There is no such thing as blocking in martial arts. There is only the diversion of energy (see energy loops/Yin and Yang) or when you attack the concentration of your energy to vital areas of your opponent’s body (see striking points).
The explanation to this statement is that a lot of practitioners don’t think about where they attack, or should attack, when they block a punch or a kick.
There are vital points all over the body, where the ”block” is supposed to hit. The “block” is therefore not a block, it’s an attack with doubled effect.
One major benefit of “diversion of energy” is that the enemy continues his attack path and therefore cannot change to another attack. At the same time, if your timing is correct you follow up with a counter attack.
Sometimes it is better to keep the guard, take the punch and to follow up with a counter-attack. If you perform a direct defence (attack), the opponent must move his attacked arm back to his defensive position: the hand back to the Guard, or the foot back to the ground. Thus, there opens up a moment for you to counter before his defensive position is reached. It is very stressful for him, for example, to revive a new kick after a block without putting his foot down first.
Here are two good drills you may practice.
One person is standing straight with the arms extended, shoulder-high, straight out from the body. He starts to rotate on the spot. The practitioner stands within reach of the first person. The object is to duck for the “propeller” every time the arms are about to hit. Remember to duck against the approaching arm.
The exercise may be advanced by having “the propeller” changing direction of the rotation randomly by the “propeller”. The practitioner has to duck and then deliver a predetermined set of strikes against the other person, stopping short of actually hitting him.
Here you can practice how to duck, withdraw or slide out of the way from your opponent’s efforts. There are two ways how to practice; standing or lying down.
In the standing version, one practitioner shall try to strike the other with only one hand all the time. The other is to maintain his guard up, but not block with the hands or arms. The purpose is to constantly circle one’s opponent without being hit, by moving backwards or sideways or by ducking, and without having to resort to blocking. “Running away” is of course not an option. All movements of the body shall be just enough so that the opponent’s strikes cannot connect.
The other version starts with the practitioner lying on his back, the opponent sitting on the practitioner’s chest. The opponent will now in a slower manner strike towards the practitioner’s forehead with both fists, one at the time. The practitioner shall try to avoid the strikes as well as possible. Now he may use his hands, and the goal is to throw off his opponent if he can.
Against straight punches, withdraw (“rock back”) or “slide to the side”.
Against hooks, duck under/towards the opponent’s arm.
Remember: It’s a lot harder for your opponent to hit a constantly moving body.
A martial arts practitioner who can fight without having to block with his hands, is a practitioner with good opportunities.