Thursday, September 18, 2008
Urban Combat #3 -- Jail House Rock
Ok, I'm getting it now. It takes a while for this old white dude living in the deep woods of the Pacific Northwest to understand the dynamics of Brooklyn Street Arts.
These guys call their self-defense system "52 Blocks". According to Wikipedia, "52 Blocks" is a form of "Jail House Rock", a prison fighting system with "52" refering to a deck of cards--- "let them fall where they may".
Wiki goes on to describe this as a unique martial style with origins dating back to the days of slavery and indigenous African fighting skills. From Wiki:
"A Version of Jail House Rock, referred to as "52 Hand Blocks" or "the 52s", is said to have originated in the gang neighborhoods of Brooklyn and nearby boroughs of New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s. 52 was created from old "asiatics" boxing that was modified in the penal institutions such as Comstock, and Elmira and later used heavily on the streets as a male rite of passage."
--Obviously, I haven't reviewed the entire system, but I do have these observations:
1. A lot of their strength training involves schoolyard paralell bars and other climbing bars. According to one video, this training was prefered because it was superior overall conditioning, and that the Prison weightroom was too dangerous to train in. I like that.
2. While I have seen some of their offense training, mostly boxing and kicking, they appear to rely heavily on broken-pattern constant defensive movement. This is done without an extended bridge position, perhaps due to the influence of cutting weapons both on the street and in jail.
-The problem I have with that is that without an extended bridge (arms extended in defensive structure) the opponents punch gets much, much closer to you before you can neutralize it. This is more like "slipping" in Boxing or "shaving" in Mantis style. It's more as a secondary blocking position than a primary defense bridge.
-Additionally, even the best blocker can only block "so many", and will eventually get pasted.
-Now, the one thing I don't think I've seen them work yet is blocking and striking at the same time, clearly a superior method than a 1-block, 2-counter - which gives the opponent a split second to get their second punch in.
-We did recieve instruction on random arm movement such as this defensive pattern. It was from Wing Chun expert Ron Ogi, who suggested that we use it if you were temporarly blinded by blood in the eyes etc. Ogi's method was to "noodle" your arms in an extended position until you make contact with the opponent's arms and the sense of touch guides your response.
*** Al-in-all, I've enjoyed looking at the "52 Blocks" system and their spirited, innovative training methods.