The Handbook

Block a Punch

It's a skill that's good to have, but hopefully you won't ever have to use it. No one wants a fist flying towards them. But just in case you find yourself squaring off with an angry guy who won't use his words, here's how to properly block a punch, according to defense expert Tony Blauer. He's the creator of the S.P.E.A.R. System, which relies on your body's natural startle/flinch mechanism to help you successfully defend yourself.

Look for Red Flags

Blauer says that before someone tries to hit you, there will be "pre-contact cues" that will tip you off that they're about to swing.

They red flags are:

• Quick, shallow breathing

• Suddenly shifting one foot in front of him

• Clenching his fist

• His shoulder "drops" (the first phase of the windup for most punches)

Face Your Opponent

Instinctively, you'll want to rotate your body away from danger, but that can throw off your balance. Blauer recommends driving toward the threat, converting the startle-flinch energy into forward motion. As you drive forward, keep your body square to your attacker.

Intercept the Punch

Instead of using your arms simply to shield your face (which would likely block your vision), extend your arms as if you're passing a basketball, and drive your palms and forearms toward your opponent. As you thrust your hands and forearms forward, you'll instinctively angle them toward the punching arm and shoulder. This will allow you to properly deflect the blow.


Despite what you might've seen on TV, you should never put a raw steak on a black eye. An ice pack will suffice.