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The Twelve Angles of Attack of Filipino Kali

angles of attack
The twelve angles of attack are part of a teaching system based precisely on the ” Twelve angles of attack” used in the Philippine eskrima / escrima / kali in the use of both cutting and percussion weapons such as stick fighting.

Each Kali system has its own angles of attack, usually there are 12 but there are schools that go up to 18 and even more as angles in their technical baggage.

The angles used are always the same for each combat area and therefore also for the weapon.

The number 12 is a mystical number, often associated with the 12 apostles or 12 knights of the round table.

The first founding members of Cebu’s famous Doce Pares Club school of escrima in 1932 were 12.

Corners are, in reality, blows, although they are defensive blocks in turn.

Obviously, these shots follow a precise trajectory, so we started talking about angles of attack.

Usually you start by explaining the first 5 angles of attack in the different ways as you see in the image below, but I want you to start exploring the other angles as well if you want to go even further in the knowledge of this fighting art.

I often see that we limit ourselves to always teaching the same angles of attack and always with the same method when in reality they also exist on the first 5 angles of attack in the different ways to perform them and combinations of these ways to associate with Types of strokes and movement with the stick.

Knife 5 Angle Attack Template

Beware that the angles remain the same but what changes is the way of executing as an order.

For example:

way 1 is in sequence identical to angles 1 (1) – 2 (2) – 3 (3) – 4 (4) – 5 (5) and go in the same order as the angle.

Or in mode 2 becomes 1 (1) – 4 (2) – 3 (3) – 2 (4) – 5 (5) where 4 and 3 is a horizontal cut

In mode 3 it becomes 1 (1) – 4 (2) – 3 (3) – 2 (4) – 5 (5) but forming an X , or 1 (1) – 2 (2) – 3 ( 3) – 4 (4) – 5 (5) where the 3 and 4 is pulled at knee height, etc.

There are many ways to make the 5 angles of knife or stick.

Consider that there are systems that still go beyond the twelve angles of attack bringing them to 15 or 18 up to 25 but today I want you to learn these and consider that the fundamental 5 performed cutting and tip and in the various knife grips are fundamental in the formation from which you can not get out ..

In the next articles I’ll show you 24 knife analytic systems that vary according to style.

In Philippine Martial Arts specific numbered angles of attack are used, numbers are used as an abbreviation in class to understand which angle to shoot.

The general theme is that shots are usually paired where odd numbers are the obverse, even numbers are also the backhand.

The following examples assume a shot with the right hand, but as you see from the diagram you must also perform them with the left.

Here are the 12 attacks used in the LaCoste / Inosanto and Modern Arnis system, by Remy Presas although in reality in the LaCoste / Inosanto system multiple numbering systems are used.

Interestingly, the “pushes” or tip shots are made with the forward leg position with the attacking hand with the correct weapon grip:

  • the “pushes” from the right are made with the hand in Second,
  • the “push” of the stomach is done in with the hand in Third,
  • and the left-hander’s tip shots are made with the hand in the Fourth.

Ps. These things are obvious but in reality they are often seen making knife grips on some angles of attack where the incorrect position of the hand can lead to a self-disarmament or a lever of the wrist not to mention the biomechanical breakdown of the movement.

The 12 angles of attack with cutting or percussion weapons:

  1. Straight to the left temple
  2. Right-hander
  3. Right shot to the left shoulder
  4. Right shoulder backhand
  5. With stomach thrust
  6. And thrust to the left of the chest
  7. Chest boost to the right
  8. Right knee backhand
  9. Straight to the left knee
  10. Left eye boost
  11. Right eye boost
  12. Down to crown

The Twelve Angles of Attack of Filipino Kali Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Look at the angles of attack:

  • one and two – side shots from the top of the head to the base of the neck.
  • three and four – side shots from the shoulders to the hips (the main targets are the shoulders, elbows, and hands)
  • five — midline pushed from below the elbow.
  • six and seven-year side thrusts to the chest or armpits.
  • eight and nine – side shots from even to the feet (the areas of intervention are the knees, shins, ankles, or feet)
  • ten and eleven – side thrusts to the eyes or neck.
  • twelve — mid-line shot from top to bottom.

Here is now the most common numbering, but consider that some schools use some variation.

This list considers that it is the right hand that is attacking with a single-cut weapon:

  1. Down and inwards on the top left of the receiver. Right shot.
  2. Down and inwards on the top right of the receiver. Reverse.
  3. Horizontally and inwards on the left half of the receiver. Right shot.
  4. Horizontally and inwards on the right half of the receiver. Reverse.
  5. Push straight and direct to the trunk of the receiver.
  6. Slightly tilted thrust to the right of the receiver’s head.
  7. Slightly tilted thrust to the left of the receiver’s head.
  8. Vertically down on the top of the receiver’s head.
  9. Horizontally and inwardly up the bottom left of the receiver. Right shot.
  10. Horizontally and inwards on the receiver at the bottom right. Reverse.
  11. Up and inwards on the top or left half of the receiver. Right shot.
  12. Up and inwards on the right half or higher of the receiver. Reverse.

Now, it’s important to remember that the list is useful for your basic training and as such used but on every corner you can perform different cut, tip, fist, or mix the whole thing.

The Twelve Angles of Attack of Filipino Kali

You can study the angles of attack:

The Twelve Angles of Attack of Filipino Kali


You have to use and learn a system of hit numberings is a correct way to name the angles of attack and consequently be able to train properly by associating shots with techniques.

Consider that in the Philippines many methods teach shots by calling the angles of attack more than the shot itself, thus indicating the target more than the shot to be used to hit the target.

It’s like you give each shot a letter of the alphabet and then put these letters together to form words that make sense.

Train and memorize attack angles and repeat them daily.

It is one of the basics to start short knife fencing.

Always respect the knife.

Knife is not a game!

Stay Tuned! Street Fight Mentality


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Written by Andrea

Instructor and enthusiast of Self Defence and Fight Sport.

# Boxing / Muay Thai / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling / CSW / MMA / Method & Training.
# Self Defence / FMA / Dirty Boxing / Silat / Jeet Kune Do & Kali / Fencing Knife / Stick Fighting / Weapons / Firearms / Strategy.

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