How your child can learn self confidence, focus and the power of positive thinking by breaking a board!

Board breaking is something I do with my children in class.  For those of you that haven’t heard of board breaking, it is where a student punches or kicks a plastic or wooden board and breaks it with their strike.  Board breaking is something that went out of fashion a while back and not a lot of Choi Kwang Do classes still use it but over the past few years I have re introduced it into my classes as a fun thing for my children to do in class and they all seem to love it.

We use plastic re breakable boards in class that are padded, and for extra safety all children have to wear padded gloves on their hands and we check their technique before they throw the punch to make sure that they perform it safely.

There is a famous saying from Bruce Lee that goes “boards don’t hit back” which can lead to people rubbishing board breaking.  They are missing the point and can be missing out on a fun exercise that can teach all students quite a few important skills, just from hitting a piece of wood or plastic.

There are four main benefits to board breaking as I see it.  It helps develop focus and concentration.  It builds self confidence.  It helps you learn how to improve your punching and kicking techniques by ensuring that you get your body mass behind any punch or kick and also follow through.  And finally it can teach you the power of positive thinking.

So how does this little piece of plastic or wood achieve this?

First, focus and concentration.  If you want to break the board, especially the plastic re breakable boards that I use then you have to be able to hit a very small area of the board accurately.  The children have to keep their eye on the target and make sure that they hit it properly in order to break the board.  They have to do this while their friends and parents might be watching so they also have to concentrate and block out other distractions.  For a few seconds they need to be totally focused on the board and breaking it, using the right technique.

Board breaking also teaches you how to improve your punching and kicking power.  To break the board you have to get the technique right, get your body mass fully behind the strike and transfer as much of that mass into your fist or foot.  Get the technique wrong and the board might not break.  It also teaches you how close you have to be to use each technique effectively.  An inch too close or too far can mean the difference in breaking the board or not as your limb needs to have a certain amount of distance to build up the velocity to break the board.  Too close and it doesn’t have enough distance and the break fails.   A touch too far out and you lose the power and it doesn’t break.  It also teaches you to make sure that you follow through on a technique, to get maximum power.  By that I mean you don’t hit the target and stop or pull away, but push your hand or foot through the target so that all of the power is put into the strike.

I’ve seen plenty of kids get an immediate self confidence boost from breaking boards.  Some kids start off thinking its not possible or its very difficult to break.  Even if they don’t break it on their first go with a little coaching you can usually get them to break it fairly quickly after that.  The look of pride on their faces on that first break is amazing to see and you see an instant boost in their confidence as they do something they thought might be difficult or impossible.  As they get better and you give them more difficult breaks with boards that they thought were impossible at first, but as soon as one student breaks the most difficult board, more and more of them start to break it soon after.

And that leads up to the most important benefit that can be gotten from breaking boards.  It teaches how important positive thinking and never giving up is.  In Choi Kwang Do, the motto is Pil Seung, which is Korean for Certain Victory.  The easiest way to translate that is that we should always do our best and never give up.  To think positive and we can achieve things that we think are difficult or impossible.  I have different coloured boards, which indicate how easy or difficult they are to break.  The hardest board designed for children is a black padded board.  Although I don’t board break in my adult classes I still have the old adult boards from years ago when I had all my students board break.  I recently had a very good example of how powerful your thoughts can be in influencing how successful or unsuccessful you are.

One of my older teenage students in his late teens, who I wont name as he would kill me for doing so, wanted to try board breaking.  He has a very strong punch and as long as he hit the black padded kids board on target and followed through should have easily broken it.  He had never broken a board before, so didn’t know how hard to hit it or what to expect, threw his punch and hit slightly too high.  From that you could see the doubt creep in.  I gave him another try, but he doubted himself now and didn’t break it on the second go. He held back and didn’t commit to the punch and failed.  He wanted another go and I told him no.  I told him if he wanted to break the black board he would have to first break the far easier white board.  What he didn’t know was that the white board was an adult one and was a bit harder to break than the one he had just failed at.  “Awww come on” he said to me, unhappy that I was making him do something much easier.  I insisted he had to break this easier board first, so he lined up, threw his punch and smashed it in one go easily.  “Now will you let me break the black board” he said.  I laughed and explained to him that the board he had smashed so easily was more difficult than the one he had failed at.  It was a great example to us both of how positive thinking, and how the way we think can have a strong influence on how successful we are.

So if you are a parent at one of my schools, or a parent of a child at a martial arts class that practices board breaking, you may have thought, what is my child learning from this.  While it might not seem like much, when you dig a little deeper it can teach some pretty powerful life lessons that can be taken from the training hall and applied to any area of life.

I hope this article gives you some food for thought.  If your interested in Choi Kwang Do classes for your child, family member or yourself and are in the Bristol or Trowbridge area then please go to my web site at for more information on our Choi Kwang Do classes that are great for teaching you self defence, self confidence and also keeping you fit and healthy no matter your age.  We offer 2 FREE lessons to all who sign up via the web site.

If you don’t live in my area and are interested in Choi Kwang Do then please visit where you can find the nearest location to you.  Most of the classes offer some sort of free lessons so please take a look.


Dale Miller

Master Instructor of Choi Kwang Do.


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