My second front page piece for the wonderful folks at HeadKickLegend.com:
This is the second part of a three piece series for HeadKickLegend.com; the first part, which regards footwork can be found at:
In continuing to examine the significance of "angles" in striking we turn to look now not at the angle on the clock face from which a fighter strikes at his opponent, but at the arc through which his hands / feet / knees or elbows fly when he throws them. We have switched our focus then from lateral movement (or the horizontal) to vertical blind angles. The blind angle is a term I first saw used by Shotokan Karate legend, Masahiko Tanaka. In explaining the blind angle in his seminal work "Perfecting Kumite", Tanaka used the front snap kick to demonstrate his meaning.
Try this - take up a fighting stance and look ahead at about eye level (for those of you who have access to a sparring partner or sibling, get them to do the same in front of you). You will notice that your peripheral vision picks up a lot of what is going on to either side of you, making it easy for even an amateur to avoid wide swings. What peripheral vision fails to do however, is to pick up on what is happening below or above you. If you are standing opposite a sparring partner or opponent, you naturally gauge your distance with your front foot in relation to them, however at any time you are unlikely to be able to actually see their front foot if you are in fighting range. The point below the focus of your vision in fighting stance is therefore called the blind angle and a great many breath-taking knockouts have come through exploiting it.
Using the example of the front kick as Tanaka did (some thirty years before the UFC's pair of front kick knockouts) we can see the point that he was making even in the slow motion replay of Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida's front kick knockouts.
Watching this gif of Anderson Silva's front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort it is clear how well Silva exploits the blind angle. With absolutely no set up Silva snaps his kick up through Belfort's blind angle and lands absolutely flush. The most interesting thing to notice is that Vitor sees Anderson's hips moving and begins to move slightly backward, raising his lead leg to check a suspected roundhouse kick, and keeping his hands up to the outside should the roundhouse kick come high. He looks completely stoic even until the foot collides with his chin, showing just how dangerous strikes through the blind angle can be.
This article continues on the front page of www.headkicklegend.com and when it drops off can be found at: