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Techniques>Blocks>Types of blocks

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Types of blocks

Intro

Blocks may use one or two arms, a leg, or some other body part, such as a shoulder or hip.

Classifications of blocks

Blocks may be divided into three categories according to the body section they protect:
  • High section. The area above the shoulders. For example, the head is in the high section.
  • Middle section. The area from the shoulders to the waist/belt/sash. For example, the solar plexus is in the middle section.
  • Low section. The area below the waist/belt/sash. For example, the groin is in the low section.

Blocks may be classified by the direction in which they are applied:
  • Upward. Applied to push an attack over its target.
  • Downward. Applied to push an attack under its target.
  • Inward. Applied to push an attack across in front of the body.
  • Outward. Applied to push an attack to the side of the body

Blocks may be classified by the amount of force used:
  • Hard. Uses force against force to slow, deflect, or stop an attack.
  • Soft. Uses force with force to slow or deflect an attack.

Blocks may be classified by the initial contact point of the block:
  • Fist. The bottom (hammer fist). the top, the back, or the front of the fist makes initial contact.
  • Open hand. The palm, back of the hand, the little finger edge (knife hand), or the thumb edge (ridge hand) makes the initial contact. Some martial arts prefer open hand blocking but it is dangerous even when everything goes as planned; the fingers or wrist may be sprained to broken.
  • Wrist. The front, the back, or the sides of the wrist make the initial contact.
  • Single bone forearm. The thumb edge (inner) or the little finger edge (outer) makes the initial contact. This means only one of the two bones in the forearm makes the initial contact.
  • Double bone forearm. The bottom of the forearm (inner) or the top of the forearm (outer) makes the initial contact. This means both of the bones in the forearm makes the initial contact.
  • Shin. The front of the lower leg makes the initial contact.

Types of blocks

  • Guard. A guard is an arm and body position that offers a degree of protection against attacks without any other movement or conscious thought; it’s like a barrier or fence. Although a guard is not actually a block, it serves as a block when it prevents an attack from getting through. It’s also the starting position for most blocks. Guards are most effective when in close punching range when punches are coming faster than you can block. A tight guard can stop punches you didn’t even see coming.
  • Hard blocks. Hard blocks use the force of the block directly against the force of the attack to either, stop, delay, or deflect the attack. Hard blocks are quick since they use minimal blocking movements and minimal body movement. However, they may be painful or injurious to the blocker as well as to the attacker. If the block is powerful and correctly placed, it may not only stop the attack but also may injure the attacker enough to convince him or her to discontinue the attack. Thus, under the right circumstances, a hard block may also be considered a counterattack.
  • Soft blocks. Soft blocks use grabs or a relatively gentle force to delay or deflect the attacking force. Soft blocks are generally slower than hard blocks since they require more blocking motion and more body movement. Since there is no forceful contact, soft blocks are not painful to the blocker when performed correctly. Depending on the block, such as an inside to outside block and grab with a forceful twisting of the attacker's arm, the attacker may experience pain or injury. Since soft blocks require greater blocking and body motion, the blocker needs more time to perform the blocks; therefore, to use them correctly, the blocker must react more quickly to attacks than is required when using hard blocks.
  • Forearm blocks. Forearm blocks impact with either the top, bottom, inside, or outside of the forearm.
  • Wrist blocks. Wrist blocks impact with either the top, bottom, inside, or outside of the wrist.
  • Palm blocks. Palm (open hand) blocks impact with the palm. Palm blocks make it easy to grab after a block.
  • Bounce blocks. Bounce, or beat, blocks are just a way to use blocks in a manner that aids counterattacks. They are merely hard blocks that bounce off the attacking arm or leg and move into immediate striking techniques. Practically all blocks may be used in a bouncing manner. For example, when using an outer forearm block to block a fore fist punch coming straight at your face:
  • Immediately after the block contacts the attacker's arm, bounce off the arm with a straight fore fist counter punch to the attacker's unprotected face.
  • Since you had to block the punch, it meant the attacker was in punching range, and, since the attacker's arm is extended, he or she has no defense against the counter punch.
A bounce block makes the block, and the following attack, a single movement. A bounce block may continue to block even as it is attacking. For example, using the above example, as the blocking arm bounces and moves into the counter punch, it continues to block the attacker's arm to the outside to prevent the attacker from hooking it at the end of its motion in a final effort to strike your face.
  • Slide blocks. Slide blocks are a way to counterattack in combination with most any type of forearm block; they are a variation of bounce blocks. As the blocking forearm contacts the attacking limb, it stays in contact and slides along the limb into a counterattack toward the opponent. For example, as an outer forearm block contacts a fore fist punch coming straight at your face, the forearm slides down the attacking limb into a straight fore fist counter punch to the attacker's unprotected face.
  • Hook blocks. Hook blocks are blocks that hook the attacking limb and lift it upward or move it outward. For example, after making contact, an inner forearm block may extend over the attacking arm, hooking and trapping it.
  • Parry blocks. A parry is a soft block redirection of an incoming force. It is very efficient since you may attack simultaneously with another part of your body or the parry itself may become the attack. When the parry becomes the attack, it is referred to as a riposte. This is a term from fencing where you deflect an attack with the weapon and immediately slide it into an attack.  
  • Pressing blocks. Pressing blocks are used to press an attack upward or downward. For example, a pressing palm block may be used to hold the foot of a chambered front kick down so the kick cannot be completed.
  • Scooping blocks. Scooping blocks are used to scoop an attack upward. For example, a scooping palm block may be used to scoop the foot of a front kick and lift the leg upward until the kicker falls backward.
  • Grab blocks. A grab block is a modification of a standard block. A standard block is performed in its normal way, except, at the finish of the block, the hand grabs the attacking limb. For example, when using a middle outer forearm block to block a punch coming straight at the face:
  • Immediately after the block contacts the attacker's arm, open the fist, drop the wrist over attacker's arm, and lower your arm until the hand contacts and grabs the attacking arm.
  • The attacker may then be pulled or pushed into a counterattack, throw, choke, sweep, etc.
  • The blocking arm may have a closed fist or an open hand. The open hand may telegraph your intentions if you normally fight with closed fists. The closed fist protects the fingers from injury in case the block goes wrong.
  • Even if the opponent cannot be pulled or pushed into a counterattack of some type, he or she may be off balanced enough by the grabbing and holding of the arm to permit a counterattack.
  • Layered blocks. Layered blocks are when one block is applied atop another block and make it stronger. For example, a pressing palm block may have another pressing palm block applied atop it to reinforce the first block.
  • Braced blocks. Braced blocks are when a block is reinforced by the other arm to make it stronger. For example, the fist of the other arm may be pressed against the inside of the elbow of an inner forearm block to make it much stronger.
  • Double (twin) blocks. Double blocks are blocks where both arms perform blocks at the same time to make the block stronger. For example, twin inner forearm blocks to stop a powerful round kick.
  • Wedge blocks. Wedge blocks block and wedge between two attacks aimed at the same target. For example, if the attack is twin punches to the face or a two-hand throat grab, a wedge block uses two inner forearm blocks come up and between the two attacking arms to block them and wedge them apart so neither reaches its target.
  • Spreading blocks. Spreading blocks block and spread two attacks aimed at the same target. For example, if the attack is twin punches to the face or a two-hand throat grab, a spreading block uses two outer forearm blocks to come up between the two attacking arms a straight fore fist counter punch to the attacker's unprotected face to block them and spread them apart so neither reaches its target.
  • X blocks. X blocks are blocks where two limbs are crossed in an X shape that catches and stops the attack in the V shape of the open end. It’s almost impossible for an attack to break through the block. For example, if the attack is a middle section front kick, a low X block may be used to trap and stop the kick. 
  • Jam blocks. Jam blocks trap a chambered attack and prevent it from firing. Examples are pinning an arm to opponent's chest with a palm block, using a side kick to the shin to prevent a chambered front kick from firing, or closing the range so closely that the opponent cannot punch or kick.
  • Leg blocks. The legs may be used to block kicks. A leg may be chambered into a position where it blocks a kick and then fires a counter kick. For example, a side kick chamber may be used to block a side kick, and then fire its own side kick; or a waving check kick may be used to block a kick to the groin. Another way to leg block is to use a kick to block a kick by jamming the kick while it is chambered.
  • Knee blocks. The knees may be used to block kicks and sometimes punches. For example, a knee may be pulled into a high front kick chamber to block a kick or punch to the lower abdomen, and then the chambered leg may be used to fire a counter kick.
  • Foot blocks. The feet may be used to block kicks and punches, even high section attacks. For example, a crescent kick, inside or outside, may be used to block a punch to the head. I once trained under a Korean master who would use a lead leg outside crescent kick to block a punch, and then use the toes of the foot to grab the opponent's lapel and then pull the opponent forward into a reverse punch.
  • Elbow blocks. The point of an elbow may be used to block a kick. It is dangerous to use in that the narrow surface area of the elbow makes it easy to miss the leg entirely, but if the elbow makes contact it will probably cause serious injury to the leg.
  • Shoulder blocks. A shoulder may be rotated inward to block punches or kicks.
  • Hip blocks. A hip may be rotated inward to block kicks.
  • Target substitution. Although not actually a block, a less desirable target may be substituted for a vital target to minimize damage. For example, if a kick is aimed at the lower ribs, the resulting impact could cause broken ribs. But if the body is rotated so the impact point is on tensed lower abdominal muscles, the impact will probably only cause bruising.

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