Kung fu blocking

/ Joel


Some time ago, perhaps a year or so, my punches began landing on my classmates with an ever increasing speed and power. Surprised as I was, and proud as it made me, it was equally, if not more so, distressing than anything else. If hurting each other, our classmates, were the goal,that would be easily achievable, but not sustainable. Even as I began to revel in the feelings of success, the frequent infliction of pain prompted prompt action to curtail the result, while not discarding the progress. I knew instinctively that much of the power from my fists I was delivering to my classmates torsos, was as a fear response to fighting opponents I felt were faster and stronger than myself.

The punch incorrectly becomes used as a form of defense, rather than as the attack I intend it to be.

As the steady increase of internal forces through Tai Ji practice manifested themselves in ever stronger blows, what were in the past responses to perceived fear, became instruments of intimidation to my classmates receiving them. Their response was to use greater force in their blocks resulting in injuries to my arms.

To find out how to remedy the situation, I turned to my teacher to ask "How can I keep hitting people, but not hit them as hard as I have been?" As with most tough questions and difficult problems, the solutions are simple in goal, but difficult to achieve.

He told me that if I blocked better, I would give myself much better opportunities to attack, and therefore, I'd be able to hit much more delicately, with force, with just enough to signify a strike, but withholding the force that was inflicting injury to others.

To that end I was instructed that I should not try to strike, but to practice"block, block, strike." So, "block, block, strike" became the goal of the kung fu practice, "block, block, strike." Of course in reality it began as block, be struck. bestruck. block, block, strike. block, block, block, be struck. At some times the percentage of "strikes" will be higher than "be strucks", and at other times, I was getting struck more often than I was striking my opponent, but even at these times, if it is "block, block, block, block, be struck", it's still at the service of improving my overall blocking ability.

What is a "block" though? Blocks are different than "guards." A block is an active movement, be it in response to an action, or as an action of its own. As a response, a block can stop or redirect a punch or grab.

At its most effective, a block is used in an active role to control the encounter. It can be part of an attack, setting up strikes, or causing the opponent to lose balance, denying them the opportunity to attack or even to respond to an attack.

In boxing, the guard is a passive form of blocking, different from active blocking, which meets an attack, or sets up an attack. The guard works to stop a blow before it hits its intended target. It doesn't move to meet an attack, or redirect it, so it is strategically inferior to the block.

Just recently I received a very high compliment from a classmate, telling me how much control of the force of my punches, and that I wasn't hurting him anymore.

In actively blocking I have been better able to control the situation, relax more, worry less about the attack, and as I am able to choose the moment of the attack, I have become able moderate the force of my attack, keeping myself, and my classmates, safe.