Sunday, February 28, 2016

It is just a Side Block


You must remember this,

A block is still a block,

A strike is just a strike

The fundamental things apply as time goes by.


When a new student starts with me, they are shown the side block, which is explained as a deflection of a strike. That continues to be the case as their kyu studies continue.


I just do Isshinryu karate. I am not doing tournament focused karate, I am not teaching exercise, I am not teaching self defense, Just karate. Where I have been living now 32 years, Derry, NH is as relatively a quiet place to live IMO about as dangerous as Okinawa was say 100 years ago, meaning not very.


Of course in this world that can change anywhere in an instant. Bad things do happen here too, but the program is geared to the average danger which might be anticipated. A different place, a different time, a different mixture of focus would be taught.


Up to Sho Dan what I am interested in, in the student, is building their basic ability. Which is more difficult than many assume.


The ability to deliver a side block, consistently, becomes a more difficult challenge than many understand. A simple example most often occurs at brown belt. Learning a kata, is much more than remembering the movements. There they learn one of our longest teachings, Kusanku kata.


Once they have learned the sequence of the movements, practice begins. Because of the length of the kata, most often the student, begins to back off their blocks. Performing them too light to make them work. Their mind is most often focused on trying to remember the form, to get through the exercise of the form. Attention is given to the more percussive appearing techniques, kicks and strikes, with less attention given to the blocks. I believe it is because at that point they know the blocks.


I normally tell, the student, that they appear to be developing brownbelt-itis*. A disease that often begins at brown belt, though it can occur earlier ot later in training. Of course I am using humor to make a point. In these cases, what is most important that each movement is performed with appropriate power.


* Brownbelt-itis has many symptoms. It is not a singular event


This also occurs to the mid kata the student knows when they are studying more advanced kata. Then they begin to practice just to get through them.


What we are looking for, is the black belt candidate can keep their focus on each movement in each kata. Without any letting up of technique execution.


This is more difficult than most realize, Looking at the application potential of the movement is less important than the actual execution, that can underly those applications. All things being equal, the ShoDan has developed the focus to impart the focus into each movement of their studies, then there is the basic texture to work with into the study of the movement application.


There are numerous ways to use a movement. One is not better than another. They are situational choices at best. Blocks as initially taught as deflection are real.


It just is that things are not necessarily what they seem.


We begin with a review of what they have been training.


I.                  The use of the Side Block for deflection .Reviewing the forward then backward execution of the movement. We review advantages and disadvantages of using the deflection.


Ia.  Then we begin to see what various Force Enhancers use can allow us to do,

1.    Shifting to an angle from the attack. Requiring less force to make the deflection work. By moving away from a direct response it creates more time to do so.

2.    How touching the blocking arm with the other hand, involves more of the bodies alignment creating more power behind the block.

3.    How use of the knee release, allowing the center of the body to descend, also creates more power for the technique.

4.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block.

5.    Use of the crossing hand to strike into the shoulder eliminating a need to block..

6.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block.


7.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block as a method to generate more power.

8.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block.

9.    Use of the crossing of the hands before the block, to have the other hand parry the attack, prior to the block. Then takc that parring hand, close the fist, and return it to chamber.

a.     That hand then slices across the face during the returning movement.

b.    That hand then slices across the ribs during the returning movement.

c.     That hand then slices into a strike with their other hand, while it returns to the arm.

d.    These potentials are not exclusive. They can be combined with other force enhancers for greater potential. They also may be used with the other range of movement potentials.


II.               Next would be the use of the Side Block to draw the attacker into you.


This motion use brings the attacker closer to allow you to attack them easier. It is often described as using the block in a sucking manner.


The blocking arm circles out then back to accomplish this use.


III.           Then the use of the Side Block as a force to Down the Opponent.


The motion of the Side Block can be done to generate a downward force. Then applying that sort of Side Block to a strike can force the opponent downward. During the movement of striking the opponent is temporarily unbalanced. This sort of force can work against their unbalance.


   IIIa.  A subset of this motion use, is to use the elbow of the side block as a descending strike into the attackers body.


IV.           The use of the Side Block as a striking force into the opponent.

a.     Use of the Side Block as a strike into the face.

b.    Use of the Side Block as a way to strike into the shoulder joint.

c.     The use of the Side Block as a strike into their body.

d.    Any such use also allows use of the Force Multipliers with that strike.


V.              The use of the Side Block as a way to open an attack to allow a following circular strike.

         We have a striking practice referred to as Jing Do. Where the block is the initial deflection, and the movement continues to become a circular movement that ends up as a strike into the side of the opponents chest.

    VI.  Other possibilities:

              a. Use of the side block entering under a leg and then using the 
              side block for a projection. Throwing the opponent down.
             b. Enter the strike from outside moving forward, Use the cross
              initial movement of the blocking arm, to parry their strike
              down from above, grasp their wrist/hand then use the motion
              of the block to turn it into an outer wrist throw. Also a
              projection downward.

While the range is shown to the ShoDan, it is not expected that they will be able to do all of this overnight. Rather their training program is geared to allow them to develop the various uses.


Nor is this an exclusive list. Rather an opening movement into the larger lifetime study. Any one of which an conclude an attack. The study only allows you options for the situations you may face.


It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die

The world will always remember karate as time goes by
Young Lee showing the standard which the ShoDan should be moving towards to begin the larger study.


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