Traditionally, Taekwondo, as do most hard Karate styles, uses single bone forearm blocks where the edges of the forearm make contact, such the inner forearm block and the outer forearm block. Blocks are viewed as also being strikes that may do damage as well as block. If you block correctly, the pain may cause the attacker to reconsider any more attacks. Some Karate styles, such as Isshin-Ryu, block using double bone blocks where the top or bottom bones and muscles of the forearm make contact. These stylists train using arm conditioning exercises until their muscles seem as hard as bones.
With the inner forearm block, the inner forearm (and palm) faces upward and, if the block moves outward, the striking surface is the radius bone that extends down the thumb side of the forearm. If the block moves inward, the striking surface is the ulna bone that extends down the little finger side of the forearm. With the outer forearm block, the outer forearm (and knuckles) faces upward. If the block moves outward, the striking surface is the ulna; if moving inward the striking surface is the radius.
At and near the wrist, these bones have little muscle or fat padding them. However, as you move upward along the top or bottom of the forearm, the muscles (including the extendor digitorum communis and the extendor carpa ulnaris) and fat layers thicken and serve to protect the underlying bones. However, the sides of the forearm have very little muscle or fat padding covering the bones, with the ulna having the least.
When traditional forearms blocks are used, only one of the forearm bones makes contact with the attacking weapon, and the bone will have little padding. The reasoning is that the bone acts as an edge that will cut into the attacking limb, causing pain and/or injury. However, sometimes the pain and injury happens to the blocking arm.On both sides of the forearm, next to the two forearm bones, are nerves: the lateral and medial antibrachial cutaneous. If struck during a block, these nerves may cause extreme pain. Through Taekwondo training, the forearms are gradually toughened so the pain of impact is lessened.
On either side of the forearm are two major arteries (radial and ulner) and branches of another (brachial). The largest artery is the ulnar, itself having four branches in the forearm. The arteries are relatively close to the surface of the arm near the wrist, and they lay next to the bones. Likewise, major veins run through the forearm and wrist. If either of the two bones in the forearm is broken, a sharp or jagged edge of broken bone may easily tear, penetrate, or sever a nearby artery, vein, or nerve.
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