Recommended reading: “Angular Attack Theory: An Aikido Perspective” by Todd Jones

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Angular attack theory is a conceptual framework that is taught in many martial traditions in one form or another. A fundamental comprehension of attack theory is essential to successfully effectuating defensive strategy and tactics. Ignorance of the construction, tactics, and strategy of attacking guarantees defeat. That said it is a difficult task to convey these concepts in writing, but here goes…

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  1. bruce baker says:

    Maybe the article should read the theory of attack? Or it should read .. the mindset of pugilism?

    It certainly does not explore the angles of attack nor usage of three dimensions that many aikido techniques use.

    One dimension is the straight strike from an oblique angle, be it the strike or the stance.

    Another dimension is the unbalancing of the opponent, be it the physical unbalance or the mental unbalance.

    The third dimension is the actual application of the technique that delivers the visual results, or as the reciever perceives the results as confusing because the physical, mental, and unbalancing occurs in three dimensions confusing both body and mind.

    One last observation, every advanced practitioner either uses deception or speed to counter the opponent. Maybe I am too kind-hearted because I really hate to use methods that cause injury or pain when unnecessary, and most of the time some advanced practitioner showing off is one of these necessary/ unnecessary moments, at least in my mind.

    In every lesson the speed and pain level must be reduced so the mind and body can grasp and learn from mistakes, or from success, but I learn more from mistakes … might just be me. If I experience a low level of pain my body records this activation, my mind remembers the technique more accurately, and when I do the techniques I am more aware of how painful they are so I will be more mindful/ aware of what I doing to my practice partners.

    Speed, accuracy, and an inate ingrained knowledge becomes second nature so that when the time comes … we are not analyzing but doing what needs to be done without thinking. In effect, there is always some angle created within the technique or attack or defense and thereby we can truly define the angles of defense/ attack.

    We do not want two rams butting heads, to trains crashing into each other on the same track but the deflection of forces in some way, shape, or form so we can find a gentler kinder way to teach a lesson or defend/ attack in a way that heals, not destroy.

    Bottom line … one must interact. Writing and talking is fine to a certain point, but then only interaction can define what one discusses or one writes as truly valid.

  2. Just try doing katatedori sumiotoshi against someone who is bigger & stronger. without the appropriate angles of movement you will not be able to move anything except a trained monkey or someone weaker & smaller than you. in communication terms the attack by uke is the question. the response by the nage is the answer.

  3. Brett Jackson says:

    Very clear and insightful analysis supported by a holistic understanding.

  4. Brett Jackson says:

    Very clear and insightful analysis with a supporting holistic understanding. Wondering whether Aikido’s circular and spherical movements can also be captured under the heading of “angular” theory. Is a circle or sphere an angle or an overcoming of angles, or is this just an academic point distinction? I think it’s more than academic in that it leads perhaps to a fuller conception of space and spatial (movement) options.

  5. my 0.02c, I don’t think aikido is circular or spherical at all. Its very linear and direct. It appears circular because arms and other joints are hinged and so the linear and direct movements tend to manifest as circular movements

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