Muay Thai Elbow Techniques and Combos

Muay Thai Elbow Techniques and Combos

Continuing our series of articles on Muay Thai, we are going to present you one of the more practical aspects of this martial arts – the elbows. As we’ve stated so many times before, elbows are a crucial aspect of Muay Thai fighting and knowing your elbow techniques can be decisive in a tight fight.

In Muay Thai, the elbow is used in seven different ways – horizontally, diagonal upwards, diagonal downwards, uppercut, downward, backward spinning and flying.

Muay Thai fighters are trained to use all of their extremities in a fight, but the elbows play a large role in the fighting process and can do much harm to an opponent. So, if you ever wanted to know the best and most effective elbow techniques in Muay Thai, keep reading. 

About Muay Thai

Muay Thai (Thai: มวยไทย), literally “Thai boxing”, is an Oriental martial art and combat sport that originated in Thailand somewhere during the 18th century. It is a full-contact discipline that is also known as the “art of eight limbs” and is heavily reliant on the use of fists, elbows, knees and shins. It originated as a fighting technique to be used in wars, Muay Thai soon became a fighting sport used outside its original setting.

After more than a century of development in the Far East, Muay Thai became extremely popular in the West during the 20th and 21st centuries, when Western practitioners that came from Thailand started using the discipline in kickboxing and MMA competitions, thus introducing and popularising Muay Thai in the West.

Muay Thai is, today, a global combat sports practiced around the world and is internationally governed by the IFMA.

Offence in Muay Thai

Now let us take a quick look at how the offence in Muay Thai actually functions, since that is the most important part when it comes to the elbows. Muay Thai’s offence is based on utilising four parts of your body – the elbows, the knees, the fists and the legs. Let us see how each of them functions:

  • Elbow shots are very important in Muay Thai. Muay Thai has a lot of very elegant and effective elbow strikes that you won’t find in any other martial art, which means that Muay Thai’s elbow tactics have a lot of benefits for the fighters. This is where Muay Thai can help you overcome the difficulties and become even better.
  • Muay Thai is very practical and beneficial when it comes to knee techniques, better than most other combat sports (except maybe kickboxing, but kickboxing stems from Muay Thai). Why is that? The knee is an essential weapon in Muay That; the fighters approach the fight with a number of different types of knee shots thrown from the leading leg or back leg. You can fire a leading leg knee shot from a stance or incorporate knee strikes from the clinch.
  • Although Muay Thai is actually ‘Thai boxing’, punches are very underused in this martial art simply because they are scored less than successful kicks; the goal is to win, so the fighters chose shots that can give them more points. Muay Thai fighters will stand firmly in front of each other and trade shots, be they punches or kicks. Muay Thai boxers tend to “gather” shots and block them, waiting for their turn to fully explode with a good counterattack.
  • Muay Thai is a martial art where kicks are essential. In fact, they are so essential that one could say that Muay Thai completely depends on kicking. As such, Muay Thai emphasizes the usage of kicks in a fight. Common kicks are the body kick and the leg kick. Teeps (the push kicks from front or rear legs with the foot in a vertical position) are also heavily utilized as are side teeps (teeps where you step aside and push out with your body in a horizontal side stance). Head kicks are also thrown, although not as much as in some other Oriental martial arts. You typically don’t see much variation beyond the Thai round kick.

Now that we’ve seen how Muay Thai offence works and what it consists of, let us see how one can use their elbows in fight. 

Elbow Techniques in Muay Thai

The elbows are one of the most important and potentially most dangerous shots in Muay Thai. This is due to the structure of the elbow and the impact then can have on the opponent’s head; namely, they can do serious damage. The techniques can be divided into four categories based on their difficulty and the danger they pose:

  • Basic elbow techniques are those that you learn in the beginning. They can be effective, but you have to use them smartly for them to do serious damage. The fact that elbow shots are executed at close-range, which makes it difficult for you to land them perfectly each time, doesn’t make it any easier. The basic techniques are the basic hook/horizontal shot, uppercut elbow, downward/spiking elbow, and the spinning back elbow. You can check out what they look like in the video:
  • Devastating elbow techniques are pretty helpful, but also quite dangerous as they can do a lot of damage to your opponent. On the other hand, they can be decisive in a fight, so it’s important to find the necessary balance. One of these is the effective and dangerous spear elbow shot. You can check out some of these elbow shots in the videos below:
  • Deadly elbow techniques are the most dangerous among them. They are handy, but they can easily knock out an opponent if executed correctly, and even do some serious damage. That is why you have to be careful when using them. Check out this video to see these techniques:
  • The spinning elbow technique is the toughest and most brutal of them. It doesn’t get more dangerous than this. If executed properly, a spinning elbow could be a lethal weapon, so you have to be very careful. The video below will show you how to use it:

In Muay Thai, the elbow is used in seven different ways – horizontally, diagonal upwards, diagonal downwards, uppercut, downward, backward spinning and flying. It is also used from the sides as a finishing move or to cut the opponents’ eyebrow so that he bleeds, but that is just a supplementary move. The diagonal elbows are less powerful but they are faster than the other shots, which has its practical benefits.

There is also a distinct difference between a single elbow and a follow-up elbow. The single elbow is an elbow shot that is completely independent from any other move. You use the elbow and then simply move on.

On the other hand, a follow-up elbow, is a second strike from the same arm, being a hook or straight punch first with a follow-up elbow shot; it is a supplementary shot that upgrades your attack. Such elbows, and most other elbow strikes, are used when the distance between fighters is too small and there is too little space to throw a hook at the opponent’s head. Elbows can also be utilized to great effect as blocks or defences against, for example, spring knees, side body knees, body kicks or punches, but they are mostly used for offence. 

Types of Elbow Shots in Muay Thai

Before we conclude this story, we’ll present you the names of the nine basic types of elbow strikes in Muay Thai:

  • Sok Ti (Striking Elbow or Elbow Slash)
  • Sok Tad or Sok Tat (Perpendicular or Horizontal Elbow)
  • Sok Ngat (Uppercut Elbow)
  • Sok Phung (Forward Elbow Thrust)
  • Sok Klap (Spinning Elbow)
  • Sok Sap (Elbow Chop)
  • Sok Ku or Sok Klap Khu (Double Elbows or Double Elbow Chop)
  • Sok Wiang Klap (Reverse Horizontal Elbow)
  • Kradot Sok (Mid-Air Elbow Strike)

Follow us for more of the same and we hope we’ll see you back very soon. Until next time!

If you are interested in Muay Thai, you might want to take a look at some of our other articles about Muay Thai. You will find some useful and interesting stuff. Enjoy!

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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