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The Umbrella Shift
Defending Against the Downward Left-Handed Forehand

There are only two real blocks in stick-fighting with high function, the roof block in many forms, and the umbrella block in fewer and harder to apply forms. Most defense in stick-fighting derives from the stroke and its diversion or preemption into a beat, which is a stroke against the opponent’s weapon rather than the taking up of a purely defensive position with the weapon.

The roof block is used against downward to lateral forehands.

The umbrella block is used against downward to lateral backhands.

Briefly, one executes the umbrella block by pulling the stick hand to the head, allowing the stick to dip loosely and deflect the incoming blow.

The umbrella block works best while stepping off and drawing way and sets one up for launching a backhand off the momentum imparted by the incoming stick. The problem is, since this block works best going away, only a persistent fighter will step into the counter.

When holding your ground, the umbrella block flows well into a diagonal back hand slash to the opponent’s leg. See Lonely Dog, of the Dog Brothers, his “Beasting Video” in particular for an example.

Never step in under an umbrella block or you may be easily disarmed by pressure applied on your torqued wrist at the base of the thumb via your own tilted stick.

I am currently training to fight a tall left hander, which makes the umbrella block a must for me.

Below is one drill I am using to train against a descending stroke from my opponent’s left.

1. Start in guard, stick hand above hip and in, stick covering your face, in position to ward off lateral strokes but not descending strokes.

2. As the descending or lateral stroke initiates, raise your stick hand in a pulling fashion, with heel-palm turning in and thumb rotating to face the opponent, to your head right temple or crown of your head.

3. To avoid having your hand hit, shift your right leg all the way back.

4. Once his stick strikes your stick you may safety out or counter attack.

5. A Safety out is a stop-foot stand, or a left-foot backward shift, while going with the force of the blow to redondo your stick down on his stick or hand, ideally his thumb.

6. A counter-attack is best accomplished by shifting back the right foot into the lead as you stroke down from overhead [your 7th of 7 power points] onto his hand, arm, shoulder, collar bone or head, collar bone preferred. This forward shift stroke brings your body weight into the stroke, if the step is timed with the impact.

If you lack the skill for this, just bring your left hand in a cross face to backhand temple guard, or wrist to temple catching hand and take the blow on your empty hand, and bring your stick down on his thumb or collarbone and punish his left-handed ass!

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