Sunday, 23 November 2014

So you've blocked... Now what?

I'm sure a lot of readers will remember how Daniel-San spent days painting a fence, waxing a car,  sanding a floor and lacquering a wall in order to learn how to block. 

Fact is- I loved my blocks as a Shukokai white belt. Despite having been shown the simple slapping block and pressing block for kumite I wanted to use uchi uke and all those other cool blocks.
And yes- I love Bassai Dai too.

Later on (in my case as 1st kyu brown belt) I realised that my obsession with blocking was hurting my karate. Sure- I could deflect blows, attempts to grab me and the odd finger poke at school, but still sucked at kumite.

The main reason for this was simple. Blocking itself does not do much (unless you are a master who is able to break someone's arm with that block- people like that exist!)- Blocking has to be followed by a counter-attack! I'm sure many readers have also come to this realisation early on in their training or were taught this universal truth.

The other truth I wish to share however is the following:

Blocking, ducking, slipping, side-stepping and circling are not meant to get away from an attack, but past it.

In all fights your adversary can leave you alone, attack or defend against your attack. The first option is his choice. The latter two are yours.

Multiple blocks are good if you can manage them, but trying to go through a real fight by seeing how many attacks you can avoid is asking for trouble. Any altercation has to be stopped at the earliest opportunity possible. Harmless opponents can be subdued with a throw and arm lock or just an arm lock. More dangerous opponents should be incapacitated with something more severe.
In order to reach this objective you do not want to have to move back into range after an attack has missed and another attack is already on the way. Yet- you do not want to be a sitting duck either.    

Another purpose of a defensive technique is to set the opponent up for your attack. The opponent is open for attack at that exact moment when he is either busy launching his own attack or just before he launches the next one- or before he recovers from the last one. Your block should help you to create these openings and to use them.

For more info on how to train to use these tactics you are welcome to email me at or to just comment to this blog.

Enjoy your training. :)

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