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Close Combat Training: The Art of Blocking, Part 2

Catching a kick on the other hand (foot?) is much easier unless you’re fighting Bruce Lee. Then you have an opponent who is standing on one leg. Sweep the other one and you have an opponent who is lying on his back crying.

Alternatively a powerful push to the offending limb can spin the enemy around on their supporting foot opening their back up to attack. You can even just push the assailant if they’re kicking or if they’re punching with enough vigour – as they should already be off balance a side-step and a push can often cause them to come crashing down and it also looks kind of cool and nonchalant. If you are fast enough, two semi circles one with each hand starting low and finishing high can cover your entire body and stop any attack (except a kick to the shins). This move when performed in close to an opponent can also open up any guard. If you think of any block then it is in actual fact at least one part of a circular motion. By stringing them all together into one large circle then you can theoretically sweep your entire periphery of attacks, though you will need to be incredibly fast to be able to do it quick enough. This is why tai chi favours so many circular movements, and they can also be used to get on top or behind the offence.

The other close combat training alternative is the one favoured by Bruce Lee. Referred to as a ‘stop hit’ in fencing and ‘the wedge’ and various other titles by those who claim to have invented it; this move skips the blocking stage entirely and goes straight to the repost. You have to be fast, but the idea is that when you see an attack coming you take the shorter line and hit them with a counter before they can hit you with theirs. Normally you take the centre line where possible and the act of punching becomes a block in itself. You can even side step and punch the offending limb – perhaps the elbow or knee cap of the limb attacking you (not head on against the fist or foot obviously). This will not only stop the punch, but subsequent ones as well. Alternatively, if the opponent is kicking you, you can choose to kick the other leg as it all their weight will be on that side and you can cause them to buckle and fall.

So yeah maybe a good offence is the best defence after all... but good old fashioned defence tends to work quite well too. And sometimes a good defence can be a good offence... Sheesh my head is spinning!

Mack LeMouse

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