In many martial arts, including the Muay Thai grapple, a common way to gain an advantage over your opponent is to use your aggression against them. Let them overload his energy, then redirect his energy, knocking them to the ground.
In the fictional anime Kengan Ashura, one of the forms of martial arts, the main character Tokita Ohma uses a “Redirection Kata” that uses minimal movement to manipulate the flow of power and redirect opponents’ attacks back at them.
The Kansas City Chiefs may not be masters of martial arts, but you could talk me into head coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs strangled the San Francisco 49ers and their top-ranked defense to the tune of 44 points on Sunday, and a big reason is because they used the Niners’ aggression against them, primarily Nick Bosa.
The Niners’ defense is so good because in an age of reacting to stimuli that is an offense, they are the aggressors, forcing the issue to the pitch of allowing just under 295 yards per game and being one of the best scoring defenses. Expected Aggregates per play (EPA/play). The defensive line is the main catalyst behind aggression. Defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans plays his defensive ends in a “Wide 9” technique, lining up on the outside shoulder of the tight end, even if there isn’t a tight end attached to the line of scrimmage. This gives the wingers a bigger hint to pick up speed to rip off the edge and wreak havoc. Bosa is one of the best defenders out there just wreaking havoc, leading the NFL in rushing rate at 20% (min. 100 rushing reps, via Sports Info Solutions). The Chiefs were tasked with trying to neutralize Bosa in order to win.
They did that and more, limiting Bosa to just one sack and one QB hit. They did this in multiple ways, keeping Bosa’s head spinning.
One of the first things they did to slow down Bosa was use sprintouts away from him. This moves the quarterback and pocket, and the rear end is typically hit with a hinge lock, which is when offensive linemen seal the rear end instead of just not blocking it. This forces Bosa to run not just around an OL, but to the other side of the field, giving quarterback Patrick Mahomes enough time to make the throw.
On Mecole Hardman’s first touchdown, the Chiefs leave Bosa unlocked and use their aggression against him. When trainers face a dominant EDGE defender like Bosa, they will read him instead of just avoiding running into him, forcing him to mess up. Look at Bosa’s hesitation when Hardman runs with the ball.
On the Clyde Edwards-Helaire touchdown run, Bosa is lined up in the wide 9 lineup, but instead of just trying to block him, they let him run too far downfield and CEH runs right where he left off, mostly untouched when he comes into the end zone. This is the ultimate dynamic between bullfighter and bull right here.
I think an interesting part of what they did to frustrate Bosa was in the traditional pullback setup. Bosa rarely got a one-on-one chance, often seeing RBs like Jerick McKinnon beckoning from the backfield to “chip” Bosa before executing a route.
Bosa was watching this several times, but when a third, long, critical situation arose, the Chiefs pulled the chair out from under him and passed a screen to McKinnon, who gestured as if he was blocking chips again.
The Niners’ defense hits with the force of raging fire, but on Sunday the Chiefs were as fast as a river and had the force of a major typhoon.
And as we all know, water defeats fire.