The Truth of Progressive Defense Training

The old saying that “The best defense is a good offense” is very true, but too simple-minded. Its deeper meaning is that, if you want to build a great offense, you have to incorporate the defense face of the coin. Kung Fu Blocking on plumpub.comAnother way to state it is that the best offense takes a lot of its skills from defensive training. A good offensive fighter reaps the rewards of this type of training from the increased abilities with timing and depth perception which are refined through defensive training. The nice thing about all this is that the defense training developed in Kung Fu is a beautiful progression of skills that fit right in to the topic we are considering.

Every step I cover will have a training and a tactical face. Some styles may brag that they would NEVER use, for instance, a blocking action. They claim to disdain such low level defensive actions as blocks but this shows a lack of understanding of reality and of training methods versus application. So I would like to suggest certain times and conditions where you might want to use this or that defense. Just suggestions, but I hope they throw some light on the different stages of training.

BLOCK: Blocks are called the “hard” actions of Kung Fu. This is the type of movement where a strong counter-force ends up meeting an incoming attack. The block is a strong, definite response to an attack but that doesn’t mean it can’t be sophisticated. Angle, for instance, and accuracy to the target can raise the old block to a high level of skill. The saying in both Karate and Kung Fu is that blocks are actually strikes. That’s right. You can consider a block as a strike aimed at the offending limb which happens to be attacking you in real time.

APPLICATION: When should you actually use the block? There are lots of opportunities, most of them a complete surprise and very little to do with stopping an attack, at least after it’s launched. The most straightforward use is when you are unable to evade. You might imagine using a block when you are pinned against the wall by the opponent’s front hand, with a punch winging toward you. Looking at it completely differently, you can initiate an attack with a block, right to the limb in question or what you might call a “preemptive block” ( I had a grand teacher who once broke a guys nose on the way to his block).

WEAKNESS : It’s not the over-emphasis on power, as you might guess. There are two weaknesses with the block, or more properly, the blocking mentality. The first is that the blocking angle taught is usually directly at the right angle to the attack and that makes for wasted motion. The second is that the block uses one “beat” to respond to the attacker’s “beat.” Unless your block is devastating you are answering an attack with a defense. You might never catch up…

HIDDEN TEACHING : The block is the quintessential means of sculpting out the shape of the body in space. The moment I teach a block I teach the student to stop all that force the moment he or she reaches the edge of their own bodies projected in space. Because it builds force then controls force the block is a great way to teach a student to cover his body and only his body and not go off “hunting for butterflies” as we say.

TRAINING : Use something like a wrapped PVC or stick and let your partner haul off with some power. But remember: the block causes damage because it is like the corner of a building you slam your arm into, not because it is a sledge hammer. After a while you will note that both of you need less and less movement to accomplish this purpose. In other words, your blocks will “tighten” and become much more efficient.

Next: Parry Power

One Response to “The Truth of Progressive Defense Training”

  1. Jeff says:

    I do a lot of blocking because my feet don’t move so fast, but I have knocked people down with my blocks.

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