Orange Belt Elbow Strikes

The following strikes (Atemi) combinations involve using at least one elbow as a striking surface. Again be sure to avoid using the tip of the elbow to strike any hard surface. Unless otherwise mentioned you should strike with the arm just above or just below the elbow joint.

Ushiro Empi Uchi – Gedan Tettsui Uchi

When an opponent is close behind you this combination can be used to great effect. If the opponent is directly behind you, step slightly toward local angle 3 or 4 so that your side ribs will be in alignment with the opponent’s center. Create a fist with the hand on this side and orient it so that the palm is facing upward, then strike back with an Ushiro Empi Uchi to the opponent’s’ Chudan level. Do not return this strike. Instead, rotate your fist on this same side so it is now oriented much like a Tate Ken Tsuki, and, keeping the elbow back, strike downward to the opponent’s Gedan level. This second strike will typically be targeted to impact the groin.

These two strikes can be delivered as a very fast combination. The strikes will not work if either, a) your opponent is directly behind you (you must step to the side to expose his or her center in this situation) or, b) your fist position is not initially in a horizontal orientation. The latter condition will likely cause your elbow strike to go wide to the outside. With the fist in the proper orientation the elbow is actually pulled inward as the strike extends back to provide an improved strike path toward the opponent’s center. Experiment with the two fist positions when striking with an Ushiro Empi Uchi to feel the difference.

You should notice that this strike may involve striking directly with the end of the elbow. This works if the target is a soft tissue area such as the abdomen. If a harder target area is intended (e.g. the ribs) then an area of the arm other than the tip of the elbow should be used to make contact. This is not always possible so in many cases you will want to find a different method of striking when you are likely to encounter a hard target area.

Mae Empi Uchi – Tettsui Uchi

There are at least a couple of different ways you might utilize this Keiretsu combination. When striking to the head the Mae Empi Uchi is used to strike the side of the face, usually causing the face to turn away from the striking side. The Tettsui Uchi is then delivered with the same hand, this time striking directly into the turning face. This combination can be executed very quickly and is one of the more powerful combinations you will encounter.

But the Tettsui Uchi might be used for a different purpose altogether. One of the side effects of the Mae Empi Uchi is that the opponent may be propelled away from your striking elbow – making it necessary for you to move to further manipulate, control, or strike the opponent. The Tettsui Uchi can be used to interrupt this sideways movement by your opponent to keep them within or bring them back to your center. So the Tettsui Uchi essentially functions as a check[/glossary[ against movement induced by the Mae Empi Uchi. This controlling use of the Tettsui Uchi is frequently used to allow a kick such as a Yoko Geri to be delivered immediately after the striking combination has completed.

Age Empi Uchi – Tettsui Uchi

Nearly identical to the previous strike, this combination has the elbow driving up under the chin utilizing [glossary]Age Empi Uchi, typically from the front. This will drive the opponent’s head up and back. The Tettsui Uchi, using the same hand, strikes downward and into the upturned face. This is again a very powerful combination that may put a dramatic end to any subsequent combat.

This combination might also be used when an opponent is leaning significantly forward or backward. The elbow might be used to strike the chin or ribs and then the Tettsui Uchi strikes down with force into targets such as the abdomen, kidneys, neck, face or groin. Experiment with a partner to see how these various combinations might work if an opponent is leaning forward or back.

Mae Empi Uchi – Shuto Uchi

This combination is a derivative of the Mae Empi Uchi – Tettsui Uchi in which a Shuto Uchi is substituted for the second strike. Usually the Shuto Uchi is delivered to the neck or some other soft target.

Mae Empi Uchi – Uraken Tsuki

Here again is a striking combination much like the Mae Empi Uchi – Tettsui Uchi. The difference is that the last strike is an Uraken Tsuki instead of a Tettsui Uchi. Since the elbow is in a slightly different (more slightly downward) orientation during the second the Uraken Tsuki is less useful to move or reposition an opponent. As a result this combination is normally used simply to strike (often to the face).

Mae Empi Uchi – Yoko Empi Uchi

This striking combination has tremendous power. The strikes are typically delivered to the head, but are also useful for striking to the ribs, back, or even the thigh. Begin by striking with a Mae Empi Uchi, but do not return the strike immediately. Instead, let the striking-hand fist continue moving until it is positioned beneath the armpit of the opposite arm (which naturally will be up as a guard). Now reverse the direction of the striking arm to force a Yoko Empi Uchi into the target.

When striking to the head with the first strike the opponent’s head will typically be turned as a result. The second strike will then be delivered into the frontal aspect of the turned face.

When striking to the ribs the first strike would normally be to the side ribs, likely resulting in a slight turn to the opponent’s torso. The second strike would then be delivered to the same general location in the opponent’s ribs. If the position and angle of the opponent would not result in a rotation of the opponent, then the two strikes are simply used as powerful rapid succession strikes to two different areas of the ribs (or other similar target).

The power of the second strike can be amplified if both arms simultaneously perform Yoko Empi Uchi. So both arms move concurrently away from your center. One elbow strikes a target, the other would strike nothing and is used only to help increase the intensity of the strike movement. While this movement increases power it comes at the cost of having no front-facing guard. This would limit the use of this combination to those times when it is very unlikely that your opponent might strike concurrent with your efforts. These are rare circumstances.

Age Empi Uchi – Otoshi Empi Uchi

When in-close with an opponent it becomes possible to utilize this striking combination. Both of these strikes are delivered with the same arm by first forcing an Age Empi Uchi upward, and then immediately reversing the direction of travel and crashing the Otoshi Empi Uchi down and into the target.

The usual utilization of this combination is to strike first to the chin and then to the upturned face. Another effective use for this combination occurs when an opponent is bent forward and you are positioned to his or her side. The first strike might then impact the near-side ribs and the second strike might impact the back, spine, or neck.

If the first strike to the chin is extremely effective it might cause the opponent to lean back quite dramatically. If that occurs then the Otoshi Empi Uchi might be targeted to the sternum or frontal ribs instead of the face.

You will commonly find that a slight bit of forward movement on your part between the two strikes may be required to keep the target in range.

Age Empi Uchi – Uraken Tsuki

This combination is similar to the Age Empi Uchi – Otoshi Empi Uchi combination but an Uraken Tsuki is substituted for the second strike. This combination is almost always used when the target of the second strike is the upturned face. Because the Uraken Tsuki has greater range than the Otoshi Empi Uchi there is less frequently a need to move forward between the two strikes when using this combination.

Age Empi Uchi – Tettsui Uchi

Here again we are simply using a different second strike following an upward elbow strike. This has the increased range benefits of the Age Empi Uchi – Uraken Tsuki combination, but due to the orientation of the elbow the Age Empi Uchi – Tettsui Uchi combination can be used to strike other targets in addition to the face. For example, the first strike might impact under the chin but the second strike might impact the collar bone. An additional example could employ the Age Empi Uchi to strike the ribs of a forward-leaning opponent and then the Tettsui Uchi might strike to the back, spine, kidneys, or neck – something that cannot be done effectively with the Age Empi Uchi – Uraken Tsuki combination. Consider how these two strikes might be employed against someone who is standing erect, bending back somewhat, or leaning forward significantly. What angles and orientations make the most sense and what parts of the body are likely target areas in each case?

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