Direction of Power. To stop an attack, hard, attack blocks should make contact perpendicular to the surface of the attacking limb and at a 90-degree angle to the path of the attack. A deflecting soft block should make contact at a sharper angle so the attack is redirected but not stopped. You should meet strength with weakness (deflect) and meet weakness with strength (attack).
Forearm Rotation. Blocks gain in power if you twist the forearm into block as it contacts the attacking limb. Just as the snap used in punching, snapping the forearm into the block, transfers your force to the attacking limb. When this occurs, your arm causes injury without being injured.
Hip Rotation. As in all Taekwondo techniques, snapping the hip into a block transfers your body mass into the technique for additional power. There are two ways to pair a technique with hip rotation: with the rotation (inner forearm block) or against it (outer forearm block). When the technique is going against the direction of hip rotation, it is generally weaker.
Position of the Arm. If the blocking arm ends in a position that is too far from the body, greater range is achieved but with a loss in power. If the arm ends too close to the body, the attack may not be stopped in time but the block has more power. In the ideal position, effective range and power are achieved. For example, with an inner forearm block, if the block ends with the forearm vertical, the block has move coverage and may hit with more power, but it may not stop a punch before it strikes its target. If the block ends with the forearm too extended, it has a longer reach but its coverage is smaller and it has less power. The ideal forearm ending position is extended at a 45-degree angle for good coverage, good range, and good power.
End of the Block. Blocks should terminate when the attack is stopped or deflected enough to prevent impact. Do not over block by moving the arm past its most effective point, it opens you up for another attack and closes you up for making a counter attack. For example, with an inner forearms block, if the block moves too far across in front of your body, it exposes you to an attack behind the block and it prevents you using the trailing arm or a counterattack.
Immovable Elbow. Lead elbow should be about a fist’s distance in front of the lead side ribs at all times. Never allow it to rest against the body or move out to the side of the body. When elbow is against the body, it makes it easier for your opponent to trap your lead arm. If the elbow is out to the side, the lead side ribs are exposed and it is difficult to protect the centerline. If the elbow is leading the body, it is easier to deliver a non-telegraphic strike with the lead hand. When elbow is kept in close, it only requires slight movements of the elbow or slight twists of the body to deflect or block attacks.
Body tension lengthens reaction time and reduces speed and power, so the body should be kept relaxed. Physical tension also encourages mental tension, which further slows reaction time. When you are relaxed, the muscles move smoothly in unison to reduce drag and generate more power.
All muscular movement is controlled by the mind. A relaxed mind creates a loose, relaxed body. To relax your mind, it must remain placid while still being focused and aware. To do this, you need to relieve your brain of the job of thinking while fighting, which means your must train until your actions become instinctive.
Being relaxed while fighting means you are never static. As long as you are either receiving energy (yielding) or transmitting energy (striking), you are in a continuous state of movement and flow. This flow is interrupted when you:
- Strain or grapple
- Execute a technique (because you are thinking)
Relaxation helps increase your speed and power, but extreme relaxation, such as used in tai-chi or yoga, does not protect against hard impacts. Such extreme relaxation may:
- Leave you unprotected if you do not keep some part of your body between your opponent’s weapon and its target.
- Leave you with no power since it is not connected to the ground.
- Allow your limbs to be twisted into positions from which it is impossible to launch a counterattack.
To allow relaxation to generate speed and power, you must keep it rooted to the ground so you may transfer energy through a punch or kick from a balanced connection to the ground. If you are unbalanced, you have no root. If you are stiff, you have no root. If you carry your body weight too high, you have no root.