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So What’s This Tang Soo Do Thing All About? (Breaking)

In the last part of this series, we will look at breaking (Kyuck Pa) and how this fits within the self-defence system.

We don’t do a lot of it - in fact, it is now only part of your Dan Test. Speaking to students, it is one of the main elements that they do not like - the fear of getting hurt & the fear of failure.

However, if the technique is taught and practiced correctly and the students deliver the technique well, a person’s fears can be overcome & they can successfully undertake that part of their Test. If not, then it can be an uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience for student.

Board breaking can use a variety of materials but the most common are wooden boards or plastic re-usable ones. When training / practicing, it is important to practice a consistent board; that way you are able to see how effective your technique is. Don’t immediately try a thicker / harder board; make sure your technique is good and, more importantly, consistent. Then work your way up the scale, SLOWLY! Block breaking is done using concrete blocks cut to a variety of thicknesses, depending on your own individual risk assessment.

There are also different methods to breaking, but the main ones you see with us are:

  • Standard break – one or two blocks/ boards with a single technique held by a couple of people.

  • Supported break – one or more blocks / boards stacked on top of each other, with or without spacers, being held up by support blocks directly on the ground.

  • Multiple break – 2 or more techniques used to break boards in multiple locations in rapid succession without resetting in between techniques.

So how does this add to your training:


Breaking is probably the only area of training that we use the full power of our technique with no holding back. Pad work can get close, depending upon your partner, but full follow through is often not possible in pad work. When board breaking, we finally get to see the effectiveness of using our technique to maximum effect.


Almost every aspect of a technique is tested when attempting to break blocks or boards with it - your hand or foot position, your hip twist, the follow through, the angle / trajectory or the strike, the stance and how good your targeting. If any one of these is incorrect, your break is likely to fail.

Nerve / Character

Do you execute great technique & power the first time of asking, or do you take a bit of a sighter? If you don’t break it, what do you do next? Only you know the answer to this & and only you can affect what happens.


There is almost nothing to compare to the smile on someone’s face when they have broken their brick at their test. That said, I haven’t broken mine twice first time out of three Tests. How did I come back from that? How have I used that experience to build upon? How a student responds to both situations will say a lot about them


Being slightly off target, as I have said, can have a huge affect on success or failure with a break. Putting all of your focus into this aspect of your test - usually the last thing you have to do - is mentally tough when you are physically drained.

So breaking is hard - and sometimes physically painful - so it’s key that you harness your instructor’s teaching, your inner strength & technique and your mental fortitude when you are asked to demonstrate your Kyuck Pa. What you should also ask yourself, every time you do a technique or strike a pad, is ask yourself ‘would that have broken…?’

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