THE BEST BLOCK IS A STRIKE!
By Wahib Bennis

There are several different types of blocks. Those people practicing Martial Arts for a while will know how much practise it can take to become proficient at blocking. So, my advice to you if you are ever unlucky enough to be caught in a violent situation is to: FORGET ABOUT BLOCKING! ‘What?' I hear you say. I guarantee you I haven't lost it! I know that most Martial Arts instructors insist that their students spend a lot of time practising blocking and so they should. What I am saying is that when it comes to the crunch, don't think about blocking. If you do think about blocking then you will be in a defensive mind set. Just because you have to defend yourself doesn't mean you have to be in a defensive mind set. You should never wait for your opponent to strike so that you can then block and counter. If you know that your opponent is going to strike you, then why wait? Strike them first and hard. A strike is the best form of blocking. If you manage to land a good shot, then your opponent's thought about striking you can be delayed. This will give you enough time to get out of there or to follow up with another strike (insurance!). Blocking can also be very hard to pull off in a real situation. Most of us practise blocks that are not natural for us and we practise them in an unnatural (controlled) environment. That is, we practise them with a friend in the comforts of a Martial Arts studio where everybody throws a punch the same way. If only real fights were the same! The fact of the matter is that in the street everyone strikes differently and you haven't the foggiest what strike they are going to try to take your head off with! So, don't wait. Do what you have to do and get out of there. Remember, self-defence starts as soon as you feel physically threatened. You do not have to wait until you are beaten half to death before you can justify fighting back. You do not have to get hit at all! I'll repeat that again because this is a really important statement: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GET HIT AT ALL IN ORDER TO DEFEND YOURSELF! The instant your opponent prepares to strike you is the best time to hit him/her! INTERCEPT! Granted, you may not always be able to launch an offensive straight away and therefore you may need to block until you can strike.

What are the best blocks to use? There are many different types of blocking just the same as there are many different styles of fighting. The 3 main ones are:

  1. Hard Style Blocks
  2. Parries
  3. Covering Blocks
  1. Hard style blocks are used in the majority of Karate styles. The objective is to strike and knock away your opponents striking limb. Sounds hard and is hard to do in a real situation. That is why Karateka (karate exponents) train so hard to develop these blocks. They are not a part of our natural subconscious fighting instinct and they can only become subconscious through repetition.
  2. Parries are open handed blocks. They aim to redirect the strikes away from you in a way that looks like you are swotting a fly. Parries can be effective because they don't require much strength. Parries are a little bit more natural for us to use then the hard style blocks but they are still not a part of our subconscious fighting instinct.
  3. Covering blocks simply cover your body parts from strikes. Unfortunately, this means that you will take the blow of the strike on your limbs (arms, shoulders, legs). However, they are very natural for us to use. Our natural instincts are to cover ourselves from danger.

Okay, so which type of blocks should you use? NONE! Don't you get it? Don't be defensive. If you cannot get away from an attacker then get stuck in with strikes until you can get away or until that attacker is no longer a threat! The best block is a strike!