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 Board breaking








Khiem's Thesis
Subject: Revised Thesis

Thesis: Board Breaking
    “Be patient”; this is a definition for one of Kienando’s commandments, “Perseverance.” Students must have this trait if they want to master the art of Kienando board breaking. Board breaking is a type of target training where the practitioners’ ultimate goal is to break targets using either hand or foot techniques. In Kienando Kung Fu, wooden boards are commonly used as targets for board breaking. Bricking breaking is also practiced in Kienando. Brick breaking is usually practiced in Vietnam, but is rarely practiced in America due to its level of difficulty and risk; the practice requires decades of intense training and discipline to master. In Vietnam, Kienando Master, Huynh Thanh Phuong, is able to chop or kick up to five pieces of brick. Board breaking is mostly used for performing and entertaining audiences, but it also demonstrates the practitioners’ Kung Fu skills, strength, and power. Masutatsu Oyama, Master of the Kyokushinkai Karate, was an excellent practitioner of the board breaking art; he would practice on bulls. In many fierce fights with the wild oxen, Oyama would subdue them by chopping their horns off with his bare hands and ultimately killing them with a final chop to their skull.
         To engage in board breaking, one must know the mechanics of it. The first step into board breaking are balance and stance. In Kienando, initially, disciples need to get in either Dinh stance or Horse stance. It is imperative for the practitioners to get into this stance because the stance provides stability and balance. Without this stance, the practitioners will not be successful in board breaking. Whenever one strikes with a technique, they are putting some of their weight into the attack; transferring of weight will cause imbalance. Dinh stance applies about 70% of the weight to the front bent leg, so that the practitioners won’t lose their balance during the usage of their technique. The next step is positioning. The striking distance between the board breaker and the board holders is the determinant for either breaking failure or success. If the breaker stands too far away from the target, they will not be able to completely break through the board. The third step is the generation of chi energy. According to The Buddha Garden, “chi refers to the natural energy of the universe, which permeates everything . . . It is the power which enables us to think, move, breathe, and live the power that makes gravity act like gravity.” In order to manifest such metaphysical element, one must engage in a breathing process called “qigong” or “Khi Cong”. Khi cong is the foundation of almost all Kienando techniques; the process is required prior to any techniques. To start, one inhale oxygen through the nose and then exhale through the through mouth while applying an attack. According to Kienando’s theory of the Khi, it is stored in the lower Tan Tien (Golden Elixir), which is a pressure point located about 2 inches below the navel during inhalation process and is then released during exhalation and technique exertion. Unlocking this potential power can maximize the strength of one’s techniques. The last step is accuracy; it is important in board breaking. To achieve breaking success, one must aim at the center of the board.
            One may think that board breaking is just for displaying entertainment, but there are important benefits behind it. One of the benefits is it improves strength. The desire to be a successful board breaker will encourage the practitioner to undergo disciplinary trainings; these practices are Iron Hand, Iron Limb, and Iron Body training. According to Kienando, one must partake in this hardship to become a skillful board breaker. If practitioners want to be skillful in breaking with hand techniques, they must condition their arm. For example, a Kienando disciple is required to practice iron palm by hitting objects with their palm: trees, sand, pebbles, etc. Another benefit is it helps build pain tolerance. The last benefit is the overall improvement of one’s Kung Fu. Repetition is important; hitting the same spot constantly helps improve precision and accuracy.
    Kienando Kung Fu is not all about being the strongest physically, but about being strong inside. The theory behind Kienando’s board breaking training is it helps the disciple to measure their own strength and regulate and manage their power. By knowing their own strength, they would be able to determine how much of it to use; this is called self-control. One of Kienando’s commandment states, “. . . never used martial skills to bully, HARM OR INJURE OTHERS, but martial skills may be applied in legitimate self-defense top protect ourselves or our loved one from harm and danger in their lives.” The statement advises that 100% strength should only be used for self-defense. In addition, one learns self-discipline in applying measurement of strength. One common problematic temptation when it comes to training is overexerting one’s strength; martial artists tend to abuse their strength once they realize their potential. They may abuse their strength by harming other disciples intentionally or unintentionally during training. Thus, it is paramount to have self-discipline because it prevents risky injuries and fatalities during training. For example, in sparring, it is recommended that practitioners practice at and under 25% of their strength; Grand Master Lam of Kienando calls this the hold back technique. The hold back technique allows students to practice their kung fu skill without hurting each other. The art of Kienando board breaking teaches disciples that strength is not only relied on practices and combat drills, but mostly comes from the having self-control. In conclusion,  the art teaches that it takes great patience to improve one’s Kung Fu skill and that it takes great inner strength to overcome any temptations.




The Teaching Pedagogy
By: Lynelle Miliate-Ha

Once a Kienando student reaches the level of Yellow Belt, a new column is added to his or her test form. As a novice, the testing requirements include the Basic Technique, the Quyen, or Form, and the Mon Qui, or School Regulations. What is this advanced subject matter? It is just as important as these others, and yet the student rarely considers it: The Teaching Pedagogy. What is it, and why is it so important that students must practice it before they may pass their tests? Simply put, this is the art of teaching, and it is a necessary aspect of truly mastering anything, especially a martial art. Mastering this skill is beneficial both to the student, and to the Kienando system as well, so the Master Teachers have a great responsibility to train students; and like any other aspect of martial arts, there is a method to teaching a person how to teach.

   Of course, the benefits to the Kienando system are obvious: by making teaching a mandatory part of learning martial arts, we create a base of reliable, experienced teachers. Our system has been developed widely in Vietnam, where it has become an important and well known martial arts system, with hundreds of Masters and assistant instructors to build upon this strength. However, here in America, our system is very new, having arrived with Grand Master Nguyen Lam in the 1990's, and while our growth here has been steady, without a base of reliable instructors, it can be, at times, somewhat slow. Of course, we aren't the only system in this situation. Many systems, like Tay Son, Choy Li Fut and Jeet Kun Do, which, like Kienando, are updated and modernized systems that may be less well known than the older systems that inspired or influenced them. Jeet Kun Do has the benefit of having a celebrity author, whose fame and legend have made the system almost as well known as the Shaolin Wing Chun that it was derived from, but for the most part, these systems rely on a foundation of devoted and passionate disciples who must recruit new students and teach them. For if a system is not taught to others, it will be lost!  In the U.S., Kienando is still quite small, and having this group of teachers allows us to maintain larger class sizes, and helps us to address the needs of the many different levels within any one class. Conversely, the benefits to the student may be more subtle, but they are just as important. When we teach, we also learn. Teaching others shows us the weakness in our own understanding. We must answer questions we may have never asked ourselves, and express lessons in our own words. This furthers our own understanding, and improves our knowledge of our subject matter. Teaching. Also, teaching teaches us to lead. Starting with singular students and moving up to the whole class, a good teacher is given more and more responsibility, in order to learn how to lead larger groups. Leadership, and the self confidence that comes with it, can be applied outside of the dojo to school, work, and other institutions. Thus, the Teacher is given important skills for a successful life. In this way, having students teach in the studio is mutually beneficial.







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