One of the coolest things about martial arts training is board breaking. You may have seen it in movies or in competitions, board breaking is when people set up elaborate routines based on smashing their fists through pieces of wood and brick. There is a simple technique at work during these breaks that anyone can learn (at least to break one little board.)
Once you know the tricks of the trade you'll be breaking boards left and right in no time. Just be careful though because if you perform any of the breaking techniques poorly or don't take it seriously you could really damage your extremities. I've seen kids break their fingers and toes and even their elbows and knees doing breaks improperly.
Things You Will NeedWhat you'll need for board breaking is simple. You'll need one board, preferably one of the lighter varieties of wood. No plywood and no synthetics. You want the wood to have an easily recognizable grain going through it. Try not to get pieces with big knots in them or it will be tougher to break.
The best pieces are going to be cut square at about a foot for each length. You're not going to be using any crazy Chinese martial arts weapons on these pieces of wood (though I suppose you could if you wanted to) because if you do you will surely damage the integrity of your weapon. These breaks are just for your hands and feet.
Now you'll either need a partner or something to prop the board into place. I usually just have someone hold the board out in front of me. If you do that make sure they are holding it with their arms straight and strong (elbows bent just a little bit) so that they will not be pushed away by your attack. They should hold the board with one hand on top and one hand on the bottom with as little finger action coming down into the middle as possible. We don't want to smash their fingers, we just want to smash the wood.
You also want to make sure that he is holding the board so that the grain of the wood is not meeting his hands. So if he's either holding the wood with the grain vertical or he's holding it horizontal. Either way will work.
Now that you've got everything all set up it is time to break some wood and look cool doing it. The simplest manuever is going to be a straight punch. Situate yourself in a powerful fighting stance in front of your partner. Your legs should be spread a little bit so as to ground yourself and you should be able to reach out with your arm and reach passed the board if you could.
If you're too far away from the board you aren't going to hit it and you'll scrape your knuckles. If you're too close to the board you won't get enough power in your strike. You want to hit that sweet spot.
Make a fist and ball it up at your rib cage. Make sure that your thumb is outside your fingers. You're going to be putting the majority of your force on the first two knuckles of your hand and so you want to have a tight fist. Throw your straight punch without fear and you should break right through the board no problem.
Tips & WarningsHalf of this technique is about believing that you will easily break through that piece of wood. Don't worry, if you situate the board properly so that your buddy isn't holding the grain wrong you will go through that wood no problem at all.
Just a word of warning though, you should first consult someone who has done breaking before and have them show you exactly how it is done. Reading something on the internet like this isn't the safest way to learn the delicate methods of the martial arts. Get to a class and have some fun!