Tuesday, 12 February 2013

"Makki"; Does It Actually Mean "Block"?

Makki (막기) is often translated as "Block" in most Taekwondo Textbooks but if you care so much about Taekwondo that you actually look it up in a dictionary you will find that it can be "prevent" or
"avoid" not a single "block" in sight... The word Makki is a conjugated word from the word "Makda". If you look up the unconjugated verb "Makda" (막다) you get all sorts of meanings:
  • Obstruct
  • Block
  • Occlude
  • Jam
  • Prevent
  • Keep off
  • Ward off
  • etc

We do get a somewhat defensive theme going on, but the english word "block" allthough a simple enough word and a valid translation it seems does not really convey the meaning of Makda/Makki but rather just one aspect of it. Yes these are "defensive movements" but it seems that the "static blocks" you automaticly think when you here the word "block" there is all sorts of neuances in the original language of Taekwondo. Look at the top word in the bullet list above: "Obstruct" here the techniques are used to obstruct the attack but how? Thats up to your imagination. The second word block is where an attack i made and the defender tries to slam it away with a static "block". As for the third word "Occlude" I can safely say I have no idea what it means:-) Hey English is not my native language and they surely did not teach us "occlude" in school:p

"Jam" is another concept of defense that I find intriguing. A telegraphed haymaker winding up before comming forward? Jam it at the bicep area and the harder he hits the more pain he gets. That was just one single example but hey its only your imagination that sets the limits. "Prevent" conjures up a whole new view. Instead of waiting for the attack to acutally happen and then staticly block it here is a technique that actually prevents the attack alltogether!

Keep off and ward of? Also far away from the mental images that "block" conjures up in my mind. The first might be a concept of closing his attacking limbs maybe by crossing his arms or something or maybe release techniques from holds? Ward off is not really the concept of parrying that I first thought.. Parrying is where you kinda "slap" the attacks away from you with short movements. Ward of is much more moving the attacking limb out of the way and "sticking to it" rather than a parry in my mind. I might be mistaken about this but hey thats my own limited understanding.

The point of this post? Look at all the various "Makki" techniques you have at your disposal being a Taekwondo student and try not to tranlsate the word "Makki" with block. See if the movements does fit in with the other translations instead. That might be one "key" to open up a lot more "practical" approaches to "Makki" techniques than what is usually portraied:-)

24 comments:

  1. Hello
    funny you should start on this topic. i just posted part one of a discussion on the "Motion of a Middle Block" you may find it interesting:

    http://www.returningwavesystems.com/?p=195

    i hope to get some pictures into these things and put them out on magazine. let me know what you think.
    richard

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    1. Great minds think alike:-p I really enjoyed your article and look forward to your next part of it. There were so many brilliant formulated sentences in it I caught myself thinking that I should quote you any chance I could get:p

      A few piccies and you are all set to publish in the magazine. I know that this is stuff I like to read about:-) It might help to translate your terminology to Korean though as many closed minded people can not see past the japanese terminology and think that the stuff dont apply to them and their art.

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  2. One of the uses for 'blocks' ive found through extensive experimentation is that almost all of them (I only say almost because im not so sure about some of the interpretations ive made) do one of two things, either with the 'block' or the pull. 1: Offbalance and hinder defense. 2: Control the spinal column (which includes the neck).

    Those are two things that only really work RIGHT up close. Theyre also really simple. For example, one of my interpretations of a high block is an outward forearm strike to the neck with the other hand on the wrist (and i believe ive read you saying the same someplace). If you try it even on yourself, even if the limb being pulled and the limb being 'pushed' dont move much, your shoulder is turned, your back is turned, and your neck is turned. In the high block, youre pulled to your left whilst your head (and most importantly, your neck) is pushed to your right (assuming its a left hand high block). Its uncomfortable even to pose yourself that way, and the effect of a full out pull and strike is not a nice thought. It also happens to be improbably to defend against, because the block goes over the held arm, not in front of it. Theres nothing you can do with your arm to stop it.

    Sorry for the long reply, but its the easiest way of rambling about spinal control methods being translatable from 'blocks' :)

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    1. Ramble away my friend, thats why the blog is called "Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings";) Thanks for that Tarcek:-)

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    2. This is also pretty much the only place on the internet where people are actively discussing these things (in relation to taekwondo, specifically). A few places touch on it, but this is a compounded ramble epicenter. Whats not to like!

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  3. hello
    while i am delighted that you liked it perhaps i should rewrite it a little to make my point clearer. that is, because of the lack of detailed Korean descriptive terminology, much of the fine detail of applications is lost. to my knowledge there are no real Korean cognates to the Japanese FUNCTIONAL descriptions of the motions.

    over the years i have found that the Chinese have very lyrical descriptions of the techniques "flower hiding under leaf" would be what we would consider the chamber motion for a middle block. the Japanese have a word for every movement. if you wiggle your finger--there is a word for it. To me, for the most part, the Koreans simplify it all to a description of the gross body movement or purpose. "middle body block" i guess says it all, but really doesn't say enough.
    richard

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    1. I read it once more. I do not think you need to do much rewriting Richard:-) I had a slow day. But I believe the older terminology in Ji Do Kwan as used in Sihak Henry Cho`s Korean Karate from 68 did use Korean terminology based on function in many cases mirroring the Japanese terminology you provide in your article. They later abandoned it and developed the simplified terminology we have today wich has pros and cons. Once you have teared your mental box apart the simplified terminology can be used to describe the movement contained in the "technique". Is like in one of my earlier posts when I wrote about the book called "75 low blocks" where the author had found 75 different applications to low block movement. It is far easier to say "Arae Makki" and demonstrate to the students than to come up with and memorize 75 different names for the virtually same movement.

      PS I love the Chinese terminology approach also:-)

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  4. hello
    since you popped up while i had been writing a reply Mr. Silan let me help you have some more fun with your high block.

    grab an acupuncture book and find Lung 5 (inner forearm just below elbow) you don't have to be too specific as you are attacking the radial nerve. then go find Stomach 5 (on jaw) or the middle of the SCM muscle (midway on neck).

    so, you have grabbed wrist with left hand, bring right hand down in a scooping motion towards you. this will produce in a sudden movement what you have been looking at in doing it mechanically. only in this case his forward knee will buckle, his other arm (the one that was going to hit you) will fly backwards and he will present the side of his neck to you. your upward block (high block) will then strike ST5 or SCM.

    this will all happen quite rapidly and produce a physiologic shock. the completed "high block" motion will produce an instant knockout. i urge you to practice the forearm strike gently (NO MORE THAN 2% OF YOUR NORMAL STRENGTH!) until you get his knee to bend. the upper movement is very easy to target.

    have fun, don't knock anyone out, and let me know how you do.
    richard

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    1. To start with, i think ive benefitted more from buying an acupuncture book, just generally speaking.

      With that being said, my compounded results - this is compounded so far as im listing just what i learnt, since its very similar to my original interpretation. They were grabbing the wrist and using the block as an attack, or a defense against a lapel grab, one or two handed.

      Its hard to miss the jaw/neck - Now i just have a pretty great reason for aiming for them, other than 'its the jaw and the neck!' Neck off, its a car crash effect. Loading all their weight onto one foot in order to offbalance them. This is why i like discussing things - I worked that out with some other stuff, but never came back and applied it to high blocks.

      Thats quite useful. Thanks :)

      Also, for general reference, we always practice just with enough contact to show that contact is taking place. As fun as it would be to try things out and decide what works by seeing what 'works' when you actually do it, its generally just better to take it slow. If something is difficult to defend against slowly and relaxedly, a sharp forceful version would be much harder to defend against. Speed and power can come into play on dummies, if you really want to bash something around. Plus, practicing softly means you can practice whatever you want. If its simple itll be even easier sped up. Like high blocks gliding over arms into necks and jaws.

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  5. We practice gently, dont worry :)

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    1. Great. I think Richard forgot to add a legal disclaimer so do not kill anyone:p

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    2. No murdering took place. Only a few knockouts. (Im joking :) )

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  6. hello
    not to eat up oerjans space but to show how senile i am getting: i completely forgot that i had a similar movement shown. it is from palgae 4 but shows much of it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZznyEEIs1o&list=UUW2kzoDAXtiwlRpqxrd3ueQ&index=12

    hope that it helps.
    richard

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    1. Thanks for the link Richard, its been a long time since I last saw that one:-) Do not worry about "eating up my space" as I really enjoy reading the comments:-)

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  7. I enjoy your article, but for once I prefer (but even that much) the japanese terminology -- uke --, coming from "ukeshiro", as I remember, that goes with an even wider meaning, something around "reception" or "response". That's why in aikido, for example, "uke" is the person who receives one technique.
    In my view, those "block techniques" are not even strict techniques always in my opinions (not always, I mean -- the apps vary). Sometimes they're also plain motor principles of fighting. For example: the chambering hand is frequently previously extended forwards: this can always be used as a parry -- and later used to control a trapped limb (two principles). Then it goes further: as the concept is a little wider -- reception or response -- you don't need to necessarily be responding to a strike, but also to other kind of attack -- a grab, for example. Also, frequently, if one hand extends (before chambering), the other one is already contracted, in a guarding position: if this "guarding" hand (the later usual "blocking hand") is enough to block (yes, now I mean block) the way of the attacking limb, the extended arm can be use as an imediate attack (so imagine there can be 2 attacks in one single "block"). Imagine a classic middle block in this example: the "blocking arm" goes to the side of head to obstruct a haymaker punch, as the other arm extends striking the attacker in the eyes, or with a simple simultaneous punch. If the "block" comes with body moving offline the application becomes even more effective, and we shouldn't discard the later using of the pulling hand to trap the attacker's limb, again, or at least grab his clothes, limb or head to counter-attack more effectively.
    However, I believe we must seek more meaning to all of those motor principles in forms. Although I'm sometimes a little suspicious about taekwondo forms (I believe the whole idea of forms could be maybe not very clearly understood by some who created them -- what also must've happened to more modern karate forms as well, btw), I can tell even the Taegeuk Pumsae series feel very right to me, once they are mostly keep the main motion templates seen in the older (but not so much) Heian/Pinnan and off course their older father/grandfather Kusanku (Kanku Dai/Sho) and other forms Anko Itosu could have used to create the Pinnan kata. So in most instances I believe the Taegeuk Pumsae, fortunately still hold most of the good old lessons. Unfortunately I have no experience with ITF forms, so I couldn't speak about them.
    Anyway, as those "blocks" motions come directly from other systems -- notably shotokan --, info that work for those systems should work for taekwondo as well. Then we shouldn't forget that this descriptive terminology is rather modern and wasn't used before the days of Funakoshi. I've read somewhere that Itosu even used some terminology, too, but it was Funakoshi who stabilished the now more known names most use today. So when a technique doesn't even have a name (and in the old days apparently they didn't have one), we are free to use it the way it works for us. All in all, good fighting is fluid enough so it should hardly be descripted in such restrictive terms like "block".

    [continues]

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  8. [continuing the previous comment]

    I love the Chinese ways of naming the movements Richard mentioned. Their vague meaning allows open minded thinking and also adds some good poetics -- why not? :D
    Finally, Orjan, my friend, I hope to put my own blog online as soon as possible, and I always think of making it bilingual mostly because of you. I've been digging deeply into forms and mainly blocking motions, and seem to have learned some great lessons I'd like to share and discuss with you, in case you don't already know them. Maybe I could translate only some more important articles, so we could discuss the subjects.
    One last thing: have you already signed in at Dan Djurdjevic's Traditional Fighting Arts Forum? I asked you this some time ago, already. It'd be great to see such a clear mind like yours talking there in the taekwondo section (unfortunately not very active lately). You'd surely have me as a partner in the discussions. Richard would totally be welcome as well.
    Best regards.

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    1. Hi Samir:-) Thanks for giving your viewpoint it is really appreciated and I enjoyed reading it as I am not so well aqaunted with the Japanese terminology or language:-)

      I have registered on traditional fighting arts forum as "oerjan":-) It is a great forum (allthough the Korean martial arts section is a little dead):-) And let me know when the blog is alive and I will post a link to it from my blog:-)

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    2. I just noticed you have registered!
      You are right, the KMA forum has been a little dead lately. Curiously I've posted a good amount of questions on Taekwondo in another forum, in the last months, and I'm almost sure you would've answered most of all of them (and maybe we could've built some further knowledge after that).
      Anyway, I'm having some ideas and I think I could post them there (that forum is much more open-minded than the other I mentioned), so we could discuss those ideas there. Maybe we could also come up with some subject to your blog as well (and mine in near future!).
      I'll be immensely proud if you post a link of my blog in yours. Anyway, don't forget that the main content is planned to be in Portuguese, as I believe we Brazillians are lacking sources in our native language. But I'm surely planning to have some articles in both Portuguese and English. :D

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  9. Hello
    i think that we are essentially agreeing. to further amplify your point as i see it:
    uke does mean to receive/ or reception, but there is more to it.

    uke also (in the doer/receiver construct) means "neutral" . the Uke neither resists or overemphasizes, i.e., jumping ahead of the technique as is sometimes seen in Hapkido demos where the tori twists a finger and his opponent jumps 6 feet in the air. those are not "following skills" that is a show.

    later on, as experience is gained, uke is no longer is neutral, he begins to actively resist the application of the technique. he eventually becomes "Tekki" = enemy.
    richard

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    1. Hello, Richard.
      I was sure to have posted an answer to your message yesterday, but somehow I don't see it here.
      Thank you for adding that info, going deeper on what I had previously mentioned. That is very well appreciated.
      If I do decide to translate some of my future articles to English, I won't do it only with Orjan in mind, but you as well. I hope my blog becomes worthy enough to receive both you and him as visitors (I'll send links once it's online).

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    2. Richard: Are you really saying that the Hapkido masters can not get his opponent to jump 6 feet into the air by twisting his fingers and using his secret Ki-techniques???? Boy you sure chrushed my dreams... Soon you will probably say that the Shaolin monks performances are essentually tricks and not Chi-magic too???

      Joking aside thanks for that indepth look:-) It seems you have a very good grasp on the JMA as well as the KMA:-)

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  10. hello
    i have always been one to try to use my illusions! having said that: pigs do fly,there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, and "death and taxes" effect no one.

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  11. thanks for share..

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  12. This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things.
    focus

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