Feature Article

Theories Of Defensive Action
Grand Master James S. Benko, Ph.D.

Avenues Of Approach     Angles of Evasion    

Avenues Of Approach

There are many different directions from which an opponent may enter your defensive sphere. But there are eight directions from which he may attack that would not only permit him to enter but to off-balance you as well. These eight directions are referred to as the eight AVENUES OF APPROACH.

Understanding the avenues of approach is of vital importance for three primary reasons. First, because the avenues of approach are your weakest points of defense, you must protect these "avenues" against infiltration by an opponent. Since the "avenues' are also the weakest areas of the opponent, you will want to direct your techniques toward these areas in order to penetrate his defense and subdue him. Finally, an in-depth knowledge of the avenues of approach will better enable you to grasp the concept of a "multi-directional defense", which deals with defending against several opponents attacking from different directions. Let's take a look at each reason.

The Avenues of Approach are imaginary lines along which you may be attacked or off-balanced. The "arrows" indicate the paths which a hostile force may impact against you in order to disrupt your balance.

In a confrontation it is the objective of the opponent to penetrate your defensive position and render you unable to further defend yourself. To protect against penetration of your defenses you must guard your avenues of approach. There are several ways to accomplish this. As the opponent closes in along one of the avenues, move yourself into a new defensive position which denies the opponent access to his original line of attack. He will be forced to alter his approach, which gives you additional time to probe for weaknesses in his defense or seek an means to disengage from actual physical confrontation.

Strategic positioning goes hand-in-hand with using the avenues of approach to enter the opponent's defenses and applying a technique of neutralization. You position yourself so you will be able to use one of the opponent's avenues to engage him. You will then be able to off-balance an opponent and place him in a position in which he must commit himself to defending the avenue under attack. This means he will be limited to defense making it almost impossible for him to initiate an attack against you.

Finally, as you develop your ability to recognize and employ the avenues of approach to your advantage, you will progress to the level of multi-directional defense. You will be able to close your avenues of approach to opponents while using their avenues to penetrate their defenses and apply your techniques of neutralization. The multi-directional defense is the foundation for defending against several opponents simultaneously.

The eight avenues of approach are the angles which are your weakest points. That is, if an opponent were to move toward you and push you in the direction of one of these "avenues", you would be knocked off balance quite easily. Since the eight avenues of approach are our weakest areas of defense, they should be carefully guarded. This may be accomplished by body-shifting or moving along one of the ANGLES OF EVASION.

In order to make effective use of the avenues of approach in a defensive situation you must also realize you will move along these "avenues" to evade attacks. At this point the AVENUES OF APPROACH become your ANGLES OF EVASION.

Angles Of Evasion

The angles of evasion correspond with the eight avenues of approach in that they are, in one sense, the same angles in relation to your position. Just as an attack may come from angles which would normally off-balance you, so you may use the eight avenues of approach in a reverse manner. Thus they become the "eight" angles of evasion. The theory of the angles of evasion is fundamental in all aspects of life.

If someone yelled "look out!", and as you looked up you saw something falling toward you, you would, without knowing it, use one of the angles of evasion to avoid the falling object. When you are walking down a narrow hallway and another person is walking toward you, you use an angle of evasion by stepping to your right or left and turning your body slightly to one side as you walk past each other.

The angles of evasion and avenues of approach are also used in all forms of combat. It is a theory which cannot be ignored no matter what walk of life you come from. Whether moving out of the way of a line drive or side-stepping a bayonet thrust on the battlefield, you are using angles of evasion in relation to an avenue of approach. To properly understand and utilize the avenues of approach and angles of evasion, you must be able to determine the DIRECTION OF FORCE.

The Angles of Evasion are the directions used when evading an attack. The arrows represent the "Angles of Evasion", while the dots indicate the position an opponent would be in, prior to his attack.

Angles of evasion permit you to avoid direct contact with an opponent's attack. But they do much more than this. You are able to lead your opponent into a technique of neutralization by drawing him into your sphere of defense. For example; as an opponent steps toward you in an attempt to grab you, you step away with your left foot as your right hand comes over the top of his extended arm. As the opponent sees you attempting to step beyond his reach, he lengthens his reach by stepping further toward you and extending his arm as far as possible in an attempt to grab you. He has now gone beyond his "range of stability". At this point you have drawn him into your defensive sphere, placed him in a position of physical instability, and strategically positioned yourself for the implementation of a technique of neutralization. As you seize the wrist of the opponent's extended arm, you step with your right foot to your rear while rotating the opponent's arm to your right and toward the ground. You may, at this time, immobilize the opponent with one, or a combination of, joint manipulation techniques (kwan jyel sul).

The angles of evasion are the basis for footwork and efficient mobility. Your movements along these "angles" may be linear (angular or straight-lined), circular, or a combination of these movements.

If an opponent steps toward you and punches at your head, you could evade the attack by moving your right foot to your front right, while at the same time striking the opponent with your left hand. His blow continues past you as he continues to move directly into the path of your counter-movement. This is an example of "angular' movement along the angles of evasion.

Using the same attack for demonstration purposes, this time move your right foot in a circular motion to your front right until you are in a sitting stance (horse-riding stance), facing the opponent as he steps toward your original position with his straight punch. As you step into your stance, deflect his punch with your left hand as you strike the opponent with your right hand. This is an example of the implementation of "circular" movement along the angles of evasion.

The eight angles of evasion are the key to evading an opponent's attack. To evade the attack you simply move along one of the eight angles along which no hostile force is directed toward you. You may use these "evasions" to position yourself to counterattack the opponent, or to move out of his range of attack and completely avoid any type of confrontation whatsoever. A detailed study and understanding is crucial to understanding the theories of defensive action.

Copyright © 1998- James S. Benko and ITA Institute.
All rights reserved.

Top of Page

If you would like to learn more, you may wish to order the following DVD:
"Tae Kwon Do Phase Three: Theories of Defensive Action"