The Intrigue of "52 blocks"

KangTsai

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52 blocks is known as an American martial art based in American prisons. It's not formally taught anywhere as of now.

52 blocks contain just that: 52 blocks (with some cool names for each one)
Its fundamentals are based in boxing; the art itself is specifically designed to fight against the boxing-based majority fighting population in prison. This focus developed extensive counter-techniques and strikes, all considered illegal in boxing. What results is a fascinating freestyle handcuffing form reminiscent of boxing and wing chun.

That's the general information on what it is. I'd just like to discuss this.

Interesting things:

1) I can say pretty confidently that the system is "practical." Why? It had to work, because it was developed fresh, from people without any prior, proper knowledge of martial arts, in a space where fights happened more often than not.

2) It was developed with tight spaces in mind the 'creators' understanded that short, fast counterstrikes were optimal for environments such as corridors, cells or spaces with benches.

3) Again- it looks like wing chun with boxing. Comments sections for videos about 52 blocks contain many observations that the blocks the just like bong sau in wing chun.

What do you think? Check videos and articles first.

EDIT: I just want to add this technique video
 
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JowGaWolf

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I don't like it. It's been around for a long time but it's not something that I like or would even recommend
 

JowGaWolf

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I don't see anything particularly wrong with the sparring clips, but I see where you're coming from.
Nothing wrong with the sparring. It's the techniques that are issue. For example, the guy catches a punch while he has his guard up and everyone claps. Martial arts has a technique like that but it's more refined. By refined, I mean that the kinks and problems with the technique have been worked out so that the technique is more reliable.
The danger with 52 blocks is that the excessive movements are distracting and unorthodox so you don't know what's really going to come out of that mess of hand movements. In that one video the guy gets on his knees and is able to hold is position just by moving his hands around.

For me. If I can't figure out what the hands are going to do, then I can always attack the legs. If you notice the hands are wild and distracting, but the foot work is calm. This means that my brain would have to process less information to fight. A few kicks to the legs will make the 52 blocks excessive hand movement stop.
 

Kickboxer101

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I haven't watched the videos much because my Internet sucks but it just looks like sloppy boxing to me you notice on the ring clip the guy has his leg in the air throwing a punch
 

Tez3

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I hope one doesn't have to go to prison to learn this! I imagine that what is shown in the videos is sanitised because I can't imagine the type of fighting prevalent in prisons is going to make pleasant viewing.
 

Buka

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I remember some of this, out of New York back in the day. If you're not used to broken rhythm and odd hand movement, you might have some trouble. But most fighters I know aren't easily hypnotized, it would just be another fight, match, whatever.
 

jks9199

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Or, perhaps, it's a marketing gimmick for someone's own stuff...

Nah, couldn't be. That's why it never appeared before some videos 10-12 years ago...
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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So I will need to clarify some of this, unfortunately. I'll go with the assumption you're making that it actually exists, but just be aware that's an assumption that not everyone really believes.

52 blocks is known as an American martial art based in American prisons. It's not formally taught anywhere as of now.

So this is the biggest thing. None of the people I know who are/were in prison learned 52 blocks. Plenty of them did some sort of boxing, or "street boxing" but never heard any of them say they've practiced 52 blocks or "jailhouse rock".

52 blocks contain just that: 52 blocks (with some cool names for each one)

Not necessarily. There are a ton of reasons it might have that name, only one of them being it contains 52 blocks.


1) I can say pretty confidently that the system is "practical." Why? It had to work, because it was developed fresh, from people without any prior, proper knowledge of martial arts, in a space where fights happened more often than not.

Have you ever witnessed or talked to someone who practices 52 blocks? Without that knowledge you can't really say whether or not it is practical.

How would something developed in a couple decades in prisons by people with no prior training make a system thats more practical than systems that were tested and evolved for hundreds of years in other dangerous settings?

Those are questions based on your assertions. However, I've been told that 52 blocks is a "black" fighting style, and that it was developed from african fighting styles.

2) It was developed with tight spaces in mind the 'creators' understanded that short, fast counterstrikes were optimal for environments such as corridors, cells or spaces with benches.

While this makes sense, and I can't argue about the environment since I've never been in jail, who would be considered a creator of a system like this? Genuine question-I have never heard of a creator.

3) Again- it looks like wing chun with boxing. Comments sections for videos about 52 blocks contain many observations that the blocks the just like bong sau in wing chun.

This, if it were true, would suggest that people involved did have formal training. You don't just come up with wing chun out of thin air. I'm also going to refer back to my statement about it being a "black" fighting style, so there wouldn't really be any wing chun in it, although take that with a grain of salt.




With all that said, I can see it being a system that floats around urban areas. Except rather than a system, it's something thats spread and just the general term some use for how they fight. In some neighborhoods, it might be boxing mixed with wing chun, if a WC fighter (or even someone who learned some basics) combined it with boxing. In others, it might just be dirty boxing. And in others it might genuinely be just streetfighting.

I can't say if that's the case, since i don't live in those neighborhoods, and I'm not inclined to ask the people I know that do. Considering you are from New Zealand, I would guess the same goes for you.
 

punisher73

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I don't believe the "origin story" of 52 blocks that it was passed in secrecy for hundreds of years by slaves in this country. That has changed alot now more in recent times with internet and people also saying the story was crap.

What, I do think it is, is boxing mixed with some kung fu/karate that was gleamed from the movies in the 60's and practiced by guys in the inner cities. This also seems to be what is supported by the older guys.

As to it's effectiveness, I think it's strength lies in it's unorthodox approach. As with all other arts, it comes down to how it is trained and how good the person is at applying.
 

TSDTexan

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I just found this.

Twitter

Apparently, Zeb Judah, and Mike Tyson both acknowledge that 52 blocks/JHR is a thing.
 

JowGaWolf

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Came across this today.

He gets an A for trying to figure it out but there were some flaws with some of his concepts. Things such as legs kicks and sweeps will change his theories. But I do agree with his theory about the center line.
 

JowGaWolf

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I turned it off when he said "catch the hand" whilst demonstrating the first block. In the Matrix, maybe but in the real world....?
lol that was a bad one. That's the problem that people often have when trying to figure stuff out slow speed like that. They get the mechanics all wrong. I don't about anyone else, but as a person who has had bare knuckles punch the inside of my hand, I can tell you that it's not something that I want to make a habit of. There's a reason why punching mitts were made, and why parries with the hand are never head on with the fist.
 

punisher73

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I turned it off when he said "catch the hand" whilst demonstrating the first block. In the Matrix, maybe but in the real world....?

You didn't get to the part where they actually teach to catch it and kiss the fist? I have seen that application in 52 blocks as well.
 

frank raud

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You didn't get to the part where they actually teach to catch it and kiss the fist? I have seen that application in 52 blocks as well.
For a "practical" martial art, there seems to be some awfully flashy moves. The catch and kiss being someone's signature move? If you're that much faster than your opponent, maybe you can take the time to clown around, but one day, it will bite you.
 

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Firstly there aren't 52 Blocks.The name comes from supreme mathematics 5 is power/refinement 2 is wisdom.The art is formally taught.Its been around a lot longer than the sixties being known as Stato then Jailhouse now 52 Blocks.I am a student of Lyte Burly and have appeared on 4 52 Blocks dvds
 

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