By Jocelyn Wallen, 1st dan
Breaking competitions are about more than just breaking the board. Many parts of Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo factor in; foot position, power, and practicing with a target to name a few. To help you learn how to break correctly you also have to have the right boards.
In the wood section of the hardware store there are tons of options, all of them different price wise, as well as stylistically. Look for the #2 pine planks. They come in 4’ 6’ 8’ 10’ and 12’ planks. Pick the length that is necessary for the number of boards you need. More boards, longer plank.
When choosing a plank of wood look for one that has a lighter, more even color. Avoid knots too because they make the board harder to break. Also look out for ridiculously dense, sappy wood because it is like trying to break one big knot. Denser wood has grain lines that are closer together; look for more spread out even lines. Aviod with cracks or wormwood. Wormwood is a dark brown through the grain of the board. Some wormwood can only be seen from the edges of the board so be sure to check.
When getting the board cut the dimensions are slightly different for adults and juniors. For adults take the chosen 1" X 12" plank and cut it into 12’ pieces. The juniors cut the same chosen board length into 10’ inch pieces.
It is also acceptable (but not required) to lightly sand the top and bottom edges of the board just slightly to make life easier on the holders; but in the spirit of being tough it is not necessary in the slightest.
After you have your boards work with your instructor to figure out how to break, what kick you should do, and any other details that are relevant to the situation. Never break without your instructor’s approval, or with a kick that you've never practiced on a target before.