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52 Blocks "Red Volume" With Lyte
Hellbows, MK#2 & 52 Blocks Red Volume Set
For many years we in the martial world have heard of the art of 52 Blocks (also called Stato, Comstock, Prison Rock and Roll, and other names by different groups) but very little if any actual hard information has ever been presented. Some may remember a couple of articles in the martial arts magazines back in the 80's but that's about it.
Like many of you, I had always wondered about this art. What was the deal? Was it real or just a urban legend grown out of hip hop music and books like Street Kingdom? And how could one even learn such an art short of serving a bid in the pen or moving into a dangerous area of NYC?
However today times have changed and with the rise of YouTube and the ubiquitous nature of video recording devices the art has become more available to the public. A simple search will reveal many videos purporting to be related to 52 Blocks that are out there.
My research into the Five Elbow Shields and Salute System as taught to me by Mr. Keating (see Modern Knives #2 and the Hellbows DVD, both perpetual favorites) lead me to the boxing connection as seen with fighters like the legendary Archie Moore “The Old Mongoose”. This in turn led me to 52 Blocks where Moore's trademark cross-armed elbow defense is known as Rob the Bank.
Using what was available on Youtube and DVD as my guide I spent several years analyzing video clips, breaking down the elements that were being shown, and then going out to the gym and practicing round after round drilling solo and with my students. In all this work, I paid special attention towards the material from one coach in specific, Mr. Lyte Burly.
Lyte is a skilled martial artist in several styles in addition to 52 Blocks including Tai Chi, Wing Chun, and Pa Kua Chang. Far from being some back alley brawler, he's won push hands and chi sao tournaments in NYC which considering how much competition you have there is a very high merit. As a teacher his students have won multiple belts in Golden Gloves Amateur Boxing, proving 52 Blocks effectiveness in stand up fighting.
I contacted Lyte earlier this year with questions about 52 Blocks and sent him a video of us training and sparring so he could give corrections. Sensing our sincerity, he generously offered to come up here and do a seminar and of course I jumped at the opportunity with both feet.
So at the end of July he and Overhand Joel, one of his long time students, came upstate to give us a taste of the real deal when it comes to 52, and let me tell you it was awesome. We covered many training drills and techniques as well as spending round after round sparring and applying our defense.
Lyte sparred everyone back to back on both days, never taking a break and never tiring or even slowing down. His movements were just as crisp when he finished as when he started and he never once was even breathing heavily. This guy could knock snot out of the Energizer Bunny for real.
Of course what kind of Swamp Seminar would it be if we didn't throw some knives and do a little bit of instinctive shooting. After Lyte and Joel saw how much fun we were having they wanted in on the action and so after a 10 minute lesson here are the results!
(Also see the article Alliance Coaching In Action where I break down some of the elements you see and hear me use when working with Lyte.)
In addition to all the good physical training, we spent hours discussing the martial arts and exploring the history of 52 Blocks. I will write more about this in future articles as well as more about the technical nature of the art. For now, suffice it to say that this is a real deal martial art with much to offer, especially to those of us who cross train in Filipino, Chinese, and Western boxing.
For those of you who have been tracking on the magic / martial arts connection as far as the deception is concerned, you will love this art. It is literally a way to attack your opponent's mind through their senses of sight, sound, angle, and measure. What you see is not always what you get in 52, and it's the punch you never saw that lands you on your ass (as everyone who's ever been in a fight knows all too well!)
Later this year we're going to get together again and film everything, so you'll have the opportunity to train alongside us from the comfort of your living room and get an inside look at one of the most elusive and mysterious of arts, 52 Blocks - moving out of the shadows and into the light!
All my very best to you,
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