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The 4 Main Types of Blocks in Karate

For martial arts students, there is an equal emphasis placed on blocking an opponent's strikes as there is on learning to attack. When blocking strikes, whether it be punches, kicks, elbows, knees, etc., there is often more than one technique. For most karate students, the four main types of strike defense they are initially taught include the high block, low block, inside block, and outer block.

Some martial arts schools will deviate slightly from others in regards to technique, but for the most part these four types of blocks are standardized across multiple martial arts disciplines. To learn more try doing some searches on YouTube for videos of martial arts practitioners performing each of these blocks, having a visual aid is a great benefit for learning proper form.

High blocking is a technique commonly used to defend downward strikes to the head, such as hammer fists, backhands, and axe kicks. When attempting to block a downward strike the arm is raised above the head, with a closed fist facing out, and the outer forearm is used to deflect the attack.

Low blocking is used to block and deflect strikes to the mid-body, such as roundhouse kicks, straight kicks, and hook punches. When blocking a mid-body strike, the arm moves from the guard position in a downward circular motion in an attempt to deflect the punch or kick with the back of the forearm.

Inside blocking is a great way to prevent straight attacks, including straight kicks, side kicks, and jab punches. To execute this defensive move, the arm turns inward from the guard position aiming to divert the strike away from the face and/or body by pushing it away with the outer forearm.

Outer blocking is the opposite movement of the inside block and is a great way to deflect an array of attacks, including roundhouse kicks, roundhouse punches, and spinning backhands. To perform an outer block, move the arm from the guard position outward so that the forearm makes contact with the strike, leaving a closed fist facing away from the body.

The best way to know which block to use against different punches and kicks is to practice regularly, not only at home in front of a mirror, but in sparring and practicing with other students. The goal of practicing is to train the mind and body's reaction to attacks, the more practice put in, the more the body will learn to instinctively react.

To learn more about martial arts in Chandler, please visit, a martial arts school offering self-defense and karate in Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona.

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Martial Arts Training Tips - Punching,

Blocking and Movement Skills

We're going to go through what is called martial arts combination 1. This is a natural and practical combination of movements that include striking, body movement, blocking and footwork.

1. Jab & Cross Punch

Jab with the front hand keeping your rear hand up protecting at all times then fire your cross punch twisting on your back foot. When you do the jab, pull your hand right back to your guard so your hand covers when you fire the cross punch, this should be applied to any of your punches.

2. Hook Punch & Cross Punch

When executing your hook focus on keeping your shoulder high and punching from your guard, so that you don't bring your arm back when punching, and therefore present a nice wide opening for your opponent to take advantage of. This is a common mistake to avoid. It's always best to practice your elbow first then add the hook to this if you're having a challenging time keeping your hook tight. Then fire your cross punch same as previous.

3. Bob & Weave

Evasive skills to move from punching attacks. When performing this movement lean your upper body forwards as if you're putting your head into your opponents chest. Keep your hands up protecting your head at all times; remember blocking with your head is never a good idea. Weave left and then right.

4. Body Blocks

This movement is used to defend against a hook or roundhouse kick to the body. This requires a short, sharp movement dropping your elbow to cover your side and bend your upper body to strengthen your defence. Focus on that short movement and bring your hand straight back up to your face so that your not open. Repeat on both sides.

5. Hook to the Body

When executing your punches turn your body into the target and have your palm facing you when punching. Keep your other hand up high to protect when punching. Repeat this on the both side.

How to train your Combination 1

-Once you have gone through the sections individually then put the whole combination together, in front of a mirror would be ideal.
-This combination lends itself well to using focus pads with a partner.
-You can also break down elements of the combination with a partner (body blocks and bob and weave)
-Once you have the combination down then begin to shadow box any of the combination in any order, using your imagination too.

Remember the harder you work the luckier you get. I look forward to working with you next month.

Lee Mainprize is a martial arts teachers, teacher. He helps beginners and students learn martial arts online and gives martial arts training tips and video techniques. Another great program is Lethal Fists a boxing for the street self defense system.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Lee Mainprize, I am a 5th Degree Black Belt. I have nearly a quarter century of martial arts training plus 15 years experience as a professional martial arts instructor. I am a Men's Health Magazine expert and recognized expert author for

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52 Blocks - The True American Martial Art

When discussing the various martial arts and fighting styles from around the world, the little known urban system of 52 Blocks, a variation of the more broad style Jailhouse Rock, has to enter the conversation. Researchers Daniel Marks and Kammau Hunter have argued that Jailhouse Rock may in fact be America's only "Native Martial Art." With an African influence and believed to have originated in the 17th and 18th centuries by slaves, 52 Blocks went on to evolve in the streets of Brooklyn and US prisons. The style focuses on close quarter techniques, similar to those self defense situations found in environments like prisons, restrooms, alleys, and hallways where movement would be limited.

As mentioned above, 52 Blocks, also called "52 Hand Blocks" and "The 52's", is part of a larger collection of fighting styles referred to as "JHR", or "Jailhouse Rock." 52 Blocks and their variants are similar to the martial arts of capoeira and savate, both of which were fighting systems associated with urban criminal subcultures, which underwent a gradual process of codification before becoming established as martial arts accessible by the mainstream. Other variations from the JHR collection are Comstock, San Quentin style, Mount Meg, and Stato, each name in reference to the prison that it was started at. As it gained popularity and exposure in the early 70's, Jail House Rock seems to have first showed up in the media in an article on Martial Arts in prison called, "KARATE IN PRISON: Menace, or Means of Spiritual Survival?," in Black Belt Magazine from July, 1974.

Despite wide belief, 52 Blocks is not a style of Western boxing, nor is it Wing Chun mixed with Western boxing. Considered a defensive style that creates openings for offense through constant movement, the fighter blocks/catches punches with the forearms and elbows. Short power punches, flowing movement, and counter striking are all aspects of 52 that are emphasised, while using sharp and evasive footwork. Unlike boxing but similar to Muay Thai, the elbows are commonly used to strike the opponent.

Much of the argument and conflicting information about 52 Blocks stems from whether or not the style has been influenced at all by "uprocking" or what most of us call breakdancing. Some believe this link is the aspect of some of the fighting techniques inspired by or copied from the "diss moves" taken from the Brooklyn Rock or uprock style of breakdancing. It looks like you can find as many sources stating these links between 52 and urban dancing as you can to the contrary, making it the subject on 52 with the most conflicting information.

As many practitioners of 52 have felt that their system has long been overlooked, it's now is starting to take its rightful place in martial arts history, the product of longtime growing media coverage. Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight, is one of the high profile boxers to first endorse 52 and professional boxers including Mike Tyson Zab Judah, and Bernard Hopkins have testified to the existence of the style, giving it a voice of legitimacy from true fighters. Rashad Evans, former light heavyweight champion in the UFC, has also promoted 52 and its effectiveness.

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Fundamental Boxing Punches

Chances are when you wanted to learn how to box, boxing punching is the part that excited you. And for good reason - punching is exciting.

Punching is an exhilarating explosion of energy and muscle that is part raw ferocity, but also part trained precision.

Basic Boxing Punches

Boxing punches are typically assigned numbers so that when training you can refer to and call out punches quickly and without confusion. Depending on your trainer, different numbers might correspond to different punches. The following is a basic and standard numbering system which many other systems use as a base.

  1. Left Jab
  2. Straight Right/Right Cross
  3. Left Hook
  4. Right Hook
  5. Left Uppercut
  6. Right Uppercut

You will notice a few things about these numbers..

First of all, all of the odd-numbered punches are thrown with your left hand, and all of the even-numbered punches are thrown with your right hand.

Second, these punches are in pairs (1&2, 3&4, 5&6) that are the same, or similar punches but thrown with the opposite hand. These pairs often serve as building blocks for effective punching combinations.

Fighting "Southpaw"

If you are a southpaw (left-handed) fighter these punches are all thrown with the opposite hands. For example, the number 1 is a right jab, the 2 is a left cross/straight, the 3 is a right hook, etc. Your stance will also be opposite (in respect to left-right direction) that of a orthodox (right-handed) fighter.

How to Throw Punches

1 - Left Jab

The jab is the most important punch in boxing because it is used both offensively and defensively and is used to set up other punches. The jab should be thrown almost continually throughout a fight. It serves to keep the other boxer on edge, get a feel for the distance between you, and to expose vulnerabilities that your opponent might open when he reacts to your jab. Additionally, jabs are often thrown to counter an opponent's punch, and to protect yourself while pivoting or retreating.

To throw the jab, shoot your left hand in a straight line outwards from your chin. You do not want to use your elbow to generate power, but rather your shoulder. Think of your arm as a coiled spring.

On contact, the back of your hand should be parallel to the ground and you want to make contact with the knuckles of the pointer and middle finger primarily. Your fist should be relaxed, and tighten just before impact.

Because you are vulnerable with an arm extended, your must quickly "recoil the spring," pulling your hand back into a guard.

2 - Right Cross/Straight

The cross, or straight, is the notorious knockout punch. If you have heard the saying "The old 1-2," this is what it is referring to - jab, cross. The cross is thrown with the same "coiled spring" concept as the jab, with the additional factor of torque provided by your shoulders and and hips. The straight can be extremely powerful, but that also makes it easy to over extend and leave yourself vulnerable. Because the cross takes longer to throw, it should almost always be thrown after a jab or other punch, so that your opponent has a hard time reacting or seeing it coming.

To throw a cross, turn your upper body towards your opponent by pivoting on your back foot and rotating your hips. Do not lunge forward with your body as this will leave you vulnerable.

As your back shoulder rotates forward, extend your arm like a coiled spring. Upon impact the top of your hand should be parallel to the ground. Keep your fist relaxed until just before impact.

Throughout the punch, maintain your guard with your left hand near your chin. After impact, quickly recoil your arm, and pivot back into your normal stance and guard.

3 - Left Hook

The left hook is a punch that can be both quick and powerful. Lenedary trainer Freddy Roach once said that he would rather have a strong left hook than a right cross, because of its proximity to the opponent (being your front hand). The left hook can catch your opponent off guard, can catch them on their chin, or be thrown to the body. It works well at close range, or in response to a punch thrown by your opponent that leaves them exposed.

To throw a left hook transfer your weight briefly to your left side. It is important that you do not swing your body in this direction, but simply transfer weight subtly.

Quickly use your weight on the left foot to pivot back to the right, raising your elbow, and punching across your body with your arm parallel to the ground. Your arm should be bent at approximately a 90 degree angle. Your arm should be tight to your body, and not extended far.

The top of your fist can either be facing your opponent or parallel with the ground, but should be flat and in-line with your forearm.

Be careful not to over-extend yourself to your right leaving yourself vulnerable, and make sure to keep your right hand at your chin maintaining your guard throughout the punch.

4 - Right Hook

The right hook is similar to the left hook, but can be more challenging to use because it is coming from your rear hand, making it slower. It is often used in combinations with the left hook, and while fighting at close range.

Throwing a right hook is done just like the left hook, but with directions reversed.

To throw a right hook, transfer your weight briefly to your right side. Quickly use that weight to then pivot left, while raising your elbow and punching across your body with your elbow bent. Keep your arm tight to your body and not extended far.

Make sure not to over-extend and leave yourself vulnerable, and to maintain your guard with your left hand near your chin throughout the punch.

5 - Left Uppercut

Uppercuts can be very dangerous punches, that are typically thrown when fighting in close range, or in response to a punch thrown by your opponent. Uppercuts can be knockout punches if they connect with the chin, but are also used rapidly to the body which can significantly harm an opponents balance and strength. Like hooks, uppercuts should be tight and controlled because you will be vulnerable if thrown wildly and over-extended.

To throw a left uppercut (front hand) dip slightly to your left at your waist. Raise your back heel, put pressure on the ball of your front foot, and dip your left elbow slightly.

Rotate your fist upwards, and explode up in a sharp movement from the front foot. Do not over-extend your arm, but keep it close with a sharp bend in the elbow.

Maintain your guard with your right hand throughout the punch, and pull your left arm back into your guard as soon as it carries through.

You arm should remain close to your body, and not dip excessively low, or carry through excessively high.

6 - Right Uppercut

As the right hook mirrors the left hook, so the right uppercut mirrors the left uppercut. It is thrown in the same situations as the left uppercut, and often in combination with the left uppercut to work an opponents body.

To throw a right uppercut, dip slightly right at your waist. Raise your front heel, put pressure on the ball on your back foot, and dip your right elbow slightly.

Rotate your fist up, and explode upwards in a sharp movement from your back foot. Maintain your guard with your left hand throughout the punch, and pull your right hand back into a guard after it carries through.

The Danger of Over-extending

Over-extending can mean two things, both of which are dangers you need to avoid.

First, over-extending can refer to swinging a punch farther away from your body that it is meant to be thrown. This is commonly done with hooks and uppercuts. This makes the punch easy to avoid, and leaves your body wide open to be attacked.

Second, over-extending can refer to extending your arm (in a jab or cross) to the point where your elbow locks out. In practice or shadowboxing, if you throw your punches to full extension, you will hurt your elbow. Your punches should end prior to full extension of your arm.

Number Variations

Typical variations in number systems involve changes to hooks and uppercuts. Some systems differentiate between a high hook thrown at an opponent's head, and a low hook thrown at an opponent's body. In such a system, 3 might be a high left hook, 4 a high right hook, 5 a low left hook, 6 a low right hook, with 7 and 8 assigned to uppercuts. Additionally, some schemes will differentiate between head and body jabs, or might assign a number to the overhead punch that is thrown with the right hand.

Don't stop there! Take your game to the next level by learning advanced techniques that win fights, or learning more about the basics of how to box.

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