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Collapsing the triangles on the human body as applied in Maharlika Kuntao

When an attacker is facing you and launching an attack, the knowledge of how to collapse the major triangles of the body becomes a determining factor on how to provide a quick and destructive way to protect yourself with minimal effort, but with extensive damage.

As we know the Filipino martial arts are based on angles of attacks and the ability of how to use the energy of the strike determines how much of the triangle can be used as a defensive way to put the attacker at a distinct disadvantage.. The angles of which the attack is launched can be briefly used in a term that comes natural with in the knowledge of the FMA and the practitioners.. This term is used as if the attack comes in vertical, you split the attack by going horizontal and vice versa.

The human body is constructed so that the chest muscles push up and out as it is the strongest way to do the lifting or punching applications taught in mainstream martial arts. But if the triangle of the chest is made to collapse in on it self, the strength is lost as it goes against the muscles of the chest.. An example of how this works can be done as follows:

1. Have an individual stand with his arms straight out to the front and flexed

2. Take your two fingers and go to the inside of the arms and push out, assistant will try and keep you from moving his arms out and away from the body. Fingers should be located in the area of the wrist of the assistant

3. As he resists, you will see that he is able to resist the pushing action from the inside

4. Now take the position where your two fingers are on the outside of his arms and push the arms in toward the center of the chest. As illustrated in item 2, your fingers should be located at the wrist area of the arms that are held in front of your assistant.

5. You will see as he resists, it is harder for him to maintain control of the arms as they are being pushed in since the muscles of the chest have been designed to push out and away from the body.

If you are meeting attack as a punch, it is best to use the triangle of the FMA and step to the outside of the attacking limb and using a parry or checking hand with the opposing hand as you are stepping to the outside.. This application can be used like an Abaniko attack or a Pai Pai (fan parry)

This application can be used as an entry to spin the triangles away from the attack or use the entry to the inside and step cross body while locking the base leg or foundation of the attacker..

If you want to go into the inside of the attack, use a siko entry and crash the elbow down on the clavicle of the attacker, this will leave the attacking arm checked with the live hand. By using the siko entry, you can check the elbow and crash the clavicle, then after contact is done on the neck region, reach through with the lower arm and use the forearm to whip the side of the head so it is pushed off center.. After this is done, you can use the hand as it is contouring back toward the neck and grabbing the back of the head, you can spin the head into the arm pit of the attacker. As you are pulling the head across the centerline of the attacker, pop the arm that is being checked with the live hand up and as this is being done, continue the angle of the head in a spiraling action down and behind the arm pit.

As you are doing this application, you can be stepping on the foot or locking the ankle of the attacker by stepping through and setting your foot to the 10 o clock position with your right foot, or the 2 o’ clock position if you are left handed and stepping with the left.
This will lock the whole body with a skeletal trankada (lock) and by spinning the head into the arm pit of the attacker, you will put tension on the spine and leg region.
This application will bring you to the back side of the attacker as he is being spun and will let you anvil his back and torso region on your knee as you drop into a horse stance. This will allow you to utilize elbows and hammerfist applications to the torso from the groin to the head while at the same time positioning you to an area where you are at the head of the attacker as you can slam him to the ground after beating him fiercely around the head and torso region of the body.

Spinning of the body’s triangles is easy to learn if you are applying the concept of the lop sao from wing chun, or the suyop (magnet) application of the Filipino Martial arts.. This concept in Kuntao comes from the Chinese aspects of Bagua within Kuntao where you parry down and behind you to pull your opponent off balance to disrupt his foundation.

This application that I have outlined is primarily used for basic familiarization of the triangle concept that I teach my students… With practice and experimentation, the same applications can be used for low line defensive application.

The big thing to remember about collapsing the triangles of the body is to spin the triangle of the body inside until you have an understanding of how the body is going to react by applying the applications to do so.

For the low line spinning of the triangle, this can be done by shooting for the notches where the hip bone is connected to the leg.. This notch is what is designated as a choking point of the body and pressure of this being pushed can be used to lock the legs or lower line attacking limbs. You should be able to designate viable targets that can be used to control the foundation of the attacker.. If you are used to using the stairstep or langka sliwa from silat, you will be able to step in and lock the foot at the ankle or if the opponent tries to step back, step on or past the other foot to totally lock him and keep him off balance.

When doing any type of shearing action, it is always best to maintain opposing pressure on the attacker to keep him from continuing the spinning of the triangle and coming in on your blindside with a back fist or an elbow.. This can be done by placing one hand on the kidney region of the back and applying pressure to keep the body in check if you are spinning the major triangles of the torso which run from the top of the head to the shoulders and from the shoulders to the solar plexus. If you want to control the upper triangles of the body, this can also be done by controlling the head and using it like a steering wheel as identified in the application illustrated above.

If you are spinning the triangles that run from the groin to the knees, this same application can be done by applying backward pressure to the front of the knees if you want him to fall backwards by locking the knees with either inside or outside pressure to the knee joint and driving at an angle using the triangle footwork or just shifting your leg that you are locking the leg with forward or to the side.

If you want to drop the individual on his face, this can be done by applying pressure to the back side of the knee or outside of the knee by locking the ankle/knee area and applying pressure to the direction in which you want to take him..

One final point to remember, if you know your guntings (limb destructions) the shearing actions done in these applications are a major contributing force on how you want to spin and control the triangles of the body.

For the lower line body attack, you can use what is called a “gravity drop”, where you can pass the attack up and “spear” the attacking leg with an elbow to the leg that is being sandwiched with pressure to the shearing action as the elbow is being passed from the inside to the outside of the leg.. This action will cause the knee to buckle and will bring the attacker to the direction of which the shearing action is directed. This application is good to know in case the area is confined and you have only one direction of travel in which to go, and that is straight forward… This action can also be done by using your circular footwork and locking the leg while sitting back on the knee of your attacker while scooping the ankle of the base leg.. This is an application that can be done against an attacker that likes to kick high and to the head.

If you have any questions, pls contact me here on the forum or send me an email to

William T. Anderson

Views: 342

Comment by John R. Malmo on May 25, 2009 at 1:59pm
Nice post! Very well presented concepts of utillizing the triangle theories for more than just stepping.
Comment by terry joven on June 23, 2010 at 2:47pm
As always another well thought out presentation of FMA concepts. Your knowledge and abilty to share FMA theory is a great attribute to have for your students and all of us on!
well done!


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