It's there in step 19 and 22 of Taekwondo Pattern Won-hyo, the arms move like you're gracefully turning a large steering wheel. In the pattern diagram above, it's called a 'Circular block,' but I normally call it a scoop block. You could use it as a block, no doubt. In fact almost any movement can offer an obstacle to an opponent trying to hit you or hurt you.
But this is more than just a simple parry. The circular motion for instance is something that I want to apply to an extended 'something,' a limb, a neck, etc. It's easy to think of it against a kick. The arms encircle the extended leg, and the front kick in step 20 is fired at the support leg, groin or lower abdominal region.
It can also be used to capture the arm and/or wrap around the neck. If you wrap your arm around the neck, the front leg kick will surely hit something that can't move back. The 'pumping' action of the arms can also indicate that your body can rotate left or right, thus wrenching the neck and the upper body left or right with you. It's a devastating hold.
In practice, I use the scooping motion as a deflection for a kick, the front hand against a jab, and then the continuing circular motion as a block to a cross. It's a nice drill against a combination attack which may come very naturally. The scoop of course can be alternated with a leg block, and the arms can continue the circular 'windshield' wiping motion to stop oncoming attacks. The scooping and circular motion is a great way to get your arms moving in front of your face to stop things from landing. Sometimes it's just useful to be able to block something you know is coming but you can't see it yet.
Why I like to envision this as a control over an arm, is that I see other techniques focusing on the elbow in Won-hyo (see Overwhelm the Opponent, Over-the-shoulder Throw, and Chulgi: Punching Across the Body). Yes, I cite a technique taken from Chulgi - which refers to the 'koshi gamae' or hip preparatory stance or the ol' tea cup saucer. The hands pull to the hip, and what do you think they drag? One of the things they get to hold on to is the opponent's elbow. It makes a lot of sense to grab onto the elbow and either hyperextend the shoulder (if the elbow is bent) or just hyperextend the elbow, if the arm is straight. Both are equally good.
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