For martial arts students, there is an equal emphasis placed on blocking an opponent’s strikes as there is on learning to attack. When blocking strikes, whether it be punches, kicks, elbows, knees, etc., there is often more than one technique. For most karate students, the four main types of strike defense they are initially taught include the high block, low block, inside block, and outer block.
Some martial arts schools will deviate slightly from others in regards to technique, but for the most part these four types of blocks are standardized across multiple martial arts disciplines. To learn more try doing some searches on YouTube for videos of martial arts practitioners performing each of these blocks, having a visual aid is a great benefit for learning proper form.
High blocking is a technique commonly used to defend downward strikes to the head, such as hammer fists, backhands, and axe kicks. When attempting to block a downward strike the arm is raised above the head, with a closed fist facing out, and the outer forearm is used to deflect the attack.
Low blocking is used to block and deflect strikes to the mid-body, such as roundhouse kicks, straight kicks, and hook punches. When blocking a mid-body strike, the arm moves from the guard position in a downward circular motion in an attempt to deflect the punch or kick with the back of the forearm.
Inside blocking is a great way to prevent straight attacks, including straight kicks, side kicks, and jab punches. To execute this defensive move, the arm turns inward from the guard position aiming to divert the strike away from the face and/or body by pushing it away with the outer forearm.
Outer blocking is the opposite movement of the inside block and is a great way to deflect an array of attacks, including roundhouse kicks, roundhouse punches, and spinning backhands. To perform an outer block, move the arm from the guard position outward so that the forearm makes contact with the strike, leaving a closed fist facing away from the body.
The best way to know which block to use against different punches and kicks is to practice regularly, not only at home in front of a mirror, but in sparring and practicing with other students. The goal of practicing is to train the mind and body’s reaction to attacks, the more practice put in, the more the body will learn to instinctively react.