Elbow #4 – Vertical Elbow Strike Backward Low Speed vs. Power

The Vertical Elbow Strike Backward Low (Elbow #4) can be delivered in two general ways. One version emphasizes speed. The other version emphasizes power. This video demonstrates the differences between the two versions and the pros and cons of each. Also, it will explain why you would use one version over the other depending on the circumstances in a fight or self-defense situation.


“Hey! This is Randall with KravMagaTraining.com. In this video I’m going to discuss the difference between throwing a speed elbow and a power elbow when it comes to the backward elbow on a vertical line with the target being low, or what’s more commonly referred to in the Krav Maga system as Elbow #4.

This particular elbow, I haven’t seen a lot of students have any problems with it. It’s a pretty easy technique. It’s one of the easier combatives to do. Most people really don’t screw it up. They pick it up really quickly. It’s a pretty natural movement because it’s just like a running motion.

However, I do want to discuss the difference between how to throw the elbow with speed and throwing it with power and explain the pros and cons of each because I think they both can be useful depending on what the context of the fight or what the self-defense situation is.

Okay. Let me explain what I’m talking about. First of all, if I’m in say a fighting stance or one of my passive stances it doesn’t really matter. I’m going to use this fighting stance so my feet are staggered so you can see them in relation to the camera. Now, when I throw more of a speed elbow, what I mean by that is I’m not twisting my body, I’m not pivoting my foot. Instead, I just put my hands in this position, and I’m just throwing an elbow. It’s very quick. All right. And the nice thing about the speed elbow is that you not only can hit the attacker a lot quicker but you can hit them with multiple strikes quicker. So, from here, because I’m not twisting my body it allows me to throw multiple strikes over and over again and it allows me to hit the attacker quicker. So, in certain situations this might be more applicable if I need to hit them quicker. Or, a lot of times, what I like to do is start with a speed elbow, see how the attacker reacts, and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll switch to more of a power style elbow. And this is what I mean is here’s the difference.

Notice on this one I’m pivoting my foot. Now, when we do try to throw more of the power style elbow, I do see beginners have a little bit of a problem with this in that I tell them ‘Okay. Get on the ball of the foot and pivot.” But, the biggest mistake is people will get up more on their toes but they don’t really pivot that far. Ideally, on impact, notice how my foot is completely turned sideways. So, if my foot was initially turned this way, so, I’m referring to this as forward, on impact now it’s pointed sideways. Or it’s actually pointed towards the camera now. If you do this, it allows you to twist your hips which means you have more body weight into the elbow strike.

However, the downside to this elbow is it’s not as quick. It takes a little bit longer, just a hair longer, to get to its target. And I’ve found the biggest detriment is it’s harder to throw multiple strikes with this elbow if you try to do it the power style. You watch. I’ll throw a couple of multiple elbows using more power and notice it’s a little bit slower then when I demonstrated it previously using the speed style elbow. Now, you see that there is way more power but now let’s compare it to the more speed style elbow. All right.

Now, some instructors will say ‘Hey, you got to always twist your hips. You always got to have power.’ Well, my thing is, I think it’s all about, like anything, using the right tool for the job. Sometimes the speed elbow will be effective. I especially like it as an initial strike or the initial counterattack because it gets there quicker. It’s sneakier. It gets the guy off you quicker. However, if the speed elbow doesn’t work, I throw a couple of those. And maybe the guy’s real tough. He’s been doing his ab work. You hit him in the stomach and he just looks at you funny. After I throw a couple of those and then maybe I’ll switch to the power style elbow and pivot a little bit more.

Anyways, that’s the difference between those two types of elbows. I suggest practicing both because I think they’re both applicable depending on the, like I said before, who the attacker is, the particular scenario, the particular self-defense situation. So, practice both. They’re both good. They’re both applicable. And I hope you, that helps you out with your training.”

“Participate in our Fitness/Conditioning classes to develop the skills of Speed and Power, as well as Balance, Agility, Coordination, and Reaction.”