Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Blocking - A Persistent Myth


Blocking techniques are something that almost all Karate practitioners learn and practise at some point. In weight of the evidence proving blocking to be ineffective in real fighting it remains a persistent myth with many followers still convinced of its practicality. Dynamic pre-arranged sparring drills can lead to a false sense of efficacy and the leap of faith from ordered dojo practise to a chaotic violent encounter is a big one.

The plethora of real fight footage readily available on the internet as well as full contact sporting combatives such as boxing and MMA demonstrate time and time again that it is not possible to predict what the attack will be. Without knowledge of the attack the visual and physical reaction time required to deliver one of the blocking techniques practised in karate is just not possible. Further breakdown occurs when faced with a skilled opponent who does not attack with a single blow and instead delivers vicious combinations which relegates keeping up with the attacks to the movies.



Many movements in the antique kata are interpreted as blocks, it is doubtful that the impracticality of blocking was unknown to the kata creators therefore the modern interpretation needs to be called into question and along with it the reactive mindset that accompanies blocking. It is also unlikely that the antique forms contained any reactive blocking techniques not only because of the impracticality but also how would it be possible to catalogue them in a kata?

If an attack cannot be predicted what would be the starting point in creating a reactive form? How would the problems discussed above be overcome? Is there any value in recording reactive techniques (especially blocks!!!) in kata?

Please contact us with any comments, questions or most importantly for training please email Tom Maxwell at kodoryutmaxwell@gmail.com, thanks for reading!!!

6 comments:

  1. Blocks are taught as blocks to novice students. Most if not all have other uses that are not taught until advanced level by a good instructor. There are many poor ones that don't understand the real or hidden technique. In fact in Japanese they are not even called blocks. The word translates to receive. A classic down block is actually a groin strike. A high block is more useful as an arm breaking technique which is why the other hand comes down when it goes up. That hand is holding the opponants outstretched wrist while the blocking" hand goes up under the elbow breaking the arm. A knife hand block is either a throat strike or a throw depending on what the other hand is doinf

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    1. That is right. Once I realised this I came to realise that an actual karate fighter in a street fight has a whole lot more than just punches and kicks in his arsenal.

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  2. I'm a Kungfu practitioner and not a Karateka. But I don't think that a block has only to be reactive. You can also used it actively to distract, opening a gap in opponent stance, Opening move to limit your opponent reaction choice. That's my opinion maybe Karateka has a different usage in Block.

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    1. Amen, brother. Any kung fu student knows that the stopping fist (moroto uke in karate) actually serves as a backfist strike, but has some defensive qualities. Recent demonstrations of kata bunkai in karate have shown that in most cases the preparatory movements of the "block" are the actual defensive movement while the stages thereafter actually make up the counterattack.

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  3. The initial placement of the hands before the "block" is the actual block. The preperation right before you do the block is actually when you are blocking something. The thing we call the "Block" is actually the counter attack and can be used as a throw, a push, a joint lock, a grab, a trap, a wrap with which to grapple, a pressure point strike, etc.

    They were commonly taught to children and to americans as "blocks". Knowing the true applications was only given to a select few.

    For instance use every single block as a forearm strike to the neck. The real blocking happens when you cross your arms in preperation for a rising "block" then you smash your forearm into the side of their neck. That's what actual karate is.

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  4. I like this topic. Isn't it amazing how we begin to realize these things once we see them?

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