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How Many Blocks ARE In "52 Blocks"?
Copyright Pete Kautz 2017

When I mention to people that I study a style called 52 Blocks, one of the first questions that many of them have is "How many of them have you leaned?"

At first this surprised me, but I came to realize it's a natural question because on a literal level the style's name indicates that there should be 52 different blocking movements involved.

This is not the case, however, and the answer is a little more complex.

First of all, 52 is a vernacular martial art and thus every practitioner has their own way of doing it. While there are commonalities in the movement base there is also great variation from person to person. One may know only a few blocks while another else may know a variety of them.

Secondly, we must examine the meaning of the word "block". In this context it means to stop an opponent's attack using any method of defending ones self.

This may be accomplished by blocking in the conventional sense of interposing ones limbs to stop an incoming strike, but it can take many other forms as well.

For example, head movement can be a block. So can footwork. So can fight strategy. So can clever use of feints and the deceptive hand movements characteristic of the style.

On the street something you say to a person might be a block if it causes them to hesitate or allows you to avoid the fight entirely.

All of these things are part of defense and thus part of the art.

Now, there has been confusion in some quarters because in the case of 52 Blocks AOD (Art of Defense, Lyte Burly's personal expression of the art) there is a solo form he created at the urging of the late Mr. Gee, one of his mentors in 52. This is a pre-arranged sequence of movements or what you would call a kata (form) in Karate.

Because the form is 52 movements long this has lead some to believe there are 52 unique blocking actions being taught. This is not the case, however.

Lyte created the form so there would be a vehicle for passing on the movements of the art in a consistent way to future generations. Having learned traditional Chinese martial arts forms from his teachers Roberto Sharpe and Wilson Pitts, Lyte understood the value of a style having an easily transmitted playbook of moves.

Like in other martial arts, each movement has a number of applications and drills associated with it which a student learns at the same time. In Karate, without understanding the bunkai (practical applications) a kata is in essence a dance and in the same way 52 Blocks without applications is up-rocking, as demonstrated by legendary B-Boy Mr. Wiggles.

Inside of the form, certain key actions such as the Skull & Bones are repeated, so each section of the form (1-10, 11-20, etc.) has less than 10 unique blocking movements that must be learned.

For example, the initial 1-10 consists of:

1 Lead Skull & Bones
2 Lead Closed Door
3 Rear Closed Door
4 Lead Triangle Trade
5 Rear Triangle Trade
6 Uptown
7 Rear Skull & Bones
8 Lead Closed Door
9 Book Reading
10 Rear Cover the Bullet

The next section, 11-20 covers the use of the Revolving Door, the Robot, the Double Guard, the Shield, the Crown, the Windmill, and Rob the Bank

Following this, 21-30 introduces the Gangster Walk, We Love the World, the Stepladder, and the Catcher's Mitt

Subsequently, 31-40 brings in Black Man Rising, High Shield, Frame the Picture, the Glass Man, and Tug the Pant Leg

Finally, 41-52 gives us Low Gates, High Gates, the Windshield Wiper, Double Stop, Reverse Windmill, the Shell, Made You Look, and Jig Rack Smack Attack

(Readers please note that this list has never appeared in print publicly before and is being shared with the blessings of Coach Lyte Burly.)

In total, we see 30 basic hand shapes in the form, the majority of them done on both sides.

Readers familiar with 52 may notice that there are other known, named movements of 52 not included here such as the Catch & Kiss and Birds. This is because out of all the movements he learned, Lyte only incorporated the blocks he felt were the safest and most effective for the average person. Another fighter, however, might base their whole game on those two movements and still be successful because of the individualized nature of skill in 52.

If one felt the need, they could easily add up all the different drills and the various types of footwork and evasive head movement taught in AOD alongside the 30 hand shapes of the form and artificially come up with a list of 52 various items, but this is not the point. The number 52 is not there as a hurdle for us to jump over or as a governing limit on the skills that one can possess.

All my very best to you,

Pete Kautz

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52 Blocks Basic Training Vol.1
Coaches Lyte Burly and Pete Kautz cover essential drills for 52 such as the rolling punch, shoeshine drills, blocks and counter punches, head movement, sensitivity drills and the science behind why the blocks work to trick the eye!
Read About 52 Blocks Basic Training V.1 HERE
(80 Minutes, Just $20)


52 Blocks Footwork
Coach Lyte Burly covers footwork drills that will turbo-charge your feet and put “wheels” under all the blocks and strikes that you've learned so far. You've seen Lyte's footwork in countless YouTube sparring and training clips, now gain these skills for yourself!
Read About 52 Blocks Footwork HERE
(55 Minutes, Just $25)


52 Blocks Advanced Footwork
Coach Lyte Burly covers advanced two-man footwork drills with special guest Dink the Professor from the UK. Bonus footage of Blocks 11-20 done with the focus mitts is covered as well!
(48 Minutes, Just $25)


52 Blocks DVD Set
With FREE BONUS DVD 52 Blocks Razor Blade
Get 52 Blocks Basic Training, Footwork, & Advanced Footwork as a set and get a free bonus DVD on the use of the Razor Blade in 52 Blocks. Learn how to conceal not just 1 but 2 razor blades in your mouth and spit them out again as well as how to use them with the art. For academic study ONLY - this is shocking information! But having learned the "trick" you will hopefully be better able to defend against such an attack.
(4 DVDs Total - Just $70)

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