Breaking

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I'm curious to hear your school's approaches to breaking. The following are some things I'm curious about, but I'd also like to hear thoughts about questions I haven't realized I had.
  • Which belt tests, if any, is breaking required? What breaks are required at each belt?
  • How do you prepare for breaking? Do you practice breaking before the test?
  • Is it required to break on the first try? Or is initial failure an opportunity to show determination and ability to adapt and improve? (i.e. if a student takes five tries, it shows they persevered through four failures and learned how to do it properly on the fifth).
 

Dirty Dog

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  • Which belt tests, if any, is breaking required?
All belts have a required break, except for 10th Geup.
  • What breaks are required at each belt?
Starting from 9th Geup: Step behind side kick, skip side kick, jumping side kick, leading leg standing side kick, jump spin back kick, axe kick, roundhouse kick, spinning hook kick, 2-station roundhouse/spinning hook combination (which completes the Geup ranks) and a full turning back kick for Chodanbo. Dan ranks choose their own combinations.
  • How do you prepare for breaking? Do you practice breaking before the test?
Of course. Testing things you didn't teach is silly.
  • Is it required to break on the first try? Or is initial failure an opportunity to show determination and ability to adapt and improve? (i.e. if a student takes five tries, it shows they persevered through four failures and learned how to do it properly on the fifth).
Students are required to complete all requirements for promotion. If they cannot do something on their first try, they persevere. If we run out of time, their promotion is pending their completion of whatever held them back. In practice, the breaks are the only thing that have ever held anyone back, and even that is uncommon.
 
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Step behind side kick, skip side kick, jumping side kick, leading leg standing side kick, jump spin back kick
You had a theme going for quite some time here!
 
OP
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Of course. Testing things you didn't teach is silly.
In both schools I've been to, you're taught the technique (for example: side kick) in regular class, but you don't break a board with it until testing.
 

Dirty Dog

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You had a theme going for quite some time here!
The TKD side kick is both fundamental and iconic. Personally, I don't think which strikes are used for breaking is all that important. But these are what GM Kim and Master Valdez always used, and there was never a compelling reason to change them.
In both schools I've been to, you're taught the technique (for example: side kick) in regular class, but you don't break a board with it until testing.
Breaking is just a method of demonstrating a persons ability to generate and deliver power in a way that is much more obvious and visual than, say, a heavy bag. Ultimately, a student who can deliver power to the bag will be able to deliver that power to a brick or board.

But that ignores the psychological component. Newer students will, almost inevitably, hold back when striking something rigid. Because all their lives, they have "known" that smacking a board will result in pain and nothing else. More advanced students will know better. This is one reason I think breaking should be practiced specifically and separately, especially with lower ranked students.

Another good reason is that it's a ton of fun.

That's not to say we never had anyone test who hadn't already broken anything in class. Our day to day class schedule was never what you'd call rigid. But the board holders and rebreakable boards were always available, and I don't think anyone ever tested without breaking something either in class or during the before/after class goofing. Because breaking is fun.
 

WaterGal

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We require a board break at every color belt test, except for the little kids class (preschool/kindergarten age), who have their own belt system. We have a few of those plastic "ultimate breaking boards" so students can practice their board break in class before the test. They're not required to break on the first try. Some people take a few tries, and that's okay. Perseverance is a valuable thing to learn.
 

Earl Weiss

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The National Org has breaking requirements which vary by Rank, Sex and age all of which can be modified by the test board. The age variations take into account that younger students are still growing / developing and as we get older there is a natural loss of bone density.
 
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The National Org has breaking requirements which vary by Rank, Sex and age all of which can be modified by the test board. The age variations take into account that younger students are still growing / developing and as we get older there is a natural loss of bone density.
Do you have a link to those requirements?
 

MadMartigan

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When I came up through the ranks, the only tests requiring breaking were to test for 1st dan or higher. Any student that needed to break on a test already had lots of experience doing them (sometimes in class, or for demonstrations).

The required breaks to obtain 1st Dan were:
- Solid break with foot (usually jumping turn around side kick on 3-4 + boards - depending on age, etc).

- Solid break with hand (Punch or knife hand usually - 2-3 +)

- Air break with Hand (board holder only grabs the top of the board with 1 hand - 1-2 boards)

- Air break with foot (usually a spinning heel kick - 1-2 boards).

Successful breaks were mandatory. Miss any and you had to retest. You got 2 chances, with no guarantee of a third attempt. The perseverance came into play if you failed and persevered to try the test again another day. There were definitely people who failed on their break and had to come back and try again.
 

J. Pickard

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Breaking is never required. It is always an option but not mandated although most students request to break just because its a lot of fun. Its a fun gimmick but there are much better ways for me, as an instructor, to see what you have learned and how well you can apply it so I don't see the need to make it mandatory. I was pretty proud of one student though who did her first ever break at 13 and broke a red house brick. Most recently taught a 3rd gup how to break a red paver with a short distance punch, about 6-8 inches from the brick.
 

SahBumNimRush

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We break at each rank, but it's not a huge part of our training. We have individuals who enjoy breaking above and beyond what we standardly cover in class.

9th-8th/7th Side kick
8th/7th-6th Back Pivot Kick
6th-5th Back Leg Roundhouse
5th-4th Front Leg Roundhouse
4th-3rd Skip Roundhouse
3rd-2nd Jump Roundhouse
2nd-1st Jump Back Pivot Kick

1st gup-1st Dan 3 station break (in 1990, when I tested, the stations required a side kick speed break, a jump kick break, and a 2 board break)
1st Dan-2nd Dan 4 station break (one station being a single 2" paver break, the others are 2 board breaks)
 

Gwai Lo Dan

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In both schools I've been to, you're taught the technique (for example: side kick) in regular class, but you don't break a board with it until testing.
Same for me. That's why I really dislike board breaking (with no conditioning /practice).

I've seen so many people break hands or hurt toes (especially on a front kick to a high horizontal board) that I think it's a bad practice.

I think kicks using the bottom of the foot are fine, but don't like other techniques for board breaking "tests".
 
OP
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Same for me. That's why I really dislike board breaking (with no conditioning /practice).

I've seen so many people break hands or hurt toes (especially on a front kick to a high horizontal board) that I think it's a bad practice.

I think kicks using the bottom of the foot are fine, but don't like other techniques for board breaking "tests".
That rarely happened at my school. We chose strikes that were more appropriate for breaking, or wore pads for things like elbow strikes or instep kicks.
 

Dirty Dog

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That rarely happened at my school. We chose strikes that were more appropriate for breaking, or wore pads for things like elbow strikes or instep kicks.
Our approach has always been radical.
We teach and practice breaking, just like everything else we require.
 
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Our approach has always been radical.
We teach and practice breaking, just like everything else we require.
In my experience, teaching proper technique translates into being able to break a board with it. I'm not saying you shouldn't practice breaking. But you don't need to in order to use the technique to break a board.
 

Dirty Dog

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In my experience, teaching proper technique translates into being able to break a board with it. I'm not saying you shouldn't practice breaking. But you don't need to in order to use the technique to break a board.
Proper technique is key. The need for practice stems from the need to overcome the students ingrained reluctance to strike hard things with power. And because it's just plain fun.
 

Earl Weiss

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Here is a summary of Breaking requirements. Boards are standard "1 x 12" pine with a width of 10" .

Black Belt Testing. Breaking Quick Reference
USTF Dan Testing Syllabus, 1996 Edition (Tile Alternatives By Earl Weiss A-6-39)
(Note: Peewee is age 10 and younger. Junior is age 11 thru 15. Adults are 16 and over.
Only one of each type of break is required. Power break reductions provided the resulting number shall not be less than one: Men 50 and over, Women 45 and over - No breaking required. Men 45-49 and Women 40-44 may deduct 3 boards / tiles. Men 40-44, and Women 35-39 may deduct 2 boards / tiles. Men 35-39, and Women 30-34 may deduct one board / tile.)

First Dan

Hands
Men 2 tiles / boards : Downward - fore-fist punch, back fist strike, reverse knife-hand strike, or
Men 3 tiles / boards, Women / Jrs. / Peewees 1 tile / board : Downward knife-hand strike
Women / Juniors / Peewees- 2 boards fore-fist front punch, knife-hand outward strike, or inward reverse knife-hand strike

Feet (Power) Men 2 boards, Women / Jrs. 1 board : Flying twist kick, or
Men 3 boards, Women / Jrs. - 2 boards, Peewees 1 board
Flying - Front snap kick / turning kick / 360 back piercing kick, or
Men 4 boards, Women / Jrs. - 3 boards, Peewees 2 boards:
Flying side piercing, or mid air 180 back piercing kick

Feet (Technique) Men & Women / Jrs. 1 Suspended board - Any standing kick
Men 2 boards, Women / Jrs. 1 board - one target: Flying twin foot front snap kick, or flying twin foot side piercing kick

Pewees - Foot (Technique) 1 board - flying twist kick or flying 360 back piercing kick, or
2 boards - Mid-air 180 back piercing kick

Second Dan:

Hands
Men 4 boards - Fore-fist front punch 3 Tiles / 2 boards - downward fore-fist punch
Men 4 tiles / 3 boards, Women / Jrs. 2 Tiles / 1 board - downward knife-hand strike,
Women / Jrs. 1 tile / 1 board - downward fore-fist / back-fist / reverse knife-hand strike
Women / Jrs. 1 suspended board - inward or outward knife-hand strike

Feet (Power)
Men 3, Women / Jrs. 2 boards - Twisting, stepping hook, reverse hook, reverse turning,
Men 4 Boards, - Turning kick
Men 5, Women / Jrs. 3 boards - Side piercing, mid air 180 back piercing, 360 back piercing

Feet (Technique)
Men 2, Women / Jrs. 1 Suspended board(s), - Any mid-air or flying kick
Men 2, Women / Jrs. 1 board(s) - 2 target flying twin foot front snap kick

Third Dan:

Hands
Men 3 tiles / 2 boards, Women 2 tiles / 1 board - Downward back fist,
Men 3 tiles / 2 boards, Women 2 tiles / 1 board - Downward reverse knife-hand
Men 5 tiles / 4 boards, Women 3 tiles / 2 boards - Downward knife-hand
Women 1 suspended board - Fore-fist front punch, back-fist side strike, inward reverse knife-hand strike
Women 2 tiles / 1 board - Downward fore-fist punch

Feet (Power)
Men 4, Women 3 boards - Front snap, turning kick.
Men 4 boards - Side thrusting kick or 6 boards side piercing kick
Women 3 boards - Back piercing, 4 boards - side piercing kick, or 1 suspended board - , twist, step hook , reverse hook.

Feet (Technique)
Men 3 boards 1 target, Women 2 boards 1 target - Flying front snap kick
Men 3 boards 1 target - Flying twin foot side piercing, or 1 board 2 targets any flying double, combination or consecutive
Women 2 suspended boards - Any standing kick, 2 boards 1 target flying hook kick, 180 reverse hook kick
 
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