How Does Board Breaking (Kyukpa) work?

“격파” (pronounced as “gyeokpa” or “Kyukpa”) translates loosely to “strike/hit and shatter.” It refers to the act of breaking items, usually boards, using the Korean martial arts techniques in Tae Kwon Do.

For many people, Kyukpa is one of the “coolest” parts of martial arts. The idea that you can break a board or brick in half using only your hands or feet is one of the motivations that many people have for choosing Tae Kwon Do in the first place.

But how does it work? Are you really breaking a board with your hand? And what do you need to do in order to do it correctly?

Yes – Board Breaking is Real

Some people think that board breaking is a trick – where the board itself is already primed to break. But board breaking is real. One person holds a board very tightly – typically a 1inch pine board, depending on the student’s abilities – and the other person uses concentrated power and a specific technique to hit the board in exactly the right spot to make it break in half.

Every type of wood has a breaking point (a point where a specific amount of force can break the board) and every board has a weak spot. The student targets the weak spot, uses a strong part of the foot (such as the ball of the foot) and then uses speed and power to break the board at that exact spot.

There are different techniques that can be used to break the board:

  • Front Kick
  • Side Kick
  • Roundhouse Kick
  • Axe Kick
  • Knifehand Strike

No matter what technique used, precision and practice are key. It takes concentration and aim to break the board cleanly and without injury. Thinner boards can be used in practice to help avoid injury and work on technique.

How Soon After Starting Tae Kwon Do Can You Break a Board?

Despite how much focus, attention, and aim is required to break a board, it is a technique that one can learn quickly within Tae Kwon Do. Most people can break boards within a few months to a year depending on their age, fitness level, and strength. But in the beginning, we use thinner and softer boards, to prevent injury and work on technique and power.

It is only as you become more advanced that you start to move up to thicker pine board. Our advanced students can break boards using a variety of techniques, and can do so in fluid motions.

Tae Kwon Do – More Than Board Breaking

Of course, TKD is about so much more than breaking boards. There is strength, agility, focus, concentration, determination – tangible and non-tangible skills that enhance the person’s life even outside of the classroom.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that board breaking is pretty cool, and it is absolutely real and something you can learn in TKD classes. Sign up to try Master P’s World Class Tae Kwon Do for one week free, today.