Breaking can often be seen in karate , taekwondo and pencak silat. Spetsnaz are also known for board and brick breaking, but not all styles of martial arts place equal emphasis on it or use it. In styles where striking and kicking are less important and there is an emphasis on grappling or weaponry , breaking is less prominent.
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Traditional Japanese martial art schools place little, if any, emphasis on board-breaking, although the art of breaking objects was known as tameshiwari , while the similar practice of Tameshigiri or 'test cutting' is used in sword arts. Competitive breaking can be based on artistic impression, number of items broken in a given amount of time, number of items broken with a single strike, or time to break a number of items. There are several certified breaking categories in various journals of world records such as the Guinness Book.
In a demonstration, a martial artist exhibits his or her skill by executing an impromptu or choreographed sequence of breaks for an audience. Martial arts schools sometimes demonstrate challenging breaks in order to gain publicity and inspire enrollment or attendance. During promotion testing, many styles of martial arts require that students demonstrate their skills by executing breaks; the difficulty of a required break depends on the rank for which the student is testing. Failure to execute a required break is often sufficient grounds for failure of a promotion test. In general, breaking is used both as a method of measuring force of strikes for martial artists, as there was no other way to do this and only recently have devices such as accelerometers been used in martial arts, and as a measurement of mental fortitude, the ability of the mind and body to overcome.
Generally, a martial artist engaged in breaking will practice by repeatedly hitting hard surfaces. Masutatsu Oyama , a famous breaker who was known for breaking the horns off bulls,  would use trees. In karate, a device called a makiwara is used; this device has found more popular use by practitioners of other martial arts today. In the past, Shaolin and other earlier martial artists would use many different types of devices in order to condition themselves, not always for simply breaking, but using the same concepts used today.
For instance, there is Iron Palm , Iron Shin, Iron Shirt , Iron Head, and other types of training which center around conditioning various parts of the body so they could withstand or give blows such as what is seen today in martial arts breaking. Many Chinese systems also are of the school of thought that "internal energy" or Chi is used when breaking, which is not dependent upon muscle strength and body weight. The general principles used in martial arts breaking training is similar to the same principles used for most athletics.
The body adapts to stress. There are generally three areas a martial arts breaker wishes to force their body to adapt to: The general principle here — for instance, for the bones — is found in Wolff's law , which states that the skeletal system will, after healing, be stronger if injury is put to it.
Craig Edmunds demonstrates this theory after breaking hand in seminar measuring bone density then measuring bone density after healing. In this manner the breaking practitioner operates not unlike a bodybuilder who works out with weights, then takes a period of rest to heal and allow the muscles to come back stronger. This kind of training is called "progressive resistance training"; see Weight training for more information.
Often differences in body structure can be seen in the form of calcium deposits between a breaking practitioner and a non-practitioner. Mike Reeves , a champion breaker, advocates in his book the usage of a makiwara and knuckle push-ups. With knuckle push-ups, he recommends starting on softer floor material and working your way up to concrete.
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He suggests that beginners should start with wood boards and increase the amount as technical prowess increases. Once a level of comfort, both physically and mentally, is reached, harder materials such as concrete can be attempted.
There are safety concerns with martial arts breaking, so one should seek out an instructor. There are many small bones of the foot and hand which need to be very carefully and slowly conditioned for safety. Repeated damage to the extensor capsules of the knuckles can lead to long term problems with dexterity. There are generally 3 classifications of breaks: Additionally, there is a 4th, lesser-known, classification known as the impulse break.
Speed breaks are breaks where the striking object is not held in place. The only way to break the object is to strike the surface with sufficient speed at a focused point of impact. Sometimes a board to be broken is held lightly between two fingers by a person; an advanced dan test may involve an attempt to break a board as it falls through the air. Regardless of the strength of the striker, the board will only break if it is struck with sufficient velocity. Another type of "Speed Break" is that which involves breaking a number of objects over a given amount of time.
A common time span is 1 minute, but this can vary depending on the material and venue. In competition it is very common for a speed breaking category to limit the time to 8—10 seconds, enabling more competitors to participate.
Power breaks are breaks where the striking object is supported. Either the break will employ human holders for horizontal, angular, or upward vertical strikes, or the break will require that the objects be stacked for downward vertical strikes. For a stacked break the object is placed on sturdy supporting objects, such as concrete blocks, that are placed on the ground.
Many color belt belts before black belt promotion testing breaks are power breaks—it is substantially easier for an inexperienced person to muster sufficient energy to break a wooden board with a power break Note, this is not true for all breaks.
The vast majority of these employ human board holders. Often a stronger or more powerful striker may substitute some strength for technique and successfully accomplish the break. Most records that are catalogued are for power breaks. It is very common for black belt tests to use bricks, concrete patio blocks, or several boards stacked on top of supporting objects for challenging downward strikes. Taped boards are sometimes used to lessen the amount of human influence from the holders for a break.
Therefore, some strikers will tape a stack of boards together to make a "brick" for their holders to hold. Usually however, test breaks at promotions and events are done without taped boards. For single boards, it is generally easy as in the casual person has a sufficient reserve of mass to reach this threshold through a power break. You also may like to try some of these bookshops , which may or may not sell this item.
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