I use the elbows in many ways. I use the elbows for both attacking and defending, punches and kicks. Most karate people only think of elbows strikes as either countering or attacking. I think of elbows in many many ways. In infighting, elbows should be used from very very close encounters. When I'm REALLY close the elbows fly. I'll hit anything that's in it's path. That means the attacker's hands, arms, shoulders, anything. Let me show you what I mean.
In photo #21---#21B the tight snapping motion of the elbow is demonstrated on body punches. Please understand, that the fast countering strike is called for as soon as the elbow hits. Check the none blocking hand for the quick explosive counter punch position. In #21A and #21B the right hand remains in the power punching position into and through the elbow strike.
In all, or most karate styles there are prearranged two person sets. The blocks tend to begin before the actual attack begins because it is known in advance. Even in free fighting matches, the blocks or moving away from the oncoming technique isn't that difficult after some experience.
However, in the real world it doesn't play out that way. The situation is usually very close and things happen quickly. The elbows are always in a ready to fire position no matter what position your arms are in.
Photos #22 - 22C
These pictures illustrate how fast and easy the elbows can be put into play. You don't have to be in a fighting position to hit or block with speed and power. As a matter of fact, I personally feel stronger when I fire into a movement rather than set my arms in a "defensive" posture. In #22A the hands simply rise without any movement from the elbows at all. The hinge joint of the elbow allows for this nicely.
With a quick inward snap of the elbow in #22B, impact is made. The elbow can easily move to another section of the targets arm as in #22C.
When the attacker has his arm or leg being ripped into with thismovement, hiswillingness to continue will quickly subside. Blocking the attack to avoid being hit is one school of thought. To destroy that armor leg so he won't throw it again is an other way of thinking. Take your pick. In sparring matches these types of blocks shouldn't be used. Rememberplease that thispower manual is not about the sparring aspect of your training. The safety and respect of your training partner is always of the utmost importance. It's that other guy we're concerned about.
The elbow is shown blocking the hard front kick. The initial striking elbow is snapped in with a great deal of torque from the back and the trunk muscles in #23. In #23A, the fist coordinates with the elbow overloading on the foot. With an explosive ice tong movement, this elbow and fist block is one of the big ones.
In #23B, this same movement is seen on a higher elevated kick. The fist is hidden by the leg, but it's there. Whe you torque into this blocking blow, it hits even harder.
There are many more uses of the elbow and hopefully I can demonstrate what I mean at George Mattson's summer camp this summer on Cape Cod. See you next week.