Thursday, February 19, 2009

The True Purpose of Blocks

In my previous post, "Does Blocking Really Work?" I presented the question of why we teach and practice blocks if they really don't work. Before I answer that question, let's look at the main reason blocks are taught in the first place: to stop an impending attack. Remember, one of the main tenets of self-defense is to quickly end the confrontation to avoid serious injury. As mentioned in my previous post, blocking an attack does nothing itself to prevent that from happening. After the attacker throws one punch, he can punch again and again and throw more techniques because nothing has been done to stop him from doing so. With this in mind, there are two schools of thought:

(1) Blocking with the intent to strike. As described perfectly in the blog entry "Blocking Incidental to Striking," blocking and striking performed as a simultaneous act is far better than blocking alone. Going along the same train of thought, many styles teach students to grab the attacking limb immediately with the blocking hand and pulling the opponent toward you while delivering an attack of your own. In the event one is able to get the block of in the first place, this does far more to satisfy the almighty self-defense tenet than merely blocking alone.

(2) Blocks are actually intended to be strikes. To better illustrate this point, it is better to think of this one in a close-quarters fight (which is the majority of fights I might add!). Think of the typical knife-hand block: you would use hand furthest from the attacker grab his shirt, jacket, hair or whatever else you can grab hold of, pull him toward you while using your other hand to perform a knife-hand strike to the side of the neck. If you think about it, any other block can be used in such a situation with similar results.

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