Progressive Defense: #2 Parry Power


The parry is elegant. As people progress from hard blocking to this  gliding, subtle action they feel as though they had jumped the gate. Where the block may shake your whole body the parry redirects force, transforming an attack into a gentle breeze.

PARRY: The most basic difference between the block and the parry is the angle of deflection. A block is a form of cross town traffic angling toward the opponent’s limb at approximately ninety degrees. The parry runs almost parallel to the attack and just bumps it off by ten degrees or more like one harnessed horse jostling another.

Kung Fu uses a wonderful variety of parries with names like “Grey Cloud Passes Moon” (Southern Shaolin). Most Kung Fu students are familiar with quick hand motions and tight sweeping deflections. The parry is said to conserve energy where the block is profligate and creates a shattering collision. But there’s a lot more to the parry than that.
APPLICATION: Basically any time you want to redirect force. This is particularly help when you want to change your angle to the opponent, are in a tight corner or what the perfect timing for a counter.

WEAKNESS: The parry’s weakness is just that: it can be weak. 1000 pounds can be deflected, a million can’t. The block is much more forgiving about the nuances of interception angle. With a parry you need more skill. When parries fail things go bad quickly.

HIDDEN TEACHING: The parry changes a martial artists perception of time. The block clashes with the oncoming punch, shivers against it and then stops it dead. Time is stopped for a second and everyone knows it even if you get your counter off in a “split second”. The perception of the parry artist is completely different and therefore skews the perception of the attack. First the attacker launches his move at a target which it then misses  (with a little help by the defender). At that point there is no definite perception of the attack coming to an end. Meanwhile the defender has moved onto the next sequence and is already applying counter and follow up. Putting it short, the best parry doesn’t inform the attack that he has missed. His time overlaps the return time of the defender and that passing breeze where one time cascades into another is what a parry is really about.

TRAINING: First, let me advise you to concentrate on DOUBLE parries. That’s right, try to parry each single action of your partner with a one-two hand action of your own. This will keep you fluid. When your partner strikes (from a distance safe for both of you) try to deflect as many punches as you can without ramming head-to-head with the incoming message. By using double action parries for most blocking you will 1. not fall into a staccato timing which returns you to the blocking mentality, and 2. make up for angles of deflection that don’t initially work. Play with this.

Pevious: Blocking
Next: Cashing in on Checks

One Response to “Progressive Defense: #2 Parry Power”

  1. Michael Hall says:

    BEST description. Well articulated.

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