Breaking boards is fun until they hit back. . .

I'm finally getting around to posting about my last class of the year. Okay, here we go!

On the 9th, we had a different kind of class. A party and fun night. One of the instructors brought in at least two trees worth of boards. I'm not kidding. Well, it seemed like that because during stretching and exercises, he, another instructor, another student and I went outside and carried in big stacks of them. It looked like a little forest by the time we piled them all up. Some might say he overdid it -- bringing all he did -- but I can proudly say that our class broke all of them by the end of the night.

Before we made our way through those boards (pun intended), we finished up with our warm up and the four black belts demonstrated some things we don't normally see in class. There was a little Tai Chi and its application in self defense, and then a self defense demo from our only female black belt that regularly comes to class. But my personal favorite was the escrima demonstration. Oh, wow did that look cool! On a side note, we don't start weapons training until 1st dan, so that's why is it was even more exciting for me.

After the demos, we started with breaking. Our class is mostly made up of kids 7-13, and they all elected me to be the first student to break. How thoughtful of them to volunteer me like that. I felt so loved. [/end sarcasm] I thought it was rather funny actually. I didn't mind. I've gotten the chance to break once before and none of them had because a long while since we've done it -- so yeah. Anyway, I broke the first with a hammerfist, and then they were all eager to have a turn.

Someone brought a Sharpie, so we all signed our boards after we broke them. I broke four in all. One with a hammerfist, one with a punch, and one with a. . .straight or vertical punch I think it was called. My last was with a front snap kick (that gave me a good bit of trouble, but I got it finally).

We started wrapping class up, and I wanted to break one last board. The younger kids kept going to the front and they broke maybe 5-7 each. I let them go, but wanted to get to 5 before the night ended. We were almost out of boards, but our brown belt was still up there breaking. He handed me one and I laid it down between two concrete blocks. Well stupid me tried to break it against the grain on the first try. Major ouch. If you've broken boards before, you know what that's like. Well, it made a nice, loud thunk and needless to say -- did not break. Well, the brown belt and one of my instructors hears this lovely sound and they realize what happened. Talk about embarrassing.

So I tried it again, still hitting with a hammerfist. And guess what? It didn't break either. Now my hand is starting to throb a lot. So my instructor comes back over to help. He has me try it again with the same result. Now he gets down on my level (I'm on my knees) and talks to me and tells me that I'm slowing down before I'm hitting the thing. The other black belt had broke three boards without spacing earlier and he asks me: "When did I break the boards?" I was the only one out of the three that had no clue as to what he was talking about. The answer was 'before he had even gotten up there to break. He had already broken them in his mind.' Now it's come down to me hesitating because I'm not completely, absolutely sure I can break this thing. My first instructor has me close my eyes and visualize the board already broken. When I open my eyes, he tells me to give it one last shot. "Don't hold back. Be sure of yourself. Go through the board." Well, I'm determined to break this thing no matter if I'm whacking at it all night. I want to break it. So I give it that one last shot and. . ."Thunk." The sound of defeat. *sighs*

Well, my first instructor says that's enough for tonight and breaks it. He said that it was the best board of the night. A board that you'd build a house with. That didn't make me feel much better. I was disappointed in myself. It was just a piece of wood and I couldn't break it.

Before talking to my instructors, I didn't really know what they meant when they said that I was hesitating because I was unsure of myself. I see now what they meant. In certain areas of Tae Kwon Do I feel very confident in how I do and how I can teach things. But in other areas like board breaking and sparring, I'm not. This is only the second time I've broken, so I was second guessing myself.

But even after a swollen and bruised hand from that attempted break, I feel more determined than ever to improve in my sparring and even in future breaking. I want it so much that I just can't wait for January's class. I want to learn and do.

One of the black belts told me that my worst enemy is myself. My passion is for martial arts and I am determined to overcome my worst enemy: myself.

Until next time,



Perpetual Beginner said...

Ouch! I've missed a punch break (vertical fist) before. It hurts.

Your instructors are right. 90% of board breaking is confidence. On a really confident night I can do two boards with a punch. The miss was on a not-so-confident night with a single board.

I've only done a kneeling hammer fist once, on my brown belt test. Perhaps fortunately I was so nervous about punching out candles (which I did just before) that I forgot to worry about the haydite until I was kneeling in front of it. And by that time I was both relieved and confident because I had just done the candles, which I had been petrified about. So I popped right through the haydite.

CrimsonPhoenix said...

Thanks for the comment! Confidence is something I really need to improve on even more then I have. MA has helped me be more confident -- I've always been a very quiet, shy person, and having to teach has especially helped.

I've never seen someone punch out a candle before. Interesting. That sounds like it could be harder than a board break. Now I want to try that.

Perpetual Beginner said...

Candle-punching is interesting. It's all about speed, snap, and accuracy. We're required to punch out one candle with each hand (2 tries allowed) at our brown belt test. I have some entries before my brown belt test (Nov. 2007) discussing learning how to do it and what aspects gave me trouble.