One of the most devastating strikes you can use in close quarters combat is the elbow strike.
However, many people don’t understand the dynamics of this powerful move and end up getting it completely wrong, resulting in a missed target and insufficient power at the point of impact.
Let me explain…
Striking someone with your elbow requires you to be very close to their body because you don’t have as long of a reach as you do with throwing a regular punch. Because of this shorter range, the farther away you are from your attacker, the more your whole body has to move in order to hit your target (in this example, the head).
Many people who try to throw an elbow strike from “punching range” (about 3′ from your attacker) therefore end up signaling their intentions too early as the person they’re trying to hit picks up their movement with their eyes and instantaneously flinches backward.
This creates a “moving target” for you that’s harder to hit and because their head is moving back in the same direction as your elbow strike, less force is generated at impact.
Does that mean that you can’t take advantage of the elbow strike unless you’re right up in someone’s face?
Not at all. Here’s the secret to overcoming this obstacle and still be able to land a devastating elbow strike at further distances…
The answer is in your “lead hand”, or the hand that is closest to your attacker.
Assuming that you’re going to strike with your right elbow, you would first bring your left hand up, under your attacker’s line of sight, and grab the back of the neck/head.
At the same time as delivering your elbow strike, you’re going to pull his head, trying to get your left hand to meet halfway with your right elbow.
This accomplishes several things…
1. Your lead hand is closer and quicker so you can control your attacker much faster and easier by quickly grabbing on and pulling him in.
2. By pulling and striking at the same time, you shorten the distance it takes for your elbow strike to hit it’s target by 50%.
3. Because his head and your elbow strike are traveling toward each other, you greatly increase the amount of force at the point of impact (think about a head-on collision in your car vs. rear ending a car going in the same direction as you)
Learn to use your lead hand to your advantage and you’ll quickly master the elbow strike.