I Plead the 5th

At physical therapy today, during the massage and manipulation, my therapist noticed a bruise on my heel.  Actually it seems she felt it first.  I told her it was nothing to worry about and tried to change the subject but she knows me much too well.  She asked if I was breaking any boards.  Me, with my inability to lie, I told her the truth.  Thankfully, she wasn’t too fussed about it.  I told her it didn’t seem to bother my ankle a bit, and that had I broken the board on the first try instead of the third, there would have been no bruise for her to find.

So, as you all might have guessed, I broke a board this past weekend.   Since I had injured myself a few weeks before my red belt test, I wasn’t able to do the board break (a spin kick) at the test I took.  I was so looking forward to it too.  I love a challenge, and this particular kick is one that students much better than I struggled with.  My instructor held the board between his thumb and forefinger (fingertip hold) and I had to break it doing a spin kick.  I was a smidge nervous that I was going to rattle my ankle so much that I would have to quit after the first attempt.  On attempt #1, I didn’t speed up the kick at the end (which is necessary for this kick, I can’t just muscle through it), so my heel just thunked on the hard 1/2″ piece of pine and flew out of my instructor’s hand.  On attempt #2, my heel throbbing, I sped up a bit more, and the sound the board made wasn’t as much of a hard thunk, it kind of….sang.  If you’ve broken a lot of boards, you know how it sounds slightly different when you are very close to breaking it, but fail to do so.

At this point, I was pissed at the board, my heel was red and throbbing, and I was not going home without the board in two pieces.  I took a little longer on the set up, took a few deep breaths, concentrated on relaxing my hips and upper body and let it rip.  The board EXPLODED out of my instructor’s hand in two pieces (and many splinters), and I am not embarrassed to admit that I did a fist pump and shouted “Yeah!”.  As I said, I’ve seen plenty of better skilled and stronger students struggle with this particular kick, so knowing that I could do it within the three try limit (with a questionable ankle) was a great confidence boost.

After the other students broke their boards, I tried my second break, which is a palm strike.  The trick with this one is that the instructor is holding two boards, but I am only supposed to break the front one.   To be successful I have to strike it on center, and forcefully with the heel of my hand, but also “snap” my hand back so I don’t try to strike “through” it.  My first attempt was more…..feeling out the mechanics.  I had never broken a board with a palm strike, so I had no idea if it was going to hurt or what.  I was surprised to find out that the wood didn’t budge, but it didn’t hurt at all either.  Not like the throbbing heel of my foot.  My second attempt, I swear I heard that board creak.  The third attempt was more of the same.  I couldn’t get that board to break at all.  I’m not upset about it either.  It’s more of a stop-gap method until I can do the required kick, which I can’t right now because there is too much risk of me horking my ankle again with the landing.  As long as I have demonstrated the required kicks before my black belt test, all is good.  I test for Recommended Senior I on Saturday, and other than the cold from the depths of Hades that has me producing more mucous than a single human should, I’m feeling good about it.

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