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TMA UnderGround >> Breaking skill development


11/18/09 3:29 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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Edited: 11/18/09 4:09 PM
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Though I don't think ability to break objects is related to fighting ability, it's one of the traditional skills in TMA.

I first decided to learn breaking back in the day mostly due to boredom and also from looking at Mas Oyama's books. So, the first thing I did was get a supply of bricks of various types. I lived in an apt building next to a construction site, so they had a lot of cast off bricks of various types.

I started out using a 10 hole brick like this:

The traditional method is to set it up  on two other bricks and just break it, but I opted to use the Oyama method. This involves using a stable surface (he uses an anvil). I had a waist high wall made of cement blocks and also a set of concrete steps. The method used is to hold the brick in one hand and leave about 1/8" space between the end of the brick and the breaking surface. This small space allows a shock to the brick, so you're breaking by 'shock' rather than deformation.

In breaking, deformation is the amount of 'bend' a solid object undergoes before it will snap. It's a very small distance, which is why you're advised to hit through the object. You're trying to deform it the small amt needed. Bricks and masonry are very good at compression strength, but not so good at resisting deformation. (i.e. wrecking ball hitting a brick or cement block).

Anyway, I started breaking those 10 hole bricks and was successful almost immediately. I then tried to break them using very little movement,  maybe only a six inch movement, using mostly my waist to make the striking movement.

Then I moved to a three hole brick. Those were much harder to break, being thicker than the 10 hole brick (might even have been a different composition).

Eventually, I got so I had a feeling of being able to 'slice' through those with only a six-inch 'windup'. So I went back to the supported method of breaking (one brick on top of two supporting bricks), using the 10 hole brick, and discovered I was finally able to 'deform' break it with the ability I'd gained doing the Oyama method.

At the time my right hand was now noticeably larger than my left hand, and the heel of my hand was larger and more muscular and had thicker skin (this took about three months).

From there I went to regular bricks (Oyama method)

...and then on to very heavy rough hewn bricks of the type that looked like they were made by hand.

...and then went on to river rocks of various sizes (Oyama method). The heavy rough bricks usually required me two hits to break (you could hear the sound of them hitting the edge on concrete rising in pitch). I never did get to the point of breaking one of the extra heavy rough hewn bricks with the supported (deformation) method, only the Oyama (shock) method.

The idea I'm trying to get across is there is a progression you can use, and to give you an idea of the time. Since I had the good fortune of having a lot of bricks at hand to break, I went through hundreds, breaking about 10-20 each day after work (probably 3-4 days/week), and worked up to large river rocks over six months. At this point, my right hand was looking a bit odd, being bigger, rougher and thicker, so I decided to stop. I did eventually get to the point where I could break a regular brick, supported (deformation method) with a short windup which was my original goal. I never 'forced' it and never went to the point where I overly bruised my hand, though there was a little bruising. You want to go gradually and steadily and not hurt yourself. I also just used the heel of the hand and not the bony part of the end of the radius (some schools teach this but i didn't like the idea of messing with the end of my arm bone).

Hope this post is of some use. As I said, it's not of much help in fighting, but it can be fun for those who like breaking. I did soak my hand in salt water and vinegar but didn't use any other ointments.

     
11/19/09 10:00 AM
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Shaper108
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What type of strike(s) were you using?
11/19/09 11:34 AM
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WidespreadPanic
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Shaper108 - What type of strike(s) were you using?
Oh, thought that was clear. I was using a short stroke palm heel strike, from about 6", trying to get my waist into it and not a lot of arm or shoulder (torque). A lot of people try to use their bodyweight and elbow strike or a long stroke palm, but, to me breaking is more about short power and a bit about suddenness (speed). So I de-emphasized large swinging strikes.

It was definitely a neat feeling, after a couple months, go back to the 10-hole bricks and holding one end with no gap to the striking blocks (a concrete/cement block wall), feel like I was 'slicing' through it - almost like I was 'cutting' the brick in half using my hand.
 
11/19/09 11:41 AM
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Shaper108
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I saw that you were hitting them with the heel of your hand, just wondering about the mechanics and wondered if you had tried any other strikes as well. Thanks for elaborating.
11/19/09 12:31 PM
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Edited: 11/19/09 12:32 PM
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No, I never tried any other methods. As I said I picked it up from the Mas Oyama books, and that's how he does it. I didn't have a strong interesti in breaking, being fairly light at the time (160lbs), but unlike other types of breaking, doing single bricks seemed interesting and not too fancy or elaborate. Plus, I had that supply of bricks from the construction site.

My instructor actually did 'speed breaking', i.e. breaking half filled beer bottles and other stunts. (He actually cut his hand badly during one demo and had to go for stitches).

Breaking river rocks with this method is also fun and you can do it when you're out camping and hiking and amaze your friends. Here you have to spend some time selecting the right rock (avoid those which are too wet) and analyzing the right spot to strike.

But again, imo, it's about transferring waist power and short striking power as it applies to MA and not about making big power swings using your bodyweight and arms, necessarily. In SD situations you often don't have time for big swings, but short power can be applied. I'm pretty sure I could apply this, say in mount as a short strike to break the collar bone, for example.

If you decide to try something like this, just remember to go slow, practice several times a week and condition your hand a bit, and work on the mental part (concentration) and getting power from the waist (torquing) would be my advice.
 
I don't consider myself an expert on this by -any- means, and just thought I'd share my experience. Happy  training!
11/19/09 3:01 PM
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BushHog
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hand prep and beaking work IF you use realistic blows (i almost always used knuckles) do not take time to prepare (ie getting your chi to flow)and start easy. i started with a canvas heavy bag without gloves or wrapping. Went to a makawara then brick or large stone and concrete walls. I practiced with hands in front of body from maye 6" out. Took maybe two years to being able to hit a concrete wall with full force for a few blows.
11/20/09 10:47 AM
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Edited: 11/20/09 10:58 AM
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BushHog - hand prep and beaking work IF you use realistic blows (i almost always used knuckles) do not take time to prepare (ie getting your chi to flow)and start easy. i started with a canvas heavy bag without gloves or wrapping. Went to a makawara then brick or large stone and concrete walls. I practiced with hands in front of body from maye 6" out. Took maybe two years to being able to hit a concrete wall with full force for a few blows.

 Hmm, guess I'm not following the first part about 'realistic blows' and not taking time to prepare. For 'breaking style strikes', I'd say there's really only one bone you can break and that's the collarbone. You might be able to break the orbital bone (which happens in normal boxing and MMA) but I lean away from doing barehanded strikes to the head except the nose area, and the side of the jaw under the ear.

As far as hitting with knuckles, that's one track you can take, but if you look at an anatomy chart, that area is not really designed for impact. Knuckles are made of cartilage. At the most, you might be able to deform them (Oyama style) and build a quarter inch of callous. You can deaden the nerve endings, and along with the above you can -feel- as though you can hit anything full strength, but I think that's an illusion. (i.e. you may have deadened the nerves but in reality you're damaging your hands)

I got to the point with knuckle strikes where I could hit yielding things, dumpsters, lockers, canvas striking bags, but could never unload onto concrete or something like an oak tree (I tried). I'd say it's better to hit the following (using knuckles).

Get a large carboy, 5 gallon size, fill it with liquid (water, ballistic gel) and enclose it in heavy cardboard. It has some 'give' as in hitting a body, and some rebound. Something similar to this. I prefer rectangular so your hands won't slip off and can hit squarely:
  +
The cardboard will give some impact resistance (the carboy is made of heavy plastic but the sides should have 'give'). Stack them up on a shelf or small table against a wall with a couple inches space. This makes a good target. One you destroy the cardboard box covering (you can wrap it in duct tape or even rotate it to get a clean side), you just get a new box. These are fun to hit and will impact-develop your hands, but not overly damage your knuckles. STILL, I'd strongly suggest you wrap your hands. Why? Your hand bones are fragile - no getting around it. They're floating in the 'gel' of your skin, muscle and cartilage. Wrapping will compress them and make this 'float' less and will help to reinforce them. (like taping one hurt finger to the adjacent good finger).

Working hitting these for several months will give you a feeling of 'unreal' power. In fact, in all seriousness, I stopped hitting these because I started to feel that if I hit someone I'd kill them. Don't laugh. (Again, it was a feeling I'm trying to get across).  If you wrap your hands, using this as a target, you will build up an impressive strike. I used straight punches and if you stand off to the side you can hook them. Be sure you put them at the proper height. Mine were about 15" tall, and I'd stack 2 or 3 of them, one at just below head height. (you lower your level to strike so you're hitting on the same plane as your shoulder).

HTH.
      
11/20/09 11:00 AM
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Another fun 'trick' you can do with these water filled carboys is to put one on a picnic table, then, with a short strike (like in WC) try to make it slide across the table. The friction will cause resistance. You can start out with a large water filled coffee can wrapped in duct tape and move up to a carboy of various fills and sizes.

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