Upward palm block Souce

As per the title, I can't quite see how the upward palm block has any advantage over a normal middle block.

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    I hesitate to say the answers here are all wrong, but basically that's how I see it. I wish I had time to shed light on this technique. I will let you in on a little secret. All TKD forms come from shotokan karate, which in turn comes from Okinawan shorin-ryu karate. That's the origin of this technique. Now, find out what the "bunkai" is for it inside of shorin-ryu karate. Do that, and you're going to be a lot more enlightened than merely accepting "it's a block / parry" as an explanation. It's definitely not a block. My advice. Sorry if I sound rude. Maybe I'll post my answer soon. – Steve Weigand Sep 23 '16 at 4:20

If you are familiar with the ITF patterns it is often used as a direct defence for a fixed stance punch type attack (3rd move from Won-Hyo).

Generally it can be used for any belt line attack - and depending on the positioning and type of attack can sometimes be more desirable than a downward palm block (2 of these at the end of Joong-Gun) For example: knocking a kick upwards may knock the opponent off balance - whilst knocking it downwards may put it straight into your legs (depending on your current positioning).

In your 2 step - as @AndyJeffries explains - the upwards block should leave you in a reasonable position to manipulate the attackers arm after removing the focus of the punch.

It also puts your body in the correct position for the attacker to do their turning kick to a sensible target and gives you chance to practice a block that appears in your patterns (start of Joong-Gun) against a live target.

Note that it is common when doing this in practice to take the block too high - this is one of the reasons it is in 2-step and patterns at a similar grade, giving the instructors/examiners more chance to see and correct this.

  • Thanks, I can see exactly what you mean with the kicks, but I came across this in Two Step Sparring Number Two where your attacker is in fixed stance (as you mention in the first part of your answer). Obviously fixed stance is pretty stable so I can't see anyone being knocked off balance by an upward move. Is there a specific purpose behind the block in this instance? – Isaacson Sep 20 '16 at 10:34
  • @Isaacson added information based on comment – Collett89 Sep 20 '16 at 11:07
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    I disagree that the technique is a defense for any kind of punch. Won-Hyo's punch presupposes the attacker is wrapped up in the double-block (1st movement), then having his elbow smashed (2nd movement), and then punched in the ribs (3rd movement). The "fixed stance" is a horrible name, but, it is intended to allow forward motion - facilitating the punch. It can be used for most grabs where defender can lower it to (waist in Kukkiwon's and traditional ITF's case; chest level in modern ITF's case). So shoulder, elbow, wrist, belt grabs are subject to the chamber, where you take the grab. – user6519 Nov 3 '16 at 13:57
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    @Collett89, Sorry - respectfully, I disagree. In JoonGun, the beom-seogi movement does not define getting off the line of attack - a critical element for punch defense. Also, the chamber hand needlessly sits at the waist (unless the analysis concludes the punch is caught). I think, the application cannot be for defense against a punch. The attack need not be a punch; it likely is a grab, there is no reason the attack example should change from a likely scenario (a grab) to an unrealistic one (the punch) just because it might be dangerous to the students. – user6519 Nov 3 '16 at 20:52
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    Also, don't assume an attack begins with a grab; but it may end up as a grab. Therefore, the timing issues you mention going for a grab wouldn't make sense. Grabs can occur as a result of the previous movement; or to prevent you from grabbing your own weapon, etc. Rarely does an attack begin with "here, grab my wrist". – user6519 Nov 3 '16 at 20:54

We often use the same block in Kukki-Taekwondo during one step sparring for defending against a punch so then we can easily grab the underside of their punching wrist, from there we can quickly apply arm/wrist locks. This is changing in the amount it's used with the new Kukkiwon one step syllabus being more self-defence focused (rather than technical), but still...


If you have the full encyclopedia, you'll find further details and illustrations of applications for this technique in the description of Joong Gun Hyung, Vol 9 pages 216 and 222. It's noteworthy that the text says "the palm reaches the target in a circular motion", and one of the photos shows a dotted line tracing the motion of the hand: it should be brought about a hand span in front of the blocking shoulder as the body's squared while stepping the back leg through, then loop outwards to drag an incoming attack outside the line of the body and downwards, circling it inwards again and upwards as the hand comes back on line with the front foot. Dragging the attack sideways first is necessary to stop a kick or punch hitting you, and the circular motion helps unbalance the attacker. You could think of it a bit like a grasping block that doesn't just make a small arc, but loops right round from maybe 11pm on a clock to maybe 8pm, clockwise, though at the end of the movement the hand's not travelling in a side to side plane but move back-to-front.

That said, if someone has attacked deeply enough to hit you, their arm may be extended too far for you to circle it back on line without dragging the attacking limb into your own side. Sometimes it may be practical to catch a punch closer to to their elbow and have your push more directly shove their upper arm towards their shoulder to unbalance them, in which case their arm will bend as you shove it back into them, allowing you to complete your movement on line. The encyclopedia hints at this application in the way a reverse punch has been deflected and the punching shoulder is raised awkwardly.

It may also be possible to a punching arm outwards and have their fist tuck in near your arm pit as your hand slams up under their elbow. But this is diverting into alternative applications of similar movements, and I believe the focus should always be on understanding the utility for the primary application first - here - blocking.

Another explanation of the block that I was taught at one time - but find no evidence for in the encyclopedia, is to catch an attack coming in from your side and throw it up and forwards. For example, if you were stepping through in joong gun hyung to block with your right hand, imagine someone standing off to your right side, delivering a front kick towards your front thigh: you could catch their kicking leg and scoop it forwards and upwards for you - which will be sideways and de-stabilising for them.


The key to understanding a movement's purpose is to consider the previous movement, the next movement, the other hand, the stance, and your eyeline. Since only the other hand, eyeline, and stance is provided in the photo, there can be many variations.

In this case, consider that the left hand is "chambered" into a fist. I don't like the phrase "chambered" because it suggests the hand or foot is in some sort of ready position; in this case, it is not: it is already grabbing something (note the fist), not waiting for something to happen.

The stance is interesting, too. First understand what a stance is, and what it is not. Despite its name (from "stasis"), it is not a static, unmoving thing, you don't just stand there in a stance and that is that.

No, a stance is a mechanism to move the body from one place to another, and also, to help support the execution of a technique. So a cat (or tiger) stance in this case is called beom-seogi, and it's purpose is to load the weight on the back foot. Why? Because the front foot needs to be able to do something. That "something" depends largely on the next movement, which is not mentioned in the picture, but there could be several possibilities: Perhaps the front foot is readying for a front kick; or it could be wrapping around the opponent's leg so that they cannot get out. Remembering that forms also teach us strategy for pain absorption, it could also be that the leg is injured, and this is a means to keep weight off of it. Other possibilities exist too.

So one possible outcome of this technique (again, without the benefit of knowing the previous and next movements), is that our defender is receiving an opponent's grab with the left/chambering hand (that's why it's in a fist; note also the fist's palm is facing upward which supports the grabbing elbow to point downward), and the palm up is issuing an armbar upwards (the palm is facing up, the grabbing fist wrist is palm up); the stance suggests the front leg could be used to engage the opponent's leg to prevent escape from the armbar, or at least to make it difficult. That the defender is looking forward suggests that the attacker is in front, or that is the direction of his movement. This suggests that the front leg from beom-seogi is probably readying for a sweep, which will be facilitated by the arm-bar.

Now, where do we go from here? That depends on the next movement, but again, the beom-seogi is a hint: it allows us to place weight on the back foot, and not commit one way or another to move forward or backward. With an arm bar secured, the attacker can be swept onto the floor requiring an in-place high-fall; or the defender could raise the arm bar assembly, guide it all over his head, then turn counterclockwise; that exposes the opponent's hand to a reverse grip; or a throw requiring a forward roll), or a throw to the ground. These techniques are basic techniques seen in hapkido and aikido (and the exist in taekwondo!). In the follow-up to the overhead pass, Aikido-ka call the resulting techniques sankyo, ikkyo, or gokkyo; I forget the hapkido names, but they are similarly executed.

But in no case is the technique construed to be a "catch" or "block" of a punch. That is sheer ridiculousness: you don't catch punches, you move off the line of attack, because that punch could be a knife or other weapon. And your timing would have to be so spot-on; otherwise, an overly committed punch could work against you as you both tumble to the ground, or, that you take a very hard punch. Even if you entertained one possibility for a punch block, how do you move off the line of attack in a beom-seogi? This example is definitely not a defense of any kind of punch.

So no, the technique has NOTHING to do with a punch in any way.

  • I think this answer is wrong. It can be both an armbar and a block, and even both at once. But as this fist is drawn back, it is rather ready for a strike, i.e. the incoming punch is directly trapped and put into in armbar in one motion. At least that's what it very much looks like from a judo/karate point of view and I just checked with a karate instructor I find extremely competent in that field (experienced in goju as well as shorin). – Philip Klöcking Nov 4 '16 at 20:36
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    @Philip Klöcking, sorry - I cannot agree. I am of a camp that does not believe there are blocks. Nor do I believe that a chambered fist is there to be in ready position. Both are just wastes of time, to say nothing of a useless tiger stance. What I'm inferring is that the fist - being in ready position - the incoming attack is automatically put into armbar, which would suggest a one-handed armbar. This isn't possible, unless the attacker uses an uppercut, since no punch arrives elbow down - a necessary element for an armbar from a technique as pictured. Maybe you have a video? – user6519 Nov 4 '16 at 21:12
  • Blocks are parries anyway. Blocking as a term is misleading. Even with a shield you rather parry strikes, as it is simply inefficient to do otherwise. But i can tell you that a) I felt not good ending up in the armbar after a straight chudan gyaku zuki b) it was actually a one-handed one after the hand that ends up pulled back helped channeling it c) it obviously worked, no matter what you think. The presure leads 'outwards', not up, directly on the elbow, and d) it is a basic movement in karate to start punches from there. Stance is to a) buy time and b) equal momentum/evade by movement. – Philip Klöcking Nov 4 '16 at 22:12
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    I don't really know why we call them blocks, maybe something lost in translation. The armbar you experienced no doubt worked, I just don't think it is intended for a catch of a moving attack. But now you mention outward not upward pressure. Looking at old videos of JoonGun suggest otherwise, but maybe you are referring to a different movement of a different form. As I see it, an outward pressure would create an elbow bend in a cross-hand arm bar - allowing escape; and a same-side arm bar would invite a nasty hook from the other arm and still allow an elbow bend. Would love to see video? – user6519 Nov 8 '16 at 13:21

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