Why Traditional Self Defense Blocks Don't Work – The Self Defense Company

Why Traditional Self Defense Blocks Don’t Work

Why Traditional Self Defense Blocks Don’t Work

Millions upon millions of martial artists think they can use traditional blocks to defend against a punch, kick or any attack for that matter.

But this little “bar trick” from the show Brain Games proves them all wrong.

[youtube id=”FoypZyibQro”]

Action is always faster than reaction.

In this demonstration the person going for the bill (in our case the defender) is trying to cover a just few inches to grab the dollar. Imagine trying to cover 12 inches or more to block a punch to your face when you’re adrenaline is flowing and you’re not even sure if the guy in front of you is going to attack.

In order to block in the street you need to:

  • First figure out if the guy is even going to attack you.
  • Next determine where the attack is coming from (hand or foot).
  • Then your eyes have to tell your brain to move the correct appendage.
  • Finally you need to intercept the attack and hope he doesn’t throw a second one!

Look, I have spent countless hours doing high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, reinforced high, low and middle blocks, second generation blocks, mountain blocks, and everything else under the sun.

Traditional Blocks are a complete waste of time.

Hey, if they worked I would use them, it doesn’t make any difference to me. 

I know I’m pissing a lot of people off, but think about it…do you ever use those blocks outside of the dojo…do you ever use them in sparring?

Would you throw a traditional high block against a 3 punch combination?

NO, way too slow. You cover, parry, move and clinch.

Plus in the ring you know they guy is going to attack you with a specific set of techniques. You can guess what he’s going to throw by watching him load up and by drawing him out with feints and jabs.

However,  you can’t do that forever. If he throws combinations and presses his attack he’s going to eventually land one. And one leads to two, two leads to three and three leads to floor.

Traditional blocks waste time and only work when your training partner tells you he’s going to attack. Yet millions of students are forced to do them every day. Instructors say that the traditional blocks “help” the other blocks.

They tend to use this excuse for everything they can’t explain.

If you want to practice moving, parrying and clinching for sport competition, then PRACTICE THAT.

If you want to use traditional blocks for self defense YOU WILL LOSE. Waiting for your attacker to actually throw a punch puts you one step behind him and if he’s a good street fighter, he’s going to attack with a barrage of punches. 

There are other smarter and more practical ways to protect yourself in the street.

Train Honestly,

Damian Ross
Instructor, The Self Defense Company

PS. Like my Grandfather Cosmo used to say…don’t throw the first punch, throw the first two punches. 


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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  1. The only “blocks” that work are not blocks. The edge of hand stroke is your only hope of a “block” per say. If you can react quick enough your only options are to move out the way or to strike the attacking appendage but you really can’t block it. Just smash it. And from what’s I’ve read on traditional arts is that their blocks weren’t originally meant as blocks they were meant to smash the arms or legs to try and break them.

  2. DJGroove You got it!

    Blocks are strikes that don’t hit their mark. Slashes are stabs that don’t hit their mark. :)

  3. Don’t throw the first punch, throw the last punch.  

    In my experience in the dojo the only way to throw an effective block is to have your hands up and your opponent far enough away that he has to telegraph his move.  But that implies a “fair” fight.  In a fight for your life there is no second place.

  4. MeFein MeFein  Right. I would put that in the sparring category. After all, you’re in the dojo, you know the guy in front of you is going to strike you (but you also know he’s not going to KILL YOU). 

    Plus having your hands already up suggests an untraditional block – and even then…if that guy tries to punch your head in with a barrage of attacks…you’re dead meat. 
    Best thing to do is to attack in a manner that provides cover combined with a forward drive. Attack and take ground…always be where he’s standing. 

    Thanks for posting. 
    Read more: https://www.myselfdefensetraining.com/why-traditional-self-defense-blocks-dont-work/#ixzz40cMVkXS4 
    Follow us: https://ec.tynt.com/b/rf?id=cJ8xDciWWr5ib8acwqm_6r&u=theselfdefenseco

  5. The obvious drawback to martial arts self-defense (although erroneously labeled as such) training is that you are in a controlled environment with a partner who is of the same skill level as yourself and has no desire to beat the ever-loving snot out of you. That as the expression goes, “just ain’t the reality of the world we live in.”

    True SELF-DEFENSE is when you are in the streets, and an unknown attacker decides for whatever reason that he simply wants to kick your ass.

    Now at that point you have 3 options.

    1- Run, and run faster than him and avoid getting your ass handed to you on a silver platter.
    2- Do nothing to protect yourself and get your ass beat.
    3- Take a stand, flick the little switch that resides in all of us that survival switch, and take the fight to him. And do it in a way where that SOB comes to the realization that he picked the wrong badass to mess with.

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  6. I’m not saying that it’s easy to block an attack with a traditional block but I don’t agree when you said that action is faster than reaction. First of all I think that blocking is not about reacting with reaction time, which takes seeing what is happening and making a decision, but more with reflexes that are more or less involuntary.
    The martial arts try to train the muscular memory by trying to repeat over and over again the same movement until it becomes engraved almost like any natural reflex. What I mean is that maybe those guys didn’t have the reaction time to react but if you put them to repeat the same game over and over again I’m sure they’ll get it.
    Also the reaction time is conditioned by factors such as lack of sleep or genetics (although they are supposed to have a reaction time of 250 ms, which is the average, which would allow them to catch it unless they have a reaction time of 450 or 500 ms).

    I think that martial arts should train more the blockades in sparring, that is to say, to put their students to block unpredictable blows for a long time.

    1. Thanks for posting – but unfortunately you’ve be taught to believe something that only works in the dojo.

      Action is faction than reaction is a law of physics and is fact.

      Under the controlled conditions of the dojo and sparring when you know your attacker is going to attack and especially in sparring when you’re face with a finite set of attacks – look you know your partner is going to throw a punch or a kick – you can manipulate distance to help reaction time – you can determine through his body position what technique he’s going to throw.(plus these are more like parries than anything else).

      But self defense ISN’T that at all.

      1. You’re not sure if he’s going to attack.
      2. It’s not going to be just one attack – but a barrage of attacks that are intended to injure you.

      The dojo, as challenging and fulfilling as it is, is NOT the real world. And thinking that you’ll have time under real world conditions when your SNS kicks in…well – that’s not going to happen. It just can’t.

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