Motion Science

Level I * Upper Body * Blocks and Parries

Blocks and Parries are one of the Level 1 basics of Motion Science and one of the basics of Kenpo Karate.


Blocks and parries are defensive maneuvers used to hinder, check, or deflect attacks. They are probably the second most important defense mechanisms available to fighters, behind movement (moving your target away from the incoming weapon by either creating distance or changing angle.

Blocks and parries are similar in that they meet the attacking appendage to prevent the weapon from hitting its target, but they are different in their mechanics and situations in which they are most appropriate.

Blocks meet force with force to stop or partially redirect and attacker’s strike. Typically, blocks meet the incoming appendage (arm or leg) with a force perpendicular or near perpendicular to it, and as such are done close-fisted. Likewise, they typically start from a near depth zone and move to a further out depth zone while crossing from one side of the center line to the other.

Parries, on the other hand, ride the force of the oncoming strike while adding minimal opposing force to move the oncoming strike just enough off course from its intended target, and as such are done open-handed. If starting from a near depth zone, they typically meet the incoming appendage at a further out depth zone and move to a nearer depth zone while crossing the center line, making a triangle. (Alternately, parries can start with the hand already further out in the depth zone and as such would only draw the one line coming in and crossing the center line.)

Note that although blocks are generally defensive maneuvers and strikes offensive ones, remember that blocks can be used as strikes and strikes can be used as blocks.

Also note that as a general rule of thumb, most blocks are done using paths (e.g., the full forearm from the fist to the elbow moves toward the incoming appendage), while parries are done using lines (just the hand moves to the incoming appendage).


Both blocks and parries are often done with double-factoring movements. This entails executing one minor block or parry with one hand and (in one fluid movement) picking up that block or parry with the other hand. For blocks, the initial blocking movement is an insurance movement in case the principal blocking hand does not reach its objective in time. For parries, the first movement actually makes contact with the incoming appendage before the second one makes contact and completes the action.

When double-factoring, the second hand typically picks up the movement by coming to the outside of the original hand, thereby providing more flexibility of movement and options for both offensive and defensive purposes.

Related Defensive Maneuvers

Following are other, related defensive maneuvers.

Types of Blocks

Following are the basic types of blocks.

Types of Parries

Following are basic types of parries.

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