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Tips for Martial Arts Board Breaking

Tips for Martial Arts Board Breaking

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As a Kukkiwon certified black belt in Taekwondo, I am giving you valuable tips on how to break boards with your bare hands effortlessly and with minimum discomfort.

Whether you're training in Taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu or any martial art that incorporates fist strikes and kicking, you will inevitably face the test and challenge of having to break boards to demonstrate your skill as a martial artist.

At every belt testing event in my Taekwondo school from white belt to black belt there was a requirement to break boards.

The anticipation of performing board breaking in front of an audience of people can be very daunting for children and adults of any age.

When I started martial arts, I was in my early 30s, and I was still terrified the first time I had to go in front of people and break boards.

What if the board doesn't break? What if I break my hand? What if I break my foot? Oh, the agony of worry!

The first tip for breaking boards is to silence those negative thoughts that are in your head. (It's okay if you don't break the board on your first try.)

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Do Not Be Afraid of The Board (Confidence)


Martial arts boards, though just a slim piece of dried pine wood, are sentient beings that know when you're afraid.

With every ounce of fear that accumulates in your soul, the board will become stronger.

Fear is a great deterrent, and you must overcome it.

Easier said than done, I know.

I was afraid of breaking the board once upon a time. My hands would sweat and I would be terrified, especially the time my taekwondo master surprised me and made me break two inch-thick boards at the same time during one belt test.

Taekwondo and all martial arts are trying to teach you confidence and mental strength. Embrace that teaching, for you will need it to effectively break boards.

While the board may become stronger with every bit of fear you have, so too will it become weaker with every bit of confidence you possess.

The more confident you are, the weaker the board becomes.

The board will become afraid of you.

I know this to be true. During my black belt test, I was required to break a 1" thick cement block to pass.

I broke the cement brick without hesitation, fear or any thought that I would not break it.

I knew I would break the block because I believed that I would.

That's all you need; the belief that you will break the board.

It will break.


Strike Through The Board (Technique)


As you're working to increase your confidence and mental strength, you're going to also develop your striking techniques.

One of the most powerful concepts of board breaking is the idea of striking through and beyond the board.

Don't stop at the board.

When you aim for the surface of the board, you're less likely to break it. Even if you do break the board, it may still hurt your hand or foot.

To make board breaking as easy as striking through a piece of construction paper, simply envision that there's something beyond your target, and focus on striking that.

When you imagine that there is something you're striking beyond the board, your fist or foot will go right through the board with very little to no discomfort.

If you're experiencing discomfort when breaking boards, even if you're confident and have no fear of breaking them, then you'll want to do greater conditioning of your hands and feet with a makiwara board.

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Condition Your Hands and Feet For Board-Breaking


A makiwara board is a board that has been wrapped in twine or rope and is used to condition the hands and feet for martial arts punching and kicking.

You can make a makiwara board at home.

Simply obtain a piece of wood similar to what you're breaking during your belt tests or board-breaking demonstrations and wrap it with twine or rope.

Once you have your makiwara board, start by striking it with your hands, fists and feet gently at first.

Increase the intensity and power of your strikes over time.

This repeated striking of the makiwara board will condition your hands and feet to make board breaking much easier.

Martial arts is all about progress and conditioning of the body and the mind, and the makiwara board is an essential tool for any martial artist.


The Bottom Line


When you're facing down a board during your belt test, with the audience eagerly awaiting your demonstration, remember to silence all fear inside your head and break through the board like it's nothing.

Have the mentality that you are strong because you are.

Never listen to the voice in your head that tells you that you can't do something. You can do anything you put your mind to, believe me.

With power, confidence and good technique, break the board and show it who is boss.


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1 comment

I’m testing for 3rd Dan soon, and I can tell you that this article is absolutely true and right on the money

Kim Chong ,

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