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Blocking Faster By Not Turning

Say you are going to turn to the left and block. We can use the beginning of Pinan Sandan as an example. The stance is not relevant. In a nutshell, you are facing the front and turn to the left with a left middle block (outward).

Some people will do this: (1) turn to the left; (2) cross the arms; and (3) block.

This way is pretty slow because it takes time to turn to the left. In addition, when you turn, you could be hit because there is a delay between the turn and the block.

Some people will do this: (1) turn to the left and cross the arms at the same time; and (2) block.

This way is faster. But still, you could get hit when you turn because you do not block until you have competed the turn.

Some people will do this: (1) cross the arms; and (2) turn to the left and block at the same time.

This way is faster still. But it takes time to turn the body.

I would do this: (1) cross the arms; and (2) block to the left without turning.

I would rather block sideways. I do not like turning with my shoulders square -- at most, I would turn in a hanmi position. I do this for the first movements of all the Pinan kata. I do not turn my body to the left -- I just block to the left. My shoulders remain facing the front (mostly) and my tanden (belly button, essentially) is rotated about 30 degrees (from the front).

My head turns to the left, but my body does not. I am basically "turning without turning," a phrase I first heard from Sensei Toshihiro Oshiro at a seminar here in Hawaii.

By the time most people will have completed the turn of their body, I will have completed the block (and its recoil). I should add that my "arm crossing" in preparation for the block is minimal, and in some situations, I will block without any cross or preparation. I will just block from where my hands are.

As I wrote about recently, I would generate power for the block by compressing through my body rather than compressing by rotating outside of my body. As a result, I do not have to turn my body back and forth (zig zag). I can pulse the power from my right side, through my left, generate compression, and direct this to the block -- all without turning.

This is what I do (among other things) to block faster.

I always tell my students that if they turn and then block, they will be hit. Minimally, you have to at least turn with the block. By the time you get there, your block has to be done.

And then you have to be ready to change directions.


Charles C. Goodin