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How To Defend Against The Elbows With Fabio Noguchi

How To Defend Against The Elbows With Fabio Noguchi

Defending elbows is a lost art in Muay Thai. The usual defense for elbows is to keep our hands up, but if you have ever had a Muay Thai fight or sparring with elbows allowed, you know that they easily penetrate the high guard.


Raising our chances to defend elbows is crucial in Muay Thai as the elbows are a dangerous strike that is thrown countless times in a fight and can easily cut the face. Cutting the face is something we want to avoid at all costs because the blood can blind us and lower our success rate tremendously inside a fight.

So we want to defend against the elbows, but how do we do it? How do we avoid those sharp knives that sneak in our tightest defenses?

To answer these questions, we first need to understand that the elbows are a short weapon, so distance management is critical here, and we must be aware when we enter the close range that elbows are available here.

After we enter the close range, we must clinch up to control his limbs, and as we clinch, we need to keep our hands high while controlling our opponent. Many practitioners make a common mistake inside the clinch because they lower their hands to block the knees, and the opponent capitalizes on the opening and sneaks an elbow in.

So we need to keep those two rules to raise our success rate when defending the elbows:

  • Be aware of the distance
  • Keep your hands up inside the clinch, and don’t block knees

  • To deal with the knees inside the clinch, we simply bring our hips closer to our opponent’s, and the space between us shrinks so a knee cannot get in. Blocking the knees with our hands is a rookie mistake, and you should avoid it at all costs.

    In this video, Fabio Noguchi will teach us how to defend against the elbows with a special guard he developed.


    Who Is Fabio Noguchi?

    Fabio Noguchi is a Brazillian Muay Thai coach and a former professional fighter who had many fights in the ’80s where Muay Thai was still developing in brazil. Fabio is remembered as a great fighter with unique movements and excellent techniques. If you want, you can still find videos of Fabio bouts and enjoy beautiful Muay Thai.

    Fine Tune Your Muay Thai With Fabio Noguchi! Click Learn More!



    X Guard Elbow Defenses

    In this video, Fabio will show us how to defend against the elbows. When we defend the elbows, the method we are using must be simple to use, as the strike can be very quick and powerful; a complex defense will rarely work.

    So Fabio explains that our stance stays the same as we are fighting from a distance, keeping a normal guard up. But notice that as Fabio shortens the distance between him and the opponent, his hands come together closer and closer until they cross each other in a form that resembles an X.

    Now, this defense is easy to use, and the only concept that we need to understand for it is that as we close the distance, our hand position changes from a normal guard to an “X guard” where there is no opening for an elbow.

    When Fabio works with a partner, we can see that the X guard blocks all five types of elbows, and the defenses go like this: (Orthodox vs Orthodox)

  • block the left elbow with my left hand
  • block the right elbow with my right hand
  • block the up elbow with my left hand
  • block the down elbow with my right hand
  • block the elbow to the middle with both my hands over each other.

  • So when we drill this defense, we simply get closer to our opponent, and as we approach, we change our hand positioning to an X, and our opponent will throw elbows at us to see that we are blocking everything.


    Learn More From Fabio Noguchi

    Muay Thai Encyclopedia by Fabio Noguchi
    If you want to see more from Fabio Noguchi, check out  “Muay Thai Encyclopedia - Methodology Noguchi - By Fabio Noguchi” available exclusively on Dynamic Striking.