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"There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

- William Shakespeare

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Self Defence with a modern twist

Direct or Indirect Blocking

Direct or Indirect Blocking

In every Martial Art whether it be sport or self defence orientated there is a form a blocking.

Each style of Martial Art has its own concepts and theories around blocking, some use strength, agility or deflection which is in some way a form of direct or indirect blocking.

Direct Blocking

Direct blocking is used if the Martial Art style uses a counter force to block an on coming force. Upon doing so you are in fact striking the attacking limb and therefore able to manipulate this limb by opening up the opponents body for a strike.

Therefore using a direct blocking technique you are in fact stopping the opponents on coming force prematurely, in doing so and if the opponent is trained or just a very quick thinker they will be able to issue another strike with their other hand quicker than you can, as your movement would be incomplete at this time.

The reason behind this is that the human body can only issue force in one direction with maximum power. Until the first strike has been completed i.e. your limb has come to a complete stop, you are unable to issue another strike in another direction with any power. This is because of the impact the first strike has on your structure. Your structure is supporting your body throughout the first technique, the second technique has nothing or very little to base itself on thus the power is lost.

You see, any force issued from a human body whether you strike a target or not is directly fed back on to the structure of the person issuing the strike. If you hit the target, there will be an equal an opposing force being transferred to the person issuing the force, therefore your structure has to be able to support this force, plus issue the force into the target with maximum power and without becoming unstable.

If you miss the target this also has an effect on your structure as the force continues further than anticipated, your structure has to deal with this too.

You can test this theory in few ways:

  • With two partners, punch a pad on the first partner and have the other partner push you from another direction when you hit the target. You will notice that your structure is very unbalanced and the power is lost in the strike.
  • With one opponent, punch the first pad and then punch the second pad before your first strike has hit the first pad, you will notice the second strike has very little or no power.
  • Have a partner hold a pad up, try to strike the pad as hard as you can, but get your partner to move the pad before you strike. You will notice also that your structure is again unbalanced.

    Please note do not over extend your elbows in the above exercise as this will cause damage to the joint which may result in injury.

If you are using tense arms to block, you are in fact giving your opponent something to work with, as tense limbs can be easily manipulated to force you off balance thus rendering you defenceless.

You can test this out as follows:

  • With an opponent tense an arm and get your opponent to move your arm around, see what effects this has on your body. You will notice that any movement the opponent makes with your arm is directly fed in to your body, interrupting your balance, structure and basically moving your whole body around. If you were to try and strike you opponent with your other arm, you would have trouble doing so with any sort of power as the opponent is in control of your body.

Direct blocking uses a lot of strength based movement therefore it helps if you are naturally strong or train with weights to increase your strength, this to ensure that your techniques are performed correctly. However in time and experience, your technique will improve. Using strength against to block an opponents attack there is a great risk of the situation becoming a battle of strength which only the opponent with the greatest strength will win which may not be you.

Indirect Blocking

Indirect Blocking uses a mixture of hand positions and footwork to deflect the opponents on coming force. Therefore you use your footwork to manoeuvre yourself out of the way of the oncoming attack and your hand positions to deflect or guide the force away. By using a deflection you are able to remain relaxed and use less strength in your technique thus being able to use fast hand techniques to counter the initial attack.

In deflecting the opponents attack you have not stopped the force prematurely, so if the opponent was to unleash a second attack then it would not matter as there would be very little power behind the strike as their first movement would be incomplete.

Instead of stopping an on coming force which requires a greater force than that of the attack which is used in direct blocking techniques, to deflect an attack requires very little force. Therefore anyone is able to carryout an indirect block on an oncoming attack without worrying about the size of the opponent.

As you have not applied any force in your technique using an indirect block, you opponent is unable to manipulate you as you remain relaxed and in doing so are able to continue to dominate your opponent. You can test this theory out as follows:

  • With an opponent place you arm in any position but keep it relaxed, get your opponent to move you arm around and see what effect it has on your balance, structure etc. if your arm is truly relaxed, you will notice that the effect on your body is very small indeed, and if you were to issue a strike with the other arm you would been able to with maximum power.

As you use footwork to move you away from the on coming threat, you are therefore safe from being hit, the concept of indirect blocking uses the sense of touch to gain information about the opponents attack and therefore you are able to feel how hard or soft the attack is, which direction it is travelling, any attempted change of direction, and the speed of the attack, as the opponent will naturally retract the first strike to enabling them to issue another strike.

Using touch within combat situations allows you to get 'real-time' information from the situation and react on the information as soon as it is received. Using touch also helps to make indirect blocks become second nature as a student practicing these movements will just end up reacting instead of thinking thus reducing your reaction speeds and making your movements faster.

Indirect blocking also uses 'non dedicated techniques,' this type of blocking enables a student to block without it becoming a battle of strength and the student can retract block and issue another at great speed with out their first technique being used against them.

Which is Best?

As each martial art practiced throughout the world today follows different theories and concepts, each believe that their way is correct, in fact there is no right or wrong way.

Bruce Lee's Jee Kune Do is the "Way of the Intercepting Fist" which basically means that you need to have an open mind and be able to adapt to any given situation, there is a time to use direct blocking techniques and indirect blocking techniques, you have to be good enough and have the faith to employ each technique to ensure that it works.

Just because the martial art that you study is based around one theory does not mean that other martial arts are bad.

Sifu Neil Sydenham.

© Progressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes 2017