You all heard this fighting style referenced on numerous occasions by members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Some people call it BS, some say it would never work against a traditional style. But according to a growing number of sources, during close range fighting, such as inside cells or hallways, it has been practiced for quite some time. 52 Hand Blocks is one of many Jail House Rock styles and there is a documentary coming out soon.

Link to trailer for upcoming 52 Handblocks documentary
Video of 52 Handblocks versus other forms at close range – But to be fair the guy looks a lot stronger than his opponents who fight in more traditional styles
Discussion of the fighting style – Some highlights of this discussion include input from Doug Century, who did a piece in Details magazine about 52 blocks back in 2001.

“I’ve talked to some prominent prizefighters such as Zab Judah and Bernard Hopkins who know of the technique, did several long interviews with Dennis Newsome, and John Sowett (sp.) who published the book Martial Arts around the World. Newsome is probably the most scientifically knowledgable about it — he won’t refer to it as a martial arts, but as a prison survival art. Much thanks for posting old Black Belt article: I never thought of Floyd Patterson’s peekaboo stance, later picked up by Tyson, as being influenced by Jailhouse fighting, but it’s very probable.”

– And an excerpt from a 1974 Black Belt Magazines article:

From BLACK BELT MAGAZINE, July, 1974: “Karate in Prison: Menace, or Means of Spiritual Survival?” by Anne Darling and James Perryman, p. 21:
Another ex-inmate says the first time he ever saw a karate technique was in Coxsacki, a New York prison, in 1948. “The different prisons had and still have their own fighting styles,” he says. They were prison martial arts, not traditional styles. In fact, Kid Gavilan (world welterweight boxing champion, 1951-54) used a Coxsacki variation, and Floyd Patterson’s peekaboo style was a Coxsacki variation, too. Because of limited space in prison, we learned wall-fighting techniques. Then a lot of former G.I.s in the joint had learned hand-to-hand combat – they came home, styled it, made it hip, and gave it soul.”

Miguel “Miky” Pinero, while an inmate of Sing-Sing, wrote a play called “Short Eyes” about the killing of a sex offender in a house of detention. The play is now a smashing success at the Public Theater in New York. Pinero describes his introduction to prison martial arts: “The first thing I did in the joint was to check out the style and learn to fight with a home piece – somebody from my neighborhood on the streets. I learned the Woodbourne shuffle, an evasion technique that first was used in the joint at Woodbourne and got passed around. Then I learned wall-fighting, and somebody taught me the Comstock style.

The Comstock style, named for an upstate New York prison, involves what one inmate calls “the use of dirty fighting techniques.” The object is to lure an opponent into thinking he is going to get a “fair one – then go for a quick, sneak kick to the ankle, kneecap, or family jewels.”

Does Kimbo Slice know 52 Handblocks?