Elbow Attack

Elbow Attack from a Muai Thai Fighter

How would a Taijiquan exponent defend against an elbow attack from a Muai Thai fighter?

Feign Move

Elbow attacks are very useful in close-quarter combat. Surprisingly, apart from kungfu which of course includes Taijiquan, most other martial systems do not make much use of elbow attacks. Muai Thai is a noticeable exception. In Muai Thai, or Siamese Boxing, elbow attacks are frequently used and very effective.

A Muai Thai fighter seldom uses elbow attacks in a straight-forward manner. He often employs elbow strikes in what is called a "three-in-one" tactic. For example, he starts with a feign punch to your face. As soon as you respond, he moves in swiftly, bends his attacking arm and strikes you with his elbow.

This elbow strike can be "feign" or "real" depending on whether you can counter it. If you cannot counter it, it becomes "real", probably fracturing your cheek bones. But if you can efectively counter the elbow strike, it becomes a "feign" move.

Elbow Attack

But before you could recover your movements, you may find yourself being pulled forward and downward by his both hands, and your ribs broken by his knee strike.

Even such a brief description of how a Muai Thai fighter fights, may give some idea why most kungfu dancers as well as martial artists whose combat training is a free exchange of kicks and blows, find themselves no match. Besides employing tactics and strategies skilfully, a Muai Thai fighter typically spends a few hours everyday in force training, such as kicking a coconut palm with his shins hundreds of times, and in simulated fighting, such as going over and over again his attacking techniques.

Nevertheless, a Taijiquan exponent -- if he also puts in effort training Taijiquan as an internal martial art -- should be able to put up some decent defence. He may let the Muai Thai fighter completes his "three-in-one" attack, and counter his knee strike with "Golden Cockerel Stands Solitarily" as explained in Taijiquan Defence against Knee Attack.

Or, if he is skilful enough, he can frustrate the "three-in-one" attack by intercepting at the second attack. One way is as follows.


As Goh Kok Hin, posing as a Muai Thai fighter, strikes me with his right elbow, irrespective of whether this attack is "real" or "feign", without moving my legs I shift my body backward to avoid the elbow strike. Immediately I move my body forward, with my right hand pushing away Goh's elbow following his striking momentum, and striking his right ribs with my left palm using a Taijiquan pattern called "Jade Girl Threads Shuttle".

In the "three-in-one" attack Goh planned to follow up his right elbow strike with his left knee strike. But with my right hand "taming" his right elbow, it is difficult for him to continue with a left knee attack because in this position it would go against his own momentum. If he did so despite this disadvantage, I could easily neutralize his left knee attack by pushing his body away at his right elbow, and simultaneously striking his right ribs a second time.

It is also disadvantageous for him to attack me with his other (right) leg. With my both hands close by, as soon as he lifts his right leg I can counter attack with a few alternatives, such as "Repulse Monkey" and "White Horse Spreads Mane". As his left hand is out of the arena, it is also difficult for his to use his left hand to attack me.

Jade Girl

But it will be a big mistake to think that the Muai Thai fighter would be helpless in this situation. Don't ever forget that a Muai Thai fighter -- almost any Muai Thai fighter -- is agile and skilful. He may, for example, turn left around and strike me with his other (left) elbow. Or he may adjust his foot position and kick me with either leg, or even both legs. But he needs a split second to turn around or adjust his foot position, and that is enough -- if I am prepared and well trained -- to move in with a decisive strike. An untrained person may hesitate or move back. That is enough for a ferocious Muai Thai fighter to break his cheek bones and ribs.


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