Muay Thai Elbow Strike: 7 Techniques & 8 Damage Directions


Muay Thai elbow strike is the trademark of this wonderful ancient Siamese martial art. Fans who watch MMA regularly usually get hyped when they see elbow expert in action.

The masters of Muay Thai, black Pra Jiads, bring every single bout to the new heights.

The extraterrestrial levels of entertainment are the reason MMA battles where knee and elbow experts fight often get more views.

In this post, we will show you why you should master this technique, its variations and how to execute them correctly.

Beware: Elbows are super-dangerous techniques for your opponent if he doesn’t block well.

Muay Thai Elbow Strike – Human Weapon Blades

Elbow. The lethal sour cream of Muay Thai arsenal.

It is a super-effective way to harm your opponent, because olecranon ulnae or the tip of your elbow behaves like a knife, cutting everything along the way.

There are many fighters who tend to finish the fight via Muay Thai elbow, causing a fatal cut on the temple or forehead, which in certain situations might even lead to a doctor stoppage or devastating KO!

When the opponent is open, blood might flow directly into his eyes, which leads to blurred vision, weaker performance, and quicker ending.

Elbow is performed from close range. Despite this technique is usually weaker than a high kick or a Superman punch, it can be a fight-ending blow if perfectly timed.

This fact comes from 2 reasons:

  • You’ll rarely see someone attempting Muay Thai elbow strike when the distance between fighters is over 50 cm. Small distance leaves only two options for the opponent – cover up or eat a shot.
  • On the other side, elbows are extremely dangerous counters, especially against someone who throws easy-to-see haymakers.

Just look what Chris Weidman did to Mark Munoz at UFC 184 when he missed with a long-range punch – Munoz was cut, and fell to the canvas almost instantly, “The All-American” jumped on the top of him and finished the bout with a vicious TKO after few unnecessary blows.

​Different Ways To Use An Elbow

You can attack your foe with a Muay Thai elbow strike from many various directions.

If you take part in an MMA bout, ground elbows are a very important part of your striking repertoire, as it increases the chance to earn a stoppage win due to excessive bleeding.

You can create nasty damage in 8 directions, depending on the position of your opponent:

  • Horizontally – horizontal elbow, good for counters;
  • Diagonal upwards – good for clinching against the opponent who keeps his hands narrow;
  • Diagonal downwards – slashing elbow, awesome counter;
  • From the floor towards the sky – uppercut elbow, superb clinch KO technique;
  • Downward – elbow from above;
  • Spinning back elbow – the sour cream of Muay Thai, the opponent could go down like a sack of potatoes,
  • Flying techniques (a good option when the foe is tucked against the ropes or cage),
  • Ground elbows (applicable in MMA, everything is allowed except downward elbows, which are prohibited due to controversial 12-6 rule, flying techniques on the grounded rival are technically possible, but very hard to apply).

​The Brutality Of Muay Thai Elbow

All right, I am sure many of you will question this. After all, the elbow is weaker than spinning hook kick or spinning heel kick.

Just stop!

It is more dangerous for your opponent and it makes a greater level of damage, but why? 

What is the magic answer?

Muay Thai fighters wear boxing gloves, which protects your knuckles and decrease the power of the strike. It means even Francis Ngannou or Derrick Lewis punch doesn’t have to send you to the ground.

Moreover, when the opponent blocks the incoming strike, there are three layers of protection–his skin, his bone (radius, ulna), or even a glove (it protects fists and knuckles if the rival protects himself well). It means your strike is at least two times weaker in combat.

But Muay Thai elbow strike is different!

Have you ever seen elbow protectors in a Muay Thai combat? No! 

It means the sharp knife cuts everything along the way. When you strike the opponent’s glove, there is only one layer of protection between his knuckles and your razor-blade Muay Thai elbow.

But when you hit his hand or head, the only thing that stands between your elbow and a nasty injury is a very thin layer of skin cells. Knife cuts through the meat, so skin is not even a challenge!!!

The foe keeps his hands high, but risks forearm, head, neck, or shoulder injuries against an elbow expert.

Sounds great, right?

Absolutely! Now let’s get to know Muay Thai elbow techniques, the ultimate human weapon!

7 Muay Thai Elbow Strikes: So Many S
uper – Dangerous Possibilities!

The real fans of mixed martial arts remember the way Patrick Smith finished the fight against Scott Morris at UFC 2.

Smith made Morris’ face look like he has just returned from the World War II!

There are seven basic strikes, but almost each of them can be applied on the ground, which gives us the 8th category too. And don’t forget some very rare strikes, like, for example, reverse upward elbow.

So yes, ladies and gentlemen, razor-blade is a dangerous weapon. Now let’s get to know the basic Muay Thai elbows.

#1 – Sok Ti (Slashing Elbow)

Note: This strike is the most dangerous when the opponent is pressed against the fence.

Slashing elbow is one of the most often strikes in this ancient Siamese martial art. You can also apply it with ease in mixed martial arts, especially against an opponent who constantly goes forward and sticks to strong but slow haymakers.

The strike targets forehead, eyebrow, temple or chin, and it can stagger the opponent very easily, especially when performed as a counter.

Tips: If you want to add more power, step forward.

How to:

  • Assume the Muay Thai stance. Keeping your left hand stationary, lift your right elbow sideways and up until it reaches above the line of your forehead. 
  • Shift your body weight to the front leg and swing diagonally downward in a 45-degree angle moving your upper body and hips in the same direction. You must pass the line of your nose. 
  • Return to the starting position.

#2 – Sok Tad (Horizontal Elbow)

It is also known as the side elbow. The technique is very similar to the hook techniques.

Of course, you hit with your Muay Thai elbow strike instead of a fist.

It is an excellent way to teach the opponent a lesson with a fatal temple blow, but be warned. If the opponent holds the guard well, the horizontal blow will not crack it open that easily.

This is also an outstanding technique for clinching or after a jab if your angry foe tries to shorten the distance.

How to:

  • Keep the Muay Thai stance and don’t move your left arm, but lift your right elbow in the level of your temple.
  • Swing counterclockwise parallel to the ground with your left elbow, making sure to pass the line of your nose.
  • Quickly return to the starting position when the attack is finished.

#3 – Sok Ngad (Uppercut Elbow)

This is the most brutal Muay Thai elbow strike. It is easy to defend, but if you hit your rival, he might end up in the hospital.

Uppercut elbow is a great weapon against ring warriors who keep their hands wide or clinch up with you over and over.

This technique can also target the lateral sides of your chin and face because you have the option to throw this strike at a 45-degree angle as well, which is outstanding versus someone with a narrow guard.

How to:

  • Lower your right elbow from the basic Muay Thai stance. Make sure it is lined with your oblique muscles.
  • Swing up and make sure the elbow reaches at least the line of your nose or forehead. Do not go above your head or you will lose precious time and risk a KO.
  • Optionally, you can lower your elbow down keeping it away from the body and swing to the inside.
  • In both cases, return your right hand to the starting position as soon as possible.

#4 – Sok Pung (Spear Elbow)

Spear elbow is one of the trickiest Muay Thai attacks. It is very hard to predict this strike because the opponent who throws it usually hides the intention. 

It is a devastating blow to obliterate your rival, especially if he moves forward. This sneaky technique is a stunning clinch solution against any opponent because it goes through guard easily. 

It targets the nose, mouth, forehead, and even eyes. What a nasty way to end the fight, if you master it!

Front hand spear elbow can rock your opponent, but a rear hand blow could easily blast him into another dimension!

How to:

  • Raise your right hand from the basic Muay Thai stance past your right ear, keeping the left hand in the guard to defend the potential counterstrike.
  • Make sure to throw your right elbow at a 45-degree angle, shifting your weight down and pushing the right side of your body towards your opponent.
  • Quickly return to the starting position or continue throwing elbows and punches to prevent the counter.

#5 – Sok Kratung (Reverse Elbow)

Well, avid MMA fans will remember this forever.

Anderson Silva vs Tony Fryklund was one of the most astonishing knockouts in the history of mixed martial arts–a reverse elbow from hell!

This elbow strike is recommended for your leading arm.

Technically, you can do this with your rear elbow, but it is super slow, and the rival has way too much time to react.

How to:

  • Assume the Muay Thai stance, lowering your front arm to the level of your sternum and ribcage. Make sure your Muay Thai elbow aims the rival.
  • Start from your sternum then move your elbow diagonally and up in the direction of your opponent, raising your rear foot off the ground.
  • Shift your weight to the front leg and hit. As soon as the attack is finished, return to the starting position.

#6 – Sok Glab (Spinning Elbow)

It’s one of the most entertaining techniques ever seen.

It is very dangerous at the same time too, especially when thrown off the counter.

It has some similarities with spinning back fist, but the elbow slams into the opponent’s face. You can aim to the nose, forehead, mouth, chin, or even neck if your skills are great. 

You will need a lot of training and outstanding skills to learn it. 

But Sok Glab is a lethal Muay Thai elbow and a counter from hell!

Master this and you’ll be a KO artist!

How to:

  • Assume the Muay Thai stance and rotate your left foot clockwise. If possible, put it out of the opponent’s left leg to increase the power of your strike. 
  • Start rotating your whole body clockwise until the elbow is pointed forward, whipping your hips at the same time. 
  • Generate the energy from the rotation. When your torso is twisted towards the opponent, deliver the fatal right elbow. 
  • Your torso must end up 180 degrees from the original position, otherwise, the technique is irregular and the power of your shot will be decreased. 
  • Quickly return to the starting position as soon as you land a brutal blow. 

#7 – ​Sok Sub (Elbow From Above)

This attack is possible when the opponent is a lot smaller than you, or when you jump. Unfortunately, in mixed martial arts, it is prohibited due to 12-6 rule, but aiming to the body of the grounded opponent is ok.

The rear arm is definitively stronger!

How to:

  • Assume Muay Thai stance and shift the weight to your front leg.
  • Lift your body upward
    s, raising your right hand all the way up above the level of your head.
  • Deliver a fatal blow from above towards the floor, using all your weight and turning the rear part of your body to increase the power of the incoming strike.

There are other elbow strikes out of basic 7 too.

​Honorable Mentions

Advanced Muay Thai elbow strikes can shock your opponent and knock him out before he even realizes what just happened.

For example, Yair Rodriguez earned the Knockout of the Year 2018 award after he put “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung to sleep in the last moments of their five-round war via reverse upward elbow.

Man, this strike was nasty!

It cracked Zombie’s chin and stopped his jab-straight punch barrage!

Also, we mustn’t forget wonderful ground MMA match-ending elbow strikes.

There are many lovely possibilities. You can throw it from full mount, side control, crucifix, full guard, or half-guard.

Even if your elbows don’t stop the opponent, he’ll end up heavily cut, bathing in his own blood. If you want to cut the foe open, Muay Thai elbow is the most perfect way to fulfill your goal!

​Final Word

Muay Thai elbow strike is one of the most dangerous human weapons, usually the trademark of clinch fighters and counterstrike experts.

But if you want to throw elbows like Carlos Condit, relax your shoulders, keeping your punches steady. Clench your fists during the moment of the impact to improve the power of the hit.

Elbows are super-powerful but you’ll need some time to master it. Just stay patient. Still waters run deep.

Easy does it. No pains, no gains!

Do you enjoy our article, :D. Help us to introduce this site to your friends and others.





Teaching, Friendly, Young, Passion. Always wanna go up & down. Hey, you gotta live, do you?  

I would like to add more useful articles for Martial Arts Community. Do you have any feedback for me? What can I do better for my blog?

Hope to receive your warm feedback.

Robert Sterling  //  Author

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *