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Sheets of Wood

If have often read of seemingly amazing feats by Karate masters of old who could break or poke their fingers through sheets of wood. I remember reading that Kentsu Yabu broke seven sheets of wood with his fingertips during his 1927 visit to Hawaii.

I was speaking to a Karate senior who trained for three decades in Okinawa. He mentioned to me that "the sheets of wood in Okinawan were thinner than what we use today."

Okinawa was a very poor prefecture. The Karate masters were not poking their fingers through "two by fours" or plywood. I'm not saying that they were not strong or tremendously conditioned, just that we should not forget that they were human.

When I was in high school I went to a Karate demonstration. An instructor held up two pieces of wood that he planned to break. To show that they were strong, he banged them together -- and they broke.

You've probably been to a demonstration where a board simply would not break. I've seen demonstrators rip their knuckles and damage their hands trying in vain to break such an unbreakable board.

This just goes to show that you can't judge the strength of a board by simply looking at it. Some strong looking boards are weak and some normal looking boards are incredibly strong -- just like people.


Charles C. Goodin