Under: karate
20 Jul 2009


So you have learned how to throw all of the kicks and punches and have achieved a black belt in your chosen style of karate; how can you improve your fighting ability? You have fought at a couple of open tournaments (open to all styles) and have yet to win a trophy? You had to defend your girlfriends honor and end up looking as bad as the other guy?


Do any of these statements resemble you? If so – read on. In this post I will introduce advanced fighting tactics that American Kenpo Karate teaches to brown and black belt students. Many of you that have learned your karate at Tracy’s or Joe Lewis Fighting Systems will recognize these techniques too as I believe Joe Lewis and Bruce Lee to be the source.


Do you remember that childhood game of hand slapping? Seemingly the fastest guy could slap the other guy’s hand before he could move it! If one knows how to do initial movement, he or she can slap the hand before the the other guy can move it! Watch this video I found and then I will explain initial movement and a high level overview of Angular Attacks.


Aside from the sucker punch, did you notice that the first guy was slapping the other guy’s hands? What do you think he did to do that? Was he appreciably faster than the other guy?

Watching closely you will notice the first guy did not give away his movement. He moved just the hands and not his body. It is hard to see a strike if just the hand starts the movement. It is ok for lunging moves – to have the body follow the hand but start the hand out isolated, first!

This concept is called initial movement. One way to practice initial movement is to have one person hold up a pad or glove and let the other guy try to back-knuckle strike the pad while the other guy moves it away at the first sign of the strike. This drill is just like the hand-slapping in this video only it is for a karate strike. Don’t do any foot work yet but just get good at moving your hand first and then let the shoulders and body twist to smack the pad!

Assuming you understand what I’ve just said and can do it – what have I taught you? Why the very begining move of  initial movement.

Now the title of this post is Angular Attacks. Angular attacks are how a fighter can attack various kinds of opponents. They are broken down into two types: 1) Direct Angular Attacks, and 2) Indirect Angular Attacks

Direct Angular Attacks use initial movement with the following strikes normally (not an all inclusive list):

  • back-knuckle or jab
  • lunch punch

  • flip kick
  • side kick

Indirect Angular Attacks include the following (not an all inclusive list):

  • Fakes (shoulder, hips, and body) then strike
  • broken rhythm (starting a strike, stutter and continuing)
  • eye fake, (making him believe where – then throwing elsewhere)
  • pattern, break the pattern

The types of opponents are (not an all inclusive list):

  • blocker (tends to stand his ground and block the first move)
  • jammer (will attack when you flinch)
  • elusive runner (will run when you flinch)

Ok in this post I will not go into too much detail because this is a huge amount of detail to cover but I will give an overview and promise to break down the components of Angular Attacks in subsequent posts.

Direct Angular Attacks involve using initial movement of a punch or kick so it actually connects with the opponent. The advantage of isolating the beginning of the punch or kick is by the time he sees it – it is too late to block or move!

You can use a Direct Angular Attack against any type of fighter (blocker, jammer, or elusive runner)

Indirect Angular Attacks employ a fake, broken rhythm, eye fake or pattern and are only useful against a blocker. A jammer will hit you when you start to fake. An elusive runner will run when you start to fake.

This is the reason an aggressive fighting style is so hard to defend against! Standing your ground and blocking is a losing proposition! What can you do against aggressive initial movement?

A little out of the scope of this post but if one employs critical distance or a gap if you will (keeping the distance where you or the opponent cannot strike each other), you will be able to select when you engage your opponent.

In upcoming posts I will start explaining the components of Angular Attacks in greater detail. I will probably try to do one a month and before long you will have a better understanding of how to actually connect with a kick or punch in a fighting or sparring scenario! I will look for or create videos for better understanding.


 Subscribe in a reader

Would you like a picture (Gravatar linked to your email address) next to your comment, that can link back to your website? If so goto (http://en.gravatar.com/) to create an account and upload a picture.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

3 Responses to “Angular Attacks; Advanced Fighting Tactics!”

  1. MMA Zone Says:

    Hey, good job on the posts keep up the great work. I like your explanation of the Indirect Angular Attacks, I have never heard it explained that way. Thanks and keep up the great work and I will be back.

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Thanks MMA Zone.

  3. My Self-Defense Blog » Blog Archive » Kung Fu Fighting; Self-Defense? Says:

    […] Lee first taught Joe Lewis direct angular attacks. I know many martial artists understood the value of critical distance, as did Bruce Lee. What I […]