Sonkal Daebi Makgi

After punching techniques Sonkal Daebi Makgi is one of the most, if not the most common, technique found in the patterns. However, little or no time is spent in modern teaching investigating the application of the movement. Often it is labeled as part of a ready stance in preparation to attack. However in my opinion knife hand guarding block is one of the most important movements in the patterns

There are a couple of things wrong with the idea of knife hand guarding block being used as a guard, the most obvious of which is that is is fairly ineffective for that purpose. It is quite an open movement and it doesn’t protect a person’s head. The hands are placed relatively low, and the front hand is extended too much for an effective guard. Other reasons against the guarding application would be, why have guarding block all the way through the forms? and also that a guard is very basic and would be trained in other ways during martial instruction.

So what is it for? For me understanding the knife hand guarding block is the keys to understanding a lot of the movements found in the patterns. If you think of a fight you opponent will instinctively bring his arms up to defend himself. We then need a way to get in and attack. This is where the knife hand guard block comes in as technique to get you opponents arms out of you way. This is far from a reactive block or a ready stance, but rather a proactive technique to move or grab the arms of your opponent and move them to open up target areas.

The most basic example of this is the opening of Dan Gun. The front hand could be used to move or secure the arms of the opponent before stepping through with the attack. However, there is a good chance that your first attempt will fail, so what then? The answer is also in Dan Gun, you apply another knife hand block. The three knife hands in pattern means you have practiced left-right, right-left combinations. So you can work round an opponent arms and try to ‘get in’ also if your first attempt is grab then you can respond with the second.

This idea is supported by entering techniques being a feature of many traditional martial arts. You will see them represented in many forms from China and Japan. In fact I was actually in the practice of the Chinese martial art of Xingyiquan that the entering application of knife hand guarding block occurred to me.

To apply a knife hand, or indeed any entering technique, well you need good timing and distancing skills. In order to train this we have ot start simply and build slowly. First of all we have to we have to feel what it is like to work around someone’s arms. To do this I get a partner to stand with both arms extended and I just work around them moving from inside to outside, using knife hand guarding blocks. When we feel comfortable with that practice we progress to my opponent holding his arms in a guard to practice moving and pulling his arms. Then we add movement to the drill and finally start to add in attacks and counters.

Use of the knife hand guarding block is what I see as one of the foundation skills, of Taekwondo self-defence and a lot of time should be taken to understand and apply it. When it is mastered many of the other techniques of the patterns will become clearer and easier to apply

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3 thoughts on “Sonkal Daebi Makgi

  1. Ørjan Nilsen

    Hi there and great post:-) Enter and exit techniques are an often overlooked part of modern Karate/ Taekwondo, but I am wondering here if you are using the “Karate chamber” for the knife hand guarding block? I thought the Chang Hon way of doing it was the same as the Kukkiwon way of doing it; Both hands move back before ending up in the final position.

    In your post I get the feeling you are using the Karate chamber with one arm in front and one at your ear, before pulling the front arm infront of your solar plexus and the other at the end position of knife hand block?

    Both chambers were used in Taekwondo as late as 1968 (Henry Cho demonstrate both in his book secrets of korean karate) but in modern times the “karate chamber” has dissapeared from the Kukkiwon system.

    Reply
  2. tacticaltaekwondo Post author

    Very good question. I use both, for the initial attempt the TKD way is OK, but of course much smaller than the way it is performed in the pattern. for continued use you can do either but i prefer the karate way. the karate motion allows a person to stay in contact as you try to enter, rather than losing contact and trying to start all over again.

    thanks for the comment

    Reply
    1. Ørjan Nilsen

      I agree with you there and maybe that is why Ji Do Kwan used both versions well into the 60s.

      I think that the Taekwondo version is more suited as a “block” against a haymaker punch. I pulled it off instinctivly as a green belt many years ago the only thing that lacked was the actuall knife hand strike. I went forward inside the haymaker punch and stopped it with both my arms as a “block” (I simply lifted my arms in front of my head). A fellow student observed this and told me that it looked as I had invented my own block and it looked kinda like the chamber for double knife hand block (a lot shorter than the form obviously). I did not follow up but I know that had I trained it as a response controlling his arm with one of mine and doing a knife hand strike to the neck with the other would be perfectly possible. Block with the chamber, controlling and striking with the “actual” block.

      “In 5 years One Kata” Bill Burger shows a very similar technique/ application for the Taekwondo chamber allthough he called it “Old Shotokan Chamber”.

      I doubt it would work well for a faster straight punch but for a telegraphed comitted haymaker I really think it would.

      Thanks for writing this. The applied Taekwondo blogs are quite few and very far between. Keep on posting:-)

      Reply

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