In karate and in most styles of martial arts, we perform drills and techniques over and over with the expectation that it will instil muscle memory. That way, in a real scenario where one I attacked by someone else, the block and/or counter-technique will come naturally and without hesitation. If you have to take the time to think about how you’ll block and how you’ll defend yourself, it’s already too late. Although television and movies tend to romanticize long, fancy fights where both participants exchange blows back and forth, a real fight never happens this way.
Despite consistent training and muscle memory, a real confrontation leaves you with so little time to react and protect oneself that technique and smoothness go right out the fuckin’ window. Trust me, I’ve been there. When an opponent’s fist is coming at your face and you only have a microsecond to react. When you block, IF you block and I hope you do, it won’t be perfect. You won’t have the bone alignment or the proper arm position. But whatever you throw out there will be anything more than just taking the strike. And that’s the important thing to remember; it’s not about looking like Bruce Lee in his prime. It’s about blocking the attack in order to protect yourself.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train consistently. It’s like stretching and warming up. Let’s agree that in a real fight, you won’t have time to stop and stretching out your limbs before getting into it. But if you stretch and train properly, your muscles will be prepared for the explosive movements that may come with a sudden need to defend oneself. The same can be said of one’s blocks. If someone takes a swing at you, as long as you can throw out something that will intercept that swing and keep you from being hurt, that’s all that matters. The muscle memory will still serve you but you need to keep it consistent. ☯️