In hand-to-hand combat your defensive options boil down to 3 options when it comes to not getting hit.
Option 1. Block
Option 2: Parry
Option 3: Avoid
Each of these options have a hundred variations and all 3 can be effectively used to defend yourself, however, not all 3 options are created equal.
The best option when someone throws a strike at you is avoidance. You can do this using footwork, slipping, bob and weaving, ducking, or fading. Avoidance when done successfully allows you to avoid all potential damage from a strike while also maintaining the use of all of your limbs for further defense or attack.
The second best option for defense is parrying. While not as optimal as avoidance due to the fact that you are dedicating one of your limbs to push an opponents attack past you or to the side, it is still superior to blocking because it has a high probability of off balancing your opponent or breaking their rhythm allowing you the opportunity to counter.
The least desirable option for defense is blocking. It requires you to dedicate at least one limb to the block and even when done really well still allows some of the damage from the attack to be transferred to your body. Just because this is the least desirable option doesn't mean you don't do it. Blocking should still be learned to be used as a last ditch defense when all else fails, as well as, a method of stuffing your opponent's attack allowing you to close distance and take advantage of opening.
My purpose for pointing out the most desirable to least desirable defensive techniques isn't to promote or disparage any particular technique. It is to show you were you should be putting your time and effort. You should spend most of your time working on your head movement and footwork because they will ultimately give you the best bang for your buck. You should spend a proportionately less amount of time developing your parrying skills, and the least amount of time developing your blocks.
You will STILL SPEND TIME WORKING ALL OF THESE SKILLS!!!! You just shouldn't spend your time evenly between them.
Iron Forged Martial Arts
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Colorado Springs, CO 80909