Elbow strikes are very unique weapons that make Muay Thai different from other martial arts sports. Elbows in Muay Thai can give very severe injuries to the opponent as it will be used to attack when opponent is closer distance and the major targets of elbows are generally head facial areas including jaw, temple, neck and so on. Using elbows is very flexible, you can move or swing elbow in any direction to attack, both vertically and horizontally but different method will give different impact to the attack. There are eight main moves of Muay Thai elbow strikes:
Sok Ti (Slashing Elbow)
Sok Tad (Horizontal Elbow)
Sok Ngad (Uppercut Elbow)
Sok Chieng (Diagonal Elbow)
Sok Sab (Chopping Elbow)
Sok Tong (Smash Downward Elbow)
Sok Ku (Double Elbows)
Sok Klab (Spinning Elbow)
Elbow Strikes 1: Sok Ti (Slashing Elbow)
The Elbow slash generally be used when we want to attack the upper part of facial area such as forehead, eye and nose. It can be done by swing the elbow diagonally downward, normally in 45 degree angle (like a "slash" sign) to attack the target. Unlike We normally can not use the elbow slash to attack alone as we need to get close to opponent enough to attack. The elbow slash will be used effectively when we want to response to opponent's knee-kick.
To practice the elbow slash, you have to bend the elbow closely against the arm, as if they are together. Then, twist the shoulder, send your body into the opposite direction, aiming to strike the elbow against the upper targets. In case the opponent counters with a punch, you should parry that punch away with your fist, and swing the elbow against the desired target. Do not use this techniques often or else the opponent will prepare for it.
Elbow Strikes 2: Sok Tad (Horizontal Elbow)
It is quite similar to the elbow slash technique. The diffrent is only wee have to swing the elbow horizontally, paralel to the ground. However, you need to make sure that you must stand firmly when attack, because attacking with full power, you may need to twist to shoulder and hip along with the elbow swing and this will make you losing balance easily.
Sok Tad is done by raising the arm at 90 degree angle to armpit, and the hand at 30 degree to the elbow. The elbow must be parallel to the floor at all time, even during the swinging movement. The targets of Sok Tad lie in the jaws, ching, or even the ribs, if you lower your body to launch the strike.
To train Sok Tad, the boxers should practice on the punch bag to get used to the manourve. Step one foot forward, putting pressure on the tip of the foot to get a good hoid. Follow by the back leg, touching the floor manually with the tip of the foot, ready to twist the heel to add to the momentum of the elbow, as well as the hip and the shoulder in complete synchronization to swing with the most force against the target.
Elbow Strikes 3: Sok Ngad (Uppercut Elbow)
The uppercut elbow can be done by swing the elbow diagonally upwards to attack target especially chin. This technique requires speed when using it, which means you have to do it as quickly as you can. However, in the competition, some boxers avoide to use it, but use horizontal elbow or elbow slash instead.
The expertise in this techniques, the boxers should train frequently with the punch bag. Uppecut Elbow is done by step your foot forward so that the tip of the foot is below the punch bag, and and launch an uppercut. Your fist should go pass the target, allowing your elbow to make the impact instead. Do not forget to bend both your front and back knees so that you could straighten the body when you swing your elbow upward against the opponent.
Elbow Strikes 4: Sok Chieng (Diagonal Elbow)
Diagonal Elbow is one of the elbow strikes which can open up a cut easily. To practice diagonal elbow, Muay Thai boxers should raise the arm that you wish to launch diagonal elbow, either the right of left arm. The arm points forward, making the 90 degree angle with the arm pit. Bend the elbow, making the 45 degree angle with the face, namely, the fist will be at one eyebrow.
For example, if you want to use right diangonal elbow, your right fist should be at the levelof the left eyebrow. This should help to block any punches to the face. If you want to use the right diagonal elbow, step the left foot forward wiht the right leg at the back. Step the left to get close to the opponent, twist the shoulder to send Sok Chieng diagonally upward. The speed and the rough edge of the elbow tip will open up a cut quickly if diangonal elbow is well practiced.
Elbow Strikes 5: Sok Sab (Chopping Elbow)
Chopping Elbow Strikes is closely related to Sok Chieng (Diagonal Elbow). In case Diagonal Elbow misses and going in its upward flight, pull the elbow back downward in the chopping movement when the opponent is careless, believing that Diagonal Elbow has missed, therefore exposing the gap for him to exploit. When he comes in to attack, he will find himself chopped by Sok Sab.
The basic movement of Chopping Elbow is very similar to Diagonal Elbow. It is simply a matter of reversing of the direction, namely, from up to down, rather than from down to up.
Certain boxers adopt a very high guard. This should facilitate the use of Chopping Elbow to the area around the face. Move close to the opponent and swing the elbow downward from the forehead down to the chin.
Elbow Strikes 6: Sok Tong (Smash Downward Elbow)
Smash Downward Elbow is a very useful elbow strike that could knock the opponent unconcious if he meets the full impact. This Smash Downward Elbow could be practiced by stepping the foot of the flank to use Smash Downward Elbow underneath the punch bag. In real life situation, the foot must be stepped in between the opponent's feet.
The execution of Sok Tong is from up to down. Use the sharp edge of the elbow to hit against the target. This Smash Downward Elbow must be applied quickly, since if it is done slowly, you might be harmed by a counter-attack. When smashing Sok Tong downward, one arm has to guard the area around the chin and down to the solar plexus. You must keep wach on the opponent all the time. The nose bridge should be aimed for, because if you could smash the elbow down at that point, you could stop the opponent immediately, as the nose bridge produces tears easily and could be broken wiht strong impact.
Elbow Strikes 7: Sok Ku (Double Elbow)
Double Elbow is anther weapon for self-defence in Thai Boxing when speedy action required in dire circumstances. In the past, Sodsal Naruepai was a Thai boxer who was so skillful with Double Elbow so he was called "The Sok Ku General". You should swing the bag, step your foot close, and raise both your elbows to smash the bag. This will build up speed, agility, and expertise.
Elbow Strikes 8: Sok Klab (Spinning Elbow)
The spinning elbow technique is quite different from other elbow technique. As you have to turn the body around to generate the elbow strike. To do the spinning elbow, we generally use the rear elbow to attack and make sure that you will always look at you opponent while turning the body around and making the elbow strike.
Spinning Elbow is considered to be a deadly trick in Muay Thai Boxing. It could knock down the opponent with so sudden a force and venom. It could easily draw blood from the opponent, it has not been recorded in the history of Thai boxing when Spinning Elbow was invented but one could say with certainty that is a result of continuous evolution. Man has learned to imitate various movements of animals to use in self-defence.
To use Spinning Elbow, Muay Thai boxers should sway your body slightly sideway. If you do not twist your body, you could not swing Spinning Elbow smoothly against the target. Any awkward movement could be exploited by the opponent who could launch an all powerful punch to the body or prompt your action with other weapons.