Tameshiwara (Kyupka)


The function or act of breaking different materials in the martial arts is as variable as the arts themselves.  It seems as everyone has their own opinion on the proper way to perform the act.  Even though this seems to be the case, I will present my "opinion" with the following.  Consider the extremes of martial artist's as they are:  First, a young child of 60 pounds, a full grown adult of 150 pounds  and another full grown adult of 225 pounds.  It's a fact that these individuals will not have equal breaking abilities, irregardless of their skill levels.  A 6 year old black-belt will not outbreak an unskilled 225 pound adult, no matter what the situation.  Now that we have that out of the way, let's only consider the average martial artist's in the rest of this dissertation.  If they are not properly guided and trained, this following graphic is to only be the "minor" result in their career, and probably much worse is to occur:

Even though, the graphic may be funny, the actual act is not.  In most cases if the student injures themselves beyond a bruise or skin abrasion, it is not their fault.  The instructor(s) is(are) to blame.  In one instance, I had a young lady break her wrist while attempting a simple break of a "re-breakable" board after class one evening.  Whose fault was it, myself or her?  Sometimes it's hard to admit, but I was the senior instructor present at the dojo at the time, so it was my fault!.. She had been breaking just fine all evening, during the class training period without any problems at all, so what went wrong?  Here are the facts:  During class she was being supervised constantly, during her tameshiwara training, with every move she made being scrutinized.  Her hand never more than touched the board without continuous instruction and criticism.  But, after class, some of her friends showed up and because I was not "aware"  of what was about to take place, she broke her wrist.  She was "showing" her friends what she had "learned", was not being monitored and hurt herself.  This happened many years ago and needless to say, I learned a tremendous lesson from that accident and will not allow it to happen again.  No one, senior or otherwise, is to practice breaking with out being monitored in some way!

Now, let's get to the actual act of breaking.  The smaller individual has to use 100% proper technique to perform tameshiwara, whereas the larger martial artist's are able to use their mass alone to execute the same break in many cases.  It can be very humiliating for a skilled martial artist to be outdone by an ordinary street person when breaking, say three 12" x 12" pine boards.  What has to impressed here is that for a 150 pound individual, to break these three boards would probably be equal to the 225 pounder attempting the break of seven or eight of the same type board, of which that individual would probably break his hand, wrist or arm, if he wasn't skilled.  The old, oranges to apples comparison has to be applied in all breaking comparisons.  The hand, wrist and arm position must be precise, if the break is to be performed and only the pressure of the strike is felt.  If pain is induced during the break, then there is the possibility of one of the following:  First off, the density of the material  is too great for the individuals speed, execution and mass, irregardless of their skill.  Second, the technique was wrong for whatever the execution was.  Hesitation in the break, causes loss of speed, which will not allow enough shock for the break to occur and the hand stops at the material.  If the shoulder is not introduced into the break, little to no power is applied.  Once again the hand stops at the material.  Third, the improper striking area of the hand making contact with the material, will either not add to the break or even worse will cause a fracture in the bone(s) of the hand.  When executing, a forefist break, speed and shoulder action are essential to the break.  With a hammer fist break, proper alignment of the hand with the wrist and a "powered through" locked up "short lever" action of the arm is essential.  With the knife hand, the proper striking area and angle of the hand along with the downward action of the heel of the hand with speed and downward shoulder action make this break one of the easiest breaks to accomplish.  It's comparable to using a sharp knife to cut through cardboard or attempting the cut with a broom handle.  The striking area is very thin compared to the hammer fist, forefist or in particular the palm heel.  When executing the breaks of the more porous materials, such as some cement materials, proper technique is generally much different and mass is much more important.

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