Types of breaking
IntroThere are three types of breaks used in the martial arts: speed breaks, power breaks, and soft breaks. The following descriptions use wood boards as the material being broken when performing breaks, but other types of material are also widely used, such as bricks, ice, cinder blocks, racks, bottles, almost anything breakable.
Speed breakIn a speed break, the board is only supported on one side. The break will only succeed if the strike is performed extremely quickly and the striking force is only applied for an extremely short period. Speed is the primary characteristic of the breaks, hence the name speed break. In a speed break, the force on the board must exceed the board’s tensile strength before the force overcomes the board’s inertia and knocks the board through the air without it breaking. In other words, the board must break before it is knocked away.
Some examples of the ways that boards are held during speed breaks are:
- A board held with one hand at the bottom of the board with the board extending upward.
- A board held with one hand at the top of the board with the board hanging downward.
- A board free-standing upward on an edge face on support.
To break a board supported with one-side support or this is free-falling, the performer must strike the board with an extremely high-speed strike aimed at a focused point at the center of the board. A powerful strike will not break the board; it will just be knocked through the air without breaking; the strike must be quick. Likewise, if the strike impact is off-center, the board will be knocked through the air without breaking.
Power breakIn a power break, the board is supported on two sides and the performer uses a relatively slow but immensely powerful strike to break the boards. Power is the primary characteristic of the break, hence the name power break.
Some examples of the ways that boards are held during power breaks are:
- The board or boards may be held, either by humans or an apparatus. They can be held vertically for horizontal strikes, or horizontally for upward or downward strikes. The is difficult for humans to hold four or more boards firmly and solidly, In this case, the boards are sometimes taped together to make it easier for the holders to grip the boards and get their palms behind the boards to form a solid support.
- For a stacked break, the boards are stacked horizontally between two sturdy supporting objects, such as concrete blocks placed on the floor. Since the supports are solid and nonyielding, it is easier to break boards this way; but all the breaks must be performed using downward strikes.
Soft breakA soft break, also known as a "ki" break, is less dramatic than the speed or power breaks. There are fewer preparatory movements and the breaking action has less movement. A speed break is like kicking a door open, a power break is like running and slamming your shoulder into the door, and a soft break is like pushing against the door. The soft break uses the effects of gravity to add power to the striking motion, so it is somewhat easier to do.
The boards are usually supported horizontally on two sides on supports on the floor. The performer usually uses a palm strike, but the back of the hand is also used. The performer leans over the boards and pushes downward into and through the board, letting gravity assist in the break. Since there no impact with the board, any person of any age can do this break or no with little injury to themselves.
Impulse break?Some claim there is a fourth type of breaking called impulse breaking; but then, some claim almost anything. An impulse break is fast, but it doesn’t rely on speed. The energy transmission from an impulse break supposedly derives not from mass displacement, but from wave transmission, such when a hammer quickly strikes a bell and retracts but the energy from the strike move through the bell and makes it ring. In the impulse break, striking body part does not move through the object being struck; it strikes the surface of the object and quickly retracts, and the resulting pressure wave supposedly causes the object to flex and break. The less flexible the object’s surface, the more likely it is to break, duh.
Supposedly, the depth the pressure wave reaches can be controlled by the performer so, if the performer is breaking a stack of bricks, the performer can choose which brick in the stack will break. This like so many other martial arts claims is BS. I can win any fight if each time I fight I can select any person as my opponent.
An impulse break challengeIf anyone claims to be able to break a certain brick in a stack of bricks, I propose this challenge.
- We find a pile of bricks.
- We alternately each choose three bricks and the bricks are put in a sack as they are chosen.
- We each take turns taking a brick out of the sack.
- The first two of our chosen bricks are stood on their ends as supports.
- As we each draw the remaining bricks, we place the chosen bricks in a stack on the support bricks.
- When this is all completed, we now have four random bricks stacked on each other and the stack is supported by two random bricks.
- We have a random person flip a coin. If the coin shows heads, the second brick in the stack will be the one to be broken; if it shows tails, the third brick will be the one to be broken.
- Now, all the "master" must do is strike the top brick in the stack and only break the chosen brick.
- To be fair, we will perform this three times. If the "master" breaks the chosen brick at least two of the three tries, he or she wins the challenge and proves their claim. Otherwise, the "master" is proved a fraud.