Can You Elbow in Boxing? 4 Unsaid Rules Unveiled!

No doubt, elbow strikes are one of the most devastating fighting moves and more than enough to knock out your opponent cold. But is it even legal in boxing? What happens if you actively try to hit with an elbow? Here’re some of the rules that you must know:

So, Can You Elbow in Boxing?

Elbow strikes are banned in boxing due to their devastating long-term consequences. Attacking with anything other than the padded side of the gloves is disallowed practice but blocking the punches with the elbow is legal and considered as a fair defense technique in boxing.

Further, I’ll explain exactly why elbow hits are not allowed in boxing and how you can leverage it properly to take your defense technique to the next level:

What Happens If You Elbow in Boxing?

As safety is one of the main concerns in modern-day boxing, you have no other option but to strictly follow all the rules crafted by the authorities.

If you try to hit or blow your opponent through an elbow strike, it is considered as a purposeful illegal attack to abuse boxing rules.

Even if you try to press your elbow against an opponent’s face, it may result in a warning, possible point deduction, and even disqualification in case of a repeat offense.

At the current time, the only offensive technique allowed in boxing is punching. You can leverage different punching combinations by using jabs, uppercuts, left or right hooks, etc. but you need to hit with the front side of your padded gloves.

are elbow blocks allowed in boxing

It’s completely illegal to use elbow strikes and referees try to treat it comparatively more seriously due to its devastating long-term consequences in terms of boxers’ safety.

There is no chance you can use your elbow in an offense but what about defensive techniques:

Are Elbow Blocks Allowed in Boxing?

As per boxing’s rules and regulations, Elbow blocks are legal for defensive purposes only. Although direct elbow strikes are considered strictly illegal, boxers can possibly make subtle elbow movements for better blocking and parrying the punches.

In simple words, you can take your opponent’s punches on your elbow and possibly block them passively but can’t actively use your elbow to hit or blow your opponent.

Here’re some of the popular boxers that used to implement this blocking technique:

  • Floyd Mayweather
  • George Foreman
  • Andre Ward
  • Winky Wright
  • Larry Holmes
  • Jose Luis Castillo

Let’s look at some of the main points why you should consider practicing elbow blocking:

4 Key Benefits of Using Elbow Blocks in Boxing

Bringing your hands and elbow in front of your face is a natural blocking position and it works very well, especially when practicing it properly. Here’re the core advantages of using elbow blocks:

1. Provide More Coverage for Blocking

Blocking punches through your elbow provides you with more coverage for defense and a larger shield size. Although the elbow bone is smaller as compared to the gloves, but it’s much easy to block punches with an entire half bottom of your forearm instead of just your hands.

In simple words, it increases your reliability and accuracy to catch and redirect incoming punches. That’s the reason why it is one of the core defensive methods for many top-level boxers.

2. Great for Stopping Power Punches

The elbow is made up of strong bones and is considered the most effective and conventional way to discourage and even possibly hurt the power punches. If performed correctly, a tight elbow block can easily take the impact of the blow.

Even with a pair of thick 16 ounces boxing gloves, many boxers have broken their fist, when they tried to break through an elbow block. That’s why it is a great defensive move, especially when your opponent is delivering solid power punches.

What others are Reading: Do you know the Actual Difference between Boxing and Muay Thai gloves, except for their name and sport?

3. Leaves the Hands Free for Defense

During any kind of boxing training, you’re taught to never let your guard down. Because that exposed your head and your opponent might punish you very badly for this mistake.

If you are successfully able to block the body shots with your elbow, it leaves your gloves free in the defensive position. This technique works even great when your opponent has a repeating set of attacks.

You can combine the elbow block with side crunches to get some mobility in the fight and your hands never have to move away from your face.

4. Creates Counter-Punching Opportunities

As I mentioned above, if you learn to block punches through your elbow, it keeps your hands free for defense. But guess what, you can also turn them into an excellent counter-punching opportunity.

You can go for either the same-side counter or the opposite-hand counter punch depending upon the situation and your skill level.

Elbow blocks are impressive, aren’t they? But at the same time, they could be tricky to implement during the game. Keep reading:

How to Use Elbows Effectively in Boxing?

You should never point out the spikes of your elbows directly toward your opponent. This not only turns it from a defense to an attacking technique but also folds your hands back on your chest and takes away free movement of your hands.

Even if accidentally your elbow’s spike cut or strikes your opponent, it may result in a foul and leads to a potential warning or a point deduction. (source)

In addition to that, you should keep your elbows close to your body to make the blocks even more effective. This way you’re always ready to defend and block the punches at any point in time.

You should use elbow blocks as a part of your proactive defense strategy. Unlike traditional defense, you’re supposed to use blocking and parrying motion in proactive defense even when your opponent is not attacking.

The main goal here is to create a kind of defensive traffic between you and your opponent to limit their degree of offense. They have no other choice but to divert most of their punches somewhere else instead of landing them in the blow of elbow traffic.

This way, you’re not only decreasing the number of threat punches from the opponent but also freeing up your faculties for proactive defense.

Final Thoughts on Elbow in Boxing

As a general thought, the elbow is a short-range kind of attack and is more destructive as compared to a punch. Although attacking through your elbows is completely banned in boxing but you can surely use it in your defense.

If learned properly, elbow defense gives you a great advantage over your opponent and enhanced your overall game. But you need to be careful and consciously try to avoid any kind of fouls.

Happy Boxing!

Priya Dorge | Cargofighter

Priya Dorge

Priya Dorge is a passionate boxer and author, dedicated to sharing her expertise in the world of combat sports. With her deep knowledge and experience in empowering individuals in their journey has garnered a loyal following, making her a trusted resource in the martial arts community.