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Breaking Boards

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Have you ever been really mad, and slammed your fist down against a table or desk - like when your Mom throws out your baseball cards or when your favorite basketball team loses in overtime. Your hand probably hurt quite a bit and you probably didn't even make a dent in the table. So how come those karate experts are able to break all those boards and concrete blocks without looking stupid and breaking their hands?

Breaking Boards in Martial Arts - The Set Up

You may have noticed that martial arts experts always set up a stack of boards or concrete blocks so they're supported only at the ends. That gives the boards or concrete lots of room to bend. When a karate guy or kung fu master makes contact, the upper part of the board squeezes together, and the bottom half stretches. That causes a crack to form which snaps the board in half. But before you think about giving a karate demonstration to your friends - you should remember that the setup is only part of the secret.

Breaking Boards in Martial Arts - Speed and Aim

The other part of the secret has to do with the speed and aim of the blow. When a black belt karate expert busts a pile of boards, their hand is moving about 46 feet per second (you probably can't move your hand more than 20 feet per second.) The expert is also hitting the boards at a very precise point with a very precise part of his hand. It takes weeks or even years of practice to know exactly where these points are - so don't try anything until you've had professional training.(And that doesn't mean watching a bunch of Jackie Chan movies.)

Breaking Boards in Martial Arts - The Bones

The bones in your hand also help make this feat possible. Scientists say the bone in your hand is 40 times stronger than concrete. Since black belts spend hours punching and kicking, the muscles and skin around their bones provide even more protection when they go one-on-one with a stack of concrete blocks. You probably never thought your hand was that strong. But once again, this doesn't make you an expert. Just like it took Pedro Martinez years to master a fast ball, it can take years to turn your hands into board breaking machines. And hopefully, by then, you won't use your "weapons" to have a temper tantrum.

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