A parry is a way of using a blocking type motion to lightly contact, move, or otherwise influence an opponent’s arms, legs, shoulders, head, or torso while performing an active blocking maneuver. It is a blocking type motion, but without using it as an actual block. Below are a few ways in which you might employ these types of blocking structures.
When used alone the word Barai often means to parry. Your arm (or leg) is placed in light contact with the target and then a steady but non-forceful sweeping force is applied to coax the target to move in the direction(s) you desire. Almost any block can be used as a parry but the goals of these two strategies are different. The block is intended to stop an arm or leg from striking its target. The parry is used to move any part of the body (whether it is attacking or not) somewhere that is beneficial to your future intentions.
As you come to understand the Barai better you will appreciate that using less force is more effective than using greater force. Using a lot of force makes your opponent instantly resistant to movements. Using very light pressures will almost always cause the opponent to move where you desire them to go. Experiment by practicing with others.
Checking is again related to blocking (and to parries) but again has a different goal. The purpose of a check is to prevent an opponent’s arm or leg from being used as a future weapon. This, in its simplest form, means placing your hand lightly against the arm or leg to prevent it from being used to strike. Light pressure is all that is normally required but on occasion, you might find a use for a more forceful check.
You should note that a checking hand can readily be used to execute a parry. Likewise, if the checking arm and hand suddenly are set to be quite rigid then they form an effective block. This offers tremendous flexibility of purpose to this simple action. As you learn more you will understand how powerful this simple concept can be when it is applied to hips, shoulders, necks, knees, and heads in addition to the arms and legs that are your initial concerns.
The Muchimi Te, or Sticky Hand technique, takes advantage of basic friction to accomplish its desired effect. This is generally an open hand block or soft grab, using the palm and fingers of the hand, but can also be applied using the forearm or wrist. To perform this skill (assuming the hand is being used), allow the hand to make contact with the attacking arm or leg and then simply slide your hand along the attacking arm or leg while maintaining firm contact (but do not grasp the arm). Your opponent will usually (but not always) be pulled off his or her structure in the direction of your hand movement. When used as a block this skill is often used by stepping outside of your opponent and using the block to pull your opponent forward and down in front of you. Two significant advantages of the block are its ability to pull an opponent off balance, and your ability to then quickly use the same hand to grasp, throw, or strike your opponent.
The term Muchimi is derived from the word Mochi which refers to a Japanese rice cake that is especially popular during New Year activities. Mochi is made from sticky Japanese rice called Mochigome which is pounded into a thick paste from which the rice cakes are made. The Mochigome rice is very sticky to the touch and is the origin of the martial arts term Muchimi which is used to convey a sense of stickiness.
Hiki Te differs from Muchimi in that with Hiki Te the hand does close and grab rather than simply relying on friction forces. Hiki means to pull, so a grabbing and pulling hand is the general definition of Hiki Te. An additional component to Hiki Te is also commonly inferred by martial artists. This additional component is the twisting and turning element that often naturally occurs when pulling someone forward. If you grab someone’s forearm and pull your hand inward you will notice that your hand may naturally twist as it pulls in (yes, it is possible to pull your hand in without twisting it), transferring this twisting action to the opponent’s arm. So Hiki Te is commonly used to infer a grabbing, pulling, and twisting action of some sort.
From the perspective of blocking this is often used to counter an attempted grab attack. If someone attempts to grab your wrist then you might twist and roll your arm so that your fingers instead grasp the opponent’s arm and then pull inward, twisting the opponent’s arm in the process. As you gain experience you will find countless other opportunities to utilize this simple but effective concept.