Under: karate
19 Apr 2014


I remember as a kid talking to a Tang-Soo-Do 3rd Dan Black Belt, the old, “What would you do if?” questions. and he told me if I tried to throw a punch, we would break the arm with out outside chop and then break my neck with a chop. He said if I tried to kick he would break my leg with a chop and then break my face with a kick… So as a 13 year old kid I was impressed. I “knew then” that blocking was very important in karate.


Later as I progressed in karate and three styles later I finally learned the truth. Blocking was what you used if all else failed. Even the faster parry or cover was more of a whoops move if you were an outside fighter like me. Blocking is for beginners that don’t have any skills yet or find themselves in a precarious situation. But for the effective outside karate fighter you mostly strike and move using critical distance, initial movement and angular attacks. The advantage of being an outside fighter is one does not have to depend on fast reflexes, blocks, parries, and a good chin to best your opponent.


In this post I’ll speak about outside fighting and why I did not block often in real fights. I want to add of you like inside fighting and banging away (trading blows), more power to you. I’m not saying that does not work too… only I did not do that for personal stylistic reasons (I did not like getting hit too often). :)


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The video shows a forearm block stopping an incoming punch. Consider what it means to block. You would have had to see the punch coming. If you are outside of the critical distance (where your opponent cannot kick or punch you without moving closer), you might use a block as a safety net as you are side stepping the blow – and then counter. Blocking from the outside is not what I don’t like. From the outside you can dart in and outside of the distance to try and mount an effective attack. All the while able to change distance to avoid an attack!


Say however you are stronger, faster and meaner than your opponent. You might try to just get next to him and trade blows until the best man was still standing (meaning the lesser man was down). I mean you think you are bad and like to get hit back. It gets your motivation flowing! Hey I am the baddest man on the planet. :)


Do you catch my gist? if you fight from the outside you will not get hit much each time you win the fight. That means your head will not have to take too much banging. When you get old you will have a less chance of brain injuries. Your face should look at pretty as possible thorough out you life although I’ve always said a broken nose adds to your charm.


Conversely if you like to fight on the inside, yes you may be the baddest man on the planet. Opponents crumble in front of you and you can take a shot with the best. YOU ARE A MAN – not a wimp!  But you have a classic case of hamburger face. One cannot say you turn many heads (except for maybe away) and you are more likely to be punch drunk in your senior years – what you remember of them.


So I am not bias… err maybe just a bit. I’ve known many fighters and guys just like to fight how they like to fight. I will not convince anyone that outside fighting is good unless they already like to fight like that. Do rather than digress further I will make some points about why you might not want to block much.


Most fighters to not know how to throw a punch with initial movement (Lewis style – direct angular attack). A direct angular punch or lunge punch/jab, one starts the hand movement while isolating the rest of the body. Then when the hand is about 1/3 of the way to the target, the rest of the body follows. This is the first point (when the body start following) that your opponent see the attack. This is also the point when the attack is unblockable. You are going to hit your opponent. If we wastes time trying to block the punch rather than move away to deflect a bit – you are going to hit him solid.


If you hit him solid and then follow up – providing you threw the punch relaxed and the body was behind the speed – your solid punch is going to be one hard punch. All you have to do is follow up at that point and with most opponents – the fight is over.


I used to have students hold their hand up a couple feet away from me and show them I could jab their hand before they could move it. Even when they knew what I was going to do, using initial movement, they could not even move their hand out of the way. That’s initial movement in its simplest form. In karate as Joe Lewis taught, there is the lunch punch, lunching back-knuckle, flip kick (front wheel kick – mostly to the groin) , slip kick (front side kick).


One time me and this boxer got to talking about karate and boxing – what was better… you know the old question. After we had quite a few beers and the bar closed (I got off of work), we went out behind the bar and fought for a while. All friendly bare hands fisticuffs. I was impressed he was willing to go toe to toe with me as I told him I was kicking too. He did not care as he thought boxing was better than karate.


I did three lunging back-knuckles with a followup counter punch on his face. He could not block them and while I was not throwing too hard – he took them no problem. I luckily covered up on my way out and ate hooks until I got to safety. :)


I changed things up a bit on the third combo – I faked the back-knuckle and then did a shuffle rear kick Lewis style and caught he bread basket – launching him into the air and he landed on his butt. We kept fighting for about 10 more minutes before the cops got there and told us even though we were just having a friendly fight – we were disturbing the neighborhood at 2:30 AM in the morning. :)


That boxer was not a typical fighter. He was an athlete in great shape. So even though I hit him bare-knuckle (not full force), he and I could take it as well as dish it back. In a self-defense scenario the bad guy would have crumbled right a way with the first combo.


So I guess if event a boxer cannot parry my lunching punches/kicks you can get the idea of this post – Blocking a punch? Why? What not just move out of the way and counter attack (if you are an outside fighter)?


Here is the thing. If you are an inside fighter – you will have take the punches of correctly thrown punches/kicks. You will not be able block them unless they are thrown wrong.


So hopefully I have given you one reason to consider just not being their instead of depending on your blocks or parries. Go forth grasshopper and hopefully don’t block!

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2 Responses to “Block a Punch? Consider Why You Might NOT Want to do That!”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    Your article make so much sense, John! I always liked the Goju motto of “Block soft, hit hard!” Rather than block, I try to shift my body to avoid strikes if I can. The only time I block hard is with much taller fighters as a way of attacking their kicks. It seems with their length, I have more time to do that.

    I find using the high back-knuckle as a fake then the low side (back) kick or the fake side kick then the high back-knuckle work well just as you said :-)

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Dr. J! I once had to use double inward blocks to defend against two tall bar glasses thrown at me. They shattered against my arms – all over the bar – but I was able to recover and mount an effective defense. :)

    I like you tend to cover and side step where possible – using distance. I even fought outside when I learned boxing. I guess I would not have gone far there. :)