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Effective Elbow Counters with Rafael Cordeiro

Effective Elbow Counters with Rafael Cordeiro


It is not always the big combinations that result in winning a fight. Sometimes it is, but all you really need is one clean shot. It might take until the fifth round of a fight before you get the opportunity to land that one clean shot, but when it opens up you better be ready for it.

Professional fighters are obviously heavily trained to protect their head at all times and to minimize the holes in their defense when attacking to prevent counters. There are lots of techniques for this, but inevitably openings will be created when someone is attacking no matter how extensively they train to prevent them.

One of the difficult things to do when beginning in your striking career is figuring out the timing of your opponent. This is understandable as you are trying to protect yourself from getting bombarded with punches and kicks. Once you gain calmness and are able to keep your eyes open when being hit, this is when you can really start to focus on gauging the timing of your opponent.

You can begin to figure out perhaps that your opponent sets up most of his combinations off of a jab. You can determine the time between his initial jab to his next strike. You can gauge the average amount of strikes he uses in his combinations, and you can get a general idea of his favorite combinations.

Once you start to put all of this information together, you can start planning your attack through the holes of his game. In this video, Rafael Cordeiro shows an elbow off of a hook counter. Check it out below!


To begin the combination, Rafael has his training partner begin with a jab. He explains that while a jab is one of the most common, popular, and efficient ways to begin a combination, it opens you up on your left side. They might not go for it everytime, but when your opponent sees this repeatedly they will go for the right hook at some point.

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This is another example of how to gauge the timing of your opponent. Throw out that jab a few times and see what he does with it. Does he counter right away, what particularly is he going for, can you tell he is eyeing that right hook? These are all very important things you can be paying attention to.

If you keep throwing out that jab sooner or later your opponent is going to attack that side where he sees an opening. From here Rafael says that you should expect to defend the right hook. As your opponent attacks with the right hook, you defend with your left arm and then immediately counter with a left elbow down the middle before your opponent has the chance to bring that arm back to defend. As your opponent goes out wide for that hook, a path opens up right through the middle for you to easily counter with if you are ready for it.

This opportunity could present itself numerous times throughout a fight, and it most likely will. A hook counter off of a jab is very common. With that being said, it may not be the wisest decision to go for this right out of the gate. Everyone fights differently, so it is important to have the best idea possible of how your opponent responds and times his attacks. This is one of those strikes that has a large potential to be a fight winner, so the better timed it is makes it all the more possible.

Founder of Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, California, Rafael Cordeiro has had nothing short of an astonishing career. The Brazilian native began training in mixed martial arts at a very young age. In his early days he joined the legendary gym Chute Boxing Academy in Brazil which had produced many champions in multiple forms of martial arts. It was here that he earned his black belt in Muay Thai within the first four years of his training.

Rafael eventually became Brazil’s Muay Thai Champion, as well as a Vale Tudo Champion at lightweight. After his 13 year fighting career, he retired in his 20’s and became a Muay Thai teacher to many. He has now trained 13 world champions, and currently trains fighters from the UFC, Bellator, and other institutions. Perhaps most notably, he has currently been training Mike Tyson for his upcoming fight! Rafael coined “Coach of the Year” title in both 2012 and 2015 from the Oscar of the MMA - Fighters Only Magazine, as well as “Best Gym” by OCWeekly.

This Muay Thai phenomenon has so much to offer in his instructionals. In this 4 part Muay Thai fundamentals instructional he covers basic footwork, defense, and counters, clinch work, mixing kicks with blocks and elbows, throwing combinations from different stances, and so much more. Every level of striker can always use work on their fundamentals. In doing so you might as well learn from one of the most sought after and accomplished Muay Thai teachers in the world.

Muay Thai Fundamentals by Rafael Cordeiro

Check out his instructional here!