Friday, 24 September 2021



That cool combination inside block/low block pictured at the left comes in handy when you’re being attacked from the front and the back…at the same time.

Imagine that moment. You’ve waited a lifetime to put this double block technique to use. You’re at the zoo the day the baboons break out. You are being swarmed. Barbie lunges at you from the front in an attempt to fang your leg; Elvis summersaults onto your shoulder from the back. He’s got a Michelin 3 Star fervor for your right ear. Bang! The baboons are tasered by your timing and skill.

With perfect timing, it always seems to work in the movies. But the action is supervised by a director. Perfect block combos don’t necessarily work during chaotic times.




With the combined low block/inside block, the practitioner brings her arms together first, the low block arm on top of the inside block arm. Then she snaps them down and back at the same time. Usually, we go linear; a guy attacks from the front and his big sister attacks straight in from the back.

If a Vegas oddsmaker suggests that the odds of securing that kind of precise timing during unhinged combat would be zero, it may be time for a re-think. What to do?


1.   Let’s take the “are blocks really blocks” as an opener. OK. So that low block can become a hammer fist to the groin. That makes sense. And the inside block? A kind of weird top fist coming in sideways on someone who is trying to wipe a speck of dandruff off your right shoulder. Sure, but you’re still stuck in that rigid, unidirectional mode. Martial arts basics always start off in a fixed iconic position. The rest is application. Hey, don’t you think this next remark is profound? – basics are the grammar and vocabulary; fighting is the speaking and writing of the language itself.


2.   If you remain in that straight arm/bent arm pose you might find, as a Jiu Jitsu friend suggests, a shoulder throw that you can use. The low block grabs his arm; the inside block hooks his shoulder. But is that all?


3.   It’s banana time back at the baboon compound and Elvis is swinging around on a tree yelling: “You’ve still got your training wheels on! Time to open ‘er out!”


By opening, he means softening. Notice that as soon as you soften the right arm, for instance, you can sense all points along that arm ready to move in all directions just like a snake. The same with your left arm that’s coming in to meet your right arm for the wind up before you “block”. Entry/exit. The entry is as important as the exit.

Let’s focus in on one of dozens of flowing applications –

Entry/Exit: your left arm that is originally supposed to enter over your right arm in preparation for the left low block, smacks a miscreant on the right side of his neck, then wraps itself – snake style – around the right side and the back of his neck. Your right arm begins to rise. (You’ve changed your mind: you’re going to do a right low “block instead of a low left “block”). Your fluid right arm elbows the guy on the left side of his head. Then it catches the left side of the guy’s beanie and snaps it down to your lower right side while your left hand tears whatever it’s got of that head toward your left side.

When you begin to open up to all angles, even circular, you begin to work with every part of your arm in all directions.

All you need is to relax. Not in a hollowed-out superficial way but in a way reminiscent of Tai Chi…cotton on the outside/steel on the inside.

Check it out. What have we got? Punches and strikes against every part of an opponent’s anatomy; locks; throws; take downs. They’re all inside those double blocks.

At one point in the Kata Ryu-San, the Karate-ka tucks one leg behind the knee of the other leg while performing the low block/inside block combo…then she quickly does the same with the opposite hands and legs. We saw that in early My Jong Law Horn training. The opponent kicks, we shift to one side lifting our leg out of the way while performing a low block. We then direct a side kick to her supporting leg. That’s just one application.

Again in Ryu-San, the block combo is performed in four different directions. Why? To remind us and to encourage us to use the double block platform across three hundred and sixty degrees, just like our friends in Ba Gua.

I’ve found this block combination to be one of the more intriguing icons in the Karate curriculum. And of course, it’s found in many of the other martial arts as well. We’ve got our grammar and vocab; let the movements start to talk.

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