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Learn How to Break Boards: Karate Training Video Series #10

The Board, Technique & Size and Age of Athlete Matter in Breaking

By David Younglove

Let's go over in this Karate Training Video Series installment. There's a lot more going on with board breaks than you might think. It takes about 1,000 pounds per square inch of pressure to break one of these boards, so it doesn't just happen.

Breaking Board Dimensions and Wood Type

Pick up a 12 inch wide and 1 inch thick pine board. You'll cut these to length depending on the age and skill level of the person doing the breaking. I recommend starting with a 3-4 inch long board for young kids. At around age 10, start increasing that length to about 6 inches. For adults, 10 to 12 inch long boards are most common.

How to Hold a Breaking Board

Don't ever break against the grain. Your breaking surface, whether it be your hand, foot, elbow, etc. should always striking into the cup of the wood grain rings. When breaking multiple boards, the same applies. Make sure the grain of each board faces in the same direction and you continue to strike into the cup.
Your holder should have his/her front knee bent, back leg straight, lean in slightly, elbows locked. The holder is just as important as the striker.

Striking Focus for Board Breaking

When trying to penetrate the board with a strike, make sure your striking energy goes through the center of the board and does not stop at the board. You want to make sure that your energy continues through the board. In the case of a palm heel strike, imagine your arm going through the board until it reaches your elbow. Remember if you break a board it stings. If you don't, it hurts. So commit when you go through the boards.

Rebreakable Boards

Rebreakable boards are a much less expensive option for practicing your board breaking. There are multiple manufacturers of these boards, but the one we're showing today has a series of color coded boards based on difficulty. The yellow will break with the difficulty of about 1/2 of a 10 inch board (1x12x5 inches). The blue board breaks with the difficulty equivalent of about 3/4 of a board (1x12x7.5 inches). The red board is approximately equivalent of a full 1x12x10 inch pine board. The black board offers approximately 1.5 boards of difficulty.

Board Breaking Techniques

Board breaking can accomplished using a wide range of techniques, including a palm heel, a chop, a punch, an elbow and more. When punching, make sure you have conditioned your knuckles before attempting.

Speed breaking boards

Also known as unsupported breaks, speed breaks require greater speed in your technique because the board will not be held solidly in place. Always make to have the muscles of your striking surface flexed for maximum rigidity.
Note: Alway work with a professional when you're starting to learn how to break boards.
David Younglove
USA Karate & Platinum Yoga
Rosemount MN
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