Elbows are illegal in many fighting sports, and almost all amateur fighting in North America, because they easily lacerate. If a parallel elbow is executed properly and contact is made with the point of the elbow on any part of the forehead, skull, or orbital bone region, it’s highly likely a cut will result. Although cutting is perhaps the first thing associated with elbows, elbow knockouts are also reasonably common. Elbows are great for situations where you’re too close for punches. That isn’t to say that you can’t punch effectively from close range, but you can certainly elbow harder from a clinched position than you can punch. In MMA you’ll see elbows mixed in with punches from most positions including from the standing clinch, from top, from bottom, and from standing when the fighters are not clinched.
This video is about the parallel elbow from a non-clinched standing position. As with any elbow, this technique has a very limited range; you have to start throwing it from a reasonable distance. You have to step in with both feet to land it. Although it seems dangerous, it’s important to step directly at your opponent when throwing this technique. Stepping off to the side will result in a miss. Seeing as you’re going right through your opponent’s punching range and into his elbow range it’s also very important to keep your hands up. Your non-elbowing hand should remain on the side of your head and your elbow side shoulder should cover your chin as you throw.
The power of your elbow comes partly from stepping in, but mostly from twisting your shoulders and trunk. Your elbow side hand should be relaxed and tucked into your chest. Your arm should be parallel to the ground. Push off the ground as you step in, and twist your hips and shoulders to drive into your target. Head to a good Muay Thai gym to learn the ins and outs of elbows. If you’re practicing with a partner at home, be very careful not to hit each other on accident as the point of your elbow is not gloved and could easily cut your partner or knock out his teeth.