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As I was uploading some jewelry to Jac & Elsie last night, I was taken back to a story I wrote for my former paper, a story that ended with my hand passing expertly through a piece of  white pine, the strongest wood there is.

I met the karate instructor through an unrelated story, and as we chatted on the phone, he mentioned that he had a black belt in karate.

“Oh, so you can smash stacks of boards with your head then, can’t you?”

“I can,” he said. “Breaking boards is not really that hard. I can teach anyone to do it.”

“There is no way you can teach me to do that,” I said. “I have the arm strength of an infant.

We finished our interview for the story I was working on, and before we hung up, I asked him.

“I kind of want to take you up on that challenge. Want to teach me how to break a board?”

 

 

I showed up one weeknight for his karate class. He introduced me to the class and said I’d be sitting in for a story, and he beganby calling an 8-year-old girl to the front of the class and having her break through a board with her fist. (Nothing like trying to show-up the twentysomething journalist in the room …)

After he had each class member each break a board with his or her hands — most succeeded on the first try — he did some trick breaks: holding a board out at arm’s length, dropping it, and breaking it with his foot mid-fall; stacking four boards and breaking them with his hand; ya know, that sort of thing.

When he called me to the front of the class, he had a piece of white pine — the strongest wood there is, he told me — suspended with either end resting on a concrete block, so the space beneath the wood was empty. (It’s much harder to break a board that is flat against a surface.)

He showed me the part of my hand to use, the fleshy part of the side of my palm, below my pinky. He said to be sure to hit the board in its middle and to continue my downward swing through the board; the major reason people fail at breaking a board is by stopping as soon as their hand hits the board.

I broke that board, baby. And then I broke another.

He gave the pieces to me to keep as a souvenir, and I never knew what I’d do with them.

Until now. Now, I use them as photo props:

 

 

I hope a black belt in karate wouldn’t be too bummed out by this …

 

 

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