Saturday was Break Day at the Academy of Okinawan Karate, and this year I broke three boards with a hammer fist strike. I had a student record it on my phone. He held it at a funky angle, but you can see what’s happening:
The cheering you’re hearing is the word senpai, which roughly translates to senior student. In a sense it’s what we’d think of as a mentor or big brother. I help out around the dojo, help teach, and substitute teach when Sensei is gone, so I get a fancy title.
The break was easier than I expected. I cut out the boring parts of my practice strikes, so there I am psyching myself up for a moment before doing the strike. Next time I’ll have to decide between doing three boards with a vertical punch, or moving up to four boards with a stomp kick. Any time a student wants to break an additional board, our school has the student perform that break first with a stomp kick to get a feel for the strength of the stack with an added board. If I do four, I’ll have a little more freedom of choice for breaks during demos or future break days.
The board is a simple pine board. They grab pine planks at the lumber yard, have them cut into the boards, and we bust ’em up. There is no other prep like pre-cuts or baking. Younger students get smaller boards, but they still break pine. It’s all an exercise in boosting confidence, so the instructors make sure every student is able to perform their break.
It’s a lot of fun, and I’ll be posting our students’ break pics in the near future.