I have been shown elbow strikes in my last class, one of the strikes was an elbow strike to the enemy's chin where you just move your elbow upwards. The hand goes around the ear and you should be touching your hair while doing the elbow strike and finishing by having the hand on the back of your head.

When practicing with a partner I cannot hit the pad with a snappy sound but cannot figure out what is wrong. I could get the sound for all other directions (downwards and sideway)

Where could I find some kind of tutorial with pictures so I can compare my moves and see what I am doing wrong ? What are the common mistakes and what should I do to get an efficient upwards vertical elbow strike ?

In addition to this, I was wondering what was the correct way to practices elbow strikes when you are at home without a punching bag and alone.

  • The correct way to practice striking at home alone without a punching bag is to troll craigslist for a cheap used punching bag. – Dave Liepmann Aug 17 '13 at 15:28
  • How fit are you? How mobile are your shoulders? I can't tell without seeing you do the technique, but maybe you're not so flexible in that direction and you need to do some remedial mobility & strength work. – Dave Liepmann Aug 17 '13 at 15:30
  • @Dave Liepmann, I think flexibility may be an issue here, particularly in this direction. I cannot hang a punching bag (living in a flat) although there is some kind of park where I could try to hang a bag. – BlueTrin Aug 18 '13 at 10:15

A vertical or rising empi is no different in principal to any other strike - you should try to have a moment of focus. The difference it does have to the other empi strikes is that it is a more unnatural movement, it is more of a short power strike. A lot of people also tend to have somewhat restricted motion when rotating the should in that way, not to mention you are working against some very large muscles in the back (like the Latisimus Dorsi). You should also ensure you have a bit of rotation in the waist so that you can apply a bit more power and get a bit more reach with it (this also changes the emphasis of the muscle groups responsible from solely using the smaller anterior deltoids to sharing the load with the larger/stronger medial delts). Try this yourself - keep your torso square and rigid and try the movement, then try it with a slight rotation of the torso.

I would suggest you change your perspective of the strike - a nice slappy sound as you hit a pad isn't necessarily an indicator of good technique. Causing movement in the pad or pain to the holder is a better indicator. If you are a larger person you will never have the same whippiness to this technique that a smaller and more wiry person has. It's also not a commonly used technique - it's a fight finisher (any of the empi techniques are very damaging, but because of the target area of the rising empi you should expect to inflict critical damage if it connects cleanly).

  • is what you said about changing the perspective of the strike also valid of straights or hooks ? – BlueTrin Aug 19 '13 at 8:22

As one poster mentioned, rotating your waist will certainly help with power. What I would also add is that you should perhaps focus on your other arm is doing. For instance, "chambering" your other arm might also increase power (through what they call expansion/contraction). Try rifling your other arm back as you're throwing the elbow and rotating your hips somewhat. Be sure to exhale as your strike as well, as this will also increase your power.

There is also a term called "kime," which means "the summation of joint forces." If all of your joints are working well together in unison, your technique should be sharp. You want to focus all of that energy together towards one point (in this case, the energy should be transferred from your elbow to the pad). Try not to "push" so much; rather, suddenly stop the technique at the center of focus and do not extend past it. A good example is a punch: it is never good to hyperextend your arm; you want a little bit of a bend. It's hard to say whether or not that is what you are doing because I am not watching what you are doing. However, once I focused on the kime and realized what I was doing wrong, my power increased a whole lot.

Anyway, those are just some tips. I hope they help.

Good luck!


It is possible that you lack sufficient flexibility to move your shoulder with speed through this range of motion. Many sedentary or recently ex-sedentary people, or those of us who spend lots of quality time at a computer, develop immobility in the shoulder. That is, we hunch forward. If this is the case, it is to be expected that you aren't able to generate power with an upward elbow strike, because your shoulder tells the arm to slow down as soon as it gets near the end of its mobility.

Can you raise both arms straight over your head, biceps on your ears, without puffing out your chest too much? Can you hang with arms close together from a pull-up bar without discomfort? Can you do a front rack with a barbell correctly, without pain or discomfort, and with a little bit of flexibility to spare? If any of these are lacking, it would make me even more suspicious of the shoulder. To fix, I recommend embarking on a diligent strength and mobility program with the goal of overhead shoulder mobility.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.