Simultaneous techniques: Part 1

Here is another title that is a misnomer: excluding "hard" blocks that hurt your opponent's attacking limb, there is no such thing as a simultaneous block and strike. Why? The answer is very simple; any block or deflection that you perform will always occur before you land your strike.

Consider the following sequence of pictures of the haiwan nagashi uke together with a punch - usually regarded as one of the prime examples of a "simultaneous" block and counter. You will notice from the frames on the left that the block (a "steeple" block) intercepts and deflects the blow just before the punch lands.

The same is true of any other type of 2-handed block and deflection as is illustrated in the video below.

Many martial artists make a lot out of the fact that their art features such "simultaneous" movements, but as you will note, the only real difference is that they leave the blocking arm in place during the strike. In that way the blocking arm can continue to control the initial attack. However the move is most definitely not "simultaneous".

I demonstrate the principles of "simultaneous" blocking and striking.

It is marginally more correct to call a technique a "simultaneous block and strike" if one hand is used to deflect and strike at the same time. But even then, the block occurs just before the strike. Why? Again the answer is simple: the interception of the attack happens closer to your body, while the strike lands on your opponent (who is further away). The sequence will always be "block, then strike".

The latter is indeed a most direct way of dealing with an attack. I tend to use it a lot in sparring. However the "directness" comes at a cost. Any punch that also serves as a deflection relies on pin-point accuracy and very fine angles of deflection. Faced with a determined and tough opponent are you really going to risk your health and well-being by relying on such fine angles - or will you default to a safer alternative?

The safer alternatives are not to be scoffed at; for all intents and purposes they can achieve the same goal when done correctly while minimising risk. Consider the pictures to the right which illustrate the steeple block applied against a cross punch. Note the body evasion and the flow with the opponent which both work in your favour to ensure that your opponent is taken off guard. A well executed "non-simultaneous" combination is not going to give your opponent time to recover if your timing is correct.

Moreover the "non-simultaneous" 1-2 block and counter will also compare favourably in terms of speed - consider the following video of the standard goju chudan uke, followed by a straight thrusting punch at about 0:40.

A demonstration of the primary movement of chudan uke (chest block). Note the speed of delivery of the counter at 0:40...

Next time: Part 2 - seizing initiative

Copyright © 2009 Dejan Djurdjevic