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Self Defense/Angles, and lines of movement


Hi Marc,

Iíd like to ask you a few questions about this article of yours on  angles

Thereís something in the article I donít understand.  You mention that weíre weak at resisting force along our lines of movement and that the body is harder to move when you try to move it against the lines that we can generate force along.   Iíll give examples of where this confuses me.

Say for example, the act of bending, both forward flexion at the neck (as in nodding) and forward flexion at the hip (as in bowing).  Now these are both actions along our natural lines of movement.  However, I have found that it can be very difficult to move someone along these lines of force as they can resist considerable force in this direction.  For example, in the Muay Thai clinch, one of the main objectives is to accomplish breaking the opponents posture by pulling down on his neck to cause both forward flexion of the neck and bending at the hip so that you can knee him.  However, Iíve found this is not necessarily easy to accomplish, most trained people are able to resist fairly strongly against the forced forward flexion.  Iíve found that itís only once I get the forward flexion of the neck, then bending them all the way down comes easy.  Why is it so difficult to move them this way when itís along a natural line of movement?

On the subject of force generation,  consider an exercise such as the squat.  A strong athlete can generate a tremendous amount of force along this line of movement.  But this is done along a natural line of movement, so, arenít lines of force generation done on natural lines of movement anyway?  On top of that, the amount of force able to be generated on that line of movement is considerable.  Even in the example you gave of spinning a person by the shoulders, when I tried  it on my friends, they are able to resist it somewhat by forcibly trying to rotate against it.  I end up having to use a lot of force to get it to work, as much as I would to push them when they are square to me.  The only time itís easier to spin them than push them is if they are relaxed- then spinning them is easier than pushing their whole weight back.  But again this is when they are not actively resisting.

So Iím definitely misunderstanding the concepts in your article and I guess what Iím asking is firstly, what am I doing wrong when Iím trying to move someone along their lines of movement and secondly can you explain the difference between lines of movement and lines of force generation?  Especially with regards to how they relate to combat in the practical sense .  Without this understanding I wonít be able to use the concepts you describe in the article properly.

Thanks in advance


Nishan David

Okay, short answer, if it's not working, you're going the wrong way. The trick is to change directions before he can resist again.

Longer answer, just because we're designed move that way doesn't mean it's going to be easy. It's just easier. This even if the guy is locking his muscles up to resist.

The question is: Can you overcome that resistance with the force you're generating OR is it time to change directions?

If you're trying to move someone along such a line and they recognize it, they'll tighten up to resist.  This is the example you gave about the muay Thai neck clinch.  Are you strong enough or moving correctly to be able to overcome that resistance?

If it looks like it's too much work, change directions. See if someone is set up and resisting a pull -- as fast as you can -- change to a push in the opposite direction. The human body can resist force from one direction. But it takes time to shift to handle a different force. That fast shift from a pull to a push will send the guy reeling because he's set up against the pull, not the push. In fact, his set up will add to the effects of the push.

In it's simplest manifestation a line of force generation requires the attacker's structure to align in such a way that the maximum force can be delivered.

You can move all kinds of ways, but without structure you will not deliver the momentum/force of your moving body.  Someone in an epileptic seizure is moving all over the place, but that person isn't lining up structure so the force being generated by all that movement is wasted and going everywhere.

Whereas someone throwing a hook (at the right range) is moving with structure so his bodyweight and momentum is going to be delivered along the line of the punch

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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