Martial Arts: Defense (Incomplete)

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Martial Arts: Defense (Incomplete)

Post by LORD »


Proper defense is, like most areas of martial arts, learned through trial and error and the passage of time. I believe defense is one of the most difficult elements to develop. It takes literally hundreds upon hundreds of techniques thrown at you before you can begin to get even remotely comfortable with the concept of relaxing while people are trying to do you harm. This touches on a point made earlier, when one must introspectively ask; am I being defensively responsible? What are my fears? When am I most vulnerable? Where is my opponent landing or trying to land? And so on.

A) Stance, foot & head positioning

B) Blocking: Active & Inactive blocking, Jamming

Blocking consists of a set of basic, defensive techniques that one would learn as a beginner to protect themselves against an opponent’s offense. The blocks we commonly use in this form of martial arts consist of both active and inactive blocks.

Inactive blocking: Is the utilization of semi-stationary limbs to absorb the impact of incoming strikes.

The Side Shield is an effective, inactive blocking defensive option (executed in the side or fighting stance) to cover and protect against indirect techniques. The side shield can be performed singularly or utilizing both sides (Full shield). The Side shield is performed by using a closed fist and bent arm to cover the temple and/or ear area. This, subsequently, causes the forearm, bicep and shoulder to create the shield like effect on either side of the head. The side shield can also be adjusted high or low to adapt to the incoming target area. A common error when employing the side shield (especially when using the High side shield) is raising the elbow too high. Doing so reduces the protection to the chest and upper rib area and also takes the defense out for a response to a lower rib area attack.

The Full Shield is executed from a squared stance. This inactive blocking technique is effective for defending against multiple punches and/or hand strikes to the head. The Full shield is performed by bringing both fists up resting on the forehead with the forearms and elbows fending off uppercuts and off-angle hooks. The distance between the hands, forearms and elbows can be adjusted to counter combinations that consist of both direct and indirect techniques. The advantage to this technique is its effectiveness in fending off many different types of attacks. This works well against fast and/or unpredictable opponents. The disadvantage is that A) it requires one to square up creating greater target area on the body and B) somewhat compromises your peripheral vision.

The All purpose block (or APB) is a good, inactive defensive option that is executed from a side stance. The APB covers the entire front or body side from indirect techniques such as the round kick or ridge hand. The APB is performed by using the lead hand and arm and bending it upward to deflect blows to the right side of the head, assuming the user is standing in an orthodox or right handed stance. The rear arm is extended straight down in order to give protection to the body and groin.

The advantage to the APB is that it covers a large surface area, thus eliminating the worries that accompany facing an opponent who uses complex, misdirection techniques such as the double round kick, flip-rounds, high-low/low-high or tap-smash round kicks. The disadvantage is that it leaves the defender more susceptible to direct strikes to the face and attacks that target the unprotected side of the body.

Knee block is derived from a block used in Thai Boxing. The knee block combined with the full shield acts as an inactive block and can also act as a jam. If performed in close enough proximity to the opponent, the knee block can nullify/jam a developing kick and defend against follow up punches. The knee block is performed by executing a full shield and then raising the lead knee and shin to block mid-body to thigh level kicks.

Active blocking: Is the utilization of techniques that employ moving limbs to redirect and alter the trajectory of incoming strikes.

Lateral block: The Lateral block is an active block which is similar to the parry but its goal is to move the striking limb farther off target, resulting in an almost fully extended arm while defending. The disadvantage to this is that it takes the defender’s limb a lot further out of position than the parry, especially if the lateral block is executed at the very end of the strike it’s trying to defend against such as the wrist/hand while defending against a cross. The advantage to using the lateral block is that if successful, one can severely hamper their opponent’s ability to strike with either hand at that point. The lateral block is most effective when executed right behind or past the elbow of the striking limb. Depending on the defender’s size in relationship to the attacker’s size, this will either push the attacker from you (if you are larger/heavier) or you from the attacker (if they are larger/heavier than you).

The Inside–outside block (or IOB) is an active block which not only allows the defender to redirect the incoming strike but can also give the defender the opportunity to grab and hold the striking limb. The IOB is performed from a side stance and generally from the lead hand. The palm of the lead hand faces the chest side and as the block is initiated, the hand circles outward toward the opponent using the ridge (or “pinky” side) of the hand to start the block. As the strike is redirected, the blocking hand continues to turn (counter-clockwise) until the thumb and fingers can latch on and grab the limb. The advantage here is obvious. By neutralizing that limb (while remembering to always block across the body) one can take full advantage of this situation and initiate a powerful counter attack. The disadvantage is similar to the lateral block in that it takes the defender’s limb further away from “home” leaving one more vulnerable to misdirection, fakes and combinations.

The Up block is a traditional block that was, in all likelihood, invented as a technique to block attacks from bladed weapons such as a sword or knife. Its use in modern hand-to-hand fighting is minuscule at best, in my opinion. The teaching of this particular technique is more homage to the past then anything else. That being said, the up block is performed by taking the front hand, as this block is always done with the lead hand, and extending it upward in an “L” shape with the forearm shielding the head. The obvious disadvantage to this particular technique is that it exposes the entire rib cage and abdomen on the lead side of the body as it’s being executed. Again, this active block is outdated and impractical but it is still taught to honor the past and it is still included in some katas.

The Down block is a functional, active block best suited for the redirection of direct kicking techniques such as the snap and sidekicks. This block is done by first clasping the fingers, while extended, tightly together with the thumb to the side of the hand and the hand starting

The Parry is an active block which is most effective in neutralizing the jab and the cross. The beauty of the parry is in its simplicity. It uses minimal energy, effort and movement to slightly alter the trajectory of a punch. The less movement needed for the defender, the less chance there is of having that limb be completely out of position for defending against a mis-direction to the next, incoming shot. The difference between the parry and some of the more traditional blocks is its “smallness”…its minimalistic qualities. The parry also allows for a smooth transition from defense to offense by seizing control of the exchange and letting one immediately initiate an attack of his or her own. This technique also compliments the usage of the side and full shields nicely. A supplement for the parry is proper defensive head movement. One can add to the effectiveness of the parry by moving the head in the opposite direction of the parry as it’s performed.

Leg Check (Hand)
Leg Check (Foot)

C) Footwork & head movement etc.

Along with proper defensive blocking, there is also proper defensive movement. No matter how gifted an individual’s intuition, no one can block everything. Especially when dealing with highly skilled and or highly experienced opposition. Beyond that, it doesn’t make good sense to absorb unnecessary impact, regardless as to whether it meets your guard or a block unless you intend to counter. Often times, by using good circular movement (both clockwise and counter clockwise) one can avoid the impact of attack altogether. It’s a good idea to take into account what stance both you and your opponent are in and then look for where and what their most prevalent weapons are. Once this is recognized, movement can be used to neutralize the use and effectiveness of those particular weapons. Good defensive movement can also cause an attacking opponent to suffer a loss of balance. If they do manage to maintain balance during he or she’s missed attack, this can still change their current stance’s direction making them vulnerable from a new angle. This is also a point where defense and offense can intersect through proper countering.

Stationary & Non-stationary
Broken step
“Trigger” steps
Side steps
Circular steps

[Head Movement]


IV) Visual Prioritization & Spatial Awareness: Establishing focal points, processing incoming threats, knowing ranges & critical distances, body mechanics/energy flow (recognizing movement)

Focal Point: Established point of vision

The Focal Point is the point at which your eyes focus on your opponent’s body. This point will allow you to survey and observe both direct and indirect techniques with the usage of both direct vision and peripheral vision.

Visual Prioritization: Direct lanes & Indirect lane(s)

Direct techniques are the first priority when interpreting incoming offense. Direct techniques are generally stronger and faster due to the linear nature of their path, which travels the direct lane.

Indirect techniques are second priority due to the curved or arced nature of the path they travel which is an indirect lane. These techniques take a longer increment of time to reach the intended target making peripheral vision useful while still surveying for direct techniques.

The 3 Ranges: Long range, mid-range & close range/grappling range
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