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Angles in martial arts


Angles in martial arts are embedded in all stances and techniques. Angles are formed when two straight lines intersect. However, a straight line is also a straight angle, and it is used in martial arts both as a straight line and as a straight angle. Nonetheless, simple straight lines travelling in a single direction, like a front kick or a straight punch have no angles but are also widely used. Hence, in martial arts, a defensive or an attacking movement can be linear, angular, or circular.

The straight line

The shortest two-dimensional distance between two points is a straight line. So, if A punches or kicks B in a straight line, then the distance would be the shortest. The effectiveness of linear movement, which travels in a straight line, like the straight punch and the front kick can be seen in the following videos.

THEBEAST video “Straight Punch (Jab/Cross) Knockouts In MMA UFC | COMPILATION”:

ITP MMA video “Every Front Kick KO in UFC History RANKED”:

What is an angle?

The area between two straight lines from the point where they intersect is called as an angle, and it is measured in units known as degrees. The point of intersection is 0 degrees, and going clockwise or anti-clockwise, it ends at the starting point which is 360 degrees. Therefore, one full circle starts with 0 degrees and during rotation, it increments with 1 degree to come back to the starting point, where it is 360 degrees.

mathantics video “Math Antics – Angles & Degrees”:

If two intersecting straight lines are used, then an angle is created at the intersection. For example, a turning kick uses two straight lines, one vertically at the side for raising the leg and one horizontally for hitting the target. The intersection of the two straight lines is at the hips where a 90 degrees angle is formed and so, the hip rotates 90 degrees to execute the turning kick.

Pacific International Taekwondo video “Pacific International Taekwondo – the 4 basic kicks for beginners”:

Common angles used in martial arts

Commonly, the four directions (north, south, east, west) are visualized as front, back, right side, and left side, each having 90 degrees; while the mid-directions (north-east, south-east, north-west, and south-west) are visualized as the four corners, each having 45 degrees.

Martial movements are usually in 45-degrees and increments of it. Forty-five degrees increments to 90, 135, 180, 225, 270, 315, and 360 degrees; thereby, making a full circle. Different movements employ different angles like a spinning kick would employ a 360-degree angle. In case of kicks involving multiple spins as seen in Taekwondo, more than 360 degrees may also be utilized. Angles are described, numbered, utilized, and performed variously in different martial arts.

Brian Johns video “Modern Arnis 12 Angles of Attack”:

Lawrence Kenshin Striking Breakdowns video “Moments of Brilliance: Saenchai’s Taking Dominant Angles”:

TKD Action video “Taekwondo 360, 540, 600, 720, Demonstration & back flips”:

Why are angles used in martial arts?

In martial arts, angles are used because a fight is never static as there is always some movement, which may be linear or angular. Linear movement is moving in a straight line, which is a segment of a straight angle. Angular movement is moving in angles, which is a segment of circular or rotational movement.

Angles are used in martial arts primarily because of two reasons:

—to control the three dimensions, namely, length, width, and height/depth
—to attack or defend the centerline

and secondarily, for multiple reasons like causing feints, telegraphing deceptions, creating openings, regaining balance, taking stances, slipping / sliding / shifting / jumping / flying away from the opponent, and more.

Three Dimensions

The human world is comprised of 3 controllable dimensions, namely length, width, and height/depth. Although there is also another dimension of time, which is uncontrollable, and since time cannot be controlled, humans are said to live in a 3-dimensional world instead of a 4-dimensional world.

Engineering Made Easy video “11 Dimensions Explained – Dimensions Explained – 11 Dimensions – Higher Dimensions – Dimensions”:

3-Dimensions in a fight

The concept of dimensions is related to a fight. Although a fight is always chaotic and unpredictable, yet a fight may be controlled to some extent by using angles in the dimensions of length, width, and height.

Length Dimension

In a fight, the dimension of length signifies the geographic distance, or the range, or the gap present between the fighters. In a military combat, the distance may be far away and missiles or sniper rifles may be used, or it may be close enough to use bayonet knives. In military combat, the length dimension may be controlled by troops advancing or retreating. Angled attacks and defenses are vital where thousands and thousands of military troops are involved.

Entertain Me video “Alexander 2004 – Battle of Gaugamela 2 – Movie Clip HD”:

BazBattles video “Alexander the Great: Battle of Gaugamela 331 BC”:

In a hand-to-hand combat, the distance may be large, mid, or close range. In a hand-to-hand combat, the length dimension is controlled by footwork. When to close the range or move out of range largely depends on the uncontrollable changing circumstances of the fight, yet, with footwork, especially angular footwork, distance can be controlled. Footwork enables moving in or out of the range.

LOGAN BROWN BOXING video “How Did Mike Tyson Get On The Inside | Mike Tyson Footwork”:

Width Dimension

The dimension of width relates to the geographic width of the surroundings as well as to the physical width of the opponent. The geographic surroundings may be as wide as valleys or mountains for an aerial bombarding attack, where the opponent may be some military base having a width of few kilometers.

KickFlip video “WW2 – The Bombing of Germany [Real Footage in Colour]”:

On the other hand, the geographic surrounding may have a narrow width of a passage or an alley. Using angles in strikes is an effective way to take advantage of the width of the surroundings. The geographic width dimension may be controlled in a fight by utilizing the angular geographic features to one’s own advantage, like pinning an opponent to a wall, or forcing multiple opponents to attack from a single direction.

Screen Master video “Punisher Prison Fight Scene | Daredevil (2×9) [HD]”:

The width dimension also signifies the physical bodily width of the opponent, meaning how wide or how broad is the opponent, who may be thin, or muscular, or massively built. The physical width dimension may be controlled by utilizing angular movements to execute various attacking or defensive techniques.

ExploreWesteros video “Khal Drogo vs Mogo Game of Thrones 1×08 mp4”:

Height Dimension

The dimension of height or depth relates to the geographic height/depth of the place of the fight as well as to the physical height of the opponent. The fight may be on a mountain top, or on an uneven road, in some building, or in any geographic height. The geographic height may be controlled by ascending or descending angles of the geographic terrain, which may feature undulating valleys, small mountain passes, meandering rivers, etc., at different strategic heights.

AlexMovieClips video “This is where we will fight. The Spartans join the first battle against the Persians. 300”:

The physical height of the opponent means that the opponent may be taller, or equal, or shorter in height. The physical height may be controlled by angular attacking and defensive techniques that focus more on technique and less on power, like leg sweeps, well-timed punches, vital point striking, choking, limb breaking, throws, and other attacking and defensive techniques.

Half Time Entertainment USA video “Bruce Lee vs Kareem Abdul Jabbar”:

Centerline of the body

The centerline is an imaginary line that goes vertically through the body, which divides the body in two equal halves. On this line are located several vital points both on the front and the back of the body. For example, the forehead, philtrum, throat, solar plexus, umbilicus, groin, base of neck, spinal column, lower back, and the tailbone. Therefore, the centerline is important for both defensive and attacking movements, and both can be performed with linear or angular movements.

Binge Society – Dark video “The Godfather: Michael avenges his father”:

The centerline of the body can be attacked or defended via angular footwork, which usually employs 45- , 60-, or 90-degrees incremental angles.

Nathan Carlen video “Triangular Footwork”:

Angular footwork is frequently used in Aikido to move out of the path of attack, capture the blind side, use the opponent’s force and momentum to one’s own advantage, and manipulate the centerline by attacking it from an angle.

Dave Willard video “1954 Aikido O Sensei”:


Angles are important in any fight, and they are effectively used by martial artists. In the following video, one can see how angles are used to control the three dimensions of length, width, and height; for closing in or moving out of the range; and for defending or attacking the centerline.

Ehthisham tk video “Harakiri last fight scene”:


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