IntroBreaking is usually required for rank promotion. Some only break only because it is required for promotion, others break for other reasons.
Reasons for breaking
- Speed, focus, and power. These elements are required in any successful break. Training in breaking will increase each of these elements and thus improve other aspects of a martial artist’s training. Techniques will be crisper, patterns will be sharper, sparring will score more, and self-defense tactics will be more effective. When used in self-defense situations, techniques must stop or injure the attacker. To develop this power, students must practice hitting solid objects. Striking a heavy bag accomplishes this but breaking gives the student instant feedback.
- Balance. Techniques that seem balanced when performed in the air may not be balanced when executed against a solid object. Breaking forces students to maintain their balance while executing full power techniques against immovable objects.
- Precision. Breaking requires the precise application of power. The breaker must apply a precise amount of power to a precise spot for a precise amount of time. There is some room for error but generally, errors in precision are painful and lead to a failure to break.
- Control. In sparring, techniques are controlled so they do not injure the opponent. In target or bag work, the techniques are controlled but there is little indication of the amount of control. In breaking, control must be used to break the object without striking a board holder or the floor under the object. Together, sparring, target/bag work, and breaking teach the precise control needed to respond to any self-defense situation.
- Concentration. Breaking requires intense concentration. Concentration is always useful in martial arts training, such as when performing patterns. Concentration is also useful in all aspects of daily life, such as when driving in bad weather or taking school tests.
- Confidence. A successful break increases and confirms a student’s belief in his or her abilities. In class, this confidence will manifest itself when performing patterns or sparring. In daily life, this confidence will be visible in the way one walks and acts. Others will respect this confidence and think twice before challenging it.
- Discipline. Breaking teaches discipline. Successful breaks require persistence and dedication to purpose. One must train him or herself to overcome fears, pain, and failures. This, of course, is useful in daily life.
- Forging. Forging is systematic training to toughen and strengthen body parts that are used for breaking. See the forging article for more information.
- Show off. Breaking is a way for people to show off and try to impress viewers with their ability to break something. It’s not necessarily a good reason, but it is a reason.
- Entertainment. When watching someone perform a break, you get to see the pride in a successful break, the dejection in a failure to break, and sometimes the agony in an injury; either way, it's entertaining to watch.
Reasons for NOT breaking
- Presents the wrong message. Breaking tells students that it okay to perform a stunt to receive attention. Students don't perform breaks in private, they do it to impress someone or a group of people.
- Hitting hard objects with body parts causes injuries. The injuries will happen. Some will manifest now, others will show themselves later in life. Martial arts instructors should do everything possible to protect children's hands and the hands of ignorant adults. They should see a hand as belonging to a future musician, surgeon, machinist, carpenter, etc. Do you want to be a champion board breaker or be able to play computer games or write? The chance of you ever needing to have hands of stone are negligible.
- There are better ways to develop confidence. Martial arts confidence comes from personal achievement and being able to protect oneself, not breaking more boards than anyone else. If breaking develops confidence, why doesn't the military teach it in boot camp?
- Boards don't move and they don't strike back. The time spent on breaking could be used for other important things, like practicing effective self-defense techniques.
- The only thing breaking develops is calluses. If breaking developed hitting power, why don't professional boxers and MMA fighters train using it, they could win more fights and earn more money.
- Breaking is a marketing ploy. It looks impressive and attracts students.