Muay Thai Boxing

The Elbow Strike

Elbow strikes are seen most often in Muay Thai fighting but have become a staple of mixed martial arts fighting as well. Elbows can be thrown standing up, on the ground, in combinations, as a set up strike, or as a counter. The elbow can be a devastating weapon in a fight because of its versatility, speed, and power. Elbow strikes are close range strikes that hit quick and hard. Also in an MMA fight there are no pads on the elbows making them especially useful.

In very close range is where elbows are used most often because of the decreased range of the strike, which is its biggest drawback. Upwards elbows, cross or hook elbows, spinning elbows, elbows on the ground, and elbows from the clinch are all seen in mixed martial arts fighting. Another thing to keep in mind is that elbow strikes can be great at cutting opponents above the eye. In mma or in a real life situation blood running into the opponents eye is a great thing for you.

The Basics

Elbow strikes draw power from the same movements as regular punches except that they culminate in the tip of the elbow instead of the end of the fist. Any cross or hook elbow require rotation of the feet,  hips, and torso to drive the elbow into the opponent’s face. Likewise an upwards elbow relies on essentially the same motion as an uppercut. Also The elbow an be an effective strike when very close to the opponent because other strikes are not an option at that range

This video shows a very quick but broad view of some elbow strikes that are available to use

Muay Thai Clinch

If you are going to trust one martial arts for elbow strike techniques its Muay Thai. The Muay Thai clinch provides an ideal position for elbowing the opponent; close range and inside his guard. From the clinch, with the grip on the opponent’s head the power of a quick elbow can be magnified by throwing the opponents head into the strike with the other arm, or simply not letting it give way as much. Also elbows from the clinch allow for the set up of knee strikes and take downs as well.

Striking effectively and maintaining the clinch at the same time is much easier said than done. Also just getting off effective elbows from the clinch isn’t easy with jockeying for position and blocking going on. Because the clinch is a whole position in itself CLICK HERE to learn about the clinch before attempting strikes from it.

K.O. Elbow

Many elbow strikes are not knockout blows. This is because most elbow strikes do come from the inside and close range so their power is lacking comparatively. However that is where the fact that the point of the elbow can easily tear the flesh above the eye causing severe bleeding. 

However the spinning back elbow can certainly turn out to be a knockout strike in MMA. Striking with the elbow already makes the point of impact smaller increasing the strikes power. However when the spinning motion is used to throw the elbow the rotational speed of the body makes the strike easily powerful enough to knock out an opponent. Think twice and practice a little before you throw one though because if you miss you could be in a bad position.

Ask this guy how powerful Jon Jones’ elbow is.

Or just look at this guy fall like a sack of bricks (its quick but funny)


Kicking Ass in Mixed Martial Arts

Barboza knocks out Etim with a hell of a kick

The legs are the most powerful striking tool on your body. In terms of power striking with the feet, shins, and knees trump fists, forearms and elbows pretty much every time. However using your legs takes a little more finesse because more balance and flexibility is needed to kick effectively. This is especially the case in mixed martial arts where someone can easily take you to the ground if your off balance, such as when you have one leg on the ground when kicking.

Kicking in Traditional Martial Arts

Many traditional martial arts involve kicking techniques. Each brings a separate aspect of using the legs as weapons to the table

Taekwondo Teaches many types of kicks. The focusing point of taekwondo striking is based around the balanced stances so if mastered this provides a solid base from which to attack the opponent with the legs. Also taekwondo incorporates spinning kicks and kicking combos into the technique which are more unpredictable and more powerful in a fight.

Muay Thai teaches very straightforward and powerful kicking techniques. It also works well with using the fists because it is a kickboxing martial art. This makes it very popular with many mixed martial artists. The roundhouse kick, front kick, and the knee strikes are probably muay thai’s most commonly seen techniques. A roundhouse kick is a powerful body, or even leg, strike that uses the rotational power of the whole body. A front kick is a more deffensive kick to the opponent’s core. Muay thai knee striking is known to be a deadly weapon in a fighters arsenal. There are no pads worn on he knees can quickly decide a mixed martial arts fight.

For some basics on muay thai kicking techniques click here

Karate is also a martial art that puts strong focus on kicking technique. The karate technique focuses on a quick moving stance with fluid movements. This allows for very quick kicking opportunities which are unpredictable and can be powerful with the right technique. Like taekwondo, karate also puts a lot of emphasis on balance but also flexibility. This flexibility allows for all parts of the opponents body as well as all parts of the foot/leg to be used as weapons.

This is a video of Bill “Superfoot” Wallace who was the Professional Karate Association’s middleweight belt holder.

Kicking in Mixed Martial Arts

Something that holds true in any venue of fighting competition is to not kick with the top of the foot. There are many little bones in the foot that can easily break. However striking with the shin provides a solid striking tool that is much less likely to break. A karate technique is to strike with the heel which can give a very tough surface to strike with.

Leg kicks can be a very useful weapon in a mixed martial arts fight. Its a tactical move to wear down the enemy’s base. Kicks to the body can also wear down an opponent by attacking his ribs, or with a well placed front kick, or teap kick, the solar plexus to stun the opponent.

Flexibility is really the key to kicking effectively. With more flexibility you can achieve more power from roundhouse type kicks by getting more rotation. However flexibility also gives your kicking knockout ability as well. If you can easily kick at the level of an opponent’s head/face then that gives you a powerful knockout strike to add to your arsenal.

The Art of Eight Limbs

Muay Thai boxing is a fighting stye that involves various strikes and clinches. This martial art originated from techniques ancient Thai warriors developed. It is sometimes referred to as the art of eight limbs because of the use of knee and elbow strikes in addition to the use of kicks and punches. This is a martial art that focusses on subduing an enemy through blunt force.


Although many types of fighting techniques focus on punching or striking with the hand muay thai boxing does not. There are all of the basic types of punches taught in this style. Of course the use of punches is important but it is not the main focus of this style of fighting because of the other arsenal it brings to the table.


Muay Thai has much focus on kicking as a form of striking. The notorious Yaang Sam Kun, a.k.a. the thai shuffle, a.k.a. thai boxer’s walk, keeps the fighter light on his feet which makes kicks fast and powerful.

The Muay Thai roundhouse kick is a powerful kick delivered to the body of an opponent. Also leg kicks are focused on as a way to set an opponent off balance when timed correctly. A teep kick is a key Muay Thai kick that can be used as a strong direct offensive move or a defensive move to keep an opponent at a distance.

Muay Thai Clinch

A special part of this type of boxing is its coverage of grappling type moves. This involves grappling while standing up and trying to knee the sides or stomach, and to pull the head down while bringing up the knee. This makes this type of grappling very unique. However, a well executed Muay Thai clinch can lead to punishing blows from the knee, very capable of ending a fight.

The Knee

The Flying Knee

In Muay Thai punches are rarely thrown to the stomach area because the knee is a much more effective weapon. A Muay Thai knee is powerfully thrown by stepping in, throwing the knee straight upwards, standing on the toes of the down foot, and always keeping the guard up. The hips are rolled like the shoulders are in a punch to put even more power behind the strike. Lastly the knee can be a useful body strike or as high as possible, in the opponents face if possible.

The Elbow

The elbow is used very often as the knockout blow from a Muay Thai fighter. It is a very versatile strike as well being used in uppercut, hook, and overhand styles. Posture, footwork, and technique are all very important in the use of the elbow. These are all essential to get the most out of every strike thrown.  The elbow becomes a deadly weapon in the hands of a master being able to quickly and efficiently end a fight.

A well known saying that goes along with Muay Thai tehcniques says, “kick loses to punch, punch loses to knee, knee loses to elbow, elbow loses to kick.” This, simply put, means one needs to master every aspect of Muay Thai striking to become be a successful fighter.