So I get an invite to attend some children’s “Taekwondo” martial arts class, at the Planteen Recreation Center in Plant City, Florida featuring “brick breaking”. OK sounds good, grab the camera, cell phone and out the door we go. So you think your going to watch a few little kids practice some Karate chops on a few “break away bricks” no big deal, right? Instead I find out the bricks were really real and featured an exhibition of some brick breaking by a 3rd and 4th degree black belts.
First off, I should say that I was surprised to see children as young as 4 and 5 breaking real bricks. Especially when you consider that how fragile human flesh and bone are, when you compare it with cement brick. Secondly to see some very serious martial arts instructions going on. In terms of quality instruction.
Even I got to admit it was all very impressive.
For one you don’t expect to see such things associated with a $25 dollar a month martial arts class at a community recreation center of all places. Nor do you expect to see a formal master and experts in Taekwondo in terms Master Black belts giving one on one personalized instructions like this. But as I found out this is no ordinary martial arts class, and no ordinary martial arts instructor. His name is Master Steve Reynolds he runs the school of Taekwondo in Plant City, Florida…He teaches the art and discipline of “Taekwondo”…
Taeknowdo in Korean , tae means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way”, “method”, or “art”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the art of the foot and fist” or “the art of kicking and punching.”
As a former US Army Infantryman, I recognized right away that this was the same martial art they teach ROK soldiers in South Korea. Anyone who “knows” knows that ROK soldiers are some of the toughest most disciplined soldiers on the planet (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx47qmsB81k).
Their almost fanatical dedication to cause and country and their exploits on the battlefield are absolutely legendary.
To witness their hand to hand combat training or exhibitions are truly something to bedazzle and amaze people (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmxLGhvNyFw&NR=1)…
“Taekwondo”was formally adopted by the South Korean military in the 1950s and 1960s as the basis of all their hand to hand combat training – the names and symbolism of the traditional patterns often refered to elements of Korean history going back 1000 years (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIACbGLWNUo).
The oldest Korean martial art Taekwondo was an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by the three rival Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje where young men were trained in unarmed combat techniques to develop strength, speed, and survival skills. Taeknowdo is considered one of the most effective and deadly martial arts in the world The most popular of these techniques was subak, with taekkyeon being the most popular of the segments of subak.
Those rare individuals who demonstrated strong natural aptitude were selected as trainees in the new special warrior corps, called the Hawarang. A traditon that is in many ways still practiced today by the South and North Korean military.
Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from martial arts such as Karate or southern styles of kung fu (or gung fu). The rationale is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes without successful retaliation.
Taekwondo as a martial art is popular with people of both genders and of many ages. Physically, taekwondo develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina. An example of the union of mental and physical discipline is the breaking of wooden boards, bricks or tiles, which requires both physical mastery of the technique and the concentration to focus one’s inner power (called: chi – energy).
So here I am at a community recreation center witnessing these children, learning a martial art discipline they teach tough as nails ROK infantry soldiers and special operation units in formal military training and thinking to myself OMG! All this for $25 bucks a month at the recreation center in Plant City, Florida?
Taekwondo was just part of formal training and discipline for children and young adults who attend this particular class by Master Reynolds a black belt instructor, who teaches this art as a way to help kids in the neighborhood. Also included is history and philosophy of Taekwondo…
Master Reynolds is not alone in teaching the class, he is surrounded by other Black belts who combined experience is well over 20 years. They include Mr. Cole, a Hillsborough county sheriff deputy, and Miss Cindy – who did an elbow smash of 6 stacked “bricks” that was absolutely incredible! She is a lethal combination of devestatingly good looks and martial arts skill. Crushing concrete, like knocking out an opponent, is all about area of impact.
A typical brick can support about 675 pound of static load. The human hand can generate about that much force, but by concentrating it in a small area, for example the edge of the palm it’s enough to turn that brick into so much rubble. Not to be outdone in all this Mr. Cole smashed two brick in just the set up to do a formal break of 6 bricks himself. In that case it was rather spooky as you could almost see his “chi energy” penetrate the bricks before he actually physically touched them.
In some of the photos I took that day you could see the force of the break cracking the bricks “boom, boom, boom”, literally like “a compression wave going through it” – which is actually part of the physics of the force exerted by the blow itself. I remember some guys explaining, that if the fist doesn’t exert enough force on the brick for it to break, then the brick exerts more force on the fist. That makes intuitively sense as long as you don’t know anything about Newton’s laws. The forces should, of course, be equal in any case. If I had to guess myself I would say that in the even the brick doesn’t break the brick bends minorly, emanating from the middle bouncing off both ends of the brick and traveling back to your hand, and it snaps back to its original state, pushing energy back into your arm, when you think about it in terms of energy, since you might think that the kinetic energy of the fist either goes to the brick or the bones…
That phenomenon makes sense but I have difficulty in seeing how the details go there and I’m not sure if I am explaining it right. But the mere fact people are breaking brick is remarkable when you really think about it from a purely scientific aspect. Master Reynolds did a brick break that was really remarkable. His exhibition brick break sent pieces and specks of brick flying into the air and across the room. Where I was sitting 8 or 9 feet away I felt a speck of brick hit my arm. I thought to myself “Christ!” I could almost feel the chi energy when I was taking a picture of the break. My friend who was sitting next to me at the time said “did a speck hit you”. I said “yes” and we both just kinda looked at each other in stunned amazement at what we had just witnessed. It was absolutely incredible demonstration of martial arts skill and power.
Also incredible is the formal teaching he gives the kids, the discipline and the confidence he instills in them will be something they will carry with them the rest of their lives perhaps. If they keep at it some of the kids will be degreed black belts by the time they reach their teenage years… It was an amazing thing to see these kids blossoming in the class. Learning about martial arts and interacting with the instructors. My friends child, David brought me his brick to show me and as I held this thing it was, absolutely, no doubt about it, whatsoever a “real concrete brick!
The same kind use as construction standard building material.
No break away bricks here.
I left spell bound and amazed by the class, and the dedication of the people involved who were spending personal time teaching this very serious martial arts to the kids.
They were in every sense dedicated professionals. That you would expect to pay serious money for such training at a private dojo or Karate studio somewhere. Here you get the same thing, at a bargain basement price most everyone can afford.
Even if you can’t afford it, special accommodation can be made, especially in the case of low income children – who otherwise could never afford such an opportunity or experience in life. The instructors refer to it as “give back”… In this way I suppose they invest back into the community for the benefit of the children involved. I should also say that this particular form of taekwondo was brought to the U.S. By Sr. Grandmaster Edward Sell in 1967. Sr. Grandmaster & his wife Grandmaster Brenda Sell head the U.S. Chung Do Kwon Association, & hold the highest ranked belts outside of Korea.
For more information on Planteen Taekwondo school visit facebook www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001282994702#!/profile.php?id=1000014…