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Basic Notes About Kali-Silat Elbow Throws

Updated on December 23, 2016


Elbow and compression throws are techniques commonly seen in Kali and Silat martial arts classes. A standard criticism is the throws are not employed in events featuring wrestlers or judo players. The criticism is fair and does deserve a response that clarifies how these techniques should be used.

The use of an elbow throw follows some very simple principles. There is nothing magical about the technique. Basically, once the elbow makes contact with the body, the elbow is used to drive the person's posture off balance. Then, downward pressure is driven via the arm through the triangle point on the floor where the opponent's base is weak. Remember, he is already off balance because his structure has been moved thanks to the impact of the elbow.

This is why they are called compression throws. Your weight compresses an opponent's structure leading to the inevitable fall.

Grappling, Striking, and Human Discontents: Using the Elbow Throw as a Counter-Attack

This is not to suggest that you cannot employ compression throws with the elbow in a grappling scenario. Again, any time you are able to off-balance an opponent:

  • Compress the elbow to the triangle point to the floor
  • Let gravity take over and allow the opponent to fall to the ground.

Most people who are learning Kali and Silat, however, are in a self-defense scenario mindset and not focusing on pure grappling.

Throws of this nature could prove more beneficial as a counterattack against someone who is striking. You could say that a person swinging wildly opens himself to being thrown with well placed elbow.

Streetfighting Means Bad Base and Balance

A brawler who is swinging wildly and headhunting is probably going to help make the compression throw easier to execute. Good boxing skill does not entail swinging wildly or like a loon. Brawlers without formal training have to swing wild in order to generate power. The distance that the swinging punch travels is what contributes to the power. None of this is efficient at all by an economy of motion standpoint but, if the punch connects, well,... lights out.

While there surely is extreme danger presented by wild, swinging punches, there is also a much easier opening created for a counter-attacks. The punches do not follow straight lines. They loop. Hands do not return to their original position on a straight line, either. A lot of gaps are present in the structure.

As long as you have good boxing skill, you can exploit these openings and hit the elbow throw.

You might even be able to do so with a very limited boxing game and approach.

Using the Shell Game

The displayed video in this hub shows how the shell game is used to insert the elbow throws.

The shell game employed here is the Philly shell. Most boxing coaches will note this is not the best strategy to use in a boxing bout because your hands are too tied up. Head movement and footwork should be your primary source of defense. Both of these points are true, but these strategies require a lot of experience, attributes, and timing. With a shell defense, you do not need all that many attributes.

Besides, we are not taking about an amateur boxing match here anyway. We are discussing self-defense scenarios that are short and to the point. The swinging person comes to you and you are able to use the defensive posture of the arms to protect yourself and insert/execute the throws.

The Philly Shell method also eliminates the need for timing and accuracy oriented entries, which are commonly taught in martial arts classes. Beginners should always focus on the things that are the easiest to pull off. You really want to focus on techniques you are actually capable of using under stress.

Another point to mention....

Obviously, it goes without saying a person with legitimate boxing skill is going to make these techniques work a lot better than someone without.

Okay, what about resistance? Is someone just going to let you throw them? What if the elbow throws don't work? Look for a follow-up video on countering resistance in the near future!


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