As good as Shenmue 3 is, it does a poor job of explaining some basic mechanics.
One of the mechanics it glances over is blocking during combat, which is something you’re obviously going to want to do. Letting enemies just pummel you without putting up a defence in Shenmue 3 is just asking for trouble.
To block attacks in Shenmue 3, you simply need to hold the left trigger. Ryo will raise his hands a little when you hold it, and when an attack comes in he’ll block it to the best of his ability. Also, some attacks can only be performed while holding the block button. So, learn how to block, and you’ll also find your repertoire of moves expanding.