Home > Concepts & Principles, Kempo ( Ch'uan Fa ) > Blocking in the Martial Arts

Blocking in the Martial Arts

Various martial art systems approach the concept of blocking from different perspectives. Some systems teach very basic blocking concepts, and progress through different approaches as the student grows in knowledge and skill. Some systems use a single method that they believe to be the best approach. Many say that blocking doesn’t really exist, there is only striking. Many also consider moving out of the way to be the equivalent of blocking. Some systems don’t really think of what they do as blocking at all.

The lowest level is the hard blocking system that is seen in most Karate, Kempo, Tai Kwon Do systems taught. It is what would be taught to beginners.

The idea with a hard blocking system is to break what you block. Therefore the block is really seen as a strike.

The next level of advancement for this approach would be to use the block to set the opponent for a following strike. You could think of it as using your block like a fork to hold your food in place while you cut it with a knife.

The level after that is to block and strike at the same time. Stepping out of the way as you strike, accomplishes the same thing as blocking and striking together.

This is an example of the basic hard blocks used by many Kempo, Karate, and Tai Kwon Do practitioners. This particular approach is put together as a blocking system in some Kempo systems. Though it looks linear, if you look you’ll see it is just blocking on four points of a circle with each side. After the basic blocks I’ve included some different methods of training with the system from a horse stance.

Another blocking system that some Kempo systems teach next is the ten point blocking system. A couple of things with this system is that while it can be done as a hard blocking system, it can also be done as a soft system. Another thing of note is that it is put together using both hands all the time (though you could pull out and use an individual block by itself). As I said before blocking and striking at the same time is a few steps up from just blocking.

After progressing through the ten point blocking system, some Kempo people advance to the Plum Tree Blocking system. You’ll notice this system is a soft system. Of course they can each be practiced with different flavors.

The above systems/approaches are all from what would traditionally be thought of as external systems. When you start looking at other systems including internal systems the approach tends to change. This doesn’t mean that some of the ideas like blocking and striking at the same time don’t apply. That would be a common concept in both Tzu Men, and Wing Chun. However you see more sensitivity training going on. Examples would be Chi Sau in Wing Chun, or push hands in Tai Chi. Bagua and Hsing-I also have two man forms that help to develop sensitivity as well. There are many examples of these training methods already on Youtube to watch compare and learn from, so I won’t put any links in here. I think that the methods used by such systems need to be addressed in another post.

Mike Murphy


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