Dear Taekwon-Do brothers and sisters,
The Covid 19 situation continues to challenge large swathes of our shared World. It has severely curtailed Taekwon-Do activities in every country.
2020 was expected to be a very busy year for ITF UNION with the Asian Championships in Japan, the Pan-American Championships in Costa Rica and the European Championships in Poland. All these major events were not possible to run due to the virus.
We are all hopeful that 2021 will see a better future for all our Taekwon-Do family throughout the world.
I am now requesting all countries to begin the process of planning a new calendar of events. The Union requests that you submit a poster and an accompanying information letter so that we can promote and indeed support your event.
We are planning our World Championships in October 2021 and expect this to be our biggest event yet.
Please submit your event to the website as soon as possible (www.itfunion.com).
Stay safe and we hope to see you soon.
President ITF UNION
THE DYNAMIC ART OF BREAKING.
By Grand Master Norman Creedon 9th degree
Chairman of the ITF UNION Promotion Committee.
One of the most important areas of Martial art training is breaking. Perhaps more so than any other area. None can capture the imagination more than the sight of someone demonstrating their power by breaking wood and bricks with their bare hands and feet. But we must bear in mind that breaking is only one facet of a martial artist’s training. It helps the student to develop speed, power, accuracy, concentration and confidence.
Breaking techniques are usually employed as part of promotional testing and public exhibitions, and are not a part of normal martial art training. However, there are times in every students career when the question will arise: just how powerful are my kicks and punches ?. If need be, could I really hurt someone with these. Breaking helps to answer these questions. Naturally the more boards we can break, the faster and more powerful our kicks and punches will be.
Unless one is prepared to step into a full contact ring, something which most students are not prepared to do, then we can never fully guage or understand how realistic or effective our martial art techniques can be. What breaking can do is provide a means whereby students can take some of their favorite fighting techniques and then test their speed and focus by using them for breaking.
This is where building confidence come in. If the student can break boards or bricks with these techniques, then they can be fairly confident that they will work in a self defense situation.
And yes, sometimes it can hurt. Even if the boards break you can sometime experience a nagging soreness which usually disappears the following day. However we discipline ourselves to accept it.
It is not very practical to practice breaking techniques that one would not normally use in a self defense situation. For example, sometime you see people breaking tiles or large blocks of ice with the palm heel. While at first glance this may look impressive, it does nothing to enhance or develop a person’s fighting skills. It just allows for an easy and safe way to break and, in my opinion, a rugby player or weight lifter would do it better.
As stated earlier, breaking should be a test of one’s favourite and most realistic techniques. A test of confidence, speed, power and focus..
It is not uncommon to see students when practicing breaking, setting up the boards, then measuring up and taking practice runs. This is perfectly normal and should be encouraged for lower grades.
However senior Dan grades when demonstrating their skills, should just set up the boards and then go for it. In a self defense situation, you can’t ask an aggressor to hold on for a minute while you measure up and maybe take a few practice runs. In a confrontation you will only get one chance.
Successful breaking largely depends upon the way the boards are held or set up. Boards should be gripped tightly at the corners, with the grain all running in the same direction (usually horizontal). For single board breaking, two people can hold the board, their outside feet in front, and their inside feet in back, creating a locked tripod effect. Their shoulders are together and each hand holds a corner, outside hands on the bottom and inside hands on top.
For bulk breaking, a second pair of assistants should act as wrist and and arm bracers for the original pair. When held properly, the boards will not move when hit, and if executed properly, with full speed and penetration, the student will succeed in breaking.
This is another important factor; always strike beyond your target. If you stop your strike at the surface of the target, you will not go through it. Always strike through the target with penetration.
The typical board used for breaking is one inch pine or white deal, measuring one foot sguare. Try to avoid boards that have large knots in the grain. They don’t really matter with single board breaks, but will be extremely difficult with bulk breaking, or with aerial breaks of an acrobatic nature. It should be worth noting here that I recognize that most schools now use the breakable boards that fit back together, however this article is intended for those who prefer to practice on materials such as boards, brick or roof tiles.
Breaking materials such as boards have flexibility. In fact, boards have more “bend” or give than roof tiles or bricks, and will only break after they have been pushed past their bending limit. This is another reason why you should always strike deep and with penetration. Once you have mastered the basic breaking techniques, you should be ready to move on to more difficult technique, such as aerial, blindfolded and speed breaks.
The speed break is a break that’s accomplished by sheer speed and precision of technique through a board that’s suspended at one end. You spin right through the target keeping the knee of your supporting leg bent. Typical speed breaks include spinning back fist, spinning knife hand and spinning hook kick.
Blindfolded breaks require a high degree of concentration and kicking skill. It also requires a great deal of practice. You have to be familiar with your kick in order to place it on your target with enough speed and power to break it. Start first by hitting a soft pad or hanging bag with your eyes closed. As your speed and accuracy increase, along with your confidence, you can graduate to using a blindfold.
Arial breaks, as the name implies are breaks performed in the air. Like the blindfold breaks, they also require a great deal of practice and concentration. In practicing these techniques you build up a great deal of speed, as well as accuracy. When breaking more than one target in the air you must learn to kick at two different targets accurately and with enough power in each kick to break your targets. Your co-ordination is also greatly enhanced, as you have to use both feet effectively.
There are other breaking techniques even more flamboyant and difficult to perform. The more difficult the break, the greater the likelihood of a mistake and possible injury. The aim of this article is to provide practical guidelines for successful breaking. It is in no way intended to take the place of a competent instructor. Regardless of your other martial art skills, when learning how to break, always do so under the direction of a qualified instructor. Caution and common sense should be your first consideration, not how spectacular a break appears to be.
It may also be necessary to toughen the parts of your body that you wish to break with, especially if you intend to break more than one board. You can toughen or condition your forefist by performing the techniques against a bag or by using a forging post or makiwara. By conditioning these striking parts, you will be able to hit harder, and with more effect, while eliminating the risk of injury.
Finally, the art of breaking should be the ultimate demonstration of the martial arts demanding a great deal of confidence in his or her abilities. Train regularly and you will find that breaking will greatly enhance your present abilities, and offer you new challenges for which to reach for in the future.
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