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Stance/Block Timing

Once again, we are considering the first movement of Fukyugata Ichi -- a left zenkutsu dachi (front bent leg stance) with a left gedan barai (downward block). This will offer a good example for this discussion but the principle will apply to all similar stance/block situations.

As you perform this first movement of Fukyugata Ichi, when does: (1) your left foot reach the zenkutsu dachi position; and (2) your left hand/arm reach the blocking position? This may seem like a strange question. But it illustrates an important issue. Does your left foot get into position first, and then you execute the block? Or do you throw the block before your left foot has gotten into position so that your block will hit at the same time as your foot?

Put another way, do you step into position and then block, or do you time it so that your foot and block hit at about the same time?

Of course, it is much easier to place the foot, and then initiate the block -- (1) step, (2) throw the block; and (3) the block hits. But in almost all cases, this will make the block too late. By the time you step into a position, the attacker will have already hit you. Thus, you must be prepared to block by the time you step into position.

Getting back to Fukyugata Ichi, by the time you reach zenkutsu dachi, your block must already hit. This means that you must initiate the block earlier -- at about the same time as your foot starts to move. Otherwise, by the time you reach the zenkutsu dachi, the attacker will have already kicked your leg (or done whatever he is doing)!

This gets back to the issue of (1) step and then punch, (2) step and punch simultaneously, or (3) punch and then step. There are many ways to time the step/punch combination, just as there are many ways to time step/block combinations.

Beginners are taught to step first, gain a firm stance, and then to block. Teaching all three things at the same will result in confusion, a weak stance, and conflicting recoils. But as the student advances, he will be taught to combine the movements such that the step and block are powered by the whole body -- a single movement with a single recoil. An advanced student will be taught to move quickly based on instability -- to not seek a strong stance first.

Consider again Fukyugata Ichi. If you step and then block, there will be a time delay before you can step forward to punch. You will have to wait for the block. But if you step and block at the same time (or close), then there is no delay and you can step forward to punch on the recoil of the block.


Charles C. Goodin