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Elbow #6 – Vertical Elbow Strike Forward and Upward Hand Position

The Vertical Elbow Strike Forward and Upward (Elbow #6) is one of the most difficult elbow strikes to perform properly in Krav Maga. If you’re having trouble getting power and accuracy in this elbow, this video will help you out! It explains the key details to a proper hand position while performing this elbow strike, the pros and cons to having a fist vs. an open hand when doing any type of elbow strike, how this particular elbow is similar to Covering Defenses Against Hook Punches, and more!


“Hey! This is Randall with KravMagaTraining.com. In this video I’m going to discuss the upward vertical elbow or what’s commonly referred to as Elbow #6 in the Krav Maga system. And in particular, I’m going to discuss the proper hand positioning/arm positioning for this particular elbow strike.

Before I get into that, out of all the elbows, there’s seven main elbows in the Krav Maga system, out of those seven this is by far the hardest elbow for students to learn. Even for me, I personally have got this elbow down pretty well when it comes to hitting a target, but even I am still trying to improve and get better on actually integrating this particular elbow when I’m sparring. I tend to use the horizontal elbow a lot more but I’m trying to get better at the vertical elbow. So I’ve been doing this for a long time. So if you’re one of those students who’s having trouble with this particular elbow, well don’t worry about it. Join the club. Welcome aboard. Everybody sucks at this elbow. It takes a lot of practice.

Now, I do plan on making other additional elbow, excuse me, additional videos when it comes to this particular elbow because, quite frankly, there’s so many parts that students tend to screw up with this particular elbow. But I’m not going to have time to do that or we’re going to have a 20-30 minute video and I know none of you guys have the patience for that. You have better things to do in your life. So I’m just going to isolate one particular area, like I mentioned earlier, that’s the hand positioning.

Okay. This is what I mean. I’m referring to this hand and making sure it’s in the right spot when we’re doing this particular elbow. First of all, let me discuss whether you should have your hand open or a fist. The general rule when it comes to any of them, horizontal elbow, side elbow, whatever, is that it’s personal preference in regards to if you want to make a fist or you want to have your hand open as you deliver the strike. I personally use both. Everybody’s different. Everyone has a personal preference. I’ve found, in general, that a tight fist is a little bit stronger. An open hand is a little bit quicker and more relaxed. But, like I said, it’s personal preference. Everybody prefers something different. However, with this particular elbow I do suggest that you have an open hand. And I don’t like using a fist with this one because, for many reasons. One is, when you make a fist, you tend to, there’s a good chance that you’ll graze the side of your head or clip your ear as you are doing the strike because your hand’s a lot wider in a fist position. I like to have the hand open. It’s a lot thinner. So when I’m doing this particular elbow it feels like I’m combing the side of my hair back like this. When my hand is open it’s a lot easier to do that. When I’m making a fist it feels like there’s a chance that I’m going to graze my ear and it doesn’t feel good. So it’s like you’re literally punching yourself which is just silly. So use an open hand like this.

The next thing is make sure that your hand is in this position. Like this. Not turned this way. The worst thing that I see students do is, not only do they make a fist, but then they turn the palm like this. Not only is this really bad on your range of motion, you can’t reach up as high compared to having your arm in this position which decreases your power, but when you’re not only making a fist and you turn it this way, now your hand is even wider and you’re going to have even a more likely chance of hitting yourself or grazing your own ear. To me, this is the worse position to have. I’ve seen some people, even some styles, turn it this way. So don’t do this. I really do suggest have your hand turned this way, and even better, have your hand open as you deliver the strike.

Okay. The next thing I want to isolate is make sure that your hand ends up behind your head after you hit the target. This means that you’re following through properly on the strike. A lot of people, they’ll finally get their hand open in the right spot but they only go about this far. They just kind of go to the side of their head like that. Like I said earlier, you’re not going to be able to hit through the target. Just like with any strike, I don’t just want to hit the target, I want to hit through the target. When I do that you’ll notice right here that my hand is only here. But if I was to hit through this target, notice my hand has to go back behind my head. Almost like I’m going to grab the back of my head. For those of you who know the covering defense from the Level 2 curriculum against the hook punches, it’s the same movement in that I don’t want to be covering like this. I want to be covering the back of my head like this because not only does it protect the side of my head but it protects from people hitting the back of my head too like they are trying to rabbit punch me, coming around my guard hitting me on the back of my neck.

An important principle in Krav Maga is that you’re supposed to have movements that don’t just work in one situation but will work in multiple scenarios. And this is a classic example of that, in that this arm movement for this particular elbow is very similar to the covering defenses for those hook punches. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it. I’ll make a future video on that or, if you’re one of my students, you’ll learn that in Level 2 in one of your future classes.

Anyways. To get back on track. Don’t just stop with your hand here. Make sure you hit, go through your target, and make sure your hand is actually behind your head like this. Like if you were to do this, I can actually touch the back of my neck. So I don’t want to touch the side of my head but the back of my head.

So those are my suggestions for this particular video and I think out of all the key points this will help you guys out a lot. To make sure that your hand is open. Make sure your thumb is up. Make sure once you hit the target you continue the motion so it’s going all the way back.

And one other little thing that I see every once in a while students do is they’ll tend to cut a cross over to the opposite side. There’s nothing wrong with that particular elbow. But with this particular elbow we’re focusing on a vertical elbow that’s traveling upward. So if I do this it’s going at an angle. So make sure you don’t bring your hand from one side to the other like this. Make sure that it’s staying on the same side.

So those are my key points on a proper hand positioning. And like I said, in the future I’m going to make additional videos with this particular elbow to help you guys out because, like I said, there’s a lot of key points to it. Anyways. Be patient. Hang in there. Everyone stinks at this elbow. Everyone sucks at it. But if you put in the work, eventually, it will come to you like everyone else. Thanks for watching.”

“The Krav Maga system should be integrated so that movements learned in one area of the system complement, rather than contradict, movements in another area.”

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