Traditional Martial Arts

Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: or go to

Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Vladimir Vasiliev on Why He Regards Systema as the Best Form of Self-Defense

Interview by Glenn Murphy

Unlike the general public, Black Belt readers know a thing or two about systema. In large part, that's because of the never-ending efforts of one Vladimir Vasiliev, the most visible systema teacher in the West. Vasiliev has appeared in Black Belt numerous times, and in 2013 he was the magazine's Instructor of the Year. In this exclusive Q&A, the Russian martial arts master talks about the essential components of his self-defense system and how it differs from the traditional martial arts and combat sports.

Keep Reading Show less

On the street, criminals have to get close to you in order to victimize you. They know they can't reveal their intention too early or potential victims would vanish. A weapon has to be ready to use as they move toward their victim, but it still has to be kept concealed.

by Kelly McCann

Keep Reading Show less

Limb Destructions From the Filipino Martial Arts

by Tony Torre | Photos Courtesy of Tony Torre

Anyone who's been around the martial arts long enough no doubt has heard a certain boxing maxim: Make him miss and make him pay. That's all well and good, but what if there was a way to just make him pay and immediately reverse the momentum of the fight? It just so happens that there is.
The Filipino martial arts teach a strategy called “defanging the snake." It has you literally attacking your opponent's incoming limb before it can do any damage. While this fighting tactic clearly stems from the influence that armed combat in the Philippines has had on the greater martial arts community, one should not think for a moment that it doesn't apply equally well to empty-hand skills.
In the empty-hand training sessions I organize for my arnis students, we refer to this category of techniques as limb destructions. Their role in armed combat is the same as it is in unarmed combat: to exploit the fact that the opponent is reaching toward the defender. Because all martial artists intuitively understand where their body is in space relative to their opponent, this path to victory is clear: Deny him his target and replace it with your weapon so that it's the opponent, and not you, who is injured.
But just because the path is clear doesn't mean it's easy to pull off. In reality, a limb destruction is a skill that needs to be practiced seriously by any martial artist who wishes to make it a reliable tool in his or her arsenal. Once mastered, though, it will become a prized possession that can be used to bypass the purely defensive initial phase of a violent encounter.

Keep Reading Show less
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter