young karate student breaks wodd boards

Is board breaking important in martial arts? Part I

There is so much controversy and tons of opinions on this subject. How important board breaking is in the martial arts will also depend on what style you practice. Opinions aside, there are some styles that just don’t include strikes. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Aikido are the first to come to mind. You will have not have success waiting for the board to tap out. Nor will you be able to find a hand on that board to manipulate into a painful position.

Now that we have that out of the way we can share a great post we found concerning this very topic. But first, our opinion.

Our philosophy on board breaking

Our karate school holds a Wood-Breaking Week about 4 times a year. Our brown belts are required to set-up and execute a 4-station break as a step in earning their black belt. (A 4-station break means the student must succesfully break boards with 4 different techniques at 4 different set-up stations.) So, there you have our answer. Yes it’s important!

The wood boards are 1″ thick, 12″ long and either 4″, 6″ or 8″ across. The younger and newer students always break the smaller boards. Our advanced students graduate to the larger boards and additionally, stack boards together for high-powered and experienced techniques.

Of course having a board to break is absolutey necessary, but there is more to it than that. We routinely teach and quiz our students on what each needs in order to break the board(s). There are 4 components a student needs in order to generate the power needed to be succesful. Let’s look at those next.

The 4 components for success in board breaking

Confidence

A student must believe that he or she can break that board. Of course our student’s must have a few classes under their belt as a beginner, and he or she will only be asked to use basic techniques. But believing in one’s own ability is first and foremost in board breaking.

Technique

Karate is very repetitive and students practice a specific technique many, many times before attempting to break a board. Proper technique involves using specific parts of your hands, feet, legs and arms. While someone not educated in martial arts may think a kick is a kick is a kick, student’s with proper training know better!

Focus

So you believe in yourself and you have great technique. All that means nothing without focus! For comparison, think about hitting a specific target on a stand-alone training bag. If you miss the target by a couple of inches in either direction, you will most likely still hit the training bag itself. Now think about having to strike the exact middle of a 6″ wide wooden board. A few inches on either side could mean missing the board completely. When you want to apply that same technique in a self-defense situation, you don’t get a second chance to get it right!

Speed

This is one of the coolest components because it has a lot to do with physics. Simply speaking a student would need to generate a speed of 20 feet per second to succesfully break one board. We could never attempt to explain the science as well as the article we found: How Board Breaking Works BY OISIN CURRAN

As the article mentions, follow-through is crucial to actually breaking the board. We never understood the science behind it (now we do!), but part of coaching a student is to tell him or her to try to hit a target just beyond the board. This helps the student to go through the board, and not stop at the board.

But why is board breaking important?

The article How Board Breaking Works illustrates a couple of the arguments for and against board breaking. It also thankfully puts to rest some of the myths regarding martial arts and injuries.

We’ll go a little deeper and explain why board breaking is an important part of our training in Is board breaking important in the martial arts? Part II. Stay tuned or get on our blog’s e-mail list to automatically get weekly posts!

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