by Richard Conceicao
As with any discussion of the principles in martial arts, each one could take many years to a lifetime of exploration, in order to gain mastery. The understanding of angles and angular relationships in combat is another example of this.
In our previous discussion about structure we noted that certain angles have the capacity to provide enormous strength within the body, however, there are many more aspects to consider.
Correct angle required for proper type of vital point. In general the human body is designed for frontal protection that is most damage occurs from an angle other than directly forward.
- The ribs are able to flex with frontal pressure, they are however unable to bend in response to pressure from the side. Excessive side pressure will cause them to fracture or break completely.
- Knees can be hurt or locked from the front but a huge amount of pressure or force is required to do this. However, it takes approximately only 65 pounds of pressure directed downward from the side (45°) to completely dislocate the knee. A child of reasonable size could exert this amount of force.
- The yoke or tiger mouth hand attack to the throat will cause a choking sensation but will not kill because of the air pressure behind in the windpipe and the force being dissipated over a larger area. However, an angular attack to the throat can be deadly. That is the reason that strike is taught and not the others.
Most acupuncture points used in combat can only be attacked at a specific angle. Force or pressure from any other angle does not elicit the response that we are looking for.
Correct angulation is used to shut down attacks to your centerline, and to open up the opponent centerline to your attacks. This brings us to one of the most important concepts in martial arts, that being the centerline.
The centerline, as the name implies, is an imaginary line running down the front of our bodies from our head through our torso. For those with knowledge of acupuncture, you can consider this the line formed by the conception vessel. Many vital targets lie on this line and are susceptible to attack. This may appear to contradict what was stated before, but in actuality it does not. The reason the body has so much protection in the front is because it needs it to safeguard these vital targets.
It therefore becomes obvious that this area must always be protected. This can be done in any number of ways.
- Moving away from an attack. The primary methodology for this is of course correct angling in relation to the opponent.
- Keep it protected or covered while advancing or retreating: This is normally done if the basic block formation and execution is correctly done. Unfortunately, during basic walking practice of our blocks and strikes we tend to forget this and leave ourselves with huge gaps in our defenses. One of the most useful things a student can do is to have someone stand in front of him with his stick while he is moving forward and executing his blocks and strikes and how that individual try and poke him as he does so.
- Please note that this covering of the centerline must also be done with kicking as well. All preparatory “chambering” off the leg must cover the centerline. Again, one of the most common mistakes, and therefore one of the most common reasons for losing tournaments and fights. The same rule applies when retracting the kicking leg.
- We do not punch to our center, we punch through our center. Again, one of our most common misconceptions, whether brought on by training “always aim for your Center”, or the fact that her arms lie on the sides of our body. In either case the notion of punching from the side of our body to his center point somewhere in the front should be replaced with the concept of our punch traveling through our centerline to a target. Not only does this make the punch stronger through muscular advantage, it also closes off your centerline to an opponent’s attack.
- Your center of gravity lies on your centerline and in the interest of maintaining your own stability you must prevent it from being manipulated by your opponent.