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Strong Side Roof Blocks
Set One: The Snake & The Fan
© 2014 James LaFond
Last summer I was training a fighter who was sparring with an FMA club that follows a sporting format and promotes the use of padded wands instead of sticks. If you have seen any of this padded wand fighting you will notice the use of armor which limits mobility and the fact that virtually all strikes are vertical ‘raps’ to the WEKAF headpiece, which makes a lot of noise.
After his sparring session he came to me and discusses the format, which placed the fighters in a narrow strip that did not permit circling. The fighter was new, and noting that it takes some time to develop angular footwork, I decided to send him straight at the opponent. Without lateral mobility the vertical stroke or any retracting ‘rap’ leaves the fighter vulnerable to aggressive forward progress.
We went over 8 applications of the roof block. To comprehend and train this series without illustrative photos, envision both you and your opponent leading with the right hand, which is your stick hand. I don’t care what he does with his feet. Your right leg should be forward. Range is assumed to be stick-to-stick distance, which means one lunge or forward shift will bring you into stick to body contact if your opponent does not move. If he is also moving forward then you are in hand-to-hand range.
Out of range
Stick-to-body [any part including the hand]
The Shift
To ‘shift’ means to change which foot is in the lead. A reverse shift takes the lead foot and steps it all the way back, opening your hip on the other side. A shift simply brings the rear foot into the lead. Both types of shift leave the weapon in the rear hand. Shifts are transitional steps that lead to a reversal, a double shift, a shuffle step, or a triangle step. Do not think of shifting in terms of taking up a static position.
The Roof Block
A Standard roof block is done with a slant so it deflects the blow like the roof of a house deflects the rain and leaves.
A ‘jam’ is a roof block in which the stick is held firmly in the horizontal. This is generally used only against vertical strokes not diagonal strokes. A roof jam can be done two-handed.
The Snake
The snake is best against a full commitment stroke.
Shift forward under your roof block by bringing the left leg into the lead. Your empty hand should shoot under your stick toward his shoulder. You will counter with a short lateral forehand to the ear/face. With the forward shift you have naturally come face-to-face a little to his strong side where his weapon is.
If that stroke of his did not retract and his stick glanced down off of yours it should be around the hip or rib area. Snake your extended left hand around that stick, near his grip if possible, and twist to the left with your counter stroke. Your stick should be coming at his face as you twist his stick out of his hand. This utilizes the same mechanic simultaneously for the disarm and the counter stroke. I have made the snake work often in this fashion as a hit/disarm.
If the stroke is a retracting one apply pressure to his shoulder with your left hand and slide down to the elbow. This may be difficult if he is wearing a WEKAF jacket and your hand could slide off the flared sleeve. If he is armored just press the checking hand against the upper arm and pin it to his ribs as best you can. If he is strong stay on his shoulder. As long as you have his arm pinned and your stick is free there is no reason to abandon this position. If you have not effected the disarm but have control you could go into The Fan from here
The Fan
The fan is best against a fighter who uses retracting strokes.
Lunge in under your roof block to a head-to-head position with your left hand reaching out under your stick for his shoulder. As soon as your hand makes contact with his shoulder begin your counter, a fanning motion to the head from the elbow: forehand, backhand, forehand.
As you fan him you will step around to your left with your left foot as you slide your checking hand down his arm. This keeps him from engaging your stick hand with his empty hand, and pins his stick arm to his body. If done right he will have to break off in desperation or seek a clinch.
If you step around and pin the hand your strikes should land like so: forehand to his left ear, backhand to his right ear, forehand to his face.
If your opponent is stronger tend toward The Fan entry option.
If he tends to retract his blows, again, tend toward The Fan option.
If he is weaker The Snake is a great disarm.
If he tends to commit to highline attacks The Snake is a great entry.
If you are short and strong these two entries should be part of your 'bread and butter' arsenal.
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