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View Full Version : To Block or not to block, That is the question !



Prince Loeffler
9th May 2003, 19:20
Hi guys !

Recently I witness a sparring session with two experience martial artist. To make this story short. A hard vicious round house kick was thrown and the blocker attempted to block the kick and instantly breaking his forearm.

Experienced has taught me that when facing a strong kicker, I rather not block, instead I used evasive defense. However, in situations where I cannot get out of the kick fast enough I would instinctively block and would suffer for it and sometimes almost breaking my arm.

One of the disadvantage I have in avoiding or evading round house kicks is that, countering the attack is impossible due to distance even at an angle. Most of these guys I spar with do not lunge after the kick, rather they would kick and retract back in front fighting position.

Anyone have suggestion and experiences as to how to train against strong muay thai type kickers ?

Thanks !

Gene Williams
9th May 2003, 19:33
Yes, move inside their kicking range and stay there. If people are breaking their arms blocking, they are doing it incorrectly. It is almost always better to use tai sabaki rather than a direct block, however, a direct block can really hurt the attacker if done right. Gene

Prince Loeffler
9th May 2003, 19:57
Hi Gene ! ( rhymes with Hygiene:D )

Yes, I am a strong believer of using the Tai Sabaki concept. But my timing has a lot of work to do. About three years ago we had a Japanese visitor who trained in Enshin Karate. He was good for I was kicking more airtime than Michael Jordan :D , even at a brown belt level his timing and movement were flawless.

On one occasion, I was facing a 16 year who has trained with us since I believed he was 7, he chambered his right leg as if he was about to fire a round house kick, I move in an angle to my right, instead he quickly switch and threw a spinning hooking heel kick and nailed me in my right ear, dead on target !

I felt No pain :D Just complete peace and serenity ;)

Yes, correct block can hurt the attacker...

gmanry
9th May 2003, 20:20
It is interesting to note that Uke refers to receiving rather than blocking. You receive the technique in a way that sets the opponent up for defeat. This definitely requires sabaki.

Watching a good Kendo match is what really hit this home to me. The experienced swordsman just flows with the attack,redirecting it subtley with his shinai and then counters with his footwork (incidentally eviscerating his opponent of course).

I remember a match I was having in TKD some years back (WTF Olympic style) and my friend did a very unexpected and nasty lead round kick to my head from a position that, quite honestly, I didn't think was possible. I did a simple fade left and a high deflection by just brushing my palm by my ear. He flew off his feet and landed right on his butt. It was the footwork that did it. I pushed his leg up higher than he expected and then blew his balance by shifting my weight a little. It was soft and effortless, also quite lucky in some ways.

This is what I keep in mind when I think of blocking. I just wish I had the presence of mind to have scored on him while he was in mid air, but I was so shocked by the outcome, I sort of just stood there. I am meaner now...

Goju Man
9th May 2003, 22:52
Yes, move inside their kicking range and stay there. If people are breaking their arms blocking, they are doing it incorrectly. It is almost always better to use tai sabaki rather than a direct block, however, a direct block can really hurt the attacker if done right. Gene
Especially the incorrect part. For example, an outside type of block headed into the kick is very incorrect and can definitley get you hurt. Like I've said, what's on your waist ain't always what you are.

Bustillo, A.
10th May 2003, 02:41
Originally posted by gmanry
... my friend did a very unexpected and nasty lead round kick to my head from a position that, quite honestly, I didn't think was possible.

... I just wish I had the presence of mind to have scored on him while he was in mid air, but I was so shocked by the outcome, I sort of just stood there. I am meaner now...


Good point. However, what you mention contradicts one of your previous suggestions about the results of certain formulas and trying to solve fighting scenarios on a computer. We can't measure certain things.

i.e.
The surprise. The unexpected. Presense of mind--emotional content; meanness, determination. (And what about all that ki talk. How do you gauge that one)


Therefore...
Trying to solve fighting scenario in 'Excel' = Outrageous (cubed)
Analysis through experience = Priceless.

Gene Williams
10th May 2003, 04:10
You said it Antonio, determination and just downright meanness are important, but the meanness has to be controlled meanness, you can't just go wild.:D I also think Glenn is talking from a point sparring viewpoint which, I'm sorry, I see as a waste of time. I guess you could argue that it sharpens your reflexes or something. Also, there are no roundhouse kicks in traditional Okinawan kata that I am familiar with. I think front kick is far more powerful and direct, more accurate, and easier to use. Roundhouse kicks lose power to centrifugal force, they give the kicker a false feeling of safety because he feels like he is avoiding coming straight in (always a better strategy..get there first and fast), and most people use the top of the foot which is worthless. Against a grappler, nothing will get you thrown on your ass quicker than a roundhouse kick. Gene

CEB
10th May 2003, 04:29
I think my round kick may hit harder than my front kick but I'm not postive. I'm not that scientific. My kick is a little weird though. It is mostly a roundkick I guess. I throw it straight to the target usually thighs or floating rib area. Sort of half round kick half front kick. Probably my best kick. Its not the way my teacher taught roundhouse kick. I never cared for exposing my testicles that much plus I think my kick hits harder.

Always kick with ball of the foot, toes or shins never top of foot.

Besides there is no round kick in Goju proper so I felt it was OK to do it any damn way I pleased. :)

Prince Loeffler
10th May 2003, 04:31
for the reason Gene has stated. I rarely use roundhouse kick. Since I fight from a side stance 90% of the time. I would only employ three kicks A side kick, Hook Kick and spinning side kick.

Gene Williams
10th May 2003, 04:41
Again, I think you are wasting a lot of energy with hook kicks and spinning kicks. I do not believe they are effective in combat situations and, even if your's is effective, I do not believe it is wise to rely on such techniques in the street. Many say, "Well, I wouldn't use it in the street." First, you fight the way you train and, second, then why bother with it at all. Your time would be much better spent developing a devastating reverse punch, lunge punch, and front kick and working on footwork and strategies to deliver them quickly and powerfully from both a defensive and offensive position. In the street, you don't get to bounce around and hang at your chosen kicking distance and whip out hook kicks and spinning kicks. Gene

Prince Loeffler
10th May 2003, 04:50
I understand completely and you're right. However It would be hard for me to say what would work in the street for me for I have never been in that kind of situation. However, I can truly say that there will be none of these fancy kicks. I have fairly good hand techniques.

But in real life situation, man ! I hope I don't crap my pant before I could execute a good and powerful front thrust kick. :D

gmanry
10th May 2003, 17:37
Antonio,

I think you need to go back and actually read my posts, but then I have noticed that reading other people's posts from start to finish has not always been your strong point (just giving you sh*T, don't sweat it). :D

I stated very clearly that it is an analytical tool to plan one's training. I don't fight like that, nobody can. When you fight, you fight your training, simple. Your training had better be systematic in some way, and the facts are that science enhances training, don't get so hung up on it. Do what makes you happy.

Gene,

No, full contact, limited rules though, no hands to the face (big limitation). I saw someone die in 1984 in a WTF tournament (back kick to the head). At the '93 nationals a guy got his spleen ruptured through the chest protector, watched him go out on a stretcher. This was in 1994 and I was helping a friend train for a state championship in WA. At the time we were both training in a Kyokushin offshoot style, MMA was just starting to come into vogue at that time. Our dojo worked a lot of Judo throws and takedowns, karate finishing work, but not much ground work.

Ed,

Exactly, and you developed it through feeling it out through your body, analyzing the weaknesses, and what felt right to you based on your experience. In the end you have "your kick," but when you throw it it tends to be along the same lines as that ideal on the bag or mitts.

I won't bother describing mine anymore, it isn't like the latest MMA tape, so it must not be good. Oh and I didn't develop it by just "doing it" in the ring day after day. ;)

(Yes I know that is not what most of you are suggesting, but that is what you can get when you read into things, or don't read...). ;)

gmanry
10th May 2003, 18:18
Round kicks are all about the angle of entry. Too many fighters stand in front of their opponent and throw it. You wouldn't do it with a hook, but so many people do it with round house.

Back to blocking-

Despite my thought experiment (in another thread) and the numerous incorrect conclusions people can make about it...

Your footwork is what protects you, the "blcok" is there to primarily make contact with the opponent, redirect them, etc. Of course, yes, in combat, you can make a mistake and get caught off guard, then you had better block! In drill, you should be working to minimize that as much as possible.

Even in "classical" karate their are very few true blocks, just redirections and avoidance, but at the same time, practitioners condition just in case. This has been discussed before.

If you can draw your opponent to attack the way you want him to, then you can use your "blocks" to punish them on the way in to another blow.

In TKD I used to block alot, because that is what we were shown (basically misunderstood karate). Then the Olympic influence taught us to avoid more with footwork, always better if you can. Lots of footwork changes and fakes.

Kyokushin from Japan has a lot of sabaki work and that was another good step. Movement is key to defense, but you will only be able to move so much before you have to get busy (what my example in the other thread showed).

Sochin
10th May 2003, 19:01
First, you fight the way you train

I'm glad this isn't true, in fact.

99% of my training for years has been hard style kick and punch, 1% has been arm bars etc. I have also been attacked by violent teenage clients dozens of times.

If I'd of hit or kicked them, I'd have been charged with a crime let alone fired on the spot.

I don't fight like I train, and I have to be clear when I train others that I am not turning them into a destructive automaton, just giving them tools to allow them choice.

Trianing, sparring and fighting are all different and not just parts of the same whole, and they are not equal.

Goju Man
10th May 2003, 20:20
Your footwork is what protects you, the "blcok" is there to primarily make contact with the opponent, redirect them, etc. Of course, yes, in combat, you can make a mistake and get caught off guard, then you had better block! In drill, you should be working to minimize that as much as possible.
Let's talk about that. In just about all kata I've seen, true footwork is not addressed. You may say that the bunkai is this or that but while you're doing kata, you are not practising true realistic footwork.

I think my round kick may hit harder than my front kick but I'm not postive. I'm not that scientific. My kick is a little weird though. It is mostly a roundkick I guess. I throw it straight to the target usually thighs or floating rib area. Sort of half round kick half front kick. Probably my best kick. Its not the way my teacher taught roundhouse kick. I never cared for exposing my testicles that much plus I think my kick hits harder.
That's very true. I like the round kick, especially low round kicks because they are faster to deliver, stronger than high kicks, easier to disguise. In the last UFC, Pete Spratt caught his opponent (Lawler) with several well placed low leg round kicks that put him out.

(low round kick to inside leg + knoledge of delivering it) squared x 4 kicks delivered divided by 2 rounds at a decreasing rate of 20% each round..... :eek: nevermind, he kicked his arse.:D

gmanry
10th May 2003, 22:11
I don't really want to get into a discussion of what kata does and doesn't do. That has been beat to death with this crowd.

I will say this, some of the kata I practice is fairly (note I said fairly) explicit about footwork. However, it is kata, which to me is an archiving device and not necessarily the end all, be all of fighting.

Also, I don't preserve kata to the degree that some traditionalists desire. After having done them for some years, I let my movement become more natural. I actually let my footwork drift along more natural lines. Of course, I only practice about 3 kata even remotely regularly these days and they are not classical kata. Just another tool, and I just enjoy doing them from time to time.

I think we all know what everyone's opinions are on kata, kind of a waste of time to watch everyone thump their bibles.

Bustillo, A.
10th May 2003, 22:49
Originally posted by gmanry
Antonio,
I think you need to go back and actually read my posts, but then I have noticed that reading other people's posts from start to finish has not always been your strong point (just giving you sh*T, don't sweat it). :D




No sweat.
Tools are important. When it comes to fighting scenarios, I merely pointed out an example, taken from your description of your TKD match, that the way one goes about analyzing is important.

-------------------------------------------------------
(Glen M. wrote.)
"For the truly geeky, one could even set this up in an excel spreadsheet and run iterations, you will get the same base results over and over."
--------------------------------------------------------0

In that case, for the purpose of fighting, that tool goes in the wrong direction.

I guess my strong point is that I'm not a geek and I would never think of coming up with your suggestion.

gmanry
10th May 2003, 22:56
Hey man, geeks have their positive attributes. For instance, trivial pursuit...

The fact is, have the stuff in your house wouldn't exist if not for geeks. Now, I am a geek who is in really good shape and fights pretty damn well, if I may say so. So, my strength is I am tough AND I can think...:p .

Actually, putting stuff into iterations in engineering, computer science, etc. lets you see things you would never think of, but that do happen. I wouldn't make it the focus of a class on the mat, but I might come up with an interesting training scenario because of it. To each their own.

Jay Vail
11th May 2003, 13:25
Cheers, Prince Loeffler.

May I suggest several possible ways for dealing with a roundhouse kicker that I have used over the years to good effect.

As you note, tai sabaki, while great, is often hard to do. Here are a few ideas.

1. Kick to the groin, if it is allowed, as he kicks. Watch the opponent, see that he is a roundhouse kicker, invite a head kick, and shoot a side kick at his groin. (This also works against a side kicker.) I was reminded of this lesson very forcefully years ago. As a newly minted TKD black belt, I switched styles to Cuong Nhu. In one sparring session, I was parred with a brown belt, Vu Trihn, who is now a well know sensei in our system. I was used to throwing lots of high head roundhouse kicks. After the third or fourth one, he whacked me in the groin so hard I had to sit down. (I would add that Vu doesn't stand taller than my shoulder.)

2. Spinning back kick. Start same as before. Watch the opponent to see how he likes to kick. If a round kicker, he will often throw kicks to the air or kicks you can dodge trying to feel you out. Invite the kick by leaving an opening (usually the head). As soon as he moves, spin and throw the back kick. This should be a true back kick and not a side kick (although I have used a hook as well). It must come off the floor, rising as a back kick does. When it is done properly, it is hard to block and often scores. It can, however, be jammed by the forearms across the chest/stomach. It is useful to follow up with hands at that point if he is not defeated by the kick. He will be unprepared to deal with the hand follow up.

3. Back fist. As before, invite the kick. As he throws it, move forward and to the side, pivoting on the leading leg, and shoot a backfist at his head as he goes by you. This is more dangerous that a kicking response. Follow up after the backfist; it can often miss, but it is often very surprising and threatening. I once had a guy duck so forcefully to avoid the backfist that he fell down.

4. Catch the kicking leg. This is best done with a bit of sideways or even forward movement, but does not require it. Your defense is thus: your lead hand covers the head and the rear hand the body, so that they form an X or funnel with the lead hand up and the rear hand down. As the kicking leg makes contact, you fold your arms around it, trapping it. Follow up immediately with a throw, or lock the leg joint. This catch is hard to do, but often so surprises the opponent that he is unprepared to respond. But donít count on him being inactive. I have had guys drill me in the head with a lead hand back fist after I have so artfully caught their leg and have been slow on the follow up.

5. Preempt his kicking attack with your own. I have found it tiring and rather unproductive to trade kicks against a kicker. Many people will react to a kick defensively and very successfully. For those whose defense is not to run, but who stand and block, you can do this: fake a roundhouse to the body or groin. The fake should whip out without power and you should be careful not to over commit it or allow yourself any backward lean. Remember, it is a feint and not a true blow. But it must appear to be a true blow. It should also have forward movement, a slight hop of skip. Snap it back, and continue your forward movement following up with an aggressive hand attack.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours in karate, JV

bruceb
11th May 2003, 14:45
There are parrys...

There are redirections ...

There are strikes....


But there are no blocks in karate .... unless you are looking to injury yourself?

Kicks? Well, that is a matter of learning reflex timeing to parry, redirect,or strike. In essence, if there are kicks, then there is imbalance present, and in the openings that present imbalance there is opportunity.

A person who is great at kicking has to be twice as fast because of the time it takes to present the kick and recover. This means, one should work on timeing to become as fast or faster than the kicker without kicking. When that happens .... there are more opportunities, aren't there?

As far as learning blocks .... forget about it, they are not blocks. Stop thinking in those terms because it is a dead end.

CEB
11th May 2003, 16:03
Originally posted by bruceb
...
But there are no blocks in karate ....

These statements of the absolute nature of Karate is based on what karate training? Who is your teacher? What is your rank? After all you present us with words that posess an authoritarian feel. We know you are a beginning grade student in Aikido. I'm curious what your karate background is since you seem to think you have a grasp on its true nature. Thank you for sharing with us.

Gene Williams
11th May 2003, 16:08
Jay, There are no "fake" techniques in true karate. Everything is thrown to hit. Tournaments teach terrible habits and strategy, which is why I quit participating years ago. If you want to use point sparring in a beneficial way, quit doing the hook kicks, spinning kicks, and quick point getting techniques like front foot roundhouse (a worthless technique) and silly little back fists and limit your techniques to what would also be strong in combat...lunge punch, reverse punch, front kick, and maybe a foot sweep or two followed by strong punches. You won't impress as many girls and junior students, you won't win as many trophies, and you won't get featured in Black Belt Magazine, but you will be a much better karateka and might even be able to defend yourself against a real opponent in the street. They do not fake, either. Gene

gmanry
11th May 2003, 18:50
Actually, I found that a lunge punch worked great in the few point tournaments I did a few years back. Unfortunately, they tend to make your ignorant opponents head snap back (because they don't really understand distance) and you get penalties. However, it is clear from observers who was winning the match based on hits and skill.

So, conceivably, a tournament could be a place to find lots of willing dummies to practice your more traditional techniques. You would have to be willing to put up with the incredibly biased judging you receive and all the dorks flipping their bo around like band majorettes...

bruceb
12th May 2003, 02:08
I see the moderator has split 'no blocks' off into another thread, we shall pursue this matter over at the new thead, Mr. Ed Boyd, CEB.