This post discusses the most common angle of attack for batons or machetes. In my opinion, it is a right handed angle 1 or 12, or a hybrid of both.

It is generally accepted that 70 to 95% of humans are right handed. See this article. Regardless of the percentages and based on an unscientific sampling of many YouTube videos, it does appear that the vast majority of players in Filipino Martial Arts are right handed. I rarely see any left handed FMA players on YouTube.

The same holds true for the non-FMA world. In looking at police baton and machete attack videos, the vast majority are by right-handed persons as well. That said, if you are going to encounter a weapon attack, the odds are that it will come from a right handed person and from angle 1 and 12.

Angles 1 and 3

If you do a Google search of “police riot baton” what do you see? Many police officers wielding their batons in their right hand and attacking with angle 1 or 12 or a hybrid of both.  One of the more memorable images was this front page photograph of a police officer swinging his stick during the G20 riots in Toronto in June 2010. Notice the angle?

Please note that I am not using these examples as an attack on police officers but only to show the universality of this motion. Indeed, my Modern Arnis instructor is a retired police officer and I have friends who are in law enforcement.

Going to the bad guy side of the ledger, there are a fair number of machete attack videos on YouTube and they show the same thing. The bad guys are swinging the machetes at either angle 1 or angle 12 or a hybrid of both. See, for example, this machete attack at the :33 mark of the below video.

Not surprisingly, the bad guy was swinging from angle 1 and 12.  See this search result for “machete attacks” on YouTube and you will see the same thing over and over.

Furthermore, watch videos of padded stick sparring. It seems that the less experienced players tend to initiate their attacks or flurries with angle 1 and or 12. As they get more experience, they usually mix it up with backhand strikes, witiks, combinations and more compact attacks.

However, it seems that padded stick sparring is not the same as street reality.  A police officer wielding a baton or a bad guy swinging a machete is usually done with INTENT, albeit for different reasons. A police officer will swing a baton hard in conjunction his fellow police officers in order to control a crowd or an unruly suspect. And they will swing hard.

On the other hand, a bad guy with a machete will be swinging with the intent to kill, not to score points.

Because of the intent factor, the police officer and the bad guy are going to fall back on the most natural motion/angle.

And it is likely to be angle 1 or angle 12.

So what does this mean from a self defence perspective?

It means playing the odds and adjusting your training against weapons such as batons and machetes accordingly. The odds are that if you are attacked by a baton wielding nut or an attacker with a machete, it will likely be an angle 1 or angle 12 attack or a hybrid of both. 

Spend more time training against those angles than the others. Does this mean ignoring the other angles? No. It only means be aware of the most likely angles of attack against weapons like batons and machetes.

Over to the instructors, what are your thoughts? Let’s hear them!


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