Saturday, July 10, 2004

Public Health Announcement #1

The Proper Use of Elbows

Elbows are excellent weapons. Imagine yourself being attacked by someone (yes, I know this isn't nice) who has you in a hug that leaves at least one of your arms free. Then imagine the movement you make if you wish to scratch your neck. Hold it right there! Now you have the 'elbow punch' ready. When your arm is bent over like this the elbow becomes its new extremity, and it's quite a hammer, even when the person who owns it is small and frail.

The elbow has a limited range of movement, but not much movement is needed. To go back into the hostile hug example, all you need to do is to raise the elbow straight up in front of your body. It's good to hammer noses with, or whatever else might happen to be in its way. Of course you want to swing it, not just raise it.

Another neat use for the elbow is towards the back. Suppose that you are held from behind by some nasty assailant of the night. If the creep's arm is around your neck, the first thing you want to do is to lower your chin as much as possible towards your chest. This guarantees that you won't choke. The next thing you do is to make a fist (thumb on the outside of the fist, please). Then you can swing your arm backwards towards the groin of the assailant, and as your fist hits home, you can continue the trajectory back and upwards by bending your elbow. It should reach the stomach region. If all this is combined with a nice stamp of the attacker's instep with your shod foot, you should find yourself freed. What you do next is run. (If you're all alone with the assailant and running will not work something a little more drastic is needed. I'd recommend a hip throw which might break a bone or two (not yours). I'll explain it later if there is interest.)

The elbow is also efficient sideways. Imagine reaching towards the left with your right hand so that it is actually past your body on the left. This is the beginning position of a useful elbow punch to the right. You simply return the arm, bent at the elbow to its home position on the right. It's good when used at the side ribs of an attacker.

Your elbows are your friends! Remember that, especially when you need something for close-quarters fighting. You can practise these moves in your mind or with a willing partner if you are both really careful not to actually hit. Repetition is needed to put the moves into the body memory.

A cynic might argue that these moves won't work with all types of attacks, especially armed ones. That's true. But then appendectomy doesn't cure heart disease either, and learning to speak French is not very useful if you happen to go to China. So let's not be overly pessimistic.
A Consumer Warning: This post is written partly in fun, and it's important to add that no self-defense technique works in all situations and for all people, that no technique should be used where it's illegal, that sometimes it may be better not to use physical defense, that practising such techniques as these should be done with care and under proper guidance if at all possible, and that whether practising these or any other techniques is advisable depends on many factors, including the practitioner's health status. Consult a physician if you are in doubt. Add here any other warning that makes me totally free of any and all misuses of such techniques...