Upper Block

Taekwondo's upper block is known as Chukyo Marki in our style and Age Uke in Karate.

We were practicing the Chukyo marki upper block today as a line drill.

As a line drill variation moving forward in a lunge stance, we incorporated a backward glance just after folding for the technique. This is as your feet come together and when your arms fold - you glance either to your side or back before looking forward again and then performing the Upper Block.

The next stage, we practiced raising the shoulder of the blocking hand and covering up with the back hand as we move forward - so essentially covering up the side of the head (on the side of the block). During the fold, the body naturally compresses, decreasing target size. This is a good cover as your opponent will try to strike you from the front - raising your hands in front of you, then trying to come over your shoulder and knocking you out from the side of the temple. The fold for the rising block nicely protects the side of the head.

Many people mistake the Taekwondo upper block as a block purely against something coming straight ahead and from the top of your head. Many people fail to understand that you need to 'apply' the block based on the nature of the attack. Just attempting to do the upper block will result in you failing to adequately intercept a downward or sideward swinging motion to you.

Keys for success are to make sure the upper block can rotate horizontally and cover the side of your head equally as well as covering the front and top of your head. Also you need to study the flight path of the block and force yourself to use this upward motion plus a drop down of your head to quickly intercept whatever downward swing is coming your way.

The two videos above are a collection of applications that start with the upper block slipping a strike, deflecting it, and landing a counter at the same time or close to the same time. Notice how we are continuing the initial reception, gap closing, and going for an arm control. Also notice that I've said several times the arm control 'fails'.

We were practicing elbow and joint attacks the other day with a non-compliant person. It makes what *should* be a seemingly easy karate or taekwondo technique to break an elbow, a very difficult task indeed. And yes, we were going full out with our strikes.

Getting the timing and making sure the opponent is distracted of course is the key. But the arm control or attack is never a straightforward or guaranteed tactic.

So we've attacked the arm. Then we've tried to control it - and this is proving to be difficult. We try to drive into the opponent and yet can't put a lock on him because he's fighting against our lock.

So switch angles of force, lifting the arm perpendicularly upwards or laterally to the force applied to the opponent, and the lock and takedown works like if you were doing it to a compliant training partner. Just a little change in direction is the skill that the pattern can't really address.


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