The 3 levels to blocking any type of incoming punch
To start with, In my opinion, there are 3 types of blocks in general. Or it might be more accurate to say that the same block can be executed with varying degrees of control. All Kung Fu Blocking Techniques fall under level 3.
In the first type of blocking the defender does not control the opponent's balance or striking arm at all. This is equivalent to a boxing slip. You let the incoming attack continue on its trajectory. Instead, you move out of the way
In the second type of level of blocking the defender parries or stops the opponents strike with a minimal amount of deflection. You let the incoming attack mostly continue on its trajectory. You only move it slightly out of the way
In the third level or type of block falls the Shaolin system. With Shaolin blocking the defender redirects the opponents strike while at the same time utilizing the momentum generated to off-balance the opponent. This opens up multiple types of targets to counter-attack.
Keep in mind that I do practice Western Boxing, Filipino Escrima, and Japanese Judo in addition to Chinese Kung Fu, so I do not advocate that any 1 type of block is better than another.
Furthermore, If there are teachers out there who say blocking is better than evading or evading is always better than blocking, than they are ignorant of all the possibilities. With this in mind, you should aspire to be a total martial artist. In addition, there are many different kinds of confrontations you may have to be ready for. Confrontations that might include stand up, ground, and weapon-based attacks.
Kum Sau (Covering Hand)
The Shaolin style of kung fu has many different blocking techniques. The Kum Sau or covering hand is the block being shown. It looks very similar to parries found in Boxing, Silat, and Kali.
In all honesty, I think that the major difference between the Shaolin method of parrying a punch and other styles is that the Shaolin style of blocking seeks to off-balance the opponent through the amount of follow-through or distance that the hand travels.
Pan Sau (Double Slap Block)
Indeed, The Shaolin style of kung fu has many different blocking techniques. Here we are covering a double slap block called Pan Sau (Cantonese).
Shaolin Blocks will injure the opponent's incoming punch while protecting you at the same time
There are basically two concepts to striking while blocking. The first is to strike using follow-through.
For this reason, do not just touch the surface but rather penetrate through. This concept can lead to producing some ugly looking welts on the opponent's arm.
Next, the second concept is to use speed when using Shaolin Kung Fu Blocking Techniques.
I know this sounds like common sense, but I have found that most beginners confuse pushing with striking. instead of having their hands moving at a fast speed at the beginning of the blocking motion, they execute the block slowly at first then speed it up at the end of the movement.
Actually, this produces a pushing effect and will not have any power.
The monks who lived at the Shaolin temple were pacifists and did not want to kill anyone. So many of the techniques of their Shaolin Kung Fu were defensive in nature.
However, in a real self-defense situation one of the best ways to get out alive is to strike first, rather than a counter. Striking first will give you the element of surprise and is much easier to execute than trying to block an incoming punch.
We try to teach beginners both concepts of Shaolin Kung Fu Blocking Techniques, so they feel that they understand the realities of actual self-defense.