Blocks: open hand vs. closed hand

Gaucho

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I'm curious as to which karate styles use open hand vs. closed hand blocks, for high, low, and middle blocks. I expect that someone here has a broad enough knowledge to summarize which styles tend to use open hand blocks and which ones don't. It would save me doing hours of research. Thanks very much.
 

Dirty Dog

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I suspect you'll find that pretty much all styles use both open and closed hand blocks.
 

JowGaWolf

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I suspect you'll find that pretty much all styles use both open and closed hand blocks.
I would say all regardless of the martial art system. If it has a striking component (punching) then it will probably have an open hand and a closed hand method of blocking. I can't think of a system that doesn't. Maybe boxing? but probably not bare knuckle boxing.
 

_Simon_

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Hmm.. yeah I'm not aware of any styles that emphasise one or the other.. usually use both. I know a lot of styles will teach beginners in sparring to only use closed hands when blocking, but as you get more advanced that you can use open hand.

And also there are the Kaishu (open hand) and Heishu (closed hand) katas, but not sure who has what balance there.
 

hoshin1600

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Uechi-ryu does not use closed hand blocks. With one exception there is one block which is somewhat an X block to the side, used for kicks the low blocking hand is closed. The hand is closed probably only due to user experience of it getting kicked.
All other styles of karate of Okinawan descent use a closed fist : jodan, chudan,,gedan type system that can also be done with open hands. Uechi-ryu is the one style that does not share this three tier system of blocking, rather they have a Wauke "circle block" a single block concept that covers all angles of attack.
 

_Simon_

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Uechi-ryu does not use closed hand blocks. With one exception there is one block which is somewhat an X block to the side, used for kicks the low blocking hand is closed. The hand is closed probably only due to user experience of it getting kicked.
All other styles of karate of Okinawan descent use a closed fist : jodan, chudan,,gedan type system that can also be done with open hands. Uechi-ryu is the one style that does not share this three tier system of blocking, rather they have a Wauke "circle block" a single block concept that covers all angles of attack.

Ah wow, did not know that! That's really cool :). I know they do Sanchin kata open handed too, as do some others I think
 

hoshin1600

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Ah wow, did not know that! That's really cool :). I know they do Sanchin kata open handed too, as do some others I think
Uechi-ryu sanchin is done open handed with a moderate amount of dynamic tension. all of the other karate styles do sanchin with a closed fist and a greater amount of tension and these styles can follow their lineage to Chojun Miyagi. Legend says that Miyagi's teacher, Kanryo Higaonna did his sanchin with the open hand and by the descriptions i have heard it sounds very similar to the Uechi- ryu version. it was Miyagi that closed the fists and made some alterations to the kata. the outlier in this is Ryuei- ryu which is an Okinawan style that claims its origins back to China. But they share an identical sanchin with Goju, closed fists & same pattern. while Ryuei -ryu claims to be direct from China the "genetic markers" tell us their sanchin is derived from Miyagi as well.
all that being said, to see open hand versions of sanchin one has to look to China and the kung-fu systems.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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When you block a punch (or kick), your contact point is your forearm. Whether you use open hand or close fist depend on whether you have intention to "grab" your opponent's punching arm (or kicking leg) after that or not.

If you use a

- close fist to block a front kick, you won't be able to catch that kicking leg.
- upward hook to block a front kick, you may be able to catch that kicking leg.

downward_block.jpg


upward_hook.jpg
 
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Gaucho

Gaucho

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Thanks very much for those replies, especially regarding Uechi-Ryu. I instinctively tend to prefer open hand blocks, for two reasons: first, they are faster, as one does not have to close the hand to make a fist; and they give another 3 1/2 inches of reach, in my case, that's my finger length. The hand must be to deflect a blow, since an open hand would be inappropriate for a solid block of a strong strike. If a direct block is unavoidable I suppose the forearm has to take it.

In any case, my question was well answered.
 

Dirty Dog

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Thanks very much for those replies, especially regarding Uechi-Ryu. I instinctively tend to prefer open hand blocks, for two reasons: first, they are faster, as one does not have to close the hand to make a fist; and they give another 3 1/2 inches of reach, in my case, that's my finger length. The hand must be to deflect a blow, since an open hand would be inappropriate for a solid block of a strong strike. If a direct block is unavoidable I suppose the forearm has to take it.

In any case, my question was well answered.

If you're using your fingers, I would say that you're doing the block wrong. Even as a redirection, this is a good way to get broken fingers. The proper contact surface would be the palm, knifehand, ridgehand or backhand.
 

hoshin1600

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If you're using your fingers, I would say that you're doing the block wrong. Even as a redirection, this is a good way to get broken fingers. The proper contact surface would be the palm, knifehand, ridgehand or backhand.
That is true in the majority of styles but in my case with uechi ryu the initial contact point can also be the wrist area and forearm. As kung fu Wang said the hand is open for the sake of grabbing and controlling.
 

Dirty Dog

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That is true in the majority of styles but in my case with uechi ryu the initial contact point can also be the wrist area and forearm. As kung fu Wang said the hand is open for the sake of grabbing and controlling.

Oh sure, and we teach that too. My comments were specific to blocking with the hand. The wrist and forearm would be valid for either open or closed hand blocks. Since you're not blocking with the hand.
 

MI_martialist

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What is more important is to understand why open hand and closed hand are done and where they both come from.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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If you're using your fingers, I would say that you're doing the block wrong. Even as a redirection, this is a good way to get broken fingers. The proper contact surface would be the palm, knifehand, ridgehand or backhand.
Even if the fingers don't break, it won't block or redirect the punch. Fingers aren't going to have the power necessary to block a punch coming from the whole body.
 

hoshin1600

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What is more important is to understand why open hand and closed hand are done and where they both come from.
how to apply both and the differences are important i will agree,, im not sure why you say where they come from is important.
so if the open hand applications come from Bai He Quan and Hu Zun Quan, and the closed fist application comes from Lohan Quan how would that matter today?
 

gpseymour

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I would say all regardless of the martial art system. If it has a striking component (punching) then it will probably have an open hand and a closed hand method of blocking. I can't think of a system that doesn't. Maybe boxing? but probably not bare knuckle boxing.
Just a note of an exception (probably the only one I know of) to this rule: most folks in NGA (which has a reasonable striking component) don't teach any closed-hand blocks. I'm not aware of any other instructors (besides myself) who do, though surely there are some. The preference for open-hand blocks comes from the grappling focus, and most instructors don't have as much focus on the striking as I do.
 

Buka

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In American Karate we primarily block open handed, but closed fist, hard blocks are part of the style as well.

We have also been known to block with our face at times.
 

JowGaWolf

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Just a note of an exception (probably the only one I know of) to this rule: most folks in NGA (which has a reasonable striking component) don't teach any closed-hand blocks. I'm not aware of any other instructors (besides myself) who do, though surely there are some. The preference for open-hand blocks comes from the grappling focus, and most instructors don't have as much focus on the striking as I do.
I can see this. Especially with weapon based systems which I didn't think much of at the time. A lot of weapon based systems have open hand components because grabbing the arm ,wrist of the weapon hand would be less risky than trying to strike someone with a weapon. When I think of me being unarmed, then I almost immediately start thinking grabbing the weapon hand/ arm. My focus on strikes are out of the weapon's range, but my main concern is to shut that weapon arm down and disarm. Even If I get stabbed, I don't won't that weapon arm to escape.


If you have more striking focus then you'll eventually end up with a closed hand block simply because you'll see opportunities to use it. Closed hand blocks means you don't have to make a fist to punch. Open hands blocks means you don't have to open your hand to grab. Both methods reduce the time for the strike or grab. The more you use them the more applications and opportunities you'll see, even if the application isn't specific to your system. The opportunity would still exist. I think if the "NGA folks" would eventually see these opportunities simply by spending more time working the strikes. It just requires a little out of the box thinking. My guess is that you probably see more than others because you spend more time playing in the striking sand box.

I think modern warfare (guns) have pretty much allowed the old combat systems to become specialized. The assumption that I would make is that most of the combat systems were fairly well rounded. The last thing you would want as a soldier would be to be so dependent on a weapon to the point where you would be helpless without it. But that's another topic.
 

gpseymour

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If you have more striking focus then you'll eventually end up with a closed hand block simply because you'll see opportunities to use it.
You are quite correct. One of the earliest additions I made to my curriculum was some blocks I originally picked up from Tang Soo Do and modified to fit our movement.
 

MI_martialist

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You mis-understand my point...not where as in what " style" as a style is a preference. I am talking about armed combat. If you use the weapon as a block, then the hand is closed, and is more readily interpreted into a closed hand block as it has already been done.


how to apply both and the differences are important i will agree,, im not sure why you say where they come from is important.
so if the open hand applications come from Bai He Quan and Hu Zun Quan, and the closed fist application comes from Lohan Quan how would that matter today?
 
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