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Tau's picture
Children and Breaking

What are your thoughts on children (however you choose to define a "child" breaking boards? I'm not interested in the benefits or drawbacks of board breaking as a larger larger, but specifically children doing it? What about bricks? Of course I have reasons for asking this. Before anyone lambasts me, we don't do breaking in my dojo. We do use impact equipment for all ages. I have personally performed breaking as part of gradings.

Drew Loto
Drew Loto's picture

In the school where I train, breaking is normally performed as a final requirement during the green belt test (which is an intermediate grade at my dojo).  The minimum age to begin in the class is six years old and there are three grading tests between beginning training and the green belt test.  For children who start at such a tender age, it normally takes no less than one year to earn a new grade.  This means that children in the class who are breaking are at least ten years old.  The green belt test is the only instance in training in which instructors insist that students perform any type of breaking.  Occassionally at special events some generous person might purchase a crate full of boards and tell us to go nuts, but in those cases participation is optional (though very rarely do people completely refuse to participate because we have so much fun).  When "adults" undergo their green belt tests they are asked normally to perform some kicking or hand striking technique on the board.  Young children who perform the test are always asked to break the board with a stomp to reduce the risk of injury.

I recognize that breaking does pose certain dangers to children.  If you slip-up you could break a finger or toe.  As small children have a lot of growing left to do, they could end up with malformed fingers or toes should one of them break.  This outcome, as far as I can tell, is just about always the result of incorrect technique.  Such incorrect technique could lead to similar injuries when training on impact equipment.

With that said though, breaking only seems valuable as a training tool during a very specific period in a student's carreer.  Though breaking is dangerous, it also presents an opportunity for a student to face his/her fears and to focus power through a target.  The physical event of the board breaking or not breaking provides a rough index of the student's ability to do just that.  Breaking is only valuable, therefore, during that period where a student has learned correct technique (so as to avoid injury) but has not yet developed the level of confidence that is associated with more advanced students.  In this brief window, I believe breaking can teach valuable lessons.  I do not believe it is the only way to communicate such lessons and I do not expect to ever utilize breaking when I am leading training groups of my own.

Wastelander's picture

We treat breaking as a fun thing to do, and something we might do for demonstrations, and we treat it that way for both adults and children. Smaller kids get smaller boards for safety, of course, and we make sure they use strikes that they won't hurt themselves attempting. I don't see a problem with kids doing breaks as long as it's done safely.

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Well i wouldn't consider it at all and we're full contact.

The reason is:>

As is specified in many medical journals that the bones of a child's hand and feet are formed properly until they're 12 years old With the Kids/Children I tend to havev semi-contact and really work on perfection of techniques. Any damage may not show itself until many years later but must be considered when hitting pads, sparring or breaking

Tau's picture

Black Tiger wrote:
As is specified in many medical journals that the bones of a child's hand and feet are formed properly until they're 12 years

12 years old is not precise. This evening I diagnosed a distal tibial Salter Harris I fracture (a fracture specifically of growth plates) in a health fourteen year old. This is not uncommon.

I'm seeking more evidence on this since treating some children with painful hands after breaking in Taekwondo. Last summer in a seminar I witnessed a child breaking a flaming breeze block with the blade of their foot. Impressive, but in my oppinion irresponsible.

Th0mas's picture

I agree with Black tiger.

Given all the abuse I have put my hands through over the last 30 years, the only long term damage to my knuckles has been caused when "for fun" we were mucking around with breaking boards. (that includes all the fighting, makiwara, bag work and general DIY disasters that beset my home improvements)

i don't personally believe it has any martial benefit and I am not sure any non-martial benefit (building of self esteem etc??) out weights the potential risk of permanent damage to the hands/feet. Certainly I would shy away from doing board breaking with Children for that very reason.

Given that the fashon for board breaking came out of the 60-70's martial arts super-ninja-craze, as a pragmatic martial artist would you not put Tamashewari, in terms of legitimate training aids, in the Pseudo-science catagory...?