You may often find the need to block at multiple levels either concurrently or in a sequence. In this article we will cover this form of blocking that is a required area of study for those seeking the Orange Belt (Nanakyu) ranking.
A Juji Uke is a block in which the forearms are crossed and the blocking surface is the area where both arms would concurrently impact the attacking arm or leg. This block is also frequently called a Fork Extended Block. The hands are normally closed but can be open if this provides an added benefit (such as the ability to grab immediately after blocking). Just be aware that an open hand invites the possibility of injury to the fingers, especially if this block is used to defend against a downward strike.
Whenever possible you should move out of the way of the direct attack and then block into the attacking arm or leg from an angle. As an example, assume an overhand strike is being delivered coming directly from angle 1. Stepping to angle 5 and then blocking in the general direction of angle 7 will deflect the strike and lessen the severity of the impact on your arms. You should not assume that your two arms will be stronger than an attacking arm or leg and you should never use the Juji Uke to directly block a weapon.
This block can be applied at the Jodan, Chudan, and Gedan levels. After the block a common strategy is to use one arm to grasp the attacking arm or leg, and then use the other arm for another purpose such as parrying, thwarting, or striking.
Chudan Uke – Gedan Uke
You may see this described as an Inward Downward Combination Block or sometimes as a Wheel Kick Block. It is performed as an inward block using the back hand and a Gedan Uke using the front hand. Note that this is not a Gedan Barai, but a Gedan Uke.
Unlike the Gedan Barai – Ura Gedan Barai combination, these two blocks are delivered concurrently, not sequentially. The Chudan Uke is delivered quite high and is placed just outside of your opposite ear. The Gedan Uke is delivered low and is positioned down near the hip but just to the outside of the hip joint. So, assuming the Chudan Uke is delivered by the right arm, it will be positioned just to the outside of the left ear, and the left arm will form a Gedan Uke that is positioned just outside of the left hip.
Together these two blocks form a wall that stretches from mid-thigh all the way up to just above the ear. Any roundhouse kick or wheel kick will likely strike your arms before or instead of your body. While this works well, the benefits can be improved by stepping slightly inside of the oncoming kick and then rotating your center so that both arms rotate as they are contacted. This can also serve to pull your opponent inward slightly causing them to loose balance or fall forward.
Both arms must remain bent slightly to reduce the risk of injury. If this block is combined with an Ippon Dachi by raising the leg adjacent to the Gedan Uke, then the blocking surface will extend from the ear all the way down to mid-calf. Naturally blocking while in Ippon Dachi may lead to instability when the kick makes contact.
Chudan Shotei Uke – Gedan Shotei Uke
In some ways this is related to the Chudan Uke – Gedan Uke combination above, but there are some significant differences, including:
- Both hands are open so that the palms can be used as the blocking surfaces.
- The block is used to defend against a strike coming directly toward your center line.
- Both hands are placed in your center rather than to your side.
The hand performing the Chudan Shotei Uke is positioned high to protect the face. This hand is usually oriented vertically with the fingers extended upward. The hand performing the Gedan Shotei Uke is placed low to defend the lower torso area. This hand might be positioned with the fingers up, down, or parallel to the floor, depending on the nature of the strike it is defending. Generally speaking it is best if you can move off of the line of attack and rotate your center to help sweep the attack out of your way rather than impact it directly.
Chudan Ura Shotei Uke – Gedan Shotei Uke
This blocking combination is nearly identical to the Chudan Shotei Uke – Gedan Shotei Uke blocking combination, except that the Chudan level block is performed with the back of the open hand, rather than the palm of the hand.
Ura Chudan Uke – Gedan Uke
This block is nearly identical to the Chudan Uke – Gedan Uke blocking combination, except the Ura Chudan Uke is used instead of the Chudan Uke. The blocks are used for entirely different purposes however. The most common use for this block is to move inside of a roundhouse type kick and use the Gedan Uke to block it, while the other Ura Chudan Uke is then used to check or interrupt a possible strike from the opponent’s back (or possibly the front) arm. You might consider how this same movement could prove beneficial when moving to the outside or inside of a kick such as a Mae Geri.
As usual, both blocks should utilize rotational delivery and the blocking arms should immediately return to a guard position or initiate some other useful function.