, resemble the punching movements of a boxer. Once the basic elbow boxing techniques are learned, they are then mixed with other skills such as trapping, clinching, low line kicking, joint locking, and grappling. Compared to many martial arts today, elbow boxing appears extremely brutal. It is designed to overwhelm an opponent and end a fight quickly.
Proper Mindset Possessing the proper mindset is a critical component of the elbow boxing fighting system. In fact, proper mindset can be more important than having physical skills alone. The goal of elbow boxing is to stop the threat and annihilate your adversary as quickly and efficiently as possible. The best defense is always a good offense, and you must take the attacker out before they take you out. As stated above, it is not a sport and the elbow boxer must be able to turn on raw primal aggression immediately during an encounter. Completely overwhelming your opponent causes a psychological effect that discourages other potential aggressors from messing with you. You must have the mindset that you will survive any encounter, and destroy your attacker, no matter how badly you are hurt. Defeat is not an option and every encounter must be fought with killer instinct. To survive a deadly encounter, the elbow boxer must have a mindset that he has nothing to lose and today is his last day on earth!
Posture Verses Stances Elbow boxing contains no fixed or static stances. A real encounter is very dynamic, so you must be mobile and be able to adapt quickly to any situation.
Instead of static stances, elbow boxing uses two primary postures known as the prep posture and the boxer’s posture. These postures allow you to protect yourself, move quickly in any direction, and strike with maximum power. Let’s look at these postures in more detail.
The Prep Posture The prep posture is used when first confronted with a potential threat. It allows you to be prepared for any attack that might occur, and at the same time appear non-threatening to the adversary. This gives you the element of surprise because the opponent gets the impression that you are being submissive. To assume the prep posture, stand at a slight angle to the potential attacker with your knees bent and your hands up and open. Your palms face outward towards the potential threat. Keep your eyes on the opponent with your chin slightly tucked in to protect the jaw. With your hands up, you have only a very short distance to launch an attack to the opponent’s face, eyes or throat. You are also prepared to block or defend against any attacks. You can instantly transition to the boxer’s posture if an attack occurs by simple making the hands into fists, bending the knees, and separating the legs slightly. If a fight does occur, and there are witnesses or cameras that record the incident, the prep posture will give the appearance that you were not the aggressor. The key to the prep posture is to remain alert and ready to respond instantly to any movement from the opponent.
The Prep Posture The Boxer’s Posture The boxer’s posture is designed for rapid mobility and fast striking while providing a high level of protection for the head and body. Proper use of the boxer’s posture will minimize telegraphed attacks and maximize defense. To assume the boxer’s posture, stand at a slight angle to your opponent with your knees bent. Your feet should be shoulders width apart with your weight evenly distributed between both legs. You should always be on the balls of your feet with your hands up and fists clenched. Later in your training you can open your hands in order to execute certain techniques, but in the beginning, keep both hands clenched in fists. Tuck your chin into your shoulder to protect your jaw from attack. Your elbows are held in close to the body to protect the ribs and stomach. The posture looks very similar to a standard boxer’s position with the only exception being the hands are held a little closer to the head. Some elbow boxer’s like to bend the wrists at a fortyfive-degree angle while in the boxer’s posture, but this is a matter of preference. This variation of the boxer’s posture can help when scooping away or checking the opponent’s limbs. In contrast with traditional boxing, most elbow boxer’s fight with their strong side forward. An elbow boxer in a right lead boxer’s posture would be called a south paw in standard boxing.
Variation of the Boxer’s Posture
Striking Surfaces of the Elbow The elbow is a natural human weapon that can generate a tremendous amount of power when used for striking. Unlike other body weapons, heavy conditioning is not required for the elbow to be utilized effectively. In contrast to blows with the hand, there is very little chance of breaking or injuring the elbow when striking. The effectiveness of the elbow as a weapon can be seen in the many knock outs that occur due to elbow strikes in the sport of Muay Thai kick boxing. There are three main striking surfaces used on the elbow. The first is the very tip of the elbow which is called the Olecranon. This point of the elbow is used for precision strikes to targets such as the temple, jaw, or eyes. It is very effective for delivering damaging knock out blows and will often result in cuts to the opponent’s face. These cuts will cause bleeding which can obstruct the attacker’s vision during the fight. The second striking surface is the base of the Ulna bone. This striking area is flat but solid and can hit larger targets with incredible force. The final striking surface is the back of the Olecranon. This area is used most often for reverse elbow strikes or downward strikes. Later we will discuss specific target areas when using these striking surfaces.
Parts of the Elbow Used for Striking
Elbow Boxing Range Elbow boxing is a very close-range fighting method that is perfectly described by the term, “going toe to toe”. The techniques of elbow boxing are executed when literally face to face with the opponent. This makes elbow boxing extremely effective in tight spaces such as a hallway, restroom stall, elevator, stairway, or in a crowded bar. When violent encounters occur, they often start with someone’s ego getting challenged. One person will inevitably get in the other person’s face, poke their chest, push them, or try to stare them down and intimidate them. These situations are ideal for the elbow boxing system. The second situation that often occurs is when a surprise sucker punch is thrown a short time after a verbal altercation. This may lead to additional punches being thrown before one fighter closes the distance and a clinch occurs. From the clinch, both fighters will often end up on the ground. Elbow boxing techniques are extremely effective in the clinch range and can be used to prevent the fight from going to the ground. If a fight does start from a distance, you must be prepared to strike your opponent with punches or kicks and safely close the distance to use your elbow boxing skills.
Most Confrontations Occur at Close Range Primary target Areas To overpower your attacker and end the fight as quickly as possible, you
must target the weak areas of your opponent’s body. Striking the opponent’s vital areas will cause much more damage and potentially end a fight quicker by disabling or knocking out the attacker. Because of the short range of your elbows, most of the targets you will attack are on the opponent’s head. To get the most out of your strikes, you should always direct your attacks to the any of the following target areas during an encounter. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8)
The Eyes The Temple The Jaw/Chin The Throat Solar Plexus The Groin The Base of The Skull The Knees
Primary Target Areas on the Head The Eyes- Attacking the eyes can blind the opponent or at the very least,
blur his vision making it extremely difficult to fight back. Normally the eyes will be targeted with finger strikes, eye gouges, or thumb rakes, but elbow strikes to the orbital socket can be very damaging as well. The eyes can also be attacked by throwing a handful of dirt into the attacker’s face. When the chips are down, and your life is in danger, anything goes.
The Temple- The temple is a primary target for elbow boxing because of its accessibility on the side of the head, just behind the eyes. Knock outs due to temple strikes are very common in fights. Since the temple is the thinnest part of the skull, and covers a major artery, a properly delivered strike to this target can be extremely damaging.
The Jaw/Chin- In boxing, the edge of the chin and jaw are referred to as, “the button”. This is because a well-placed strike to this area will cause an instant knock out, just like flicking off a light switch. In addition, if the opponent does not have his teeth clinched when he gets hit, he will likely suffer a broken jaw.
The Throat- A light or medium strike to the throat can cause the opponent to choke or have trouble breathing. A heavy strike to the throat could crush the trachea resulting in death. The throat can be a difficult target to hit if the opponent keeps his chin tucked in while fighting, however there are several ways to open this target up for attack. One method of exposing the opponent’s throat is to hit him with a set up strike to the eyes or nose. This will cause his head to tilt back from the blow, allowing you to attack with a follow up strike to his throat. In some cases, you can grab his hair and pull his head back to expose the throat.
The Solar Plexus- The Solar Plexus is located just below the Sternum and plays a key role in the function of major internal organs. A strong shot to the Solar Plexus with a lead elbow strike or reverse elbow cross, can knock the wind out of an attacker and cause him to double over. If the opponent doubles over as a result of a Solar Plexus strike, the base of the skull can then be open to attack as well.
The Groin- Although you will rarely target the groin with elbow attacks, knee strikes and kicking techniques are very effective for attacking this target area. A well-placed groin shot can cause the opponent to bend over in pain
which allows you to strike the base of the skull with a downward elbow, or to hit the face with an uppercut.
The Base of the Skull- During the heat of battle, the opponent may get bent over from a strike, slip, or be pulled forward. He may also turn his back to you and expose the base of his skull. A strike to this target area can jar the brain inside of the skull causing a knockout. It can also cause the limbs of the body to lose feeling and go numb. A severe strike could cause death. Numerous street fights end in death each year due to one fighter getting knocked out from a punch and hitting the base of their skull on the ground when they fall.
The Knees- Just like the groin, you will normally not attack the knees with elbow strikes. The one exception is the drop elbow attack which we will cover in a later chapter. Usually you will use kicking techniques such as a stomping kick to target the knees. My martial arts instructor used to say that it only takes about nine pounds of pressure to break a knee joint which is about the same as breaking a board. Low attacks to the groin or knees can also help open targets on the head for elbow combinations. As you learn the techniques in this book, refer to this section often to see which target areas are the best option for your attacks.
Closing the Distance and Footwork Footwork skills are critical because they provide you with the mobility to close the distance and attack or to disengage and escape from the opponent. Due to the close range that elbow boxing takes place, you will not utilize a lot of long steps or lunging footwork. Instead, you will rely on short shuffle steps, body pivots, and side stepping to outmaneuver your opponent. Once you have made entry, the goal will be to stay mobile, attack with relentless combinations, and maintain the optimal distance for elbow boxing. This will allow you to finish the fight in the most efficient manner possible.
Methods of Entry When the fight starts at a distance, you will need to close the distance and enter in to elbow boxing range fast. Once inside, your strategy is to overwhelm the attacker with rapid combinations of elbow boxing techniques. In many cases, the very nature of the opponent trying to punch you will automatically cause the distance to close. In other situations, the opponent may keep his distance to feel you out and see what you will do first. When this happens, you must close the distance and get toe to toe with the opponent to utilize your elbow fighting skills. Here we will discuss the four primary methods of safely closing the distance on the opponent. 1) 2) 3) 4)
The Dive Entry The Strike Entry The kick Entry The Slip
The Dive Entry- To execute the dive entry, bring your hands up to cover your head with the palms facing in together. This initial movement resembles the position used to dive into the water from a diving board. Tuck your chin and lunge in towards the opponent’s center with your forearms deflecting any strikes that the opponent might throw. As you gain entry, open the hands in an outward swimming motion and grab the opponent’s arms to clinch. From this position you can attack with elbow boxing techniques. In the below photos, the elbow boxer uses a dive entry as the opponent throws a lead punch followed by a rear cross. The position of his hands allows him to
deflect the punches with his upper forearms as he makes entry. He immediately follows up with a rear diagonal elbow strike to the opponent’s head. From this final position, the elbow boxer is in close range where he can employ all his elbow boxing skills.
The Strike Entry- To perform the strike entry from outside range, execute a punch or finger jab towards your opponent’s face. As he raises his hands to react to the strike, shoot in to elbow boxing range. The initial strike is
intended to be a distraction only which causes your opponent to react. It doesn’t matter if the strike makes contact or not. Your goal is to close the distance and enter close range so you can utilize your elbow boxing skills. In the below sequence of photos, the elbow boxer steps in and throws a lead punch to the attacker’s face causing him to react. He immediately delivers a diagonal elbow strike to the attacker’s temple as he checks an attempted hook punch to the body.
The Kick Entry- The kick entry follows the same concept as the strike entry above, except you will execute a kicking technique in order to close the distance. In the series of photos below, as the confrontation begins at long range, the elbow boxer throws a low stomping side kick to the opponent’s
knee. When the opponent reacts to the kick, he shoots in to obtain the closerange clinch. From this position, he can slam the opponent into a wall or other structure and deliver elbow strikes to finish him.
The Slip Entry- The previous entry techniques were all offensive in nature because the elbow boxer initiated the attack. This entry technique is a response to the opponent’s initial attack, using evasion to close the distance. In the below photos, the attacker strikes at the elbow boxer’s head with a punch. He slips the attack to the inside as he enters to elbow boxing range. Once inside, the elbow boxer drives a lead elbow to the attacker’s Solar Plexus and secures him in a neck lever clinch. From this position he can unleash round elbow strikes with one arm while maintaining the clinch with the other. It is extremely important to keep your chin tucked and hands up as you make entry. Even if the opponent’s strike makes contact, it will most likely hit the top of your head or your arms and be ineffective.
Now that you have learned how to close the distance and get into close range where your elbow boxing techniques can be employed, let’s look at essential footwork that you will need on the inside to ensure mobility and proper delivery of your strikes.
Footwork on the Inside Once you have closed the distance on the opponent and obtained close range for elbow boxing, you will need proper footwork to transfer your body weight into your strikes and to avoid attacks. The following footwork patterns will be used at this range. 1) The Shuffle Step
2) 3) 4) 5)
The Body Pivot The Sidestep (Left and Right) The Circle Step The Body Drop and Rise
The Shuffle Step- To perform the short shuffle step from the boxer’s posture, take a small step in the direction you want to move with the closest foot. Next, simply bring the rear foot up an equal distance to re-assume your boxer’s posture. The short shuffle step can be executed forward, backward and to either side. For example, to shuffle step right, move the right foot first. To shuffle step back, move the rear foot first. Keep the steps short when moving back and to the sides, or you will put yourself out of range for your elbow strikes. Be sure to keep your knees bent and stay light on the feet for this technique. In the below photos, the elbow boxer shuffle steps forward by initially stepping forward with his lead foot about six inches and following up with the rear foot an equal distance.
The Body Pivot- The body pivot is used at close range to generate power in your strikes, and to avoid certain attacks from the opponent. When used for defense, shift your hips rapidly to move the body sideways and avoid the strike. From the Boxer’s posture, quickly shift your body weight to the lead leg and swing the rear leg back, away from the direction you are pivoting
towards. When using the body pivot for striking, the shift will be done in the direction of the blow. The rapid body shift should be explosive and add body weight and power to your elbow strike. With practice, the body pivot can be very effective for simultaneously attacking and avoiding an opponent’s strike. The below photos show the body pivot in action.
The Sidestep (Left and Right)- The sidestep is used to move your body off the line of attack. To sidestep to the right from the boxer’s posture, move the right foot forward and to the right side at a forty-five-degree angle. Slide the left foot up to get back in the boxer’s posture. To sidestep left, step offline with the left foot and follow with the right. You will always sidestep to the right with the right foot first, and to the left with the left foot first. The sidestep should be short when elbow boxing to avoid getting too far out of range for your strikes. The below pictures show a sidestep to the right from the boxer’s position.
Circle Step- The circle step is primarily used to get a position of advantage behind the enemy’s legs. It can be effectively used to off balance or throw the attacker. To perform the circle step, move your lead leg in a semi-circular motion alongside or behind the opponent’s leg as you execute elbow strikes. The shin and heel can be used with this step to apply pressure to the attacker’s leg. This stepping technique is also useful when launching attacks to prevent the opponent from kicking your groin area. The below pictures show the circle step in action.
Body Drop and Rise- The body drop, and rise is an essential technique that is used to attack certain targets, avoid high attacks, and takedown an opponent. To execute the body drop, quickly bend your legs and lower your body towards the ground. Try to keep the upper body as straight as possible. Immediately rise again and don’t stay in the lowered position for very long. The two most common uses for this technique are to duck under a high strike such as a hook punch and to attack the legs. We will look at how this technique can be used in more detail in a later chapter.
The Clinch Before we begin our discussion of specific elbow boxing techniques, you should be familiar with the clinch and common positions that can occur from a clinch. The clinch is extremely important in elbow boxing because it can be used to control the opponent’s movement, prevent strikes, prevent a takedown, and set you up to deliver powerful elbow strikes. When engaged in a clinch, you should try to force the opponent into a wall or other obstacle to injure him and to assist you in controlling his movement. There are three primary clinch positions that you should know and practice your elbow boxing skills from. Let’s look at each one in detail. 1) The Neck Lever Clinch 2) The Body Wrap Clinch 3) The Head and Arm Wrap Clinch
The Neck Lever Clinch- The neck lever clinch is a slight variation of a technique used in Muay Thai kickboxing. It is extremely useful for controlling the opponent’s movement, defending against knee attacks, and executing elbow strikes. To perform the neck lever clinch, grab the opponent around the neck with both hands. Your lead hand cups the back of the opponent’s head, and your rear hand grabs the wrist of your lead arm. Squeeze the forearms together to pinch the opponent’s neck. It is important not to use the thumb to grab with your rear hand, keep the thumb on the same side as the fingers when you grip. From this position you can twist the opponent from side to side, crank his head over to either side, or release the grip momentarily to launch elbow strikes. While holding the neck lever clinch, you can point your elbows straight down to stop any knee strikes the opponent might throw. You can also pull the opponent straight down as well. Although this technique is very versatile, you should keep in mind that both of the opponent’s hands are free and can be used to strike. As a result, you should stay close to him, keep your head down, and control his head to keep him off balance until you are ready to attack with your elbow strikes. In the below series of photos, the elbow boxer obtains a neck lever clinch on his opponent. He twists the opponent sideways to off balance him and set him up
for strikes. From this position the elbow boxer could launch knee strikes, elbow attacks, or execute a takedown on the opponent. It is extremely important to control the head and squeeze the neck with your forearms. There is a saying in the martial arts, “Control the head and you control the body”.
The Body Wrap Clinch- Many times when the clinch occurs, you will naturally grab the opponent around the body. When this happens, drive the opponent into any available obstacle such as a wall, car, or post. With the opponent against the obstacle, your lead arm wraps around his waist with your hand flat on his back. Your lead shoulder is pressed into his chest, and your head is in close to the opponent to prevent strikes. Your rear arm should be kept near the opponent’s legs and can be used to strike or defend against knees or kicks. To launch an attack from this position, push off from the opponent with your shoulder and immediately deliver a round elbow strike to the opponent’s head. Follow up with additional strikes, escape, or return to the clinch position. You can also grasp both hands around the opponent’s waist and squeeze in on his lower back to control him as shown in the below photo. If the opponent tries to disengage from the clinch, you should immediately attack with rapid combinations of elbow strikes.
The Head and Arm Wrap Clinch- The head and arm wrap clinch is a favorite among wrestlers and might be the most common clinch position you will encounter. It can be problematic because if the opponent controls your arms, he will be able to prevent you from executing strikes. In this clinch, you must obtain the superior position of control. This position is shown in the photograph below. Your lead arm is wrapped around the opponent’s neck with your hand cupping his head. Your rear arm wraps around the opponent’s arm and grips near his elbow or triceps muscle. Once you achieve this position, drive into the opponent’s head with your shoulder and keep your head close to his body. Be careful of headbutts and knee strikes when in this clinch position. You must also keep your head down to avoid a hook punch from the opponent’s free hand.
Elbow Boxing Strikes The term elbow boxing comes from the fact that your elbow strikes are used in the same manner that a boxer uses his hands. In this section we will discuss the nine basic elbow boxing techniques that make up the offensive system. We will also look at two additional elbow attacking concepts that have been incorporated into elbow boxing. These techniques are listed below. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9)
The Lead Elbow The Round Elbow (Hook) The Reverse Elbow The Upward Elbow The Downward Elbow The Rear Elbow Cross The Diagonal Elbow The Drop Elbow The Raking Elbow
Additional Elbow Attacking Concepts 1) Smashing Elbow 2) Spearing Elbow
The Lead Elbow- The lead elbow strike is the primary tool in elbow boxing. It is a rapid-fire technique that is thrown straight to the target without being telegraphed. The lead elbow normally moves vertically but might rise or fall slightly depending on the intended target and the height of your opponent. To execute the lead elbow strike from the boxer’s posture, shoot the elbow straight forward and into the target. This technique is never thrown alone and should be immediately followed with other strikes. It is very important to retract the lead elbow strike quickly after impacting the target. The strike should return along the same path that it travelled to the target, just as quickly as it was thrown. The primary targets for the lead elbow strike are the opponent’s Solar Plexus, face, and the chin or jaw. In the first two photos below, the elbow boxer shuffle steps in and jabs between the opponent’s
guard with a lead elbow strike. In the second two photographs, he shuffle steps in, slips the opponent’s lead hand, and strikes him in the Solar Plexus. In most cases, the target you chose to attack will depend on the opening the opponent gives you in his defense.
The Lead Elbow Thrown to the Face
The Lead Elbow Thrown to the Solar Plexus The Round Elbow (Hook)- The round elbow strike or hook, is a
powerful attack that travels in a short circular motion to the target. With proper use of the hips and body weight, this technique generates tremendous power and is truly devastating. The round elbow is normally thrown to the jaw or temple area of the opponent. To execute this strike from the boxer’s posture, move into the opponent and drive your elbow in a short circular motion into the target. It is important to follow through with the strike and flow directly into other elbow boxing techniques. The initial motion of this technique should travel straight forward and be identical to the motion of the lead elbow strike. Only at the end of the strike does the arm rotate down and roll into a round elbow strike. This keeps the strike from being telegraphed and hides your intentions from the opponent. In the below photos, the elbow boxer delivers a round elbow strike to the opponent’s temple while he simultaneously checks his lead hand.
The Reverse Elbow- The reverse elbow strike is the opposite of the round elbow strike. If you are facing the opponent in a right boxer’s posture, your lead elbow will travel from the left to the right in a clockwise circular motion. This technique should be executed in a short whipping circle with almost no wind up. From the boxer’s posture, simply cut the elbow back across the target to prevent telegraphing the attack. This technique can also be done as a spinning elbow strike, which generates an incredible amount of power. The spinning elbow is not used often because you must turn your back to the
opponent for a moment which leaves you vulnerable to attack. One exception where the spinning elbow is very useful is when the opponent has pushed you in a certain direction. You simply use the momentum of the push to spin around and execute the strike. The reverse elbow works very well in combination with the elbow hook and the lead elbow strikes. In the below sequence of photographs, the elbow boxer parries a punch from the opponent downward as he enters and strikes with the reverse elbow attack to the opponent’s orbital socket. In the initial movement, the elbow boxer could execute a limb destruction to the opponent’s fist, or a hooking punch along with the parry. This can set up the reverse elbow strike without any wasted motion.
The Upward Elbow (Uppercut)- The upward elbow strike is a highly effective technique that comes up underneath the opponent’s guard, just like an uppercut strike in boxing. As a result, this technique is also referred to as an uppercut elbow. The upward elbow is extremely effective when the opponent is leaning forward or has bent over from a low attack. You can also hook the opponent’s neck and pull him down with one hand while you execute the upward elbow strike with your other arm. To execute the upward elbow strike, bend your knees and rise on your toes as the elbow contacts the target. Like the previous strikes, always strike through the intended target and follow up with combinations of other strikes. In the below sequence of techniques, the attacker in white punches to the body of the elbow boxer. He defends by parrying the punch downward, entering in, and driving an upward elbow strike to the attacker’s chin. As the upward elbow strike makes contact, the palm and forearm cover the side of the head to protect against a possible punch from the opponent’s rear hand.
The Downward Elbow- The downward elbow strike follows the opposite path as the upward elbow strike. It is commonly used to knock down the opponent’s guard hand to open him up for other attacks. The downward elbow is also extremely effective when an opponent is bent over, exposing his neck. This often occurs when the attacker tries to shoot in for a takedown or has been pulled forward during an attack. Bend your knees and drop your body weight to generate maximum power as you deliver the downward elbow
In the above sequence, the attacker throws a punch at the elbow boxer who avoids the attack by slipping to the inside. He immediately enters and hooks the attacker’s neck and forces his head down. He then executes a downward elbow strike to the base of the skull, behind the opponent’s neck.
The Rear Elbow (Cross)- Except for the lead elbow strike, all elbow boxing techniques can be executed with either the front or rear elbow. A straight elbow strike from the rear is called the elbow cross. All other elbow strikes executed from the rear are just called a rear version of that strike. For example, an elbow hook executed with the rear elbow is simply a rear elbow hook strike. As a rule, elbow strikes thrown from the lead arm are faster but will not be as powerful as elbow strikes thrown from the rear. By contrast, rear attacks will usually have more power, but will be slower and easier for the opponent to counter. You will normally start your attack with a lead elbow strike and rear elbow strikes will automatically become part of your striking combinations. In the below picture, the elbow boxer uses a straight elbow cross to strike the opponent in the Solar Plexus.
The Elbow Cross The Diagonal Elbow- The diagonal elbow strike is an extremely powerful attack that is very similar to the elbow strike used in Muay Thai kick boxing. Because the strike comes in a downward diagonal path to the target, it is very hard for the opponent to see and defend against. The diagonal elbow generates a lot of momentum as it travels to the target. This momentum combined with the turning of your hips, gravity, and the dropping of the body weight all contribute to the immense power of this strike. If the cross is the knockout blow in boxing, the diagonal elbow strike is the knockout blow in elbow boxing. The diagonal elbow strike also flows very
well when used in combination with other strikes. In the below photographs, the elbow boxer parries a rear punch from the opponent and maintains contact with his arm to check it. He directs the opponent’s arm down and immediately attacks with a diagonal elbow strike to the temple.
The Drop Elbow- The drop elbow strike is a deceptive blow that can be used to injure the opponent’s leg and take him to the ground. When properly applied, the drop elbow strike will cause the opponent’s leg to go numb, making it difficult for him to stand up. To execute the drop elbow, lower your body rapidly and drive your elbow into the opponent’s leg right above his
knee. Rise back up immediately and continue with elbow combinations to the opponent’s head. You can also grab the opponent’s ankle with your rear hand as you strike his leg. Then lever him to the ground. In the below series of photos, the elbow boxer in black, ducks under a punch from the opponent and executes a drop elbow strike to his leg. He immediately comes back up and executes a reverse elbow to the opponent’s temple. The entire technique is executed in a split second. This technique should be used cautiously because it can leave you in a vulnerable position if haphazardly applied. To use this attack as a takedown, pull the opponent’s ankle forward as you drive the drop elbow strike into the knee. Rather than follow through the target with the elbow strike, use it to lever the opponent backwards to the ground. When the opponent falls, you can maintain control of his ankle as you stomp his groin, or you can make your escape.
The Raking Elbow- The raking elbow is a technique that is used to scrape the opponent’s face or knock away his hands to expose target areas. It is executed by moving the elbow to the left or right in a quick raking manner with the forearm in a vertical position. The raking elbow does not have a lot of power and is used more for distraction or to set up other strikes. In the below series of photographs, the elbow boxer closes the distance and knocks the opponent’s lead hand down with his lead hand. He then executes a raking elbow from right to left across the opponent’s face. He immediately follows with a raking elbow from left to right across the opponent’s face. Notice how the initial raking elbow strike could be used to expose the opponent’s jaw to other techniques such as a round elbow strike.
Additional Elbow Attacking Concepts The Smashing Elbow- The smashing elbow is a concept that is often seen in traditional martial arts systems. It involves grabbing the opponent’s head with one hand and then smashing his head between the hand and an elbow strike. This is an extremely powerful method of delivering elbow
strikes, but it does require the use of both hands to execute. Most of the elbow techniques we have discussed previously can be used to deliver an elbow smash, but the round elbow strike and the diagonal elbow strike tend to be the most effective. In the below photos, the elbow boxer attacks with an upward elbow strike. Immediately following the strike, he drops his forearm straight down and grabs the opponent’s head. He then delivers a diagonal smashing elbow from the rear.
The Spearing Elbow- The spearing elbow is another technique that can be employed in an encounter. The concept here is to drive directly through the opponent using your elbow to impale him. You should try and time the attack for when the opponent is moving into you and then drive the tip of your elbow straight into the opponent’s throat or solar plexus. This strike is like the lead elbow strike, but with the forearm held in a horizontal position. The key to the spearing elbow is maximum penetration through the opponent. In the below photos, the elbow boxer slips inside of a lead punch from the opponent. He then takes off like a runner from the starting blocks and drives a spearing elbow through the opponent. Keep the opponent off balance with this technique and drive him into objects like a wall or fence. You can also knock him over objects such as a table or fire hydrant. Use the environment to your advantage. This is a very important strategy in the elbow boxing system of combat.
At this point you know proper posture, footwork, how to close the distance, clinching, and basic striking techniques. In the next chapter we will look at the defensive skills needed to continue your elbow boxing journey.
Defensive Skills Elbow boxing is a very aggressive fighting system with a mental attitude that offense is the best defense. Your primary goal when involved in an encounter should be to attack, and counterattack. You should always seek to overwhelm your opponent and keep him on the defense. As a rule, never use a defensive technique more than twice without launching an attack. Even with an offensive mind set, you will need to be skilled in defensive techniques as well. There are five categories of defense that we will examine in this chapter. These categories are as follows. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)
Blocking Parrying/Elbow Deflection Checking/Jamming Limb Destruction Evasion
We will also discuss the three concepts below which are a vital part of effective defense. 1) The Four Zones of Defense 2) Body Zoning 3) Angles of attack
Blocking Blocking is the least desirable method of defense. Typically, a block takes longer to execute than other defensive methods and uses brute force to meet and incoming attack head on. Unlike the movies, it is almost impossible to block multiple strikes thrown in rapid combination from an opponent. As a result, you will rarely see blocks used in elbow boxing. The one exception to this is the covering block which is used to absorb incoming blows from the boxer’s posture. The covering block is done by keeping the elbows in close to your ribs to absorb any circular attacks that the opponent throws to your body. The forearms can close to defend against straight attacks to the body or head. This technique requires very little movement but should be used only to absorb one or two unexpected strikes. You should always counterattack
immediately after absorbing any strike and put pressure back on the opponent. In the below photos, the attacker throws a punch to the elbow boxer’s midsection. He executes a body pivot and blocks the punch inward with his forearm. If you do use blocking techniques against your opponent’s attacks, try to damage his attacking limbs and hurt him with the block.
Parrying/Elbow Deflection Parrying- Parrying is a highly effective method of defense that is a natural human reaction to a threat. The most common type of parry is a simple slap inward to deflect an attack. When using a parry, you should keep the elbows in close to your body and use a turn of your waist to assist with deflecting the opponent’s strike. Be sure not to overextend your arm when parrying since this will leave you open to other strikes. In the below series of photographs, the elbow boxer deflects a punch thrown from the opponent’s rear hand with an inside parry. He uses only enough motion to make the punch miss and doesn’t overextend himself. He can then follow up with any attack he chooses.
The Elbow Deflection- In addition to parrying with the open hand, the elbow deflection is a very common defensive technique used to deflect incoming attacks. The elbow deflection is done from the boxer’s posture by twisting the upper body as you shoot out an elbow to deflect the opponent’s attack. The elbow deflection differs from a limb destruction defense because you are simply trying to deflect the attack, and not damage the opponent’s striking limb. In the photos below, the opponent throws a low punch to the elbow boxer’s stomach. He pivots his body and deflects the attack inward with his elbow. Just like the parry defense, be sure not to overextend with the deflection.
Checking/Jamming Checking and jamming are highly useful techniques used to stop an opponent’s attack before it gets started. It requires some practice in order to become proficient with this technique, but once mastered, it will allow you to quickly turn the tables on your adversary. The key to developing skill in checking and jamming is being able to read your opponent’s body movement and look for motion that telegraphs his intentions. For example, it is quite common for an untrained fighter to pull his arm or shoulder back slightly before throwing a punch. You will also see some fighters shift their weight to their rear leg just before they throw a kick. Sometimes the attacker will give away his intentions by looking at his intended target before he strikes. All these examples are clues that allow you to stop an attack mid-stream before it is launched. Because elbow boxing takes place in very close proximity to the opponent, the primary checking technique you will use is a shoulder check to stop a punch.
The Shoulder Check- To execute a shoulder check, simply drive your palm out and into the opponent’s shoulder just before he punches. Immediately follow the shoulder check with elbow strikes. In the below photos, the attacker starts to throw a hook punch, but the elbow boxer drives his palm into his shoulder to stop the attack. He immediately follows up with a rear round elbow strike.
Shoulder Check Take Down Defense- A shoulder check with the elbow can also be used to stop an attempted takedown. In the below series of pictures, the elbow boxer assumes the prep posture as the opponent gets mouthy. Suddenly the opponent drops low and attempts to shoot in for a takedown. The elbow boxer drops his body weight and drives a vertical elbow strike into the opponent’s shoulder blade as he hooks under his other arm. From this position, he can immediately attack with elbow combinations and knee strikes.
The concept of limb destruction can be found in several martial arts. The general premise is that you attack the opponent’s striking limb and try to damage it. This will either injure the attacker or cause him to have second thoughts about throwing another strike. Anytime the opponent attacks, you want him to feel like he is running into your elbows. In the below sequence, the attacker in white, throws a lead punch. The elbow boxer raises his rear arm and lets the opponent’s incoming punch collide with his elbow. The opponent then attacks with a cross. The defender guides that punch into his lead elbow with his rear hand. If the technique is properly applied, the attacker will probably have broken both of his hands at this point. Even if your elbows miss the opponent’s fists, don’t hesitate. You should continue to move in and attack him with combinations of strikes.
The downward elbow strike is another excellent technique that can be used for limb destruction. In the below picture, the attacker tries to kick the elbow boxer in the ribs with a side kick. He immediately drops his body weight and drives the downward elbow strike into the attacker’s leg to stop the kick.
Evasion Evasion is an art and science of its own. It is considered the highest level of defense because when properly used, the opponent can’t touch you. Evasion involves slipping, ducking, bobbing, weaving, rolling, and tracing. We will break each of these elements down and discuss how they are used in evasion. It should be stressed that a lot of practice is required to become proficient in evasion skills. Training must be done with a partner who is really trying to hit you.
Slipping- Slipping is the technique of moving your head and or body just enough so that an attack slips by without making contact. When slipping an opponent’s attack, you want the strike to just miss the intended target. This allows you to counter quickly with the highest economy of motion. It also allows you to stay near the opponent so you can execute follow up strikes, clinch, or apply a joint manipulation technique. Slipping can also be done with a parry for extra protection, but ultimately you want to develop the ability to slip an opponent’s strike without using any other method of defense. This will ensure both of your hands are available to deliver counter strikes to the opponent. To practice slipping, have your training partner put on boxing gloves and slowly throw straight punches at your face as you slip to avoid the strike. As you get better, increase the speed until eventually your training partner is throwing full speed punches. You can also have your training partner use a broom stick with some padding attached to the end to poke at your face while you practice slipping to the left or right. In the below photograph, the elbow boxer slips a lead punch from the attacker to the outside as he simultaneously prepares to execute an elbow strike.
Ducking- Ducking is done by lowering your body rapidly to avoid a high attack. It is important to bend your knees when ducking and to not lean your upper body too far forward. As you duck, try to keep your upper body as vertical as possible. Like slipping, the opponent’s strike should just miss the intended target. High hook punches are probably the most common strike that you would use this technique against, but any high attack could be avoided with a duck. In the below photo, the attacker throws a high hooking punch. The elbow boxer bends his legs and ducks under the strike. He keeps his eyes on the opponent and his hands up. His body is also held upright to allow for additional defense and quick counter strikes.
Bobbing and Weaving- Bobbing and weaving are methods of evading strikes by moving your head from side to side, or up and down rapidly so you are a harder target to hit. This technique should be done conservatively, and you should avoid wasting energy by bouncing around too much. The bob and weave are often used in conjunction with the slip. An excellent way to train the bob and weave is to place a piece of rope across the training area horizontally at about shoulder height. Practice the shuffle step forward and backwards while moving your head down and up in a semicircle from one side of the rope to the other. An alternative is to have your training partner hold out a broom stick at shoulder height. Practice bending the knees and moving your head down and then up to both sides of the stick. Remember your goal is to stay mobile and evade attacks. A moving target is always harder to hit.
Rolling- The roll is a defensive technique where you step offline from an attack and rotate your upper body to deflect or avoid the strike. Propper use of the roll can get your body out of the line of an attack or dissipate an attack that makes contact. It is important to keep the elbows tucked into the body while rolling. The second way that rolling is used is to roll the upper body back just enough so that a strike from the opponent falls short. To best grasp the concept of rolling, visualize a rock being skipped off the surface of a lake. When properly executed, a roll will cause the opponent’s attack to skip off your body just like the rock skips off the water. In the below picture, the
elbow boxer rolls back slightly to avoid an opponent’s punch to his face.
Tracing- Tracing is a counteroffensive technique that can be used in conjunction with rolling and other evasive movements. The idea behind tracing is that you evade a strike from the opponent, and then follow his strike directly back with your own attack. Because your counter strike travels on the same path that the opponent’s strike came in on, it can be deceptive and difficult for him to see coming. To practice tracing, have your training partner put on boxing gloves and attack you with a strike. Evade his strike and launch your own attack on the exact line his strike came in on. In many cases, the attacker’s own striking limb will obstruct his vision of your counterattack following it back.
Additional Defensive Concepts The Four Zones of Defense- For purposes of defense, the body can be divided into four sectors or zones that can be targeted by attack. These four sectors are called the high inside, high outside, low inside, and low outside zones. Specific parries or defensive skills can be used to defend each zone from attack. The below picture shows the four zones of defense.
The Four Zones of Defense
The below photos provide some examples of how the four zones can be defended. These techniques are only some of the possibilities. Compare each defensive technique to the corresponding zone. Understanding the four zones of defense will give you the tools you need to respond more effectively to any strike from the opponent. A high outside parry, a high inside parry, low inside elbow deflection, low outside elbow deflection, a low forearm deflection, and a low outside parry can all be seen below.
Body Zoning-Body zoning refers to moving your body to a position relative to your opponent’s where his attack will cause you the least amount of damage. Let’s examine the concept of zoning in a little more detail. In the diagram shown below, you are facing the opponent and he is holding a stick in his right hand. The opponent decides to hit you with the stick and starts to swing it in your direction. Although the stick is obviously swung in one fluid motion, the diagram breaks the motion down into three stages for purposes of explanation. If you stand still and don’t move, the stick will hit you with one hundred percent power upon impact. If on the other hand you stepped forward about half the distance to the opponent as the strike occurs, you would be in a zone where the stick would only generate fifty percent of its possible power upon impact. In the third option, you crash directly into the opponent just as he starts to swing the stick, or you sidestep in and to the left before the stick generates any power. This movement to an area where the stick has not yet generated maximum power is called zoning. The goal of zoning is to move from a position where opponent’s attack has one hundred percent power to the area where it has the least amount of power. This area is called the zero zone. This concept applies to any attack from the opponent, not just a strike with a stick. As stated above, there are three ways you can use zoning to get to the zero zone. The first method is to crash directly into the opponent just as he starts his strike. Essentially you check or jam his attack before it can get started. The second method is to move to the right, to the point where the attack has already reached the one hundred percent zone
and is now losing power as it moves to the zero point. An example of this would be to sidestep right and slip a straight punch to the inside. The final option is to zone left and stop the attack before it can get started or gain much momentum. An example of this option is the shoulder check we discussed previously. Study the diagram below and experiment with strikes from your training partner to fully understand this concept. It sounds complicated, but it really is quite simple in practice.
Angles of Attack- In addition to the zones of defense and the body zoning principle, you should also be familiar with the six primary angles of attack. Whenever the opponent launches his attack, it will almost always travel along one of the six angles shown in the picture below. These angles come from the Filipino martial arts and can be used for both attack and defense. Knowledge of the attacking angles will help you defend against any strike your opponent throws. Let’s look at each one of the angles in more detail.
1) Angle 1- An angle one attack travels in a downward diagonal to the opponent’s upper left side. Attacks to this angle could include a round elbow strike to the temple, a hook punch to the jaw, or a downward diagonal elbow strike to the collar bone. 2) Angle 2- The angle two attack travels in an upward diagonal to the opponent’s lower right side. Attacks to angle two could include a front kick or an upward knee strike.
3) Angle 3- An attack to angle three travels in a downward diagonal to the opponent’s upper right side. A backfist strike, rear round elbow strike, or rear hook punch could all travel along the angle three path. 4) Angle 4- An angle four strike travels in an upward diagonal path to the opponent’s lower left side. A low roundhouse kick, round knee strike, or uppercut elbow all travel along this angle. 5) Angle 5- The angle five attack is a downward blow to the head that can slice all the way down the body, to the floor. The downward elbow strike is a good example of this angle. 6) Angle 6- The angle six attack travels straight into the body. Examples of this angle of attack include a straight punch, the lead elbow strike, and the reverse elbow cross.
Angles of Attack Recognizing the angles of attack will help you deal with any strike that comes your way. It is important to remember that these angles represent the direction the attack travels and do not represent specific targets. For example, a lead elbow strike to the opponent’s nose and a straight punch to the opponent’s stomach both travel along angle six even though they are executed at different heights and to different targets.
The angles of attack can be a very useful tool for training. Start off slow by having your training partner attack you in numerical order along each angle of attack. You practice defending against strikes to each angle. As your skill progresses, increase your speed and have the training partner attack you along random angles. After a couple months of this type of training, you will be able to successfully defend against any attack from any angle. If you take the time to master the defensive skills outlined in this chapter, you will be able to protect yourself from an opponent’s attack and better utilize your offensive skills to end the fight quickly.
Combinations Elbow boxing techniques are almost always thrown in combinations and rarely as single attacks. Multiple attacks are much harder for the opponent to defend against than a single attack. The goal in elbow boxing is to completely overwhelm the attacker and keep him on the defense so that you can end the fight as quickly as possible. You should get in the habit of always using at least three or four elbow strikes in combination when you attack. In this chapter we will look at a few of the most effective combinations you can use against your attacker. After these combinations become second nature to you, you should develop additional ones of your own. The mastery of elbow boxing combinations will turn you into a human buzz saw against your opponent. We will start our study with the following. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9)
Lead-Hook-Rear Uppercut Reverse-Lead-Hook Uppercut-Hook-Rear Diagonal Hook-Hook-Rear Uppercut Uppercut-Rear Diagonal-Hook Rake-Rear Uppercut-Lead Diagonal Lead-Lead Uppercut-Rear Diagonal Hook-Reverse-Rear Uppercut-Lead Lead-Rear Diagonal-Hook-Rear Uppercut
Lead-Hook-Rear Uppercut- Shoot a lead elbow strike straight to the attacker’s face. Without stopping your motion, immediately roll the elbow around and execute a round elbow strike (Hook) to the opponent’s temple. Follow up with a rear upward elbow strike to the opponent’s chin. In the photos below, the elbow boxer checks the opponent’s hands as needed during the combination of strikes. Master the combinations in this chapter with just the elbow strikes at first, then add the hand checks as needed depending on your opponent’s actions.
Reverse -Lead-Hook- Execute a reverse elbow strike across the opponent’s face to the orbital socket. Without stopping the momentum of the attack, flow directly into a lead elbow strike to his solar plexus. Finish with a round elbow strike to his temple. It is important that each of the three strikes flow seamlessly into one another. The rear hand can check the opponent’s hands or remain in close to the body for protection depending on the situation.
Uppercut-Hook-Rear Diagonal- In this combination of techniques, throw an upward elbow strike to the opponent’s chin followed by a round elbow strike to his temple. A rear diagonal elbow strike is then thrown to the opponent’s temple to finish the combination.
Hook-Hook-Rear Uppercut- This combination starts by doubling up the round elbow strike to the opponent’s temple in rapid succession followed by a rear upward elbow strike to his chin. Any time the same technique is executed in two successive strikes, it is called doubling up the technique.
Uppercut-Rear Diagonal Elbow-Hook- This powerful combination starts with an upward elbow strike, followed by a rear diagonal elbow strike, and finishes with a round elbow strike. Executing these combinations in a rapid blast will make it extremely difficult for the opponent to counter or defend himself.
Rake-Rear Uppercut-Lead Diagonal- Execute an outside raking elbow strike across the opponent’s face. Follow with a rear upward elbow strike and finish with a lead diagonal elbow strike to his temple.
Lead-Lead Uppercut-Rear Diagonal- Jab the opponent in the face with a lead elbow strike and immediately follow up with an upward elbow strike. A rear diagonal elbow strike finishes the combination.
Hook-Reverse-Rear Uppercut Elbow-Lead- This rapid combination starts with a round elbow strike to the opponent’s jaw, followed by a reverse elbow strike back across his face. You then hit him with a rear upward elbow strike to the chin followed by a lead elbow strike to his solar plexus.
Lead-Rear Diagonal-Hook-Rear Uppercut- Execute a lead elbow strike to the opponent’s face between his guard and follow up with a rear diagonal elbow strike to his face. Immediately hook him with a round elbow strike and then finish the combination with a rear upward elbow strike.
Elbow Boxing with Joint Manipulation Elbow boxing originally focused strictly on striking skills, but as the art evolved, other elements of fighting were added to compliment the system. Certain joint manipulation techniques have now become a vital component of elbow boxing. In this chapter we will look at how joint manipulation can be employed with your elbow strikes, but before we get started there are a few principles you should be familiar with that will make your techniques more practical and efficient. These principles are described below.
Hyperextension and Joint Rotation- Your joints naturally bend and rotate in certain directions in order to function properly. When you bend or twist a joint in the opposite direction, you hyperextend it. This action is what causes the joint to become locked out. When the joint becomes locked out, you are able to control the opponent through leverage or pain compliance. You also have the ability to attack the joint and further hyperextend or break it. To use joint locks effectively, you should become familiar with the primary joints on the body such as the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Learn which direction to rotate each joint in order to lock it.
Pain Compliance- When you hyperextend an opponent’s joint, you cause pain to occur. This pain can be used to gain compliance from the opponent. Pain compliance is what causes a no holds barred fighter to tap out and submit to a joint lock. However, pain compliance must be used cautiously. Some opponents you encounter might be on drugs or have an extremely high pain threshold and they will not be controlled through pain compliance alone. In these cases, leverage and proper locking of the joint will be imperative to maintain control. Once pain compliance is gained, you should release pressure on the joint very slightly while still maintaining control of the opponent. If you don’t release a little pressure, the opponent’s limb or joint might become numb from the pain causing them to no longer feel the lock. An opponent who initially complies due to pain, might fight out of the joint lock when this occurs.
Flow and Release- Being able to flow effortlessly from one technique to another is critical in a fight. This is especially true when applying joint
manipulation techniques. You should never try to force a lock on an opponent who is muscling out of it. Either release the attempted lock and deliver strikes, or flow into a different joint manipulation technique. You can often use the opponent’s resistance to your advantage and flow into another lock in the direction he was resisting.
Soften Them Up Before Attempting Joint Manipulations- The fact is that joint manipulation techniques are very difficult to pull off on a fresh opponent who is resisting. Most locks require a wrist or limb to be grabbed and this is almost impossible when the attacker is throwing rapid strikes at you. You should only attempt to apply a joint manipulation technique after you have stunned the opponent with strikes, or he is off balance and vulnerable. In some cases, your adversary might be drunk, and his reflexes are slowed which gives you the opportunity for applying a lock. Your training should always include the practice of all techniques including joint locks, on a partner who is resisting. With practice, your skill at applying these techniques under pressure will greatly improve. We will now look at the following joint manipulation techniques and how they can be implemented with elbow boxing. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9)
Straight Arm Lock/Break Bent Arm Lever Against a Grab Shoulder Lock with Lead Elbow Figure Four Arm Lock with Elbow Hook Upward Arm Lever to Downward Arm Lever/Break Outside Wrist Lock with Elbow Hook Wrap Around Armbar with Rear Elbow Hook Neck Crank/Guillotine Choke Inside Wrist Lock with Downward Elbow Break
Straight Arm Lock/Break- The attacker throws a lead punch which the elbow boxer parries as he hits the attacking arm with a vertical elbow limb destruction. The elbow boxer then grasps the attacker’s wrist and executes an outside arm lock by striking and leveraging the attacker’s elbow joint with a rear elbow strike. He finishes the opponent by checking the attacker’s arm
and executing a round elbow strike to his head. Rather than finish with the elbow strike, the elbow boxer could have forced the attacker to the ground and controlled him with the arm bar.
Bent Arm Lever Against a Grab- The opponent grabs the defender by the shirt and attempts a rear punch. The defender immediately checks his grabbing hand as he intercept with an upward elbow strike. Next, he applies a wrist lock to the opponent with his rear hand and drives his lead forearm into the opponent’s arm, levering him downward. As the opponent bends over from the arm lever, the defender delivers a round elbow strike with his lead arm.
Shoulder Lock with Lead Elbow- The shoulder lock is an excellent technique for controlling the opponent’s upper body so you can deliver elbow and knee strikes. In the below sequence, the elbow boxer deflects the opponent’s arm downward as he delivers a round elbow strike from the rear. The elbow strike immediately turns into a forearm chop to the opponent’s
neck as the checking arm wraps inside the opponent’s arm and into a shoulder lock. These two motions happen simultaneously. From the shoulder lock, the elbow boxer finishes with a rear lead elbow strike. Additional strikes could be delivered, or the opponent could easily be forced to the ground and controlled with the shoulder lock.
Figure Four Arm Lock with Elbow Hook- In the below series of photos, the elbow boxer makes contact with the opponent’s arm during an exchange of techniques. He immediately grasps the opponent’s wrist and delivers a round elbow strike to his jaw. With the opponent stunned, the
elbow boxer bends his arm inward and applies a figure four arm bar by grabbing his own wrist and turning his body outward. As he applies the figure four arm lock, the elbow boxer drives a round elbow strike into the attacker’s jaw.
Upward Arm Lever to Downward Arm Lever/Break- The upward arm lever to downward arm lever is a perfect example of the principle of flow. In this technique, the elbow boxer grabs the attacker’s wrist and applies an upward arm lever by using his inner forearm to lift up under the attacker’s elbow. As he lifts under the attacker’s elbow, he also applies downward pressure with the grasped wrist. The attacker is strong and starts to bend his arm or muscle out of the technique, so the elbow boxer rotates his arm around the attacker’s elbow and flows into a downward arm lever. As the attacker bends over from the arm lever, the elbow boxer delivers a downward elbow strike directly to his elbow joint. If the opponent starts to fight out of the downward arm lever, the elbow boxer will release the lock and attack with combinations of strikes. The ability to feel the opponent’s movement and read his intentions are important skills that allow you to instantly adapt to the situation. This can only be achieved through constant practice with a training partner who provides various levels of resistance.
Outside Wrist Lock with Elbow Strike- The opponent attempts an attack which is jammed by the elbow boxer. As the opponent retracts his arm, the elbow boxer maintains contact and applies an outside wrist lock. While maintaining the wrist lock, he immediately strikes with a round elbow attack. The outside wrist lock is applied by grabbing the opponent’s hand on the fleshy side near the thumb and twisting it outward to apply pressure on the wrist joint. Your thumb should be placed right below the opponent’s middle knuckle for the best control. Both hands can be used for extra control if the situation allows. The illustrations below show how to apply the outside wrist lock.
The Outside Wrist Lock Wrap Around Arm Bar with Rear Elbow Hook- The wrap around
arm bar is very effective when the opponent attempts to grab you around the waist or starts to disengage from the clinch. In the below series of photos, the elbow boxer is engaged in a clinch with the attacker. As the attacker attempts to break from the clinch, the elbow boxer wraps his arm around his elbow joint tightly and quickly twists his body inward to lock the arm. When done correctly, the attacker will rise on his toes from the arm lock. The elbow boxer immediately attacks with a round elbow strike while maintaining the lock.
Neck Crank/Guillotine Choke- The neck crank is a very painful and damaging lock to the opponent’s neck that can easily transition into a guillotine choke. When cranking the neck, pressure is applied to the neck and spine, but with the choke, the opponent’s airway is targeted. In the below
series of photos, the elbow boxer attacks with a lead elbow strike to the opponent’s neck. He continues to drive the forearm forward as he applies a shoulder lock to the opponent. The elbow boxer then wraps his lead arm around the opponent’s head and places his forearm under his chin. To lock in the neck crank, he grabs his other wrist and lifts upward with his arms to apply pressure on the opponent’s neck. To transition into a guillotine choke, he would release the shoulder lock, grasp the wrist of the arm around the opponent’s neck, and lift up to apply pressure on the airway.
Inside Wrist Lock with Downward Elbow Break- The inside wrist lock can be used in conjunction with a number of elbow boxing strikes. In the below series of photos, the attacker grabs the elbow boxer’s shoulder and attempts a haymaker punch. The elbow boxer immediately turns towards the attacker and knocks his hand away with a reverse elbow strike. He then continues the motion of the strike and slides down the attacker’s arm to secure his wrist. The elbow boxer then twists the attacker’s wrist inward to lock the arm as he delivers a downward elbow strike to break the elbow joint.
Elbow Boxing with Hand Traps As elbow boxing has evolved over the years, certain fighting skills have been mixed and blended with the original system. The art of Wing Chun Kung-fu is one method of fighting that has complimented elbow boxing extremely well. The close-range effectiveness of Wing Chun techniques, the sensitivity training, and the trapping hands skills are an excellent companion to the rapid-fire elbow strikes and combinations found in elbow boxing. In this chapter we will look at a few of the hand traps that elbow boxing has adapted from Wing Chun and learn how to add them to your arsenal of skills.
What is Hand Trapping? For the purposes of elbow boxing, a hand trap is simply immobilizing one or more of the opponent’s hands for a brief moment to facilitate your attack. Although hand trapping techniques have been integrated into elbow boxing, they are not utilized in the exact same way as they are in Wing Chun. The goal in elbow boxing is to prevent the opponent from defending against an attack by taking away their ability to use their hands. An elbow boxer never seeks to apply a trapping technique, it will only be used when the opportunity presents itself. Normally the opportunity to apply a trapping technique will come when points of contact are made with the opponent. Once this contact is made, the elbow boxer will use a hand trap depending on the pressure given by the opponent.
Points of Contact- As the term suggests, a point of contact occurs when your arm contacts the opponent’s arm during a strike or blocking situation. This point of contact is where you will launch your hand trapping attack from. There are basically two points of contact that can occur. These are the high contact point when the arms are upward, and the low contact point when they are downward. It is important to note that the contact point will only occur for a brief second, and then the opportunity to attack with a trap will be gone.
The High Contact Point- In the first picture below, the elbow boxer strikes towards the opponent’s eyes and he raises his lead arm to block the attack. As their arms come into contact in an upward position, a high contact
The Low Contact Point- In the second picture below, the opponent strikes with a low punch towards the elbow boxer. He defends with a low block causing their arms to make contact. This creates a low contact point.
High Contact Point
Low Contact point Response to Pressure During a Contact Point- One of the keys to successful trapping skills is the ability to respond appropriately to the pressure given to you by the opponent once the contact point is made. This is very similar to the concept of using your opponent’s weight against them in judo. Only by practice with an opponent who applies different types of pressure will you master this skill. We will discuss this principle in more
detail as we look at each specific trapping technique. Below is a list of the hand trapping techniques we will cover in this section, along with their Wing Chun names for reference. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6)
Slapping Hand (Pak Sao) Grabbing Hand (Lop Sao) Wing Arm (Bong Sao) Sinking Hand (Jut Sao) Receiving hand (Tan Sao) The Crossing Hands Trap
Slapping Hand (Pak Sao)- The slapping hand is a very valuable technique to add to your fighting system. It differs slightly from a normal parry because it maintains contact with the opponent’s hand and briefly immobilizes it. In most cases you will want to execute the slapping hand near the opponent’s elbow to have the most control, but sometimes you will use it near the forearm or wrist as well. In the below photos, a high contact point is made between the opponent and the elbow boxer. The opponent does not provide much forward pressure with his arm, so the elbow boxer executes a downward slapping hand against his wrist and delivers a round elbow strike to his temple. He could then follow up with any combination of strikes.
Grabbing Hand (Lop Sao)- The grabbing hand technique can add a
tremendous amount of power to an attack because you are pulling the opponent into your strike. In the below series of photos, a high contact point is made between the fighters. The opponent provides forward pressure against the elbow boxer’s arm which allows him to transition into a grabbing hand. He executes the grabbing hand technique and pulls the opponent into an elbow strike.
Wing Arm (Bong Sao)- The Wing Arm is a highly effective technique that can be used for both deflection of an attack or as a limb destruction. In the series of photos below, the opponent provides forward pressure by punching from the initial contact point. The elbow boxer uses the opponent’s forward pressure from the punch to flow into the wing arm deflection. He then grabs the opponent’s wrist and pulls him into a straight elbow spear. He finishes the attack with a slapping hand trap against the opponent’s arm and a rear round elbow strike.
Wing Arm (Bong Sao) as a Limb Destruction Attack- In this second method of using the wing arm, the elbow boxer smashes the opponent’s attacking limb down from the initial contact point. He immediately executes a grabbing hand with a round elbow strike. Notice that in this version of the technique, the wing arm is used with a closed fist because it is being used to impact the opponent’s limb rather than deflect an attack. The mind set in elbow boxing is that the wing arm is an elbow fighting technique and not just a defensive move. To better understand this technique, think of the wing arm deflection and the round elbow strike as simply a doubled up round elbow strike to the opponent’s arm and head. A good elbow boxer can always adapt his techniques depending on the opponent’s actions. For example, the second strike in this technique could be
a reverse elbow or an elbow spear attack. The elbow boxer also has the option of using the slapping hand trap to control the opponent’s arm rather than a grabbing hand.
Sinking Hand (Jut Sao)- The sinking hand technique can be used to jerk an opponent’s hands down and open a target area for a strike. In the below photos, the elbow boxer checks the opponent’s hands in his guard. With his right hand, he jerks the opponent’s hand down suddenly with a sinking hand to create an opening. He then immediately drives a round elbow strike into the opponent’s temple. This entire sequence happens in less than a second. The initial check of the opponent’s hands can be considered a double point of contact. This technique must be executed with explosive power and no hesitation to catch the opponent off guard.
Receiving Hand (Tan Sao)- The receiving hand technique allows you to deflect an opponent’s attack and stick to him to launch your counterattack. In the below series of photos, the elbow boxer angles offline and deflects the opponent’s punch with the receiving hand. He then sticks to his arm for control as he delivers a rear diagonal elbow strike to his temple. The receiving hand technique is not a block, it meets the opponent’s attack and redirects it, sticking and controlling along the way.
Crossing Hands Trap- The Crossing hands trap allows you to completely immobilize the attacker’s hands for a moment, giving you the ability to strike him at will. As the name implies, you immobilize the attacker’s hands by crossing one of his arms over the top of his other arm to prevent him from defending himself for a split second. In the below series of photos, a high contact point is established between the fighters. The opponent provides almost no forward pressure and initiates a low punch to the elbow boxer’s stomach with his rear hand. The elbow boxer immediately defends by grabbing the opponent’s arm and pulling it down and over the attacking arm. This motion momentarily crosses and immobilizes the opponent’s arms. The elbow boxer pushes into the attacker with the grasped arm in order to pin the bottom arm as he attacks with a rear diagonal elbow strike.
Knee Attacks and Kicking Kicking techniques are not used very often in elbow boxing due to the extreme close range you are in with the opponent. The majority of traditional kicks are executed from long range and require greater distance to strike the attacker. However, there are two kicking techniques that do blend very well with close range fighting. In addition, there are two knee attacks that will also complement your elbow boxing skills. In this chapter we will look at how the following knee attacks and kicking techniques can be added to your elbow boxing arsenal. 1) 2) 3) 4)
Upward Knee Strike Round Knee Strike Cross Kick Stomp Kick
Upward Knee Strike- The upward knee strike is very effective from a clinch or when the opponent has grabbed you and tied up your hands. It is executed by driving the knee straight up into the target. In the below photos, the elbow boxer has clinched with the opponent. He secures the opponent’s head and pulls him straight down as he executes an upward knee strike to his face. The elbow boxer would immediately follow up with elbow combinations of attack.
Round Knee Strike- The round knee strike is executed in a slight circular path to the target. It is normally thrown to the body or legs of the attacker but can be also used to target the head by twisting the opponent over in the neck lever clinch. In the below series of photos, the elbow boxer grabs the opponent in a neck lever clinch. He then drives a round elbow strike to his body as he pulls him forward. Notice how the elbow boxer shifts his leg back to get power in the knee strike.
Cross Kick- The cross kick is a strong kick that can be used to attack the opponent’s knees. It is called the cross kick because it is executed with the rear leg and travels across the body to the target. The structure of the cross kick allows for hand techniques to be used in conjunction with the kick. The cross kick can also be used for defense by checking or jamming the opponent’s leg when he tries to throw a kick. In the below series of photos, the opponent pulls away to break from a clinch. The elbow boxer uses the space to execute a cross kick to his knee. He follows up with a rear diagonal elbow smash to the opponent’s head. The cross kick can be executed in two different ways. The first is in a stomping manner as seen in the below photos for the description of this technique. The second, is in a pendulum fashion where the rear leg swings across to the target. The stomping version is better for attack, and the pendulum version is usually better for defense.
Stomp Kick- The stomp kick travels downward to the opponent’s knee and then rakes down the shin to the top of the foot. In the below photos, the opponent pulls back to break away from a clinch. The elbow boxer stomp kicks his knee and follows through by raking down the shin and stomping the foot. He can then immediately follow up with combinations of elbow strikes. This technique is extremely painful if the opponent has not conditioned his
shin bone. Foot stomps are also a great distraction for your upper body strikes. In addition, stepping on the opponent’s foot can be a great tactic to off balance him and limit his mobility.
Training and Conditioning There is an old saying in martial arts, military and law enforcement circles that is extremely true. How you train is how you fight. Having a knowledge of elbow boxing techniques is only part of the process of becoming an effective fighter. You must train, condition, and hone your techniques in order to achieve a high level of skill that will put the odds in your favor when a real encounter occurs. In this chapter we will look at the best methods of training and conditioning to give you the ability to apply all the previous skills you have learned in a real encounter.
Conditioning Conditioning is the process of toughening up the natural weapons of the body so that you can inflict the most damage upon your adversary and avoid injury to yourself. Striking the air, or light sparring with minimal contact, won’t condition the elbows for delivering heavy strikes to the opponent’s head and body. You must toughen up your elbows by striking full force against training targets. A great tool for conditioning the elbows comes from traditional karate and is known in Japanese as the makiwara.
Makiwara Training- The makiwara is a board that is usually covered with straw or canvas and is attached to a hard surface such as a tree or wall. Makiwara boards come in all shapes and sizes and will have various levels of padding depending on the style you choose. As a rule, the more advanced you get in your training, the less padding you should have in your makiwara board. The photo below shows a makiwara board attached to a tree that can easily be purchased through online martial arts supply stores. It is important to remember that conditioning takes time. Always start off slow and strike the makiwara with low to moderate power until your elbows start to toughen up. Gradually you will progress to full power strikes on the makiwara board. It will immediately become apparent that certain elbow boxing techniques are difficult to practice on the makiwara board. Keep in mind that the goal is to condition the striking surfaces of the elbow more so than practicing specific techniques. Later we will discuss other training methods for perfecting specific strikes.
A Common Makiwara Board In the below series of photos, the elbow boxer practices full power elbow strikes on the makiwara board starting with a round elbow strike, reverse elbow strike, and finishing with a lead elbow strike.
Sandbag Training- Another excellent method of conditioning is sandbag training. Sandbags can be easily purchased at hardware stores or garden shops. I recently purchased some sandbags at a local home repair business for less than a dollar a piece. Sandbags that are made specifically for martial arts training can also be obtained from online martial arts supply stores. I recommend filling your training bag with rice or beans in the beginning. Later switch to sand and eventually to small pebbles as your conditioning levels improve. The small pebbles sold at fish tank supply stores are excellent for advanced sandbag training. You will need a solid surface to place the sandbag on while striking. A bar stool or bench will work very well. You can also hang a sandbag on a wall or from a tree. Some types of sandbags are sold with metal rivets that allow them to be hung from various surfaces. You will find that certain elbow boxing strikes that were difficult to practice on the makiwara board can easily be practiced on the sandbag. The downward elbow strike is one example of this.
A Martial Arts Sandbag
Elbow Conditioning on the Sandbag The Elbow Lift Exercise- A simple exercise to condition the tips of the elbows is the elbow lift. In my early days of elbow boxing training, I used to hate this exercise with a passion. Start in a traditional push up position with your hands and toes supporting your body. Next you will lower your body
down, so your forearms support your weight. Next, you will lift the forearms up off the matt so that the tips of the elbows and the toes are the only parts of your body supporting your entire body weight. Hold this position for a few seconds and then gradually lower the forearms back down to their original position, flat on the ground. From the forearms support position, pop back up to the push up position. Repeat the entire series of movements and gradually increase the time that you can support your weight on your elbow tips. If you are unable at first to do the push up portion of the exercise, simply start from the forearm support position and roll up on the elbows. You should do this exercise on a mat or soft surface at first until your elbows get properly conditioned, then you can perform the exercise on a hard surface. The below series of photos shows the elbow lift exercise in its entirety.
The Elbow Lift Exercise
Start in The Traditional Pushup Position
Lower Yourself Down to Your Forearms
Lift Your Forearms and Roll Up on Your Elbows
Lower Your Forearms Back to the Ground
Pop Back Up to The Push Up Position, Then Repeat the Exercise
Heavy Bag Training- The heavy bag is probably the single most important training tool you could have to condition the elbows and develop maximum striking power. Most sporting goods stores sell heavy bags and they come in all sizes and weights. They can be hung from the ceiling of a garage or from a heavy bag stand. There are also free-standing heavy bags that can be purchased. In my opinion, the heavier the heavy bag, the better. One of the benefits of training with a heavy bag is that the bag moves when you strike it. This forces you to stay mobile on your feet and work around the bag as you throw various combinations. The force generated by the bag swinging back at you can also assist with the training of evasive movements or for developing stopping power. The best way to train on the heavy bag is to set a timer and do three-minute rounds. You can purchase a cheap egg timer at your local grocery store for about four dollars. Set the timer for three minutes and strike the bag nonstop until the timer rings. Take a one-minute rest and repeat. In the beginning, three rounds of three minutes each will provide you with an excellent workout that will condition your elbows, develop power, and build your endurance. In the below sequence of photos, elbow striking combinations are executed on a free-standing heavy bag. The elbow boxer strikes with a lead elbow strike, followed by a rear round elbow, a lead round elbow, and a rear cross. Experiment with your own combinations as you train.
Wooden Dummy Training- The wooden dummy is an amazing training tool that has its origins in traditional Chinese Kung-Fu. It allows you to kill two birds with one stone by conditioning your elbows while you are perfecting your striking techniques and trapping skills on the dummy arms. When training with the wooden dummy, you should stay mobile and utilize footwork to move from side to side and off angle. Many defensive techniques such parries, limb destructions, and the elbow deflection can also be practiced on the dummy as you move around and execute your elbow striking combinations. For solo practice, the wooden dummy is hard to beat. Unfortunately, commercial wooden dummies are not cheap and can easily cost several hundred dollars. The good news is that they can be easily made with supplies found at your local hardware store. My first wooden dummy was made with a broom stick cut into three pieces and drilled into a tree. Several years later I made a wooden dummy from a fence post mounted in an old tire filled with concrete. I used wooden shovel handles to make the arms and spent less that twenty dollars on the whole project. I have also made training dummies from PVC pipes and glue. If you can’t afford a commercial wooden dummy, don’t worry, just use your imagination, and build your own.
The Typical Wooden Dummy In the below sequence of photos, the elbow boxer executes a lead elbow limb destruction to the wooden dummy arm. He then grabs the dummy arm and executes an elbow arm break strike. He finishes with a slapping hand trap and a rear round elbow strike to the base of the dummy. Notice how the elbow boxer zones to the side of the wooden dummy as he executes the techniques. The wooden dummy is excellent for giving you a reference of where the opponent will be in relation to your attacks and defensive maneuvers.
Endurance Training- Endurance is a form of conditioning that is critical in a fight. If your endurance level is low, you will quickly become winded and your ability to launch an effective attack will be severely limited. We have all seen no holds barred fights where one fighter starts off overpowering his opponent, only to lose steam and then get defeated. Although the mind set
of elbow boxing is to quickly destroy your attacker, you can’t rely on the fight ending quickly. Running, hitting the heavy bag, jumping rope, and sparring are all excellent ways to build up endurance. The key to endurance training is to get your heart rate and breathing elevated. Don’t neglect this portion of your training.
A Word of Caution- Now that we have discussed several conditioning methods, it is time for a quick word of caution. Do not over condition! The goal here is to toughen up your elbows so that they can withstand the impact of striking during an encounter. The goal is not to injure yourself or cause disfigurement. I once knew a Karate practitioner whose hands were so deformed from makiwara training and board breaking, that he couldn’t use them for anything else except fighting. Harming yourself defeats the purpose of the art. If at any time during your conditioning training you experience severe pain, or injury, you should stop immediately. It really doesn’t take much conditioning training before you start to see the results when you spar. When I first started training on a wooden dummy years ago, I blocked a kick with my forearm during sparring. I had only been training on the dummy a couple of weeks, but my block injured the opponent’s leg and I barely felt it. So once again, don’t over condition!
Additional Training Methods Focus Mitt Training- Focus mitts are an invaluable tool for developing your elbow boxing skills. How your training partner holds the mitts will make all the difference in the world for how good your workout is. Your training partner must hold the focus mitts firmly and slightly push forward to meet your elbow strikes. He should also move around like how an actual opponent would and provide you with random targets for you to execute your elbow boxing strikes. As you become accustomed to focus mitt training, your training partner should throw strikes at you with the mitts. This will allow you to train your evasion and defensive skills while you practice your striking. Focus mitts come in a lot of different sizes and styles. The picture below shows a decent pair that were purchased at a local sporting goods store. A good pair of focus mitts should last you a lifetime.
A Pair of Focus Mitts
Developing A Focus Mitt Routine- The number of drills you could do with a pair of focus mitts is unlimited. All you need is a training partner and your imagination. The first step in developing a focus mitt routine is to designate a mitt position for each of your basic strikes. For example, if the mitt is facing forward, a lead elbow or cross could be thrown. A sideways mitt would indicate a round elbow hook, or a reverse elbow strike. Once the positions are established, the trainer will simply hold the mitt in a certain position and the elbow boxer will respond with the appropriate strike. The final step will be for the trainer to incorporate jabs, hooks, and body strikes towards the elbow boxer, between holding the mitt in position for strikes. You could also add hand strikes or kicks into the routine if you desire. Once you get a routine down, it will become a core feature of your training workout. Now let’s look at an example of what a focus mitt routine might look like. In the below series of photos, the trainer holds one of the focus mitts straight out for a lead elbow strike from the practitioner. He then lifts the other focus mitt and faces it inward for a round elbow strike from the rear. Next, a focus mitt is turned face down for an upward elbow strike, and then face up for a downward elbow strike. As the practitioner delivers the downward elbow strike, the trainer throws a high hook punch to his head. The practitioner evades the hook punch by ducking and ends the routine by delivering a rear diagonal elbow strike to the trainers focus mitt, which is held high. Notice how the movements of the trainer dictate the reactions and strikes thrown by the practitioner.
An Example of a Focus Mitt Routine
Speed Bag and Double End Bag Training- In addition to training for power and conditioning, you will also need to develop hand and eye coordination. One of the best ways to hone your reflexes is with a speed bag or a double end bag. The speed bag is a small leather or vinyl bag that hangs from a swivel. The general idea is to keep the bag moving and develop a rhythm with your strikes. The Double end bag is excellent for hand and eye coordination because it is attached at the bottom with a bungee type cord that causes it to bounce in different directions when struck.
The Standard Speed bag Shadow Boxing- Shadow boxing is a simple drill that should be
incorporated into your training routine. It can be done almost anywhere and requires very little space. Shadow boxing is basically practicing your techniques in the air as if you were fighting an opponent. When you practice shadow boxing, you should set your egg timer for three-minute rounds and keep moving around and throwing nonstop elbow combinations until the bell on the timer rings. It is important to use your imagination when shadow boxing and imagine an opponent in front of you throwing strikes and reacting to your attacks. This exercise will not only sharpen your techniques but will build stamina as well.
Sparring- Sparring is probably the single most important training you can do to develop your fighting skills. One of my teachers used to say, “You can’t learn to swim unless you get in the water”. You should always spar as realistically as possible without injuries occurring. If you or your training partner get injured, you will have to stop training while you heal, and this defeats the purpose of training to improve oneself. One method of increasing safety when you spar, is to wear protective padding such as boxing head gear, a mouthpiece, and elbow pads. Normally you should throw strikes at about sixty percent of full power when sparring, but you and your training partner should determine the level you want to spar at. You can increase the power of your blows as your skill increases. The main point of sparring is to practice your skills against an opponent who is fully resisting. For basic elbow boxing sparring sessions, start toe to toe with your training partner and set your egg timer for a three-minute round. Do as many rounds as you want, but normally three rounds are enough. In addition to your standard elbow boxing verses elbow boxing sparring sessions, you can spice up your training by implementing the following sparring scenarios as well. Use your Imagination to keep it interesting. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7)
Elbow Boxing Verses Boxing Elbow Boxing Verses Kicking and Punching Elbow Boxing Verses Grappling Elbow Boxing Verses Multiple Opponents Elbow Boxing with Your Back to The Wall Elbow Boxing Verses Blunt Weapons Elbow Boxing Verses Bladed Weapons
The Slip Rope- The slip rope was discussed briefly in the chapter on defensive skills. Basically, it is just a rope that has been hung horizontally across your training area. The elbow boxer moves across the training room floor while ducking from side to side along the rope. In addition to slipping, ducking, bobbing, and weaving along the distance of the rope, elbow strikes can be thrown while moving.
The Medicine Ball- The medicine ball is a great training tool that I highly recommend for every martial artist. There are numerous drills and exercises that can be done with a medicine ball to build strength and conditioning. One exercise is to lay on your back and have your training partner drop the medicine ball on your stomach from various heights. This not only strengthens the stomach muscles, but also helps condition you to take punches in the gut. Another great exercise is to stand about five feet from your training partner and throw the medicine ball back and forth, allowing it to hit your stomach before you catch it. Your training partner can also hold the medicine ball and move around while you execute elbow strikes on it.
The Jump Rope- As previously mentioned, endurance is critical in a fight. A jump rope is one of the simplest and most effective ways to build endurance. Jump ropes come in various types, but I prefer a leather one with wooden handles. A decent jump rope can usually be found in the sporting goods section of any department store. In a jam, any piece of rope that is long enough to hold between your hands and jump will work. The jump rope is probably the most convenient piece of training apparatus you can own. It can easily be thrown into luggage or a backpack and carried with you when you travel
Stretching and Warming Up Before any workout, you should take the time to stretch out and warm up properly to loosen up and prevent injury. Stretching does not have to be complicated like a fancy yoga class. Just a few simple stretches will increase your flexibility and keep your body limber. Examples of simple stretches include the toe touch, waist bends, the hamstring stretch, and arm stretches. Most bookstores carry books on basic exercise that provide information on
numerous stretching exercises. Warming up is also very easy. Shadow boxing, jumping jacks, and running in place are all excellent warm up exercises that can be done.
A Sample Elbow Boxing Workout The following workout is an example of how you might train to improve your skills and become a better elbow boxer. Feel free to modify it to suit your own needs. You do not have to practice everything every day. Focus on areas that need improvement and cover the basic essential skills. I was taught by my martial arts instructors that it is better to practice for short periods everyday than to practice a lot occasionally. Most of all you should keep your workouts serious and train hard, but also have fun and enjoy what you are doing.
1) Stretch and Warm up a) b) c) d) e) f) g)
Jumping jacks Twist upper body from side to side Bend and touch the toes Swing arms in circles Stretch the hamstrings Stretch the neck Shadow sparring
2) Footwork Practice a) b) c) d) e)
Shuffle step forward and backwards Body pivot Sidestep left and right Circle step Body drop
3) Closing the Distance and Clinch Practice a) b) c) d) e) f) g)
Dive entry Kick entry Strike entry Slip entry Neck lever clinch Body wrap clinch Head and arm wrap clinch
4) Elbow Boxing Techniques and Combinations a) b) c) d)
3 rounds of heavy bag training 3 Rounds of focus mitt training Practice Joint manipulation techniques Practice hand traps with a partner
5) Sparring 6) Conditioning a) b) c) d)
Makiwara Board Elbow lift exercise Wooden dummy Jump rope or run
7) Warm down a) Breathing exercises b) Meditation
Conclusion My goal in writing this book was to provide you with the skills needed to build a solid foundation in the amazing martial art of elbow boxing. If you have taken the time to learn the techniques and concepts presented here, then you are well on your way to possessing a truly effective fighting system that won’t let you down when you need it. Elbow boxing has been an important part of my own martial arts training since 1987. Regardless of the style of fighting that I studied, I always found my elbow boxing techniques coming out when I fought or trained in those systems. When it comes to close range fighting methods, I believe there is no equal to this brutal art. I hope that you have gotten something useful from this book, and I wish you the best of luck in your training.
About the Author Chuck Callaway is a martial artist with over forty years of experience in the fighting arts. He began his training in 1979, with the study of Shito-Ryu Karate and Tae Kwon Do. While serving as a Security Police Specialist in the military, Chuck received extensive training in hand to hand combat skills. In 1986, he earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do under Master Yi Hong In. Chuck’s martial arts training changed forever in 1987, when he met Sifu Vic Butler who taught him the devastating art of elbow boxing, Goshin Budo Jiujitsu, and Molum Combat Arts. Chuck eventually earned a 3rd degree black belt from Sifu Butler and after leaving the military, became a police officer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Chuck worked as a patrol officer and patrol Sergeant for over 19 years and became a defensive tactics instructor for the police department. In 1991, Chuck won a gold medal boxing in the Police Olympics. Over the years he has continued to study various martial arts including kick boxing, Jeet Kune Do, boxing, kali, judo, aikido, Brazilian Jiujitsu, and Yang style Tai Chi. In 2004, he met and studied Kenpo and the Batangas system of Arnis with Guru Dan Cepeda. Chuck earned his black belt in Arnis in 2010. He continues to learn and train in the martial arts.