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Iain Abernethy
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Bas Rutten on blocking

An interesting video from Bas Rutten on blocking. What I liked is the highlighted contrast between boxing “bobbing and weaving” and the blocking for MMA. This underlines the idea of context determining all; which is much discussed on this forum. I also like the logic and efficiency (and frequently the humour) of the way Bas Rutten teaches. The “hands high” blocking discussed is also very much in line with how we teach blocking from the beginning for the fighting side of things. We do however also teach head movement later on (always being mindful of context).

All the best,

Iain

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

This is exactly how we practice it in Ashihara & Enshin Karate

jeffc
jeffc's picture

Hello Iain

A nice video, particularly with explaining the difference between bobbing and weaving in boxing and blocking for MMA.  I can see Bas' thinking with regards blocking in a fight and I agree with him on the whole. 

Recognising, as always, the importance of context, what are your opinions on the use of the short open hand parry on a wild overhand right, one of the common hapv attacks, in a street-attack scenario? 

Although it is difficult to stick, control and redirect a snappy cross or jab (as demonstrated at around the 1 minute mark) and you are open to a punching combination (as is demonstrated), this is very much a trained and controlled punch designed to allow fast and varied combinations and is more at home in a consensual fight scenario.  Developing the ability to ride and redirect a wild street-fight style swinging punch could be very effective in unbalancing and attacking an opponent i.e. he can't punch you effectively with his left hand if his right shoulder is still moving forward and down and he is off-balanced.

Do you think that it is better to just receive and then strike back in a self-protection scenario, or to try and receive, control the limb and unbalance and then strike?  

Hope you are well,

Jeff Capstick

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

jeffc wrote:
Recognising, as always, the importance of context, what are your opinions on the use of the short open hand parry on a wild overhand right, one of the common hapv attacks, in a street-attack scenario?

My take on things is that blocking generally is of limited value in self-protection. You simply don’t get the distance or recognisable attacks present in the sparring / fighting paradigm. To me, blocking is primarily a fighting skill and being on the front foot and attacking is what is needed for self-protection. If you are being bombarded with strikes, covering and moving off line to attack are better options. Blocking still needs to be taught, but its role is greatly diminished when we move from “fighting” to “physical self-protection”.

In his body guarding book, Peter Consterdine titled the chapter on blocking in physical confrontations, “Blocking is Bollocks”; which pretty much sums up the rest of the section ;-) Peter is one of the best blockers I’ve ever sparred with too, but having been on the British Karate team, a full contact champion, a doorman, a body guard (to the likes of David Beckham, the Mars Family, etc), and a worldwide security consultant, he get’s the importance of context in a way that those without such wide ranging experience are unlikely to.

I hope that helps?

All the best,

Iain

jeffc
jeffc's picture

Cheers Iain!

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Strange isn't it!!!!

Bas Rutten and others display this "parrying"

But Ashihara and Enshin have been doing it for years

Many of my posts discribed this "action" but was dismissed by others on the forum, maybe I'm not as exclusive as others.

For me its nothing new, its just a good fighter who has highlighted and already used technique.

With Ashihara and Enshin we took what worked and discarded what didn't. although many schools still do the Kihon in exactly the same way as every other karate school but then revert to the parrying and striking more akin to what is described by Bas and others.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Heres the thing with 'blocking', we nearly always forget what ya gonna do when all the other stuff didn't work- block or get hit hard.

It's how blocking is trained, and the importance placed on it that can be way off IMO, for me it's an essential basic skill but not a preferred tactic, far from it.

Our double bone blocking method is seriously effective when covering up, because we HAD to.

JWT
JWT's picture

It's a nice little video Iain, thanks for sharing.

I don't believe in 'blocking'.  There's no time for that nonsense.  You shield, you cover, you parry, you duck - depending on your position.  I won't use 'block' as a translation for 'uke' and I won't teach the uke techniques as anything other than strikes and controls.  I think that chapter title you mention by Peter Consterdine sums it up perfectly.

Funnily enough I use that patting down technique in kata application a fair bit, but I use it inside the punching range and as a sternum strike or as an arm control while pulling away from a person in no position to punch.

Cheers

John Titchen

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

I'm a lurker these days rather than a poster but some things do make me smile.

As I watched the clip I saw one of the great combat sportsmen showing useful blocking tips.  He's honed them in various combat sport formats AND in the practical context of door / security work.

I won't criticise anyone that can clearly make his/her skills work.

Gary

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Gary,

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
I'm a lurker these days rather than a poster but some things do make me smile.

As I watched the clip I saw one of the great combat sportsmen showing useful blocking tips.  He's honed them in various combat sport formats AND in the practical context of door / security work.

I won't criticise anyone that can clearly make his/her skills work.

I would hope that all those posting accept that Bas Rutten’s skills are in an entirely different league to ours. I don’t see any critiquing of him or what is shown in the clip? There are other legitimate questions though.

1, In this clip Bas Rutten is specifically taking about blocking for MMA, and he does make the point that what can work in one context can be problematic in another (i.e. boxing’s bobbing and weaving can cause problems in MMA). So we can ask, “How would what is shown transpose to other contexts?” That is not a criticism of Bas Rutten; simply picking up on his lead re: the boxing comment.

2, Because of Bas Rutten’s incredible skills, those who are not so skilled can legitimately ask, “Could I make that work?” I think what is shown in the clip is something that does apply to everyone, so what I’m about to say does not really apply here … but I think we can legitimately question people who can make something work with, “I see that works for you, but as someone who does not have your level of skill, is that what would work best for me?” Again I don’t think that really applies to this clip, but I feel it does apply to the more general point of legitimate criticism of methods that are successfully used by the highly skilled.

What comes to mind to further illustrate what I mean was my time spent training along side some fulltime international level judoka. They could do things with ease that I, with my far less developed skills, could not get to work. Such techniques definitely work – as is evidenced by the fluent and successful use of them by the full time guys – so it would be wrong of me to criticise them or the methods in question, because the combination them and those methods worked well. However, the combination of me and the same methods would not work so well, so that is something that could be criticised and questioned; without any slight being intended or inferred to the skilled practitioners or the methods that worked for them.

A little playing devil’s advocate here, but I think we can question the proven methods of the highly talented when either the context or person delivering the techniques changes.

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
I'm a lurker these days …

Welcome back from Lurkerdom! I hope you’ll stay a while :-)

All the best,

Iain

Jon Sloan
Jon Sloan's picture

Good points Iain. I've added judo to my training program and there are guys/gals that make things work with ease that I too struggle with. That's partially due to the gulf in experience/skill for sure but also, definitely, body types. The thing I've found, that I love about judo, is that it seems to be taught along the lines of:

1. Here's the technical / approved way of doing this technique. You need to show that for a grading.

2. If you don't like that technique in randori you don't need to do it

3. Finally, and here's the bit I love, throw away the technical application of it if you like and just do it the way that works for you.

So, there's much less rigidity than I've found in other martial arts. You're allowed to adapt techniques so that they fit you, so that they work for you. Much more individuality.

On a side note, I have a pic of me and Bas Rutten side by side. He looks cool, I look like a nerd but, more worryingly, his fist is about twice the size of mine. He's a BIG man.

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Fair points well made ...

Clearly all skills work IF you're good enough at them.  Bas Rutten (and others) can use blocks effectively even though others might not.   "Blocking is bollocks" might be completely rational for Peter Consterdine (a man I know and respect) as he has the skills and experience to handle situations in many different ways.  But a young kid reading that might think "I won't bother learning blocks then" and deny himself a useful skillset.

I realise that there are different approaches but long ago accepted that the top dogs in each - sport, SP or Traditional are all dangerous when coupled with the right mindset.  The key thing is excellence with their chosen tools.  

One question about context that gnaws away at me was in the clip I posted.  As a 'combat sportsman' I'm used to people who know 50 applications for gedan barai telling me what I do won't work in the street.  I cope with that with a smile, after all, I saw myself as a competitor not a street fighter.

But here's the thing;  I've met more combat sport champions - like Bas Rutten - with the skill and aggression to drop someone than I have met 'experts' in all manner of dark arts that could cope in a ring or a knockdown tournament.  So my question is, if they would struggle to stay upright in a mere sporting contest with a referee and agreed target areas - often portrayed as the safest of all combat formats - how does that make them more capable of dealing with an unpredictable maniac?  Maybe I missed something ...

Gary

rafanapa
rafanapa's picture

Gary,

I recently trained with a university club, in a session that was devoted to more practical bunkai. It was a club that I used to train with regularly in the past, and I remember being told things like "You don't need to practive knee strikes. If you do a mae-geri you are practicing these anyway." During that class we did various grabs, throws and short punches. I was astonished at the way that the students, many of whom had fine collections of medals, were incapable of performing short punches with any power, were completely unused to strikes to vital areas, and looked like they would injure themselves as much as their partner when they did a throw. One of them was supposed to deliver a short range punch to me, and instead jumped away from me for a full gyaku-tsuki. He was incredibly bemused when he tried to do it again and I held him close. His whole posture went in a panic.

I once did a bunkai class partnered with someone who has national kumite medals to his name. I wouldn't have a prayer against him in a match, but he was incapable of escaping even the most basic locks and grabs. I would therefore turn your question around rhetorically and say if he is incapable of dealing with basic grabs and people being able to reach him before he can use his ranged strikes, then how would he deal with an unpredicable maniac?

I don't train for sports any more, and I have tested many of the self-defence theories that I was told in sports training. Many don't work, or are only applicable at one range. I'm pretty sure I'm much better in a grapple now than I was doing sports, with a much better arsenal, and I think my mawashi-geri now would do damage, as opposed to score a point.

Regarding the likes of Baz Rutten. I'm realistic. He'd kill me. Most well-rounded MMA people would probably kill me. They are training for all the sharpness of competition and the practicality of traditional. But I have a desk job that I need to be presentable for and limited time for the gym. I'd like to think that when I was younger I would have taken MMA up if it was around, but I was a pigeon-chested wimp and probably wouldn't have had the guts. But I've been attacked in the street and the punches that were thrown at me and hit were nothing compared to what I get hit with in karate (sports and non-sports), so my needs are met.

Steve

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

rafanapa wrote:

I would therefore turn your question around rhetorically and say if he is incapable of dealing with basic grabs and people being able to reach him before he can use his ranged strikes, then how would he deal with an unpredicable maniac?

Hi Steve, that's a fair question.  In the case of a Bas Rutten he has the tools to cope with most ranges, and as you say most of us would be happily watching him compete rather than getting in there with him.  I know I would.

My comment was more to do with people that claim to have the answers to everything yet when faced with a simple contest are found lacking.  It's all too easy to claim their skills are too practical (read: deadly) to be applied in a mere contest, but that doesn't explain 'experts' that get knocked out by 'ineffective' high kicks etc.  My guess is if  they can't block a roundhouse kick that maniac is going to be tricky.

I'm not a tough guy and as I say was always more interested in competition than brawling.  I'm the first to admit that when I worked a door I was woefully unprepared.  As Iain says, context is everything. 

Gary

rafanapa
rafanapa's picture

Hi Gary,

I remember a line from an old copy of Fighting arts. Something like "If you want to know what a style's effective techniques are, look for what is banned in competition".

I was always told that you could take a roundhouse to the head, target the knee instead, and there's your self-defence technique. Unfortunately I've since learned that the range is very specific and long, the target is very small, and kicking the knee with your instep can hurt your foot easier than their knee. I now do these strikes using the shin, which is much easier (larger striking area), and is much for forgiving of range.

Does it work? I don't know, but I've taken a few light but badly targetted ones in training, and I don't want to know how much harder I can take.

Is it too "deadly" for competition? Yes, because I have friends with ice skating injuries that they still limp from 20 years later.

Do I therefore dismiss competition styles? Hell no, because I've been sent to hospital by kicks to the head. But I also tell people that if they are attacked be careful of kicking to the head, as the person will probably be taller, proabably get close quickly, and they will not be warm, or wearing impractical clothing. So they might want to just test that kick to the knee that they talk about but never practice.

I don't like "ineffective" as a term. I prefer "inappropriate for a given situation" or "low odds". I've been hit by enough "ineffective" techniques in my time to trust in my own experimentation.

I have friends who have trained for a lot shorter time than me and do nothing but practice competition techniques. I'd have a hard time going very long with them without getting a boot to the head. It's good reflex practice for me to spar them, but I don't feel any great need to do nothing but practice defending against their techniques. They do what they do, I do what I do. If we could have the same spar but I could grab hold of them, it would probably get more in my favour.

There are always going to be aspects of your training regime or limitations of your body that mean you can't handle some situation or another. MMA guys are good because they are effectively training in multiple styles to cover these eventualities. As long as people are willing to be reasonably tested on what they claim that they can do, then I have no problems. Conversely, other people should appreciate that their domain is not the only domain.

Steve

p.s. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, hence the long posts :)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
Fair points well made ...

Thank you :-)

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
"Blocking is bollocks" might be completely rational for Peter Consterdine (a man I know and respect) as he has the skills and experience to handle situations in many different ways.  But a young kid reading that might think "I won't bother learning blocks then" and deny himself a useful skillset

The counterargument would be that the skill set is not useful for the people being addressed in the context being discussed. It would therefore be a waste of training time for bodyguards to spend time learning blocking when training time would be far better focused elsewhere.

In training for fighting with Peter, he teaches blocking a lot and is an extremely good blocker (the mix of Karate, Wing Chun and Boxing methods and principles being hard to get past).

So if the term “blocking is bollocks” is divorced from the context in which the statement was made, then I agree it could be problematic if it were misunderstood by the young kid wanting to learn fighting skills. Which is why I believe establishing and always being mindful of context is so vitally important.

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
One question about context that gnaws away at me was in the clip I posted.  As a 'combat sportsman' I'm used to people who know 50 applications for gedan barai telling me what I do won't work in the street.  I cope with that with a smile, after all, I saw myself as a competitor not a street fighter.

I have some sympathy here and it bugs me too when people who never test what they do critique those who have tested what they do. Even if the focus of training is purely self-protection, we can still test that in the dojo and through scenario training. Getting on a “high horse” and claiming “street lethality” – with no basis for doing so – while looking down on those who have entered the competitive arena is not good. I do think that’s a separate issue to a legitimate need to consider context through.

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
But here's the thing;  I've met more combat sport champions - like Bas Rutten - with the skill and aggression to drop someone than I have met 'experts' in all manner of dark arts that could cope in a ring or a knockdown tournament.

I think the first part about the champions was covered in previous posts. The elite will be able to make all kinds of things work that would not necessarily be the best course of action for the rank and file.

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
So my question is, if they would struggle to stay upright in a mere sporting contest with a referee and agreed target areas - often portrayed as the safest of all combat formats - how does that make them more capable of dealing with an unpredictable maniac?  Maybe I missed something ...

Training needs to be focused. To stretch the premise of your question a little to make the point, we could ask, “If a boxer does not do well in a judo tournament, then does that mean he can’t box?” I think everyone would agree that the test he faced in the judo event is not the same as what is required for boxing; and therefore the fact he failed in the judo event has no bearing on his ability to box.

The related question could be, “Is judo training the ideal preparation for boxing?” Again I think everyone would agree that it is not the ideal preparation and if the boxer wants to be good at boxing then he should be training in boxing.

I would suggest that a similar distinction exists between self-protection and fighting. If a person truly wants to learn self-protection then their training should be focused on that objective and should include such must haves as threat awareness and avoidance, knowledge of law, escape skills, verbal de-escalation, dealing with weapons, multiple attackers, etc. Fight training does not address any of these area and hence fighting training is not the ideal preparation for self-protection.

To give a further illustration, let’s take the example of self-protection student who is brilliant at threat awareness, verbal de-escalation and escape. When dealing with a situation he may see it coming long before it is close to getting physical. If dialogue ensues, he will have trained in the skills needed to talk it down and will have plenty of practise of that. He is therefore likely to be able to de-escalate and prevent it getting physical. If that is not possible, he has been trained to recognise this and pre-empt at the right time in order to escape.

By contrast, let’s take a student who has been solely trained in fighting skills. He has not had awareness training and hence could be taken out before he recognises a situation is in the offing. If dialog ensues, he has never been trained in verbal de-escalation so he will not be able to effectively avoid conflict. He has also never been trained in pre-emption so he could well be struck and incapacitated by the enemy before any of his fighting skills could come into play.

If we put all the “pre-fight” stuff to one side, fight training is still not ideal. If the fighter has only been trained in the use of fighting tactics then he could find himself in trouble e.g. if he fixates on one person he leaves the others free to attack at will. The fighter will be told to “never take your eyes of your opponent”. Conversely the self-protection student will be encouraged to always be aware of those around them, to tactically position themselves accordingly, and to never fixate on one person.

The fighter is trained to fight to win. This could mean the opportunities to escape are not recognised or taken and hence they leave themselves with greater chances of physical harm and possible legal difficulty too. The self-protection student, however, is trained to see their “win” as escape and hence they will look for, and seek to create, escape opportunities. This is the better tactic in that context.

The self-protection student will not have the skills associated with a skilled interchange to determine a winner though. Move them in to the competitive environment and their skills and tactics are no longer a good fit. Verbal skills, awareness and escape are all irrelevant. They also won’t possess the footwork, feinting, blocking, etc skills needed for such a one-on-one fight so they will probably perform badly.

Factoring in all of the above, I think it is easy to see how the self-protection student could perform badly in competition, but far better in self-protection than the fighter would.

The KEY thing here though is that many martial arts instructors who claim to teach self-protection don’t do anything of the sort. All the things I’ve mentioned above are either not taught or are given lip service only i.e. “be aware of your surroundings”, “talk your way out if you can”, etc. Be aware of what?! What am I looking to be aware of?! How do I ensure awareness?! How do I talk my way out?! What are the communication skills I need to be able to do that and how do I develop them?! Lip service with no skills and training to back it up is pretty useless.

If multiple enemies are considered, then the regular practise of escaping from them needs to be just as much a part of practise as sparring would be for the fighter. We see this a lot when grappling arts are criticised for being a bad choice for dealing with multiple enemies … but as often as not, those making the criticism don’t do live training with multiple enemies either! These things need to be drilled in a live and unscripted way if genuine skill is to be developed.

If those things are not taught, and instead “street fighting” is mistaken to be the same as self-protection, then I agree there is a good case for saying the fighter is better prepared because their skills have been actively tested and are hence likely to be at a higher level. However, I would still say what we are discussing here is which is the least inappropriate method out of two inappropriate methods.

What is far better is for training to be specific to the context being addressed. That is more efficient and effective than training for one context in order to try to address another context.

If people truly want to train for self-protection, then they need to be fully aware of the demands of that context and train to develop those skills specifically and realistically. That is what will develop the highest level of preparedness and performance.

I think this has brought out quite a few interesting areas of discussion. Thanks Gary. I hope the above adds something to that discussion.

All the best,

Iain

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Iain

As always you have a grasp in depth that I haven't aquired.  I'm the first to admit (as above) that I was a competitor, not a brawler and the fact I got through drunken confrontations and door work without court or hospital visits owed more to chance than raw skill.

Thanks for the in depth post.  You're a professional.

Steve

I'm just having a bit of fun really.  Us (ex)competitors are used to Ninja'a telling us what we do doesn't work, so I'm just saying "Hold on a minute, you wouldn't cope well with what we do either". I think most instructors have experienced visits from people who love to explain where we're going wrong, but then have to rush off when they see our poor misguided students sparring ...

Each to their own.  I don't call what I do SP.  If people want that I send them to John Skillen.

Gary

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
As always you have a grasp in depth that I haven't acquired … Thanks for the in depth post.  You're a professional.

Thank you for the kind words, but I feel the need to reject that premise entirely! :-) Being fulltime at this I perhaps have a little more time than most to ponder the nuances of the various positions. I’m also lucky that I come into contact with lots of very talented people on my travels that are able to inform, refine and inspire my thinking; which then gets reflected in posts such as this. Nothing more than that.

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
I'm just having a bit of fun really.  Us (ex)competitors are used to Ninja's telling us what we do doesn't work, so I'm just saying "Hold on a minute, you wouldn't cope well with what we do either". I think most instructors have experienced visits from people who love to explain where we're going wrong, but then have to rush off when they see our pour misguided students sparring ...

Bas Rutten himself told similar “ninja tale” on Joe Rogan’s podcast … let me see if I can find it on Youtube …

Found it! 2:40 onward via this clip. BAD LANUAGE WARNING.

http://youtu.be/UiiUHFCkoZ0?t=2m44s

I like his point about the eye gouge “defence” to a rear naked choke. I also agree that he (and those like him) will have no problem fighting without rules. It’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise and I therefore appreciate the frustration he must feel when people with less than 1% of his skill say they could render his methods mute with bites and eye gouges. Unfortunately that very unsound position sometimes gets lumped in with the logical premises that context must be considered and that the less skilled and less fit need to focus on skills that are most likely to work for them.

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
Each to their own.  I don't call what I do SP.  If people want that I send them to John Skillen.

John is one of the best when it comes to self-protection (and plenty of other things too). For those who don’t know, his knowledge is hard won and he is a great coach. He’s the real deal and highly recommended: http://www.johnskillenmaf.com/

All the best,

Iain

rafanapa
rafanapa's picture

Gary,

No worries. I often see it from the other side with people calling me a wimp for not competing, and for complex reasons it's something I've been thinking about lately. I think you opened the floodgates :)

Iain,

I had much the same boxing/judo analogy in my head, but I couldn't word it right. Damn you!! :)

One thing I was thinking in my analogy was that I often wish I could specify what I do without lots of arm-waving. I'm not convinced it's karate any more...

Karate suffers from having a very diverse amount of history under one name (which is arguably just marketing). I hope other styles don't get the same amount of "Karate! That's not karate! I do karate!" that we do. I often find it amazing that so many people pick a club based purely on what is nearby, or what is in their university, yet they happen to have stumbled across a style that has pure lineage all the way back through a dozen senseis, has the definitive forms of all katas, and has perfectly distilled the art down to the core components :)  

Steve

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

rafanapa wrote:

Gary,

No worries. I often see it from the other side with people calling me a wimp for not competing, and for complex reasons it's something I've been thinking about lately. I think you opened the floodgates :)

Fair play to you, although I'd be sure it was something I wanted to experience rather than doing it just to get your dojo mates off your back.  If the combat sport you're thinking of is full contact you will have to face our old friend F E A R.  Even if it's non contact the prospect of losing still needs addressing.  No one likes to look a chump and many fear that much more than pain.  I explained all this in my book.  (Shameless plug I know but if you're competing in knockdown or something similar it may be useful)  Competing in any format requires rules and a code of ethics so in that sense it most definitely is at variance with SP.

I used to referee at international level in front of thousands and everyone in the audience knew how to win (judging by the way they shouted advice to the contestants)  But the contestants (numbered in the tens) got out there and had a go and were all the better for it, win or lose.

Gary

PS - To get back on thread, you WILL need to learn how to block wink

rafanapa
rafanapa's picture

Ah I was a bit unclear. I've been thinking a lot about the different goals and the resulting differences in training. I've done my small amount of competing and am happy to not go back :)

Steve

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

My mistake, not meaning to state the obvious.

Back to blocking, I wonder how the no-block-just-smash-through-them brigade handle less than lethal force?

If a friend or loved one decided to raise his/her hand to me I would not be wanting to take them out with a pre-emptive strike, destroy a major joint or choke them out. I'd be hoping to keep them at a safe distance and protect any vital areas.

Ideas?

Gary

JWT
JWT's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

My mistake, not meaning to state the obvious.

Back to blocking, I wonder how the no-block-just-smash-through-them brigade handle less than lethal force?

If a friend or loved one decided to raise his/her hand to me I would not be wanting to take them out with a pre-emptive strike, destroy a major joint or choke them out. I'd be hoping to keep them at a safe distance and protect any vital areas.

Ideas?

Gary

Interesting question Gary.

I've never seen any blocking taught on a PI (physical intervention) course and wouldn't teach it on a PI course myself.

I've heard the 'maintain distance' mantra from lots of highly skilled people, but only ever seen it work where those people actually do have the distance to run away.  As soon as they are in a space the size of an average room the distance gets closed and they have a choice of being hit, or not being hit.

This is subjective.  If the other person is not intent on closing the gap to injure you, unless the person is self harming, creating significant property damage etc there is no immediate need to move to them.  So if the opportunity is there to maintain a distance and employ deescalation techniques to try and stabilise their mood it should be taken.

On 'Not blocking' this comes down to terminology.  I'm not talking about a person standing still to get hit.  If a fist is thrown in an arc towards your face and you do nothing, you get hit.  If you step inside the arc of that fist so you are touching the person any impact is minimal, particularly if your head is protected naturally by raised arms and shoulders - that to me is not blocking, it is shielding.  If you raise your arm in a trained non natural movement to intercept stop/the fist I would see that as blocking.  I don't see a parry as a block as itis a natural instinctive movement we will all do whether we have trained or not.

I've had the dubious pleasure of watching lots of highly skilled karateka try to block haymakers with Age Uke Gyaku Zuki as a trained response (by them) under pressure. The result is always that the Age Uke stops the first haymaker from hitting the head (but does not address the attack momentum), the gyaku zuki connects with no power as they are already flinching back from the fact that the attacker has closed in on them, and as it starts to connect or beforehand the second haymaker with the other arm hits them in the head and they tumble back under a flurry of further punches.  Now I'll admit that's a bit of a straw man as that's not what you are talking about, but the simple fact is that at close range (I'm talking 0cm-80cm or so, where I see that most inexperienced and experienced people find themselves unless they have bags of room to run) when the attacks are to the head, there isn't time to do anything other than cover and shield.  This leaves the choice of falling back and staying at a range where you are in the arc of those hands (as they can and do generally follow you) or stepping into the arc where the attack is less effective and using control techniques.

To talk about preemptive strikes or chokes or joint destruction on loved ones is to set up straw men.  These have nothing to do with not blocking.  They are simply inappropriate tactics for controlling a person you do not wish to injure.

So what do I advocate once inside? The level of impact and speed will depend on whom I'm dealing, Shuto Uke to control the posture, underhooking, figure 4, irimi nage, gedan barai, distraction techniques like shunts or knees to the leg.  

All the best

John

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Bas Rutten is awesome though!

He got some stick about his comments on Bruce Lee by the Bruce Lee fan club etc.

That's on Youtube too.

I think Bas also trained in Kyokushin too, aswell as Krav Maga and Kappap and othe martial arts

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
Back to blocking, I wonder how the no-block-just-smash-through-them brigade handle less than lethal force?

If a friend or loved one decided to raise his/her hand to me I would not be wanting to take them out with a pre-emptive strike, destroy a major joint or choke them out. I'd be hoping to keep them at a safe distance and protect any vital areas.

Ideas?

When you consider that most women in this country are killed by their “loved ones” the issues becomes far less straight forward. Loved ones can and do attack with lethal force. Domestic violence is best addressed through education in the dynamics of violent dysfunctional relationships, how you sport the warning signs of being in such a relationship, and how to firmly extract oneself from that relationship. Women’s self-protection training would cover this, but it would not be a component of fight training.

While technique and tactics would be largely the same if one was seriously attacked by a loved one as opposed to anyone else, there is a different emotional / ethical dimension which needs to be considered. Rory Miller’s Facing Violence video has a great discussion on these kind of issues and it’s highly recommended to those who have not seen it.

Back to the specific question, I would say it is therefore not so much about the relationship as the level of force intended by all involved.

If we are talking about low levels of force then it would have to on the basis that the person attacking lacks the ability and motivation to utilise higher levels force. To be confident of that we’d have to assume the attacker would be largely ineffectual and the defender possesses far greater skill and physical attributes.

One such scenario the jumps to mind is when a former training partner of mine had punches thrown at him by his 14 year old son (teenage rage over firm boundaries being set). He simply clinched with him in order to smother his son’s punches until his rage subsided and he was physically spent. The boy did not really want to harm his dad as his “attack” was a result of frustration and a lack of emotional control. And the dad certainly did not wish to harm his son. The son was also not really capable of harming his dad anyway due to the huge difference is skill and physical attributes. The clinching and verbal encouragement to calm down worked well.

Those that have blocking skills from fighting training could make use of them in such a scenario of course. However, if we are teaching pure self-protection I would suggest that because such scenarios are very unlikely and are, by definition, unlikely to result in significant harm that training time would be best spent on more likely and more dangerous scenarios. While fighters and martial artist will train for decades, self-protection students generally do not commit to the same level and hence focused training on the simplest ways to deal with the most likely situations is the way to go I feel.

As a foot note to blocking generally and my own take on it, I want to make it clear that blocking drills are taught from the very first class. However, I am clear that such blocking drills are largely there to develop fighting skills for one-on-one sparring. For the self-protection side of things, we demote blocking a great degree and prioritise other methods which are more likely to succeed in that context. The point is I do value and teach blocking, but I remain mindful of its usefulness for my students in the various contexts.

All the best,

Iain

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Interesting responses gents, thank you.

The style I teach - Enshin - has largely ditched blocking in favour of controlling techniques and as always 'everything works when you're good at it'.  I look at this obviously from the sporting perspective, as I believe the original clip showed.

I well remember how excited we were at a squad once when someone brought in body armour, thigh guards, head guards etc.  We padded up and smashed hell out of each other.  Some went away and bought their own, others (like me) couldn't afford it so stuck to the normal methods of blocking what we could and taking the sting out of the rest with body movement.  (I note my terminology is different to some, blocking to me means redirecting force, not simply sticking an arm in front of a leg)

Net results on the day?  The ones who trained in armour got smashed.  They'd simply let blocking slide and had a false sense of security about what a hard blow felt like.

Now, I know that was a very different training goal to SP, where the use of armour for safety works well.  But I'd still regard blocking as an important part of training.  Just my 2p

Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

Interesting responses gents, thank you.

The style I teach - Enshin - has largely ditched blocking in favour of controlling techniques and as always 'everything works when you're good at it'.  I look at this obviously from the sporting perspective, as I believe the original clip showed.

I well remember how excited we were at a squad once when someone brought in body armour, thigh guards, head guards etc.  We padded up and smashed hell out of each other.  Some went away and bought their own, others (like me) couldn't afford it so stuck to the normal methods of blocking what we could and taking the sting out of the rest with body movement.  (I note my terminology is different to some, blocking to me means redirecting force, not simply sticking an arm in front of a leg)

Net results on the day?  The ones who trained in armour got smashed.  They'd simply let blocking slide and had a false sense of security about what a hard blow felt like.

Now, I know that was a very different training goal to SP, where the use of armour for safety works well.  But I'd still regard blocking as an important part of training.  Just my 2p

Gary

Ashihara is of a similar ethos to Enshin (Ninomiya Kancho being an Ashihara KarateKa before fomulating his own system using Ashihara and Judo amongst others), I agree with what Gary said about blocking.

We Tend to use two mans to work the blocking/parrying into the student until they finally adapt it as natural instinct

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

It's hard explaining this to those that constantly filter everything through a funnel called "Would this work in the street?"

Maybe blocking isn't essential if we can run.  Maybe striking isn't essential if we can run.  Maybe kicking isn't essential if we can run.  If we can't run any may be essential.  Maybe pre-emptive strikes work better than blocking and countering.  Maybe kicking above the knee is useless etc etc  So many variables.

I can't understand those that don't think getting used to (legally) hitting people as hard as possible is of benefit.  If we do that without pads we need rules and target areas which seems at variance to SP.  But!  Hold on a minute:  We need impact.  We need accuracy.  We need discipline.  We need fitness. We need resilience as we will get hit.  We need a real desire to win.

I've found those things useful in live encounters, blocking too.  Sure, I also practise the soft skills and will always seek to avoid fights (even if I feel gutless afterwards)  So I can't help thinking those that dismiss combat sport as 'unhelpful' are missing out.  But I am biased. Definately.

smiley

Gary

JWT
JWT's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

 (I note my terminology is different to some, blocking to me means redirecting force, not simply sticking an arm in front of a leg)

Gary

I think if that's how you define the word blocking then we are not poles apart. :)

Jon Sloan
Jon Sloan's picture

This all kind of begs the question, what is each of our definitions of 'blocking'? It'd help frame the discussion if we're all talking about the same thing. There are many terms we all commonly use that are so common that we all assume that the other person uses the same meaning as we do, but that's not always the case.

For me, 'blocking' would be defined as using a limb to prevent an opponent from striking, grabbing or otherwise reaching a more vulnerable target area on my body or head. AND I would prefer that limb to intercept the incoming limb/weapon in a way that doesn't involve meeting it at an angle that is perpendicular to the attacking limb's plane of movement.

Now I've written that down I'm not sure it does help but U've put it out there so, what the heck! :)

JWT
JWT's picture

Jon Sloan wrote:

This all kind of begs the question, what is each of our definitions of 'blocking'? It'd help frame the discussion if we're all talking about the same thing. There are many terms we all commonly use that are so common that we all assume that the other person uses the same meaning as we do, but that's not always the case.

For me, 'blocking' would be defined as using a limb to prevent an opponent from striking, grabbing or otherwise reaching a more vulnerable target area on my body or head. AND I would prefer that limb to intercept the incoming limb/weapon in a way that doesn't involve meeting it at an angle that is perpendicular to the attacking limb's plane of movement.

Now I've written that down I'm not sure it does help but U've put it out there so, what the heck! :)

Good clear definition.  For me the term means the following:

"A protective movement that is not natural but requires learning and training for execution."

I would add that I don't use Age Uke, Gedan Barai, Uchi Uke, Ude Uke, Shuto Uke etc as blocks - I use them as 'Receivers' - striking and grappling techniques.

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