Why your TKD blocks may not work

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by JowGaWolf, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I found this video last night while looking for Jow Ga Kung Fu and I was surprised to see that the movements were very similar to some of the grappling defenses and strikes found in Jow Ga Kung Fu. It was close enough to make me think that TKD blocks are really not blocks. I gave it some good thought.

    These so call blocks also don't make sense when I'm thinking about blocking a TKD kick.


    Low block - This is the same movement that is made in Jow Ga Kung Fu to "wipe a grabbing hand." basically someone is trying to grab your arm or wrist for control and you are striking the grabbing hand. In Jow Ga we use an open hand instead of the closes fist. The reason I don't think this is a block is because of the position of the block as he does it. The concept is that you strike the grabbing hand with the fist and pull your arm back during the strike to escape the grab attempt.

    Middle Block - Is a good ole fashion hammer fist strike. If someone grabs your arm you pull them towards you which gives you an opportunity to either to strike the grabbing arm off your arm. It looks like it could be a hammer fist strike to the head

    The High Block - looks very similar to an anti-grabbing technique that scrapes the grabbing arm from the bottom. If someone grabs your hand from the top then your bottom hand goes under your arm and you scrape along your arm to strike the forearm of the grabbing and upward. The reason the hand travels under the arm is because it's less interference and you need to send the force upward. To test the concept have someone try to grab your arm and right before they are able to lock the grab, strike their forearm upward. It's the same principle as the "Low Block" one hand strikes as the other hand escapes.

    Outside block - This looks like Chin-Na to me. Someone grabs your arm so you circle it in order to force their wrist to take a bad position. The pop at the end allows you to escape the grab and puts your hand in position to counter grab. The other arm that comes to your chest is actually the position for a loaded punch ready to go. Basically you escape the grip, control the arm and now you are in position to counter punch.


    I COULD BE WRONG, BUT I DON'T THINK I AM lol.

    Some of you TKD guys try this out and let me know how it works and if it works.
     
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  2. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    Your not wrong.

    Tkd is derived from karate, Shotokan in particular. It was bolted together quickly for political purposes at the end of Japan's rule over Korea so was effectively karate with more kicking.

    It has evolved into it's own animal over time, but it holds onto these and other throwbacks to it's Shotokan roots.

    Within the karate world the "blocks" were always understood to be way more than that, but for teaching to groups labels were helpful and thus introduced. Then when karate got to Japan it was ported over as a combination between exercise and militarization of the youth. Moving in lines on command was the priority, not makinv movements fit your individual stature. Then ww2 happened and the Japanese lost the taste for fighting. Martial arts should be sports only and in the cas3 of Shotokan the Japanese took the reigns and did things their way, having the tactical gaps filled in with principles from kendo.

    As such blocks remained blocks, with the odd exception of a teacher who either ventured to Okinawa or who combined knowledge of another art like jujitsu with movements they recognised.

    Until the combined might of the ufc and the internet got karateka searching for better ways to apply their art to real fighting and the bunkai (Japanese for analysis or something similar) revolution spread. Now there's a ton of research and videos and even an organisation or two dedicated to more practical application of karate techniques.

    I believe that the TKD community are involved too, so your observations shouldn't surprise all of them.

    There's a terrible book called 100 downblocks where the authors try to illustrate the infinite potential of any given technique. It's terrible because they succeed in showing how definitely finite the potential is, especially if you value staying alive.
     
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  3. Hanzou

    Hanzou Senior Master

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    Frankly, I have serious doubts that that stuff would work against strikes or grabs. I've personally never seen them used against wrestling or grappling, and within grappling itself, we don't use any of that to counter those types of grips. Unfortunately, its more theory than practical application against skilled fighters, which seems to be the hang up for a lot of traditional martial arts.
     
  4. wab25

    wab25 Blue Belt

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    This is a great article: Lyoto Machida: Old-School Karate

    Funakoshi taught these as throws and off balancing techniques. The label "block" is just there to help when teaching elementary school students. Unfortunately, to many people took the elementary school version to be the real thing. It was great to teaching body movements...

    This is how it is supposed to be. They are not blocks... they are grip releases, throws, off balancing techniques, strikes, joint locks, chokes... (they might even be blocks as well, in some situations). People need to give thought to what they are learning. Many times, searching out the history and context can aid a lot in understanding what you are learning.
     
  5. wab25

    wab25 Blue Belt

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    Please see the Machida article in my above post. It includes video of Machida applying the classic down block, as Funakoshi taught, as a throw in a UFC fight.
     
  6. Hanzou

    Hanzou Senior Master

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    Whoop dee do. Machida is a Bjj black belt from one of the best schools in Brazil and a former sumo champion, so please stop trying to use him as an example of high end karate. He's an example of high end MMA, nothing more, nothing less.

    Show me someone from Karate without a Bjj and Sumo background performing that throw, then I'll be impressed.
     
  7. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    Down Block - Used statically you will break your arm. Used with movement you can catch most kicks and then sweep the leg.
    Middle Block - You can go back and forth with this, inside-outside, and quite efficiently block punches
    High Block - Very useful for getting their arm out of the way for a strike to the gut.

    I have no issues using these techniques as blocks.
     
  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Machida's background wasn't his point. He was pointing to an example of someone using what he's talking about against a high-level fighter. That it's a grappler using it is, if anything, likely support for it being within the principles of good grappling.
     
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  9. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    There's something people kept saying to me in threads in the TKD forum "don't think of it as a block." Well, it MIGHT be able to be used as a grappling technique, or a strike, or a grab break, etc. But it still CAN be a block.
     
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  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think there are two schools on this. One is to only use movements that have a high incidence of application and reliability. The other is to explore movements and look for ways to apply the principles you know. So, there are a lot of movements I likely won't teach as blocks, but which I can use to block things (and won't tell students they can't/shouldn't). Some of those are movements I originally picked up in grappling, and just showed up in blocking at some point. And even some bits of movement that have graduated in the other direction.
     
  11. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    Yes. But if it's being taught specifically as a block...chances are it will work in that application!
     
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  12. dvcochran

    dvcochran 3rd Black Belt

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    It is always interesting to hear individual techniques explained from different styles/perspectives. It is important for anyone learning a MA style to understand the purpose of a move, not just how the move is performed. My dominant background is in TKD with strong influence from Moo Duk Kwan, a little Kung Fu (green sash), and Kali.
    It is a quandary within TDK that there are so many variations within teaching. It makes it difficult to have a single definition of what Tae Kwon Do is. More so how to explain a single move. The dividing lines are very strong between WTF and ITF. So much so that they can be easily identified as two completely different styles.

    To your question, I can only answer from my TKD perspective so here goes.

    I thought the video was good but there are fundamental elements missing. ALL moves in TKD use the Yin Yang (Um Yang) principal. Everything has an equal and opposite. This is a common theme in many MA styles and the basis for creating power and speed. It is utilizing the whole body. There were several times in the video that the movements were very segmented and the corresponding body parts were not in unison.

    Low block - This is the same movement that is made in Jow Ga Kung Fu to "wipe a grabbing hand." basically someone is trying to grab your arm or wrist for control and you are striking the grabbing hand. In Jow Ga we use an open hand instead of the closes fist. The reason I don't think this is a block is because of the position of the block as he does it. The concept is that you strike the grabbing hand with the fist and pull your arm back during the strike to escape the grab attempt.

    You have a very specific approach to using a low block, similar to kali's idea of attacking whatever is closest. In TKD a low block is not a scraping movement aimed solely at the hand. It is simply blocking or moving anything that is attacking you low. The common example is a strike towards the groin. You are blocking low so the blocking arm starts high. The ready hand is extended straight and forward in a slightly downward position, palm up. This should influence a twisting motion, a windup of sorts, twisting so that the block side hip turns forward. This allows the blocking action to incorporate all of the body especially the powerful hip muscles. As you begin to pull the blocking arm down to intercept whatever is attacking (kick, hand, etc...), the ready hand pulls back, This is the opposing Yin Yang of the hands/arms. At the same time the hips are snapping back opposing the shoulders. These blocking arm is always on top.

    Middle Block - Is a good ole fashion hammer fist strike. If someone grabs your arm you pull them towards you which gives you an opportunity to either to strike the grabbing arm off your arm. It looks like it could be a hammer fist strike to the head

    A middle block can use from the mid-forearm to the wrist. This is not at all a hammer fist position. The video example is good but there was not much Um Yang. He used the very general name Momtong Makki which simply means middle section. He is performing a An Makki or inside block. This uses the inside of the Ulna to block with. Your description is after someone grabs you. Not the intention with the block in the video.
    In relation, from shoulder to elbow and elbow to wrist are at 45° angles. The ready hand does much the same motion, providing opposition for the blocking arm which is moving from outside your body to inside. The block moves the attacking item across (horizontally) the body. Blocking arm is palm up so again, you are using the inside of the Ulna.


    The High Block - looks very similar to an anti-grabbing technique that scrapes the grabbing arm from the bottom. If someone grabs your hand from the top then your bottom hand goes under your arm and you scrape along your arm to strike the forearm of the grabbing and upward. The reason the hand travels under the arm is because it's less interference and you need to send the force upward. To test the concept have someone try to grab your arm and right before they are able to lock the grab, strike their forearm upward. It's the same principle as the "Low Block" one hand strikes as the other hand escapes.

    There is no scraping motion. The block goes from low to high, blocking arm in front at all times. The video did not show this. His ready hand is on top, blocking the vertical motion of the blocking arm. Again, it is imperative to incorporate the opposite arm, hips, and shoulders. The motion of the blocking arm is vertical. This is hard to visualize when a good twisting motion is incorporated from the hips and shoulders. When the block is finished, the arm position is: palm out using the Ulna to block with, shoulder to elbow 90°, elbow to wrist about 45° or just enough to cover the head. The blocking fist should be vertically in line with the opposite ear.

    Outside block - This looks like Chin-Na to me. Someone grabs your arm so you circle it in order to force their wrist to take a bad position. The pop at the end allows you to escape the grab and puts your hand in position to counter grab. The other arm that comes to your chest is actually the position for a loaded punch ready to go. Basically you escape the grip, control the arm and now you are in position to counter punch.

    He is doing open and closed hand outside blocks. They are a larger motion than the parry to move the wrist or hand. In the sonnal makki (open hand) block the ready hand is across the chest as you describe. In a han sonnal makki (one handed, open hand block) the ready hand would go to the side. This has a lot to do with the stance or position you are in. Back stance is more closed to your opponent so a sonal makki would make more sense as it allows good power generation from back stance.
    This may be where my teaching is different. In a one handed outside block, the ready hand does much the same as in a low block, providing opposition and pulling back to ready. In a two handed block (open in the video), the hands move in unison and the motion of both hands & arms is more circular. In the end they are both moving forward. The opposition comes predominantly from the shoulders. Again, the hips are vitally important to make power.

    I like hearing your perspective and how each centers on grabbing the wrist. I look forward to your thoughts.
     
  13. Mitlov

    Mitlov Green Belt

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    In my experience, bunkai (looking at alternative purposes for techniques like the classic "blocks") is far more common in the Shotokan scene than the TKD scene. But with these classic blocks, there's a very good reason for that. These traditional blocks are least effective against straight punches, and most practical against circular kicks. Although they share historical roots, modern Shotokan is an art primarily of straight punches, and TKD is an art primarily of circular kicks. In the TKD scene, blocking a head-level roundhouse kick may not look as formalized as the "basic block," but it's a similar motion. In Shotokan, once you start really sparring a lot with people who have fast hands, you're going to start looking for other purposes for those blocks, because you're unlikely to use them to successfully block a fluid jab-cross.
     
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  14. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    That was more about you wanting an explanation for specific details that made sense in the context of a block, when the detail you wanted explained was there specifically because it was more than a block.

    But yes, they can be used as blocks too.
     
  15. wab25

    wab25 Blue Belt

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    A screw driver CAN be used to hammer a nail.

    I find this very interesting. So many people are looking for
    The classic blocks are the alternative purposes. The classic blocks are not the main application, any more than a screw drivers main application is to hammer nails. There were some fundamental misunderstandings, and we cling to those misunderstandings. We refuse to let those misunderstandings go. We would rather see these arts classified as ineffective, than let go of the misunderstandings.

    Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan, did not teach gedan barai as a down block, he taught it as a throw. It has been pointed out on this forum many times that Funakoshi's applications were done way closer to the opponent, with the "blocking" arm not blocking at all, but throwing, locking and off balancing the opponent. Yet, someone translated "uke" to be "block" and then figured that "middle block" must match "middle punch." Uke is the same word used in Judo for the guy receiving the throw. How is that a "block?"

    This would be like taking a choke taught by Helio Gracie and claiming its a head kick. Obviously, Helio doesn't know what he is talking about... he can't tell a choke from a head kick. That's the same as what is being said about Funakoshi here... that he couldn't tell a throw from a block.

    I find it very interesting that a Kung Fu guy looks at this stuff, and comes up applications much closer to Funakoshi's applications than most Shotokan and TKD guys do. Yet, Funakoshi apparently, did not understand the basic application of his own system... because they are blocks!!!

    Its kind of sad that these arts will fade out of existence, due to their ineffectiveness, when the ineffective part is the misunderstanding of what was taught. What was really taught, is now considered some weird alternate stretch, because it does not match the classic misunderstood application.

    I expect a few people to not agree with me here. But, I am taking Funakoshi's explanation about how his arts are to be applied. Screw drivers can be used as hammers, but they are much more effective when used to drive screws.
     
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  16. Robert Agar-Hutton

    Robert Agar-Hutton White Belt

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    I'm not teaching Karate Jutsu at the moment as I moved (2+ years ago) to the town where my Karate (Karate-Do) teacher lives and I train with him. But, when I did teach, my own style of Karate - I was most careful to TRY and call moves things like 'rising arm' or 'diagonal arm' and not use the word 'block at all.

    To begin with, I believe that you will find that 'block' is not an accurate translation from the Japanese. Then, it's limiting - if you think of a movement as a 'block' then that tends to negate its use as a strike, or a throw or a ....

    Of course it depends what you want - if you are training for fun, or for competition, then that's different to if you want self defence or combat... It's all good, it's just all different :)
     
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  17. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    A forearm block isn't really for use against a jab in its classical blocking mode. There's a reason the standard drills for these techniques were against a lunging punch, I.e. in their basic form the core blocking techniques are self defence techniques vs a surprise haymaker etc. The angry roid-rage punch instead of the tactical fighter punch.

    For jabs etc you deflect with the preparation hand (the hand that extends at the start of the classical technique), and use the "blocking" hand to follow the retraction and strike or wedge or block the second punch etc.
     
  18. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    Im not quite understanding what you're getting at here.

    If a throw is in the karate syllabus but nobody trains it anymore because schools focus on other stuff, Why wouldn't it make sense to find another art that commonly practices this throw to learn how to use it properly?
    And if you do that, are you suggesting that it's no longer a karate technique because he practiced it in another environment?

    What if years later the karateka opens a karate dojo teaching only the karate syllabus but now knows how to teach that old throw as well. Is it no longer karate to you?

    You realise that all the top karate masters of Okinawa trained under kung fu teachers? And that most of the 20th century masters also trained judo.

    Really what you should be saying is that not only is Machida high end karate, but that MMA is just high end Karate as karate was mixing martial arts a century before the ufc.
     
  19. Mitlov

    Mitlov Green Belt

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    I personally just don't see a stepping punch as a close proxy to any punch you'd encounter in a self-defense situation, from a haymaker to a sucker punch. To me, the stepping punch (and blocks used against it) feels like a left-over from sword training or bayonet training--useful for teaching basic principles and theories, but not as much practical application to practical empty-handed combat.
     
  20. Mitlov

    Mitlov Green Belt

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    It's not that simple that using uke techniques as blocks was just made up by people after Funakoshi. Funakoshi himself did teach uke techniques as blocks as well.

     
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