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We recently worked on some consecutive, simple blocks. They were Roof on #1, Sweep on #2, Inside on #3 and X Block on #4. Once we worked on stepping to 12:00 and cutting off the strike, I had the students run the blocks in sequence. My emphasis was on establishing and pressing dominance while blocking. This means you have to rob your opponent of the attack. I told them my favorite phrase "Be the rock upon which your opponent's attack breaks". This is a tough concept for a lot of people to execute (hence the need to come train early and often) because it calls for establishing a new role in the martial arts play. That is the role of victor rather than victim. To execute the blocks effectively and break the opponents attack, you have to have the Bahala Na spirit and step into the attack. Many students tried to "block hard" by stepping to 10:00 and channeling their "aggressive" emotions. As I struck at them, it took very little effort to plow right past their blocks and smack them in the ribs, repeatedly. Even when they tried their hardest and really got their emotions worked up, they failed to even slow down the attack. The reason getting "fired up" didn't work is because Bahala Na is not a state of being, it is an action. That is to say, your emotional state of being is not technique. Once I adjusted the student's front foot over 6" (telling him to step to 11, not 12), his block was nearly perfect and you could see his opponent recoil from the well placed check. His efforts became less taxing, his timing impeccable. Best of all, there was no grimacing, no screaming or grunting, no anger; just clean, deliberate, effective blocking; controlled menace.

Understanding your role in the game is essential to victory. While training, remember that just getting your stick between his weapon and your body is not a block. And, if you use training blades, it will become very apparent how easy it is to get wounded if you don't take the fight away from your opponent. Try the multiple hits drill once in a while with your partners actually attacking to the target (no short shots, folks) and instead of backing away from the strike, drive the opponent backwards with your blocks. Make them re-set. Make them adapt to you, the "defender". Let them know that you can't be pushed around and that you are not afraid. No one ever said you had to stand there and get smacked around. That's just a beat down and not a training tool. No one ever said you had to block an attack that wasn't a threat and would miss if you just stood there. That's just compliance without reality and a stupid waste of time. Make your training count. You might miss a block or a check or two and get clocked but that's why we train. If everyone could do this the first time out, we would be living in a very different world.

Give it a try. Block hard.  Let me know what happens. GLM

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