Ensure that you have good stability in order to avoid losing balance when moving.
Generally you achieve stability by not crossing your legs. There are exceptions, such as when running from a confrontation or when executing certain kicks (crossover sidekick, for example). A great benefit of 52 Blocks based movement is the ability to achieve a position of superiority that limits your opponent’s movement. Movement should be smooth (to avoid telegraphing your intent) and efficient and executed in such a way that you can switch direction with ease. Good 52 Blocks movement can help you gain an edge on a stronger opponent.
Exercise 1—Speed and Power When moving, pay attention to how well you maintain your stance. Do you have a tendency to get into a wide or narrow (nearly unbalanced) stance? What can you do to remedy the situation? Which foot should you step with first, and why? What are the exceptions? What can you achieve by varying the speed of your movement? Name some situations when it would benefit you to move faster or more slowly. How can you take advantage of a weakness in your opponent’s defense by varying the speed of your footwork? Experiment with how to close distance by moving diagonally toward your opponent instead of in a straight line. Does this type of movement give you superior positioning? What are the benefits and drawbacks? Is it easier or more difficult to strike with power when using lateral movement? Why? Is it wise to throw a strike or kick simultaneous to stepping forward or back? Name some situations when it might be beneficial to conceal your movement by getting your opponent to focus on offense. Explore the dangers associated with striking simultaneous to stepping.
Exercise 2—Momentum How can you use movement to your advantage when your opponent grabs your wrist and pulls? Going with the motion of your opponent’s force allows you to use momentum against him. How can you redirect his force through the use of circular movement? Experiment with stepping laterally or in a circular motion in the direction of the pull. What would be a good follow-up strike or kick? Are you ever at risk of losing balance? What can you do about it? Stepping back can help us avoid an attack. Is it also possible to avoid an attack by stepping forward? Identify strikes that work best from long range. Explore how to stifle the power in these strikes by moving forward and jamming them. Name three situations, other than to avoid an attack, when it would benefit you to step back. One example would be to create distance and lure your opponent to come forward and into your strike. Give more examples.
Exercise 3—Distance Most of us have a natural and invisible circle of safety that we don’t want others to invade. If your opponent steps toward you, you have a natural tendency to step back. When would it benefit you to defeat this tendency and allow your opponent into your personal space? How would you train yourself to feel comfortable fighting at close range? Name five 52 Blocks techniques you can use if you end up uncomfortably close to your opponent. Experiment with using distractions to gain an opportunity to flee. What types of distractions would you use, and what types of follow-up techniques can help you?
Exercise 4—Centerline Some of the best targets are located along your opponent’s centerline. Name these targets. How would you move so as to gain free access to his centerline? What are the dangers of working along your opponent’s centerline? Experiment with approaching your opponent from the side rather than the front. How would you position yourself in order to attack centerline targets without jeopardizing your own safety? Name some ways in which you can gain superiority by relying on the element of surprise. How would you use multiple strikes to break your opponent’s focus and create a weakness in his defense? Are you still at danger of being struck or grabbed? How can you guard against his offense? When is it beneficial to pause briefly between strikes?
LEARNING CLOSED- AND OPEN-FIST STRIKES You can strike a variety of targets with either your lead or rear hand. Your lead hand is generally faster than your rear hand because of its proximity to your opponent, and can be used as a set-up or to score a quick point. Your rear hand has the ability to develop power through a longer distance. Strikes can also be with a closed or open fist. The body mechanics for different types of strikes remain largely the same.
Open-fist strikes include palm strikes, forearm strikes and shutos (knife-edge strikes). Palm strikes and forearm strikes are often used as softening blows or to take an opponent off balance in preparation for a takedown or throw. Open-fist strikes can also be used as distracting slaps to soft tissue areas, including the ears. Shutos generally aim for specific and small targets that are not easily reached with a regular punch.
Palm strikes generally cover a larger surface area than closed-fist 52 Blocks strikes or shutos, and can be further broken down into soft-and hard-palm strikes. The soft-palm strike utilizes the entire area of the hand and fingers, and the hard palm strike utilizes the smaller heel of the palm. Soft palm strikes are generally used to send a shock wave through the target. Hard-palm strikes are generally used to break or dislocate joints, and are commonly utilized against the elbows, chin and nose.
Exercise 1—Power Observe how pivoting your foot, hip and body places weight behind the strike. How does it increase your power? Examine the position of your elbow in relation to your body. If you bring your elbow away from your body, at what point does power loss occur? When would it benefit you to throw a quick lead-hand strike without a pivot? Give some examples. Identify why power is sacrificed if a strike does not impact the target from a straight line. What can you do to ensure straightness when striking? Experiment with accelerating the lead hand strike in conjunction with many small steps forward. What strategic advantages can you gain from pressing the attack? How can you avoid sacrificing power for speed?
Exercise 2—Hand Position What are the benefits and drawbacks of bringing your hand back to a position other than the point of origin after you
In what types of situations would this benefit you? The soft palm strike is more than a slap, and can do significant damage when thrown to the temples or body. If thrown to the body, can it shock your opponent into submission? Experiment with throwing the soft-palm strike in a relaxed mariner. Allow your arm and wrist to act as a whip. How can you place your bodyweight behind the strike?
Exercise 4—Targets Practice soft-palm strikes to a variety of targets on the body and head (practice on a bag or dummy when striking the head). Practice palm strikes in combinations to high and low targets. Look for have landed the strike? How can you use your hand position during the returning motion of the strike to your advantage, for example, as a block, strike or grab? Identify ways to defend against a flurry of strikes. How can you take advantage of your opponent’s lack of energy conservation? Identify ways to counter his attack while using your nonstriking hand to cover your openings.
Exercise 3—Soft-Palm Strike Experiment with leaving an open-fist strike in contact with the target momentarily. How does the energy transfer from the strike to the target? If the strike results in a push, you are relying on momentum more than on kinetic energy. Ways to use the double palm strike as a defense against a grab (front choke, bear hug, lapel grab, etc.). Discuss the possibility of throwing both palm strikes simultaneously, such as to your opponent’s ears. What response is this likely to create? How can you follow up when your opponent reacts to the strike?
Exercise 5—Hard-Palm Strike Practice the hard-palm strike on a focus mitt, impacting with the heel of your palm. The strike can be short and snappy as when attempting to break a joint, or maintain a longer time of impact as when attempting to push your opponent off balance. Identify exactly which part of your opponent’s aim to impact when attempting to break his elbow. Experiment with manipulating your opponent’s balance by pushing the heel of your palm against his chin. Discuss ways to use the hard-palm strike against an opponent on the ground. What are the best targets for pinning an opponent to the floor or wall? Discuss why the neck is inherently weak and how to immobilize your opponent’s body by pinning his head.
Exercise 6—Knife Edge Strike Identify targets for the shuto and ridge hand strikes. Explain the difference between a shuto and a ridge hand (the shuto impact with the outside knife edge of the hand; the ridge hand with the inside knife edge or thumb side) and demonstrate correct hand position to avoid injury. Experiment with minute changes in hand position. How do they affect your strength and power? Experiment with using body momentum to increase power.