There’s a saying in martial arts that all blocks are secretly strikes. One meaning of that saying is that a formal block like you would see in a kata or form is designed to both protect yourself and injure the limb of the attacker. Because of this, martial arts “blocks” often appear slow when viewed as “only blocks.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have evasion as a defensive tactic. Today we’re going to look at a pair of defensive drills that will teach movement and positioning as the first line of defense. After all, the best block is to not be there! So with that mindset, here are two drills where you aren’t allowed to block, only jam and evade.
Punch Jam and Evade
Both participants get in fighting stances except one person has their hands down at their sides. The participant with their hands up is allowed to punch and the other person must defend themselves using only distance and evasion.
The defender must try to read when the attacker is going to punch. They should look for the first sign of movement then immediately change their positioning. When stepping, don’t forget to use forward (for jamming), backwards (for retreating, see picture), and sideways movement. Using every direction and constantly moving will make it very difficult for the attacker.
Kick Jam and Evade
Both participants get in fighting stances with their hands down at their sides. One person is allowed to kick and the other must defend themselves using only distance and evasion.
When stepping, don’t forget to use forward (for jamming, see picture), backwards (for retreating), and sideways movement. Using every direction and constantly moving will make it very difficult for the attacker.
Distance is very important for this drill. The defender must stay outside of kicking distance when retreating or be too close when jamming. When sidestepping, be aware that roundhouses can catch you by surprise.
Blocks Are a Last Resort
I personally wouldn’t want to block a full power roundhouse with my forearm, I’d rather get out of the way! These drills teach good habits for defense in sparring, and realistic habits for self defense.