Flat Breaking Boards

ST1Doppelganger

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I had an interesting conversation with a fellow martial artist last night involving board & slab breaking.

First off im not in to board breaking but I have done a bit of it prepping for a test and actually taking the test that required breaking. After I finished testing I had allot of extra boards left over that I of course decided to play around with. I did several breaks that weren't required on the test with these spare boards.

The one that Im told is not possible to do is a flat break on a 12X12 inch thick board due to it only being possible to flat break slabs.

The way I did this break was simply placing it flat across two cinder blocks with out a gap and then applied a heel of palm strike on it like I've seen done to slabs and it broke with ease.

So my question is was this a freak accident with a weak board?

I did have one of my boards accidentally break during the test when I was setting up (just getting the chambering and positioning set up correctly and it broke with a light tap from the ball of my foot.) for the snap kick break.

Or was it due to the cinder blocks probably not being a 100% flat surface that allowed the board to break?

The only reason why I ask this is because I can't find any info or youtube videos about flat breaking boards and am curious if this was just a freak accidental break?
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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P.S. Thanks for any input on this weird thread. Like i said I never was in to breaking. Heck I didn't even know what the term flat breaking was till he described it to me last night.
 

jks9199

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The way you describe it -- I would suspect that your "flat break" involved cinder blocks that weren't totally even, giving it some space to flex. I think -- and this is only a guess! -- that you're not going to drop a palm heel on a solid 12 inch board and have it break unless there's a little bit of space for it flex. But I think a good shot can do it with very little room... When I say this, I'm thinking about the way the forces would have to be dispersed. Could easily be wrong, especially since I can't see the board. My answer would be very different if it was "exploded" rather than cracked. Also depends on how focused your palm heel is...

As to the board that broke on it's own... happens. Especially if you were coached to prep the board by things like baking them "to ensure they're dry." (Of course, having broken wet 2x12 boards... that wasn't fun!) Boards have cracks and weak spots, and sometimes, you trip over them.
 

chrispillertkd

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I've never heard the term "flat break" before but, from your description, it just sounds like you're setting up the breaking materials (boards, tiles, whatever) so they are horizontal instead of being held vertically. We don't have a separate term for that. FWIW, I have seen - and broken - boards in this position many times. It seems to be more common to see people breaking concrete or bricks in this position but it's certainly done with boards. I've never heard anyone say such a break is "impossible."

If you were only breaking one board with your heel of palm strike it was neither a freak accident nor a weak board. It was simply the fact that you had all (or at least the majority) of your body weight travelling downwards onto single board. I've seen people break multiple boards with downward punches (with their fore fist), knife-hands, back fists, etc. There's all sorts of discussions as to whether wood or concrete is "easier" to break due to stiffness, flexibility, etc. of the material but a single wooden board is pretty easy to break, generally speaking.

The board that accidentally broke during your test could've been because it was very, very dry or had been already cracked before you set it up and you didn't notice it.

Pax,

Chris
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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I've never heard the term "flat break" before but, from your description, it just sounds like you're setting up the breaking materials (boards, tiles, whatever) so they are horizontal instead of being held vertically. We don't have a separate term for that. FWIW, I have seen - and broken - boards in this position many times. It seems to be more common to see people breaking concrete or bricks in this position but it's certainly done with boards. I've never heard anyone say such a break is "impossible."

If you were only breaking one board with your heel of palm strike it was neither a freak accident nor a weak board. It was simply the fact that you had all (or at least the majority) of your body weight travelling downwards onto single board. I've seen people break multiple boards with downward punches (with their fore fist), knife-hands, back fists, etc. There's all sorts of discussions as to whether wood or concrete is "easier" to break due to stiffness, flexibility, etc. of the material but a single wooden board is pretty easy to break, generally speaking.

The board that accidentally broke during your test could've been because it was very, very dry or had been already cracked before you set it up and you didn't notice it.

Pax,

Chris


I agree i never heard the term flat break till last night and originally thought it meant not using spacers between the boards.

What it means is to simply lay the board or brick flat across a flat surface with out a gap. I guess blocks and tiles are suppose to be the only material that you can flat break but I did it with the board in the circumstance described above.
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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The way you describe it -- I would suspect that your "flat break" involved cinder blocks that weren't totally even, giving it some space to flex. I think -- and this is only a guess! -- that you're not going to drop a palm heel on a solid 12 inch board and have it break unless there's a little bit of space for it flex. But I think a good shot can do it with very little room... When I say this, I'm thinking about the way the forces would have to be dispersed. Could easily be wrong, especially since I can't see the board. My answer would be very different if it was "exploded" rather than cracked. Also depends on how focused your palm heel is...

As to the board that broke on it's own... happens. Especially if you were coached to prep the board by things like baking them "to ensure they're dry." (Of course, having broken wet 2x12 boards... that wasn't fun!) Boards have cracks and weak spots, and sometimes, you trip over them.

That what I'm thinking is the case in this circumstance was that the cinder blocks created an uneven surface that allowed the board to flex enough to break.

No I didn't bake the boards or prep them.

So is it not possible to flat break a board against a smooth flat surface then?
 

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I had an interesting conversation with a fellow martial artist last night involving board & slab breaking.

First off im not in to board breaking but I have done a bit of it prepping for a test and actually taking the test that required breaking. After I finished testing I had allot of extra boards left over that I of course decided to play around with. I did several breaks that weren't required on the test with these spare boards.

The one that Im told is not possible to do is a flat break on a 12X12 inch thick board due to it only being possible to flat break slabs.

The way I did this break was simply placing it flat across two cinder blocks with out a gap and then applied a heel of palm strike on it like I've seen done to slabs and it broke with ease.

So my question is was this a freak accident with a weak board?

I did have one of my boards accidentally break during the test when I was setting up (just getting the chambering and positioning set up correctly and it broke with a light tap from the ball of my foot.) for the snap kick break.

Or was it due to the cinder blocks probably not being a 100% flat surface that allowed the board to break?

The only reason why I ask this is because I can't find any info or youtube videos about flat breaking boards and am curious if this was just a freak accidental break?

Like others, I am totally baffled by what you mean by a "flat break". Do you mean a 12"x12"x1" board? Do you mean that the blocks were butted up against each other, leaving no space between them?
The usual setup for breaking with a downward strike is
__
[] []

Which allows a space into which the board moves as it breaks. Done this way, a 12"x12"x1" pine board really should be easy for the average adult. Did you do this, or

__
[][]

With no space between the support bricks?

If so, then you cannot break the board without either a gap between the board and the brick, like

^
[][]

caused by a warped board or uneven brick surfaces, or breaking the supporting bricks as well. That's not impossible. I have set up power breaks (as in the first example) and broken all of the pavers and one of the cinderblocks supporting them.

On the other hand, if you're using boards that break accidentally, maybe you need stronger boards. I've seen the boards sold specifically as breaking boards, and frankly they seem to be made out of cotton candy, not wood. They're thin, super dry and have a super fine grain. All of which makes the board easier to break. We use pine shelves, bought at someplace like Loews.

Personally, I prefer to use concrete pavers for breaks. They're cheaper (for equivalent difficulty) and more consistent. They're not affected by humidity, and there's less variation in strength from one paver to another.
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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Like others, I am totally baffled by what you mean by a "flat break". Do you mean a 12"x12"x1" board? Do you mean that the blocks were butted up against each other, leaving no space between them?
The usual setup for breaking with a downward strike is
__
[] []

Which allows a space into which the board moves as it breaks. Done this way, a 12"x12"x1" pine board really should be easy for the average adult. Did you do this, or

__
[][]

With no space between the support bricks?

If so, then you cannot break the board without either a gap between the board and the brick, like

^
[][]

caused by a warped board or uneven brick surfaces, or breaking the supporting bricks as well. That's not impossible. I have set up power breaks (as in the first example) and broken all of the pavers and one of the cinderblocks supporting them.

On the other hand, if you're using boards that break accidentally, maybe you need stronger boards. I've seen the boards sold specifically as breaking boards, and frankly they seem to be made out of cotton candy, not wood. They're thin, super dry and have a super fine grain. All of which makes the board easier to break. We use pine shelves, bought at someplace like Loews.

Personally, I prefer to use concrete pavers for breaks. They're cheaper (for equivalent difficulty) and more consistent. They're not affected by humidity, and there's less variation in strength from one paver to another.

Flat break meaning having the blocks butted up against each other with out the typical gap You see in most board breaking.

The board i purchased came from Home Depot and I just had them cut in to the 12X12 squares.

Like i said im not really in to breaking so the terminology is new to me and I was intrigued that I did a break that is not suppose to be possible. I guess the cinder blocks created an uneven surface or the board wasn't completely flat which caused a small gap between the board and blocks.
 

Dirty Dog

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Flat break meaning having the blocks butted up against each other with out the typical gap You see in most board breaking.

The board i purchased came from Home Depot and I just had them cut in to the 12X12 squares.

Like i said im not really in to breaking so the terminology is new to me and I was intrigued that I did a break that is not suppose to be possible. I guess the cinder blocks created an uneven surface or the board wasn't completely flat which caused a small gap between the board and blocks.

There had to be a gap, yes. My guess would be some warping of the board and uneven brick surfaces. It's uncommon to buy those boards without at least some warp.
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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Ok thanks for your guys input. Now I know why the fellow martial artist looked at me like I was full of nonsense.
 

jks9199

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So is it not possible to flat break a board against a smooth flat surface then?

Honestly, I don't know. My understanding of the physics in a break is that you push the center of the material faster/harder than it can flex and absorb, causing it to break. If it's truly flat on a surface, I can't see how you could do it. But I freely admit I could be wrong. I know I can smash a board with a hammer hard enough to break it, even if it's flat on concrete. I would think that the way that happens is that the hammer focuses the blow tightly enough to cause the same thing to happen. (And, a lot of the time, all you get is a big dent in the wood, or a hole, rather than a split board...)

But I don't do tons of breaking. (When I do, I use 2x12x10 or 12 boards...) It's expensive, and I don't have a fireplace or other use for a big ol' pile of kindling. And I think there are often better ways to demonstrate and test power -- though it can be a real ego prop!
 

chrispillertkd

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I'm still unsure of what you're talking about. Do you mean there was no gap between the two cinder blocks? When I first read your post I thought you meant there was no gap between the cinder blocks and the boards but upon rereading it, it looks like you mean there's no gap between the blocks themselves so the board simply rests on top of them with no space beneath it so when you hit the board you were hitting the board against the cinder blocks, not breaking through it.

Pax,

Chris
 

Dirty Dog

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Honestly, I don't know. My understanding of the physics in a break is that you push the center of the material faster/harder than it can flex and absorb, causing it to break. If it's truly flat on a surface, I can't see how you could do it. But I freely admit I could be wrong. I know I can smash a board with a hammer hard enough to break it, even if it's flat on concrete. I would think that the way that happens is that the hammer focuses the blow tightly enough to cause the same thing to happen. (And, a lot of the time, all you get is a big dent in the wood, or a hole, rather than a split board...)

But I don't do tons of breaking. (When I do, I use 2x12x10 or 12 boards...) It's expensive, and I don't have a fireplace or other use for a big ol' pile of kindling. And I think there are often better ways to demonstrate and test power -- though it can be a real ego prop!

I am neither a physicist nor an engineer. But I think that you would be crushing the board, rather than actually breaking it. The head of the hammer would then act as a wedge to split the wood. Alternatively, the impact could break the supporting bricks, which would allow the wood to break into the space thus created.


Or you could use Dim Mak!


Note that even with the Magic of Hollywood, there are gaps between the bricks.
 
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jks9199

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I am neither a physicist nor an engineer. But I think that you would be crushing the board, rather than actually breaking it. The head of the hammer would then act as a wedge to split the wood. Alternatively, the impact could break the supporting bricks, which would allow the wood to break into the space thus created.

You said it better than I did; the hammer making a wedge was the idea in my head.
 

donald1

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I am neither a physicist nor an engineer. But I think that you would be crushing the board, rather than actually breaking it. The head of the hammer would then act as a wedge to split the wood. Alternatively, the impact could break the supporting bricks, which would allow the wood to break into the space thus created.


Or you could use Dim Mak!


Note that even with the Magic of Hollywood, there are gaps between the bricks.

Sorry if this is off topic but that... Is really cool. I didn't expect the very bottom brick to break like it did
 
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ST1Doppelganger

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I'm still unsure of what you're talking about. Do you mean there was no gap between the two cinder blocks? When I first read your post I thought you meant there was no gap between the cinder blocks and the boards but upon rereading it, it looks like you mean there's no gap between the blocks themselves so the board simply rests on top of them with no space beneath it so when you hit the board you were hitting the board against the cinder blocks, not breaking through it.

Pax,

Chris

Flat break meaning no space or gap between the wood and object that your breaking.

Let's remove the cinder blocks and say you place it flat on the ground or a table and split the board by hitting it.

What I guess happened was there was a small concave of the board that created the space or that the cinder blocks were not even enough causing a ridge that could have acted as wedge that caused it to break when struck. The wood could have been also just weaker then usual as well.

I never put much thought in to the whole break since I was just messing around with the spare boards but when the fellow martial artist looked at me like I was smoking rocks when I said I did break a board that way it intrigued me.
 

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Breaking boards with a space behind it involves subjecting it to tension, which breaks the board by producing a crack that starts from the back. Boards always break in this manner because boards are stronger under compression than they are under tension. By placing the board flat against an object you have to overcome the compressive strength, which is harder. If you put the board between two cinder blocks then there may have been a small gap in the middle due to the cinder blocks not being entirely square, leaving a small V-shaped gap.
 

Buka

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I don't know a darn thing about flat breaking. Never been around it. Sounds really difficult, my hands wanted to hide when I was reading it.

As for that board that broke during set up...it was probably scared. :)
 
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