Persistent myths #1: Blocks are isolated movements

I'm going to start a series of short pieces dealing with what I consider to be "persistent myths" in the martial arts: myths that won't go away despite contrary logic and a plethora of available information.

Since I've been talking about blocks a lot lately, I'm going to start with this one:
Traditional blocks are designed to be executed in isolation.
Erm... No, they're not.  Why would anyone think so?

People might not say this so clearly, but it is often necessarily implicit in their argument.  As Rashaud noted in the comments to my last article:
"What's interesting, I think, is that most people look at "blocking" as a static thing.  That all of you've done is "parry" or "deflect" an incoming strike. From that line of thinking, most would therefore consider the formal block overkill, or unworkable."
Presumably the impression among these people is that all you do is "block" (ie. stop or redirect) an attack and do nothing else.  This is total nonsense of course.  With the exception of forms designed to teach very basic, fundamental "stem cell" movement, "blocks" are always followed by counters or other moves designed to "turn the tables".


Now I know that many people practise a "block and counter" sequence as a kind of "1-2" where the block and counter are divorced from each other.  But all my research indicates that this isn't how the techniques were designed to be used.  They were designed to flow into one another - to form one coordinated response.  The "1-2" was only ever meant as a device for teaching beginners - ie. as a way of isolating the components so that beginners could concentrate on perfecting one of these at a time.

[I've already noted that the "block component" of that response is itself one move - not two!]

In other words, traditional "blocks" are meant to thwart an attack as well as negate further attacks.  They do so by setting you up for either an effective counter or some means of achieving a position of control/escape/safety.  "Blocks" certainly aren't static movements designed to work in isolation.  Traditional kata/xing/forms make this abundantly clear - as does simple logic.

I'll let my video above speak for me, rather than put it all into text!

Copyright © 2013 Dejan Djurdjevic