Spiritual Content of Kata

Roy Kenneth Kamen

Break On Through To The Other Side

• 01-12-2020 •

Board Breaking

My Flatbush students have been “getting with the program” since we returned after Winter break. Several of them can now punch, block, and kick correctly. Stances have improved, and overall behavior is better. My problem students are in the Seventh-grade class. It consists of thirteen girls and one boy. I have no idea why there is such an overwhelming number of girls in the class. One sure thing is that this ratio of girls has tested my patience. They act like a gang reinforcing wild behavior of each other. I needed to find a method to reel them in and settled on an activity I used in the Upper East Side Isshinryu class for young kids: Board breaking!

No, not actual wooden boards. I requested that the Program purchase reusable plastic Karate breaking boards. The boards arrived this week. I promised the students that they could break them at the end of class if they did everything I instructed. It worked. They participated with the beginning breathing meditation, stretching warmup, and basic punching and blocking exercises. Then they lined up, and I instructed how to break the boards. An electric feeling shot through the group. One by one, they took turns breaking the boards with a palm strike. We started with an easy-to-break board and progressed to the hardest one. All but one student could break the most challenging board.

By the end of class, every student was smiling with a feeling of accomplishment. As they exited the room, chattering away, I knew I reached them. Finally!