Striking and Blocking
This is in response to the side discussion taking place as to whether or not it is possible to deliver a fully-committed attack while simultaneously blocking. One side says that if you are fully committed to the attack, then any movement toward a block or a guard weakens your resolve, your power, or your intent. The other side of the argument says that this strike and block idea is exactly what the good fighters strive for.
I study Tae Kwon Do as well as Aikido, and I see some of each side of that argument, but must come down on the side that it IS possible to strike and block at the same time:
First, look at a basic technique (a punch) from Tae Kwon Do or another striking art. The student steps into a very forwardly-powerful front stance, and as the striking hand shoots forward from the hip the opposite hand pulls backward as powerfully to really put the hips and whole body into the technique. There doesn't sound like a lot of guard or blocking ability being maintained there. But that is just the start of it. Because what is a "basic" technique in a striking art except the purest, strongest form of a body movement, executed under controlled, perfect conditions? My TKD instructor references something he was told at a seminar once (sorry, don't know from whom), that even though we will NEVER throw a punch the way that we do a basic punch, the reason that we do the basic techniques is so that on the street, when we bastardize what we know and the other guy bastardizes what he knows, we will be a bit closer to a pure transfer of energy.
So, is it important to study against an all-out attack, where the uke has left himself very little blocking ability? There is a time for this, especially to consider concepts involved. But this is a stylized encounter, and not one likely to be found outside the dojo. But back to the original question. Can we block and punch at the same time?
I think so. In my TKD we teach this as a "blick" (block-kick) or a "blunch" (block-punch). Because what is faster, a block followed by a punch, or a punch delivered as the block makes contact? Really, what is a block except an offensive strike to something attacking you? That is what it comes down to for me: an attitude. I'm not on defense. I'm going on offense twice over. I'm hitting your arm and your face at the same time. In that single-minded attitude I find the same "one-sword-cut" philosophy mentioned above, but without the self-sacrificial fatalism that can be attached to it.
I think that we train to deal with the most centered opponents that we might encounter. In iriminage, the initial cut and balance-taking, if done correctly, is often enough to plant someone on the ground. Because of our uke's mid-technique ukemi, allowing them to save their center and continue on, we as nages are presented with an opponent who has survived that lead, and our technique continues. Similarly, we should train (occasionally) against people who are very centered and powerful in their striking, enough to do this blunching or blicking, so that we see that too.