In this post, I discuss basic defenses against an overhead attack, commonly referred to as “angle 12” in most Filipino Martial Arts.

Demonstration of three basic ways to deal with an angle 12 attack.

The 12 strike is a powerful caveman type strike. The power comes from two factors: (1) the attacker’s intent; and (2) gravitational assistance.

There is a third factor, though, that must be addressed when teaching the defense against #12. 


For those starting out in Filipino Martial Arts, the #12 strike is probably the most terrifying angle to confront. One of two things happen: (1) they don’t know which way to step and consequently, they freeze; or (2) they just freeze.

Either way, there is no movement and this is quite common among children and adult beginners.

Hence, regardless of the defense being taught, footwork is paramount, as demonstrated in the above video.

I teach three basic defenses against #12. They are:

  1. Umbrella
  2. Wing
  3. Pass

With each of these three defenses, footwork is emphasized. Otherwise, there will be a bad outcome for the defender.


It is imperative to step off the line. In the standard right vs. right umbrella, you would angle off to the right, preferably at a 45 degree angle.

Even if you have the perfect shield above your head, if you do not move, it is quite likely the attack will just crash through the shield. 


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Angling off the line


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In the standard right vs. right scenario, step to the left, preferably at a 45 degree angle. I should note that a good check hand is important with the wing. I prefer “stick” to my opponent with my check hand to preserve my follow up options.

Again, it’s imperative that you not stand there and expect this technique to work.

It won’t work unless you move!


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“Hand, stick, hand” is one way to execute the pass and this is the version that I teach my students as it takes advantage of the check hand (left) and is illustrated in the video. I know what you’re thinking, “can that stick movement be an abanico strike?” Why yes, it can be!

Either way, you need to angle off the line to make this work.

In other words, MOVE!

Bottom line, it does not matter which technique is employed, good footwork is essential.

Over to the instructors, how do you teach the defense against the #12 attack? Let’s hear from you!

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