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52 Blocks "Red Volume" With Lyte Burly
Offense Wins Fights, Defense Wins Championships
This DVD covers an overview of Blocks 1-30 with special detail to blocks 21-30, exciting footage of his student Young Burly training for and winning in the Golden Gloves as well as technical drills to connect your flow when moving block-to-block with Dink from the UK. ($20)

Note from Pete: In researching the arts that went into the AmEurAsian Fencing program I came across a number of lesser known weapon and empty hand fighting traditions that are today being exposed to the larger world via the Internet. This article deals with two of these...

52 Blocks Connection To Benadin, Traditional Game of Guadeloupe
Copyright Pete Kautz 2015

Guadeloupe is a small island country that you've probably never heard of it. A quick read of Wikipedia reveals that while it is located in the Caribbean it's technically an "insular region of France" and considered part of the European Union.

It has a long history that paints the harsh picture of colonialism as clear as any with Spanish, British and French influences on the lives of the native people and the Africans brought there as slaves to harvest and process sugarcane that had a value of some six million British pounds a year by the 1700's! That's a lot of money today but back before the American Revolution of 1776 can you even imagine how much that would equate to?

In a parallel to modern day events, in 1790 after the start of the French Revolution the Monarchist government of Guadeloupe refused to obey the new laws that granted equal rights to "the free people of color" as they were called. In the ensuing battle between the Monarchists (those who were loyal to the King of France and the old order) and the Republicans (those who were faithful to Revolutionary France and believed in equal rights) a fire broke out in Pointe--Pitre that devastated a third of the town.

What they don't mention on Wikipedia is that in the modern day there are both stick fighting and open hand traditions that have survived in Guadeloupe. The stick fighting art is called Mayole and shows distinct African as well as some Euro elements of its ritual play.  Here's a glimpse what it looks like!

A Demonstration of Mayole

A traditional "game" from Guadeloupe that deals with open hand striking is called Benadin and fortunately because of how common video is today we are blessed to be able to see this ourselves no matter where we live!

So, why not take a few minutes to watch these next two video clips and formulate your own thoughts. Then read on for some more analysis and technical breakdowns on how this relates to the conceptual and movement base of 52.

Two Men Playing Benadin

Another Demonstration Of Benadin

Having watched the videos, did you figure out the structure of the game and its rules?

It's pretty simple, right? The two men are taking turns trying to hit one another with a single blow to the head using one of their hands. The trick of the game is the use of fakes by the attacker and the use of what JKD would term Attack by Drawing (ABD) by the defender.

This Attack by Drawing strategy is also common to 52 Blocks, as are a number of the specific movements which these men make. These include:

1) Kissing the Knuckles

2) Windshield Wiper

3) Uptown

4) Cross Arm

5) Gangster Shuffle

6) Rob the Bank

7) Leaning Back (a "Pull" in Boxing)

8) The use of open hand slaps over closed fist punches

Beyond the technical movements, the idea of being able to let your opponent take the first shot with the full confidence that you can defend it and counter is crucial to success in 52.

Whether there is or isn't any historical connection between these arts is something that's impossible to prove one way or another with any certainty.  The physical similarities and mentality displayed, however, are overwhelming familiar and should be recognizable to any 52 player.

There are many other open hand arts you will find in the Caribbean such an Danmye and Ladja, but these more closely resemble N'gumi in Africa and Capoiera in Brazil.  They involve kicking, striking, and grappling along with nimble evasion, acrobatics and deceptive movements.

In a future article we'll get more in depth on these and other lesser known combat arts that today are being brought to light worldwide!

All my very best to you,

Pete Kautz

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