Monkey Block Work Martial Arts 24 JAN 2009

Tie Hou Quan Monkey’s block system is based on four main blocks. These are the upper hingi, lower hingi, lao shin, dai shin.

Monkey’s hands are always kept in a relaxed position, only assuming harder positions when performing a direct action, such as punching or finger-striking. However, the monkey’s reactive style of fighting means that each block should be turned into an offensive move. This is achieved through the tense/relax principle. This principle has to do with the absorption and redirection of energy.

The monkey is known for using it powerful forearms as its primary blocking mechanism. Through intense training, the forearm muscles can be developed to become as solid as a rock. The idea is to block an opponent’s strike with the forearm, tensing the muscle on impact. However, as soon as contact has been made, the forearm immediately relaxes, instantly becoming softer.

What happens is that the energy of the striking arm must be dispersed once it makes contact with the hard forearm. However, the resulting force of the impact can only escape in two directions, namely the along defender’s arm or back up the attacker’s arm. The goal of the attacker is obviously to transfer the energy of the impact to the defender. However, because of the relaxation of the forearm, the energy cannot successfully travel through the defenders arm, instantly lessening the power of the blow. In essence, the attacker should receive more damage than the defender.

Utilising the tense/relax principle correctly means that one can perform much damage to an opponent without throwing a single punch.

1. Upper Hingi

This block is used to protect against middle or high attacks. As the opponent strikes towards you, your primary blocking arms swings inwards and up, blocking the striking arm with the forearm. On contact the forearm tenses by pulling the fingers down towards the wrist. The muscles in the forearm should harden. On contact, the forearm should relax, again simply by relaxing the hand position. The upward swinging motion of the primary blocking hand also serves to direct the striking arm away from the defender’s body.

Whilst the primary blocking arm is blocking the attack, the secondary blocking hand comes up by raising the elbow upwards. Its purpose is to protect the body in the case that the primary block fails. The body also twists into a zu bu stance, to minimize the amount of body being shown to the attacker. It also allows for a swift counterattack to the now off guard attacker.

2. Lower Hingi

This block is almost identical to the upper hingi block, except that it is used to counter low strikes or kicks. As the opponent’s foot comes in for the strike, the primary blocking arm swings downwards and out to block it using the forearm. On contact, the forearm tenses by pulling the fingers of the hand down towards the wrist. As soon as contact is made, the forearm relaxes again, to prevent any force from the block travelling down the defender’s arm.

The secondary blocking hand is raised by the elbow to protect the groin chest region should the primary block fail. The stance shifts into a low zu bu to allow for quick recovery and counterattack.

3. Lao Shin (‘Flower’ block)

The flower block is used as an arm breaking or pressure point grabbing block. As the opponent strikes towards you, your primary blocking hand circles around the strike and grabs at the wrist. The secondary blocking hand extends forwards towards the back of the elbow of the opponent’s trapped arm. If enough force is used, the arm will break at the elbow joint. This is because the arm is locked in a straightened position by the primary blocking hand, whilst the second hand is forcing the trapped arm to bend in an unnatural direction. A variation on the block is to use the secondary blocking hand to grip the trapped arm’s pressure point near the elbow instead of merely breaking the arm. If correctly applied, the grip on the pressure point should immobilize the attacker’s arm. Again, as the block is applied, the stance shifts to zu bu to ensure a swift counterattack can follow.

4. Dai Shin

This block works on the principle of accepting the opponent’s oncoming force and redirecting his force such that he moves off-balance towards or past you. As he strikes towards you, your hand curls around his wrist in a grabbing motion. Pulling it swiftly towards your side and throwing it away behind you, the opponent is forced to follow the motion, leading to his centerline opening up to you. Whilst the grabbing hand/claw is drawing the opponent past you, the other hand moves up in a classical monkey arm position to provide the secondary cover. Whilst pulling him past you, your body twists into a zu bu stance, your un-weighted leg pointing towards the attacker. This stance allows for a quick attack once the opponent’s centerline has been opened. The opening presented will depend on the direction of his attack. If attacking across his body, the natural line of motion will open his back centerline to you. Conversely, if he is attacking in a straight line, the natural tendency is to open his chest centerline when pulling his arm past your side.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.