IntroThere are many factors that affect the effectiveness of blocks.
FactorsDirection of power. To stop an attack, hard blocks should make contact perpendicular to the surface of the attacking limb and at a 90-degree angle to the path of the attack. To deflect an attack, soft blocks should make contact at a sharper angle so the attack is redirected but not stopped. You should meet strength with weakness (use a soft block) and meet weakness with strength (use a hard block).
Forearm rotation. Hard blocks gain in power if you twist the forearm into the block as it contacts the attacking limb. Just as the snap used in punching, snapping the forearm into the block, transfers your force to the attacking limb. When this occurs, your arm causes injury to the opponent without you being injured.
Hip rotation. As discussed in the power topic, snapping the hip into a technique transfers your body mass into the technique for additional power; this includes using it when executing a block. There are two ways to pair a block with hip rotation: with the rotation (as with an inner forearm block) or against the rotation (as with an outer forearm block). When the block is going against the direction of hip rotation, it is generally weaker.
Position of the arm. If the blocking arm stops its movement in a position that is too far from the body, greater range is achieved but there is a loss of power. If the arm stops too close to the body, the block has more power but the attack may not be stopped in time. In the ideal stopping position, effective range and power are achieved.
For example, with an inner forearm block, if the block ends with the forearm vertical, the block has more coverage and may hit with more power, but it may not stop a punch before it strikes its target. If the block ends with the forearm too extended, it has a longer reach but its coverage is smaller and it has less power. The ideal forearm ending position is extended at a 45-degree angle for good coverage, good range, and good power.
End of the block. Blocks should terminate when the attack is stopped or deflected enough to prevent impact. Do not over block by moving the arm past its most effective point, it opens you up to another attack and may expose you to a counter attack. For example, with an inner forearms block, if the block moves too far across in front of your body, it exposes you to an attack behind the block and it prevents you using the trailing arm for a counterattack.
Immovable elbow. The lead elbow should be about a fist’s distance in front of the lead side ribs at all times. Never allow it to rest against the body or move out to the side of the body. When the elbow is against the body, it makes it easier for your opponent to trap your lead arm. If the elbow is out to the side, the lead side ribs are exposed and it is difficult to protect the center line. If the elbow is held too far away from the body, its blocks and attacks are weaker and it exposes more of the body to attacks. With the lead elbow held at the correct position, is easier to deliver a non-telegraphic strike with the lead hand, such as a jab, and it only requires slight movements of the elbow or slight twists of the body to deflect or block attacks.
Relaxation. Body tension increases reaction time and reduces speed and power, so the body should be kept relaxed. Physical tension also encourages mental tension, which further slows reaction time. When you are relaxed, the muscles move smoothly in unison to reduce drag and generate more power.
- All muscular movement is controlled by the mind. A relaxed mind creates a loose, relaxed body. To relax your mind, it must remain placid while still being focused and aware. To do this, you need to relieve your brain of the job of thinking while fighting, which means you must train until your actions become instinctive.
- Being relaxed while fighting means you are never static. As long as you are either receiving energy (yielding) or transmitting energy (striking), you are in a continuous state of movement and flow. This flow is interrupted when stop moving or you are thinking about your next movement or technique.
- Relaxation helps increase your speed and power, but extreme relaxation, such as used in tai-chi or yoga, does not protect against hard impacts. Such extreme relaxation can:
- Leave you unprotected if you do not keep some part of your body between your opponent’s weapon and its target
- Leave you with no power since it is not connected to the ground
- Allow your limbs to be in positions from which it is impossible to launch a counterattack.
- To allow relaxation to generate speed and power, you must keep it rooted to the ground so you may transfer energy through a block, punch, or kick from a balanced connection to the ground.
- If you are unbalanced, you have no root.
- If you are stiff, you have no root.
- If you carry your body weight too high, you have no root.