Well, I've joined forces with BBM and some other MA bloggers to write every day for a month. However, I will be cheating since I also have another blog that will be included as well. So, let's say every other day will most likely be a MA blog. Sorry, I'm cheating!!!
For today I would like to continue talking about blocking. In our system we have four primary blocks that we begin with : agay (spelled wrong since I do not have my book in front of me), soto, uchi and gedan barai. They are called the hachi ban uki (also spelled wrong, my deepest apologies!) and we do them over and over and over with heavy emphasis on mushimi, or heavy rubbing. Mushimi is incredibly important in our system and if the upper belts are caught not utilizing it at every turn we do push-ups. But, hey, who's complaining about buff arms....not me. Mushimi is especially important in a self-defense situation where sticking (literally) to your opponent places them off balance and allows you to always maintain balance and hara connection. Mushimi begins with the block. With the upper rising block, agay, the arm is energized and mushimi allows you to uproot the uke, at which point you can continue to push the arm back and wrap it or just keep it off to the side. The same goes for the lower blocks, but in this case the uke becomes off-balance towards the tori. There is also the kage uke (hook block), the mountain block, the snake block and a block where you place your hands together, palms facing you, as if you were making a bird shadow and press outwards against an attack. My favorites are the snake block, which is performed to the outside of the punch and allows you to then mushimi down the arm and grab the wrist, and the kage uke.
With blocking we are taught to perform soft, not hard. With this softness I find that it is easier to place the uke off balance, much like an aikido move uses the uke's energy against them. I do not know much about aikido and have only done a little, but from what I've seen our blocks are very similar to aikido moves. The softness also allows the tori to maintain flow, which to me is a much more efficient way of moving against an attack. If I defend hard my energy goes right to my upper body and I lose hara connection. Once this happens the techniques are no longer going to work the way you want them to. With hara connection and mushimi you are insured against losing connection with the uke and will have a much easier time with stun, rip/tear and project. This is how we defend. We block and stun, rip/tear with a combination and then project the uke to the ground or away from us. The projection of course comes with more than a few years of practice and I'm still battling with it. I will most likely always be battling with projection. But, that's for another post!!!