Glossary of Elbows and Punches for Muay Thai

Remembering all the elbows and punches you need to know when you first start learning Muay Thai can be challenging. We’ve put together a list of some of the most important Muay Thai types of elbows and punches to help you out. Underneath each term is a short description of what the elbow or punch is and a brief explanation of how to perform the move.


Crossing Elbow

To perform a crossing elbow, move your pointed elbow to the side, and to make power, rotate your feet and body in the same way you would for a hook. The crossing elbow can be done in two slightly different ways: the cutting elbow goes in a straight line across the body, and the diagonally crossing elbow cuts down on the temple by following the line of an overhand punch.

Uppercut Elbow

It’s not exactly what its name suggests when you get a flying elbow. Your body and feet will move vertically, like when throwing an uppercut, and you will “comb your hair” with your glove to make your elbow move up. However, the power for this strike comes from moving forward. To get the most out of this elbow, time the upward turn with a powerful step forward so that the point of your elbow hits your opponent in the head like a battering ram going right through them.

Strip Elbow

If the other person’s guard is tight, getting your arm in between their gloves might be hard. You can “strip” their guard by grabbing their forearm with your hand and pulling their guard down. This will give you a space to land a slicing elbow.

Spinning Back Elbow

The spinning back fist and elbow are thrown almost the same way. The only difference is that you don’t extend your arm after moving across your body. Instead, you touch with the point of your elbow instead of the back of your fist. Since this moves you much closer than a backhand, you must step past your opponent’s lead foot.

Flying Elbow

The flying elbow is exactly as its name suggests. It calls for you to spring off the canvas and forcefully charge your opponent. Similar to how you would Superman punch, you should “cycle” your elbow-side leg to maximize the force of your elbow. Doing this will maximize the forward velocity of your elbow as it collides with your opponent’s head.

Downward Elbow

This arm moves up and down, making it look like a hammer is hitting your opponent in the head. This strike is done by lifting your bent elbow and slamming it down on your opponent’s forehead. For extra power, “hop” into range so that your elbow hits while your whole body falls on top of their head.



A solid straight punch from the back hand.


A straight hit from the hand in front. The jab isn’t a powerful shot; it’s often used to control range and open up spaces for other hits.


A punch that loops up and down vertically, with the hand going down and then up under the opponent’s chin.

Spinning Backfist

You must first step across your body and turn your back on your opponent to throw this tricky spinning punch. Then, you must stretch your arm and spin through to face them again. You will whip your arm out behind you and hit your opponent on the side of the head. In this strike, the side or back of a closed hand makes contact instead of the knuckles used for most punches.


A back punch that loops high over an opponent’s guard and then hits them in the head with a force that looks like a freestyle swim stroke. You must step in close and roll your head forward as if looking at the floor to get the most out of this punch.

Superman Punch

After a feinted kick, a Superman punch is thrown. If you see your opponent open their guard to block or catch as you lift your leg, throw your leg back out behind you with all the force you can muster. If you feint a kick and throw a straight hand from the same side, your upper body will easily swing forward as your leg drives back. This will give you the power to rock your opponent. If you want more range and power, skip forward on your standing leg while you shoot your feinted leg out behind you. When you make this strike, your body should be flat on the ground, like Superman flying through the sky.


A punch that loops horizontally and moves in a half-circle to hit the side of an opponent’s head and mouth.


This punch loops at an angle, hitting the side of an opponent’s body like a cross between a hook and an uppercut. The fist will hit the floating rib, but the power is sent up at an angle, making it look like the fist will go through the body and out of the other shoulder.

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