One of the most overlooked aspect, in my opinion, is the art of blocking or blocking systems.
If you think about it at face value, it makes sense. But there is so much more and it is my pleasure to elaborate on this. Again, this is my opinion from my experience of doing martial arts since the 1970s.
A block has HUGE value because, well simply put, we are not bullies. Bullies attack! The block can stop an attack dead in its tracks. It is no guarantee but it certainly turns the tables in your advantage.
I had a student a number of years go, a lady that was about 5 foot 2 inches and maybe 95 lbs. She was a high school teacher. After about 3 weeks of training she came into class very excited and wanted to share a story. She reported to me that some male high schooler that was about 6 feet tall and had a considerable weight advantage over her tried to hit her, very hard, on top of her head. She said she blocked the attack and the fight was over. Now it does not always end that way, but in some cases, such as the one you just read, the sheer fact that she took action showed confidence and competence. There is always the possibility that the attacker may have been injured from a shark boney arm clashing against his bone and muscle.
Well a good clash can send pain signals to your opponents brain and change their mental gear.
Here is a list of blocking systems that I have learned and teach and their purposes.
The 8 Point Blocking System – A standard KARATE blocking set. Simple, rudimentary, yet very effective.
The 8 Point Blocking System with Counter Strikes – Same as above but a Chinese counter strike off your block. This differs as “classical” Karate typically blocks with one arm and counters with the free hand.
The Advanced 8 Point Blocking System – Similar to the 8 Point Blocking except you use angles against the attack, thus deflecting and redirection the attack so that you do not absorb the clash.
The 10 Point Blocking System – A more advanced blocking system that teaches even more about angles, deflecting and redirecting but also expands on how your blocks can be strikes. Also you learn to work some of the blocks so that both arms work at the same time. This is also where you start to learn about trapping. I will expand on this shortly.
The Plum Tree Blocking System – This is a cornerstone system of blocking that can lead you to many future improvements and personal efficiencies.
The Pine Tree Blocking System – This blocking system is different. It has limited but excellent application for redirection and deflecting and also has multiple application against people that grab you. There is also a “form” that exercises various aspects of this blocking system.
The Sunflower Blocking System – This blocking system works with some movements of internal power and moves the footwork a little so you become more comfortable with working in all directions.
The Shaolin Palm Blocking System – This blocking system is also known as the “16 Point Blocking System” is a series of palm blocks that when executed properly does a lot of damage to your attackers attacking limbs.
The 12 Hands of The Tiger – This blocking system is all about the tiger. It’s ability to use the ground and subtle core and spine movements to amplify your blocks. The blocks also have a nasty side effect of seriously disrupting your opponent and in some cases lays them out.
The 11 Hands of Buddha – This is what some would term “the ultimate blocking system”. There is no doubt that if you learn this and master it, you will be unbeatable. You will be very hard to strike. The 11 Hands of Buddha is truly a masterpiece of Great GrandMaster Fred Villari. By the time you start nearing the end of truly mastering this blocking system, it will have seamless transition into the 4 ways of fighting. Years of learning are needed and many more years of practice are needed to truly master this.
Like any blocking system in any style, it is only as good as the investment placed in it and of course, the quality of instruction. Take for example the “Plum Tree”, whipping your arms around anybody can do, and we all start this way. As the years pass and as your instructor educates you, you learn how to “peg”, you learn about “shape of the body”, you learn and feel structure working for you so that you can “work less and get paid more”.
When I teach the “Plum Tree Blocking System”, usually I take about a month to teach the shell. Then a few years to get the student to learn how small adjustments and proper alignment allows them to make this highly effective.
The best end result from this ….. the student starts to use the principles of the body within their other defensive techniques, thus leading to a very competent and highly effective practitioner of the martial arts.