DIAGONAL PUNCH - by Oscar Abad

Before starting to analyze different techniques of how to defend ourselves from diagonal punch and all possibilities that we have, we should understand how these situations occur and why they are being included into Krav Maga practices.

Krav Maga is a self-defense system, and is useful and can be applicable in everyday life situations.  Usually we are surrounded by people who can approach us or walk towards us from different directions. We can be in a situation when an attacker hits us with fist from diagonal position, and we are not able to prevent it in an efficient way. When people walk down the street, they cross and position themselves so that they do not bump into each other, which means that we constantly position ourselves cornerwise, in diagonal with others.

In other combat systems, contact sports, martial arts, etc., the attacks are mostly face to face, opponents are well positioned, one in front of each other, and are in optimal conditions to deflect a direct fist blow.

For example, when in boxing two opponents start to fight, they are always placed face to face and from that position they measure their strengths, performing their best punches. But, these blows, whether direct or circular, are always done while one rival is in front of another, so the line of blows will always be straight , with no added angles.

Another fact, that we must take into account, is that in Krav Maga we will face direct fist blows also from a diagonal position. In fact, in real confrontations that occur on the street, usually there are several aggressors (not only one) and usually their number Is superior to the number of those who defend themselves.    There most likely will be less defenders than aggressors. That is why many attacks or blows, come from all angles and sides, like, for example, the subject of this article - diagonal punch.

In the contrary, in contact sports, there are only two opponents that are positioned face to face and fight in the straight line.


The techniques of Krav Maga that help to deal with all kinds of situations, were subjected to complete and complex process of empirical study before being taught.

The different techniques since their creation and development in the times of Imi, were thought of from the most practical and effective point of view. Thus, the most effective and best techniques for each situation have been elaborated: best solution for each problem.

However, there can be situations that require different solutions depending on various factors, which can be important to consider. In case of defense from a diagonal punch, we find ourselves in one of those situations that will need more than one solution, depending on complex factors.

In some cases, there is only one solution, the best possible. In fact, in Krav Maga, almost all problems have a technique and an optimal solution. These techniques are well studied and proven to be the best against a specific attack. A clear example is when we should defend ourselves from a circular blow to our face from the medium distance. There is only one optimal technique.

In the situation above mentioned, when the blow to our face is circular and  comes from outside, it must be blocked: we need to place the  arm to block  and stop the blow in the most possibly efficient way. Within this technique we must position our body so that it favors the defense and enables a simultaneous and efficient counter attack.

If someone will suggest any other solution to this particular problem, we will disagree, since the different solutions will not be correct. If the problem was studied profoundly and the best possible defense technique was elaborated, in this case there should not be any other defense techniques. We simply will be changing the defense technique that we have created, based on maximum perfection and greater probability of success possible.

In the situation, when we are face to face with the attacker within the medium distance and we are going to receive a circular blow to our face, we have one, and only one solution, to guarantee total success in our defense.

On the contrary, as we will see later, in our case study of diagonal punch, we have different technique to defend us from the same problem, depending on several factors that affect the defender and therefore, the defense.


In the following chapters we will study how to defend ourselves against a direct blow from a diagonal position. The techniques are elaborated based on Krav Maga approach and defense techniques taught by IKMF.

In all the cases that will be studied later, the attack and the problem will be the same. A blow from a diagonal position towards defender and within the same distance - medium distance: fist will reach a defender only by extending the hand and without moving the body.

In different situations we will see slight differences of initial position of the defender, which will result in performing one or another defense technique. For example, when a defender is in an active guard position, with his hands in front of his face .There are also situations when defender will be in a passive guard position with his hands resting on both sides of the body, or crossed in front of the body. We will see how the initial position of the defender, his initial position of hands, directly affects defense techniques against the same attack.


As we have mentioned above, the attack comes from a diagonal position towards the defender.  Depending on how the defender is placed he will use one defense technique or another. In specific cases, we will see when the blow is deflected from the defender with the fast and effective movement.  


This defense technique is included into the technical program of IKMF, more specifically, into the section P2F2 of Practitioner level 2. In this situation the defender has his hands up in defensive position and prepared for the attack. The striking line is outside of the forearm, closer to attacker placed diagonally.

In this situation, the defender must deflect the blow outside using forearm. Until very recently this defense, known as exterior defense 1, 2 and 3, has been simplified, for better assimilation both by practitioners and instructors.

The blow will be redirected to the outside with the inner forearm. The thumb should be placed towards the outside dodging slightly with the head, and after the defender will counter attack with a direct blow from the other hand.

The counter attack can be done also with the fist thanks to the guard predisposition of the defender, but in this case, it can’t be simultaneous, as the arm that attacks is farther from the attacker at the moment of executing the defense.

Now we study the possibility of defending with the finger put outside, the example number 1 is showing the most practical solution, when there is bigger distance and strength for deflecting of blow is required. Previously in this same defense the possibility of defending with the finger put up and with the finger bent inwards was considered. Currently we will only look at cases when fingers are bent outwards. Such defense is easier to explain to the Krav Maga practitioners, it simplifies the techniques and makes them more effective.


This defense is included into program of Practitioner level 4 P4F2.1, against diagonal downward punch. This technique was previously linked to the defense 1,2 and 3 as it could be practiced both from short distance and long distance. The attack will be the same with the hand which is the closest and directed to the defender's face, and with the thumb put outward, up or in, or it could also be done from the long distance. Reached, further away from the defender's face and with the stretched arm.

The defense technique is executed depending on the initial position, degree of focus and alert of the Defensor. In the case of the short distance – the attack is the most surprising and the counter attack is much slower. But this concept is quite difficult for instructors to explain and for practitioners to train and execute.

Currently this defense is applied to a downward diagonal blow, when the attacker is placed in front of the defender, the strike line is diagonal.  The attacking arm is open, and the attack is directed from outside and in a straight line to the face. This attack should not be confused with circular blow that can be blocked with a 360 protection.

This strike is typical for attackers who does not train how to strike and simply want to cause maximum in an instinctive way. For example, an attacker, armed with a stick wants to crash the head of another person in the strongest possible way, making him bow from standing position. In fact, practitioners will study this technique constantly and will practice the defense against a stick attack.  It is a basic principle of the System; similar attacks are defended in similar ways.

In this case, the defender observes the attack for enough time, so he can anticipate and attack simultaneously, this is the first difference with the defense from short distance attack - the possibility to observe.

The defending arm is completely stretched and covers face when deviating and deflecting the blow. It is not a blockade, as with another arm the defender performs a simultaneous counter attack.

Finally the thumb can be put outside, upwards or inwards, without affecting too much the defense itself. It is what the practitioners got used to do when defending themselves from stick attack, when thumb is put upwards. This type of the defense is performed the same way. 


We have another technique for outside defense.  In this case, we use a defense with the forearm, deflecting the blow upwards, dodging the body forward and placing us away from the attacker. The counter attack will be a side kick, when we take an advantage of the distance and inertia to get away from the attacker.

We can assume that the degree of alert of the defender is minimal, therefore, the attack is totally spontaneous and the body is getting away from the blow by dodging it. In that position further away from the attacker the counter attack will have to be a lateral kick to the knee.


Defense included into P4C of the program Practitioner level 4. In this case, we are also located in diagonal position to the attacker, and the arms of defender are in front of him in a semi-passive position. The most important thing in this case is that, the attack is aimed at the body, towards the defender's ribs, the line of the blow must go under the forearm.

The defense that we are going to execute, is also a deviation to the outside with the hand forming a shovel and at the same time moving the body, taking step and extending the distance, so the counter attack will be a kick to the attacker's knee.

The defense will be the same not depending on the attacker`s fist. Or whether or not we remain on the dead side of the attack or on its live side, we will execute the same defensive movement with the arm, sweeping the blow to the outside, moving the body and taking advantage of the movement to kick the attacker's knee before he reacts.


This defense is included into P4D1 of the program. The attack is the same. Defender is placed in a diagonal position to the attacker, but in this case his arms are placed on both sides of the body. If we draw the line of attack, it is directed towards the forearm. In this case the defense will be diverting the blow inwards. These defense techniques are included into the IKMF program in section P4.D.

The blow can be directed to both the body and the face. In both cases the strike line goes through the inside of the forearm. The defense technique which should be executed in this case is to divert the blow inwards with the outer forearm and after counter attacking with a hammer with that same defending arm, as the opposite arm is too far away from the attacker for a fast and effective counter attack. In addition, when attacking with the hammer first, the defender takes advantage of the inertia of movement that the arm carries, starting with the defense.


This defense is studied after the previous one, within the P4D2, when  the blow is targeted to the face and the defender's position is passive, so the hands are far from the target. This defense technique is applied if the blow is directed to the body and face. The defender only need to lift the elbow up more, keep the arm perpendicular to the ground and with the fist closed. It facilitates the placement of the forearm and the posterior hit with the hammer.

Imagine, that we carry a bag in our hand with a certain weight, or hands put into our pockets, when receiving a diagonal blow. In that case, the defense technique which we should make, the fastest and most effective is to raise the elbow and move the arm inwards, to deflect the blow, releasing the bag previously or apparently taking the hand out of the pocket.

When the blow is aimed at the face, we can deflect it inwards keeping the fist down and counter attacking with a hammer taking advantage of the movement or we can deflect it upwards and counter attack with a lateral kick to the knee, since we are dodging away of the blow and we have better distance and possibility to execute a kick.


As we have seen previously, we have different possibilities of defense against the same attack. This, at first sight, contradicts with Krav Maga logic which  is to find the best and only solution to a problem. So, why for a diagonal attack we do have this many defense techniques?

In everyday life, we do not walk always prepared to fight with hands and arms freely moving. We can carry objects, we can be prepared for a danger or we can be calm and relaxed and passive. All this influences our possible defense techniques against the same attack.

We can have our arms placed in front of the body in semi guard position or in defensive position and to receive at that moment a diagonal blow. It has already been said that Krav Maga considers these situations, as the attacks are not always going to be executed from the front, remember the case of defense against multiple attackers. In this case we find ourselves with the arms on guard, we can receive the blow in line whose route passes through one side or the other of the forearm. In these cases, we have seen that it can be diverted to the outside with the thumb put outside or it can also be diverted to the outside with a shovel type hook, if the blow passes underneath.

If we have the arms placed calmly, on both sides of our body and stretched, they will be away from the face and the defense technique (deflecting it) will be moving the arm upwards. As deviation of the blow best suits in this case. We have seen that we can raise the elbow vertically and use the forearm to defend against the blow, diverting it inwards, but we could also deflect the blow up by raising the forearm horizontally and counter attacking with a kick to the knee taking advantage of the elusive moving the face away of the blow.

We have also been able to observe that frontally we can receive a diagonal downward punch, in this case we would defend it with the stretched arm deflecting the blow, and placing the thumb in three ways.

If our arms extend along the body and the blow passes in front of them, we will have to divert it inwards, whether it is aimed to the body or to the face, we could even deflect it upwards and counter attack with a kick.

This is the situation when facing the same blow we can defend ourselves in different ways, depending on defender`s position and degree of alert. We can say that position and alertness is the reason of choosing one of six different defense techniques to the same attack. We have not been able to choose one which suits the best, as we do in most situations. In this case all the solutions of the same problem are valid, if the solution has a reason and a start conditioned by the defender.

In short, Krav Maga seeks to give the best solution to a problem, a simple defense for a complicated situation, but sometimes the same problem will have different solutions, depending on the physical and mental factors that affect the defender over the course of life time.

Remember the famous sentence used by Imi Sde-Or, the founder of Krav Maga.

“So that one may walk in peace”

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