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Thread: Closed fist whilst blocking

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    Default Closed fist whilst blocking

    so a thread on MartialTalk (vertical vs horizontal punching, and fist configurations) has prompted me to ask this question:

    For the purposes of this discussion let's assume the basic hammering inward block. Why then, must the fist be closed when blocking? We are striking with the forearm not the fist, so a basic outlook would suggest it should make no difference (but of course, it does).

    I already have a vague appreciation of why we block with a closed fist....it's something to do with how the clenched fist communicates to the rest of the body on how it should be structured to support the arm. But I can't understand it any further than that. Of course it's stronger but why? And it's one thing to say to a student "close that damned fist when you block!!!!" but another thing entirely to explain why it is important.

    Any takers? Ideally I'd like a list of reading material that I could read (from introductory to whatever is necessary to get to the point) but does such a book exist? Some kind of psysiotherapy book maybe? I kind of get the impression that information on this subject is so scattered that it takes years of experience in diverse disciplines to really get a handle on it all....

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Can't answer all your questions. But I can say that, the way Kenpo blocks are structured, the blocking arm is much more anatomically solid if the fist is closed AS the block lands. It should be open in chamber (in practice) and through the allignment sequence, then close as the block is aplied.

    The Kaju school here does their blocks with an open hand. However, their blocks are more sweeping and the angle at the elbow is more open, arm more extended. Structurally, with the extended arm, the open hand works better. They lean out to create distance when they block- not an in close system. It is more effective than it sounds, but in my opinion not nearly as effective or versatile as Kenpo blocks. I did consider training with them, though, because the blocks are much easier on my body.

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesB View Post
    so a thread on MartialTalk (vertical vs horizontal punching, and fist configurations) has prompted me to ask this question:

    For the purposes of this discussion let's assume the basic hammering inward block. Why then, must the fist be closed when blocking? We are striking with the forearm not the fist, so a basic outlook would suggest it should make no difference (but of course, it does).

    I already have a vague appreciation of why we block with a closed fist....it's something to do with how the clenched fist communicates to the rest of the body on how it should be structured to support the arm. But I can't understand it any further than that. Of course it's stronger but why? And it's one thing to say to a student "close that damned fist when you block!!!!" but another thing entirely to explain why it is important.

    Any takers? Ideally I'd like a list of reading material that I could read (from introductory to whatever is necessary to get to the point) but does such a book exist? Some kind of psysiotherapy book maybe? I kind of get the impression that information on this subject is so scattered that it takes years of experience in diverse disciplines to really get a handle on it all....
    Margin for error states you close the hand for safety's sake.
    Sean

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by KenpoChanger View Post
    Margin for error states you close the hand for safety's sake.
    Sean
    ok, you mean in case the fingers get caught whilst blocking? Does this then imply that the block would be stronger with the hand open - but we choose to keep it closed for beginners/training purposes?

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    Nighttrain is offline
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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    I teach beginners to block with their fist closed because the ends of fingers can get jammed or caught up in clothing while doing the block. You only have to catch your finger once to understand that principle.
    Pat

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by thedan View Post
    The Kaju school here does their blocks with an open hand. However, their blocks are more sweeping and the angle at the elbow is more open, arm more extended. Structurally, with the extended arm, the open hand works better. They lean out to create distance when they block- not an in close system. Dan C
    hmmm thats interesting. The extended arm with hand open is akin to the structure used for a handsword I'd say. But I just can't get my head around this stuff; every so often I get a rush of questions in my head but can never figure it all out lol :-)

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesB View Post
    hmmm thats interesting. The extended arm with hand open is akin to the structure used for a handsword I'd say. But I just can't get my head around this stuff; every so often I get a rush of questions in my head but can never figure it all out lol :-)
    Yes, it is very much like a handsword. The anatomical structuring sequence of their blocks is very similar to what Doc has shared about SL-4 blocks. The difference is they sweep more, and if you picture the 'box' in front of you, the corners are extended out a little more than Kenpo's box. And where our extended outward block flows through a vertical outward, then an outward, then arcs around to the extended outward, theirs starts at the opposite corner and just sweeps across the front of the box to the near side corner. You'd probably have to see it to really get the picture, but it would resemble a left outward handsword "chambered" at the right corner of the box and delivered to the left corner of said box.

    Nighttrain, wouldn't anatomical considerations dictate that senior students block with a closed hand also? Unless, of course, you do Kaju style blocks.

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesB View Post
    ok, you mean in case the fingers get caught whilst blocking? Does this then imply that the block would be stronger with the hand open - but we choose to keep it closed for beginners/training purposes?
    Even experts make mistakes in the heat of battle, stuff happens; why take our seatbelts off just because we are better drivers than everyone else, and screw stop signs, I have eyes! I think you may end up having a reason to have an open hand; so, by all means keep it open, but unless you have a reason we should naturaly protect the fingers as part of the "minimize your targets" clause of Margin for error.
    sean

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    For the purposes of this discussion let's assume the basic hammering inward block. Why then, must the fist be closed when blocking? We are striking with the forearm not the fist, so a basic outlook would suggest it should make no difference (but of course, it does).....


    Actually that block with a closed fist (what’s the exact physiology of that closed fist?) is a retarded block that we only teach to virgin students on their second intro lesson, and then we forget about it forever.

    1. It is slow.

    2. Its motion is restricted.

    3. It is limited in function.

    It does have ONE attribute. Beginner’s are safer doing it first so the can learn the movement of the arm. Once that is learned go beyond it.

    Then what do we do instead?

    Well you mentioned the “hammering inward block” above.

    What physiology does that hand have?

    What is the physiology of the pisaform strike?

    Are you heel palm blocking?

    Are you ulna bone blocking, and if so, which part of the timing and location of that particular block?

    Sincerely,
    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette


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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Can't answer all your questions. But I can say that, the way Kenpo blocks are structured, the blocking arm is much more anatomically solid if the fist is closed AS the block lands. It should be open in chamber (in practice) and through the alignment sequence, then close as the block is applied.


    Not always so.

    Clenching the fist will lock the wrist. That’s what you are talking about.

    You can lock the wrist without clenching the fist, and the flexed wrist striking block is virtually twice as fast and as strong (if not stronger) than the clenched fist block.

    And on both you lock the body behind the block by:

    1. Having proper movement,
    2. Timing,
    3. Centering,
    4. Positioning
    5. Mental focus through
    6. And bamboo breathing.

    With the above Master Keys they both work.

    One still works much better.

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    I'm a little confused.
    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    Actually that block with a closed fist (what’s the exact physiology of that closed fist?) is a retarded block that we only teach to virgin students on their second intro lesson, and then we forget about it forever.
    1. It is slow.
    2. Its motion is restricted.
    3. It is limited in function.
    ...
    Are you talking about doing the inward block with a closed fist from chamber to strike? Then I'd agree. If not, I'd have to (cautiously) disagree, but would be very curiouse about why you'd think that. Of course, slow to you might be blazin' to me, so we might not be talking the same thing here.

    Then what do we do instead?
    Well you mentioned the “hammering inward block” above.
    What physiology does that hand have?
    Same as a hammerfist.
    What is the physiology of the pisaform strike?
    Why would you block with the pisiform bone of the wrist? Not something I'm familiar with.

    Are you heel palm blocking?
    That would be a parry or a pressing check, correct?

    Are you ulna bone blocking, and if so, which part of the timing and location of that particular block?
    Generally, yes, the block should contact mid-ulna. Timing would depend, but often catches the striking arm on its withdrawel. Not a problem as "blocks" should do something besides stop a strike. We generally move so as not to get hit. The "block" disrupts, checks, covers, destroys, ...


    I prefer the term "reception" to "block." Reception implies that you do something with his striking arm. Block just stops the strike, often too late if you didn't move the target first. My view, from down here at the bottom.

    Dan C

    Edit: unless, of course, you are opening the angle at the elbow, similar to what I described in Kaju. That is definately better structured with an open hand.
    Last edited by thedan; 04-10-2007 at 10:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Margin for error states you close the hand for safety's sake. Sean
    Yep.
    For a time or two.
    Only for a day or two, then after they get the timing and positioning down, go to the more advanced version.

    Even children with "trainer's wheels" take them off after they've got their balance.

    Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    Clenching the fist will lock the wrist. That’s what you are talking about.

    You can lock the wrist without clenching the fist, and the flexed wrist striking block is virtually twice as fast and as strong (if not stronger) than the clenched fist block.

    And on both you lock the body behind the block by:

    1. Having proper movement,
    2. Timing,
    3. Centering,
    4. Positioning
    5. Mental focus through
    6. And bamboo breathing.
    When I block, I keep the hand open until the moment of contact. At that time, clenching the fist seems to me to give much better structure in the entire arm. But I'd be really interested in hearing how you do the block so as to get that structure with an open hand.

    Proper movment, I follow the PNF sequencing that Doc Chapel espouses, as much as I can with limmited knowlege in that method.

    Timing, block and stance all solidifying at the same time.

    Centering, elbow well anchored at center line.

    Positioning, to control central line.

    Mental focus, clarity of thought and action.

    Bamboo breathing I'm not sure of. For that matter, I'm not sure I'm on the same track with the rest of it either. It is just how I see your meaning. Feel free to correct or expand.

    Thanks.

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Even experts make mistakes in the heat of battle, stuff happens; why take our seatbelts off just because we are better drivers than everyone else, and screw stop signs, I have eyes!
    Actually I do NOT believe in seat belts, even though there is a law that makes seat belts mandatory, and they punish you if they catch you.

    So I put the strap over my shoulder so I don't get a ticket.

    Rules must be valid to me before I do them.

    I also abhore wearing a helmet when I ride my motorcycle.

    With a helmet one of the primary reasons for riding is gone, the FEELING of being FREE.

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    Actually I do NOT believe in seat belts, even though there is a law that makes seat belts mandatory, and they punish you if they catch you.

    So I put the strap over my shoulder so I don't get a ticket.

    Rules must be valid to me before I do them.

    I also abhore wearing a helmet when I ride my motorcycle.

    With a helmet one of the primary reasons for riding is gone, the FEELING of being FREE.

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette
    Now on those points, sir, I agree!

    Seat belts work, but laws that say you must do anything for your own protection are arbitrary and opressive.

    Helmets are downright dangerouse. I've had several motorcycle accidents. One for sure I'd have died if I'd been wearing a helmet (hangmans' noose analogy). One I almost totaled a 74 and crushed my leg. I got to watch the skid plate chase me as I did shoulder rolls along the asphalt. Not a scratch on the stupid helmet. And even if the things did help, they make it more likely that you will get into an accident.

    What's this got to do with blocking? Nothing. You just hit a button.

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    Actually I do NOT believe in seat belts, even though there is a law that makes seat belts mandatory, and they punish you if they catch you.

    So I put the strap over my shoulder so I don't get a ticket.

    Rules must be valid to me before I do them.

    I also abhore wearing a helmet when I ride my motorcycle.

    With a helmet one of the primary reasons for riding is gone, the FEELING of being FREE.

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette
    The new generations will never know a world without helmet, or the joy of being a kid locked in a car with two smoking parents. Now there was freedom. LOL I am simply stating fingers closed until you have a reason to do otherwise. I am intrigued by the open handed blocking concepts you mentioned. For me, the concept blocking and striking is kind of blured; so, I would agree closed fist blocking may be a beginners step.
    Sean

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    When I block, I keep the hand open until the moment of contact. At that time, clenching the fist seems to me to give much better structure in the entire arm. Dan C


    Well I wish I could use you as my Uke, then you’d feel it;-)

    Maybe at the Gathering of Eagles?

    Anyway.

    There are two basic ways to position your thumb when you clench the fist.

    One is slow because it locks too much of your blocking forearm, i.e., like you are pulling.

    Pulling is an incorrect Master Key for a block.

    When you clench your fist and your thumb is clenched over the index and middle fingers, you are using the forearm muscles for pulling. They are the muscles that are attached to the fore-elbow.

    Try it a couple of times and notice by doing (as Dave says).

    The other one is fast.

    This is like holding an ink pen lightly in your fist (loose), with your thumb above the “clicker” of the ink pen.

    So when you block, it is NOT so much a clenching of the fist but your thumb pushing the “clicker” of a very solid ink pen as you hold the ink pen in your fist.

    It is sort of like you are stabbing him with an ink pen and the thumb on top keeps the ink pen from squirting out of your grasp.

    That type of motion will ram your ulna into the oncoming punch.

    Try it a couple of times without an opponent, then do it at about ½ speed with an Uke.

    1. Be sure to Chi Kung step
    2. (Move your left foot to quadrant 4 as you pivot your body CCW)
    3. at their punches point of no return
    4. As you block so you have massive body power complementing the power of your arm,
    5. Your wrist twist CCW,
    6. Timing positioning on the end of their strike
    7. (Preferably for beginner’s the wrist or within 2 inches of the wrist, but for old timers you should be “catching” that punch easily),
    8. Tan tien slightly flexed down,
    9. So the shoulders are slightly flexed forward,
    10. Blab, blab, blab.

    Once you can easily and safely do that, then we can move on to something even much faster and effective with many different variations.

    Again, doing it to you, and letting you feel it takes much less time than writing this out for you.

    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette


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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by thedan View Post
    Now on those points, sir, I agree!
    Helmets are downright dangerouse. I've had several motorcycle accidents. One for sure I'd have died if I'd been wearing a helmet (hangmans' noose analogy). One I almost totaled a 74 and crushed my leg. I got to watch the skid plate chase me as I did shoulder rolls along the asphalt. Not a scratch on the stupid helmet. And even if the things did help, they make it more likely that you will get into an accident.
    What's this got to do with blocking? Nothing. You just hit a button.
    Dan C
    What does my "story" have to do with blocking?

    EVERYTHING!

    That story was isomorphic to the rules of blocking that most of old guys were taught back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

    Many of those rules are just that, a motorcycle helmet rule.

    You got it!
    ©Dr. John M. La Tourrette
    Ps. Hay Dave, how's my Ericksonian?

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by Nighttrain View Post
    I teach beginners to block with their fist closed because the ends of fingers can get jammed or caught up in clothing while doing the block. You only have to catch your finger once to understand that principle.
    Pat
    Yep,
    Good for beginners.
    When are they NOT a beginner?
    They get one day of a closed fist block in my schools.
    And when I do get someone in from some other school (even Kenpo) they almost all have that damned clenched fist block.
    Ugh.
    So slow.
    So inflexible.
    So weak when compared to the other variation.
    Oh well.
    Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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    Default Re: Closed fist whilst blocking

    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    What does my "story" have to do with blocking? EVERYTHING! That story was isomorphic to the rules of blocking that most of old guys were taught back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.
    Should've known! But who thinks when buttons are being pushed- besides psyche docs, probably ...
    Quote Originally Posted by John M. La Tourrette View Post
    ... There are two basic ways to position your thumb when you clench the fist. One is slow because it locks too much of your blocking forearm, i.e., like you are pulling. Pulling is an incorrect Master Key for a block.

    When you clench your fist and your thumb is clenched over the index and middle fingers, you are using the forearm muscles for pulling. They are the muscles that are attached to the fore-elbow. Try it a couple of times and notice by doing (as Dave says).

    The other one is fast. This is like holding an ink pen lightly in your fist (loose), with your thumb above the “clicker” of the ink pen. So when you block, it is NOT so much a clenching of the fist but your thumb pushing the “clicker” of a very solid ink pen as you hold the ink pen in your fist. It is sort of like you are stabbing him with an ink pen and the thumb on top keeps the ink pen from squirting out of your grasp. That type of motion will ram your ulna into the oncoming punch.
    OK, I'm not really supposed to be doing this right now, but sometimes things just gotta get done. I tried your suggestions a little bit, and will do more with a partner later. Preliminary findings and thoughts:

    You are correct, I think, about the capped fist (ink pen analogy) vs. the regular fist when blocking with the outward rotation as you describe. Further, the open hand seems to work better with this outward rotation. This is very similar to a pressing check, which would be done with a heel palm.

    With the outward rotation and the standard clenched fist, even when it is clenched only at impact, I feel a lot of lateral tension at the upper arm and shoulder.

    Not sure I'm ready to agree about pulling being incorrect. If you mean the thumb pulling in the clinched position with the outward rotation, probably yes. If you mean hooking the block inward is incorrect, that would take a lot of convincing to get me to agree. That can be an extremely effective block, and works much better with a clinched fist.

    But I'm willing to give it a go. Worst thing that can happen is I'll learn something. Thanks for the info.

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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