4 Karate Blocks – Inward, Outward, Upper & Lower Block

In martial arts, knowing how to block an opponent’s strikes is equally as important as learning to punch, kick, counterstrike, and evade. There are many different blocking techniques used; however there are four arm blocks that are typically utilized for defending against standard punched and kicks: (i) inward block, (ii) outward block, (iii) upper block, and (iv) lower block.

Karate Upward Block

The karate practitioner on the left is defending a
punch by using an upper block. Notice that his
fist is closed and facing away from his body.

The Inward Block
Movement: From guard position, turn your left arm to the right (inward), leaving your closed fist turned towards your face.
Application: Inward blocks, also referred to as inside blocks, are a great way to deflect straight punches and kicks to the head, such as jabs and side kicks. Ideally, the inside forearm will meet the striker’s forearm, or back of the leg, pushing it out and away from the head.

The Outward Block
Movement: From guard position, turn your left arm to the left (outward), leaving your closed fist facing away from your face.
Application: An outward block, also called an outside block, is an effective way to block reverse punches and reduce the impact from roundhouse kicks. When blocking a wide swinging punch, aim to strike the inside of the striker’s forearm with the strong outer forearm bone.

The Upper Block
Movement: From guard position, turn your left arm to the left (outward) and raise your arm above your head, leaving your closed fist facing away from your face.
Application: Upper blocks, sometimes called high blocks, are a good way to block hammer punches and prevent damage caused by axe kicks. When blocking a hammer punch, use the outer forearm against the opponent’s forearm in effort to deflect the strike.

The Lower Block
Movement: From guard position, turn your left arm to the right (inward) and lower your arm down towards the side of the leg, leaving your closed fist facing towards your body.
Application: Low blocks can be used to prevent strikes to the mid-body, such as side kicks, roundhouse kicks, and hook punches. Try to reduce damage to the ribs by blocking strikes with the outer forearm.

It’s important to regularly practice these standard karate blocks so that your body can react instinctively when sparring and faced with physical confrontation. Speak with your instructor about improving your form and becoming more effective with your blocking moves.

Video Showing Basic Karate Blocks

See also:
Main styles of karate in Japan
The importance of practicing karate katas
Stretch-out before you work out!

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