Be Your Own Bodyguard ... and Walk Away Alive




The elbow strike moving straight or directly backwards is the Elbow Strike On the Number 5 Line. This is a seldom used elbow hit in combat but is used by many martial artists during escapes from behind your body neck holds.


The tip of the elbow is used as if it were the head of a spear or an arrow. The elbow is driven straight behind you and into the intended target. Your forearm is parallel to the ground if you are standing up and it travels backwards like a speeding piston into your opponent’s body. If you are on the ground or lifted upwards, your movement remains the same with your forearm at 90 degrees from your body and your elbow moving directly behind you.


The most common use of this movement is when someone has grabbed you from behind, usually in a neck lock with your neck stuck in the crick of their arm (where the forearm meets the bicep/upper arm). Another version is when both your arms are grabbed from behind you. This version requires a different start but the elbow actions remain the same. After breaking free from a grip, you still use your elbow as a piston to drive it into your opponent who is behind you.


The movement begins when you have a clear path to attack your target. If your neck is being choked from behind then you most likely will not have a direct path. For this scenario you must step into the choke or away from the center of your opponent’s body. It doesn’t need to be a lot but you will need some room because your elbow needs to smash directly into the sensitive areas of your opponent. If you are standing, step into the choke.


If you are on the ground, force a slide that will allow you some room for your attack. If your arms are both held, stomp on your opponent’s foot or scrape the shin as you travel down to the foot for the smash. Next, immediately step into the choke and then a step behind you to get close enough for your elbow to drive into your opponent.


The number 5 line is usually associated with driving an attack straight inwards, as with a blade or any weapon such as a knife, sword, stick or broken bottle. That is because most fights are face to face. In this scenario your opponent is behind you yet your line of attack is still parallel to the ground and going on that same direct line. The same number 5 line is still being travelled, however your elbow moves backward. This is similar in concept to the number 4 line where your elbow moves parallel to the ground and returns on same line with same elbow. Think driving down a street and you stop to go reverse for a short distance to see something you just missed. The street and the car never change but your direction do.


For this elbow strike, the targets you are focusing on are the solar plexus and the kidneys. The solar plexus is just below the chest plate in the middle of the chest. The kidneys are located just beyond the floating ribs which are the lowest of the ribs in the chest. If you are on the ground and grappling, you can also attack the groin if you are low enough to strike it. In the heat of combat, precision is not necessary but action is. Your intention is to drive your elbow in as hard and as fast as you can. Not once but twice and maybe even a third time. You want your opponent to let go or at the very least, loosen the grip on your neck so you can free yourself and make your next move. Often this opportunity is very brief so be prepared and remember that is your immediate objective.


There are not as many body parts available for your attacks with the Elbow Strike on the Number 5 Line. Nonetheless, when the elbow hits, it is very effective and just might provide you with the means to get loose and turn things around to your side.



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...Sifu Mike