The basic acid test drilled into me during my early years of training is that up block (Taekwondo's CHukyo Marki or Karate's Age Uke) left in place will adequately deal with a downward stabbing attack from an opponent coming at you with a knife.
The up block in this case is assuming that the attack will be directly at your forehead or top of your head. It also assumes that the knife holder will be considerate and just lash out once. Perhaps he'll also not retract the knife and slash you on the way back.
I think this basic notion of the up block is a decent teaching method for Taekwondo beginners to learn angles and postures. Its effectiveness however leaves me less than excited.
When we perform the up block in my school, we complement the drill by applying it against a person trying to stab you. But not in the head. The knife is aimed and should land on the victim's face or chest or somewhere on the upper body. The knife hand in particular should be crooked at the elbow - as how any sane and untrained person using a knife would do when trying to stab some cretin. The trajectory is much flatter and does not come from above (as our basic training postulated).
The chukyo marki up block done against a stab like this is different. Firstly, if you think it's going to be held over your head, you're deeply mistaken. The up block is done with lots of 'proactivity.' The block is done before the stabbing motion has a lot of chance to come down. Meaning you start the block as soon as possible and try to catch the downward stab before it has a chance to gain acceleration.
The next thing is that the block is also positioned so that the fist effectively strikes the face or jawline of the attacker. Meaning that the block is not done vertically over your head but is extended 45 degrees from vertical. It is a mirror image of the lower block.
There are a few other target variations of this upper block:
1. CHukyo marki against the tricep.
2. Chukyo marki against the neck.
3. Chukyo marki against the forearm followed by another chukyo marki as a punch to the inside of the elbow.
Go try this out against a person coming at you fast. It works! Just try not to punch your training partner in the face. Or try not to punch them too hard.
Do-san Upward Rising Block
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