Previous month:
February 2016
Next month:
May 2016

Bruce Lee Did Us A Disservice When He Said "Boards Don't Hit Back"

Bruce Lee did all of us a disservice but I don't think it was intentional. He said, "Boards don't hit back," but he said it in the context of a movie, when O'Hara arrogantly broke a board just before he was to fight Bruce.

When Bruce said, "Boards don't hit back," it wasn't a put-down of board-breaking as a training tool. It was a threat that he was going to kick O'Hara's ass in a movie.

Now, 43 years after "Enter the Dragon," when you put a video up showing breaks, a few guys who troll the internet as keyboard warriors love to say, "Boards don't hit back."

Here is my answer. Neither do heavybags. Neither do speedbags. Neither do focus mitts. Air doesn't hit back when you shadowbox.

And Bruce Lee understood what board-breaking was -- a demo of focused power. If you hit a board wrong, it lets you know. It doesn't break, and with some boards, like the black one that I use, which is the strongest, it can cause a little pain.

Let all the intelligent martial artists put this old cliche to rest, because it is just a line from a movie that has no context in training. After all, as this video shows, Bruce was not opposed to using boards as a tool.

1969 Video of Bruce Lee Breaking A Board With... by videobash

Also remember that when Bruce Lee demonstrated his One-Inch Punch, his partner was not hitting back.

A board is a training tool. It is just one tool that provides a little feedback. Lighten up and use every tool you can. When keyboard warriors try to make themselves feel like tough guys by making these comments, I ban them from my page. They aren't smart enough to deserve the information I try to provide.

173 Board Breaks in the Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu Form

Tai Chi (Taiji) is performed slowly so students can learn the internal body mechanics that make it a powerful fighting art.

Every movement in Taiji has several self-defense applications. In my DVDs on fighting applications, I show more than 400 strikes, kicks, joint locks, sweeps, and takedowns in the Laojia Yilu form.

Recently, I decided to go through the 75 movements of Laojia Yilu -- also known as "Old Frame First Form" -- and do as many board breaks as I could find, without repeating any of the movements (several movements are repeated in the form). This video focuses only on striking possibilities in the form -- not chin-na or sweeps or throws. Just strikes and some kicks.

I came up with 144 board breaks in a little over two hours, then, after first posting the video a week ago, I saw 29 breaks that I wanted to add, so we shot those yesterday. My thanks to Colin Frye for holding the boards and my wife, Nancy, for being the ace videographer.

Now for some Breaking News -- 173 board breaks in one Taiji form. If you want to learn the body mechanics behind the movements, join my website at, or check out my DVDs on this blog.

Chen Xiaowang says fajin ("issuing power") is the same as the slow movements of Tai Chi. The only difference is when you want to do fajin, you "step on the gas." In this video, I step on the gas.

One more thing about board-breaking. Bruce Lee said "boards don't hit back." Well, neither do heavybags, speedbags, or makiwara boards. These are all tools to develop power, technique, and to get a little instant feedback. Anyone who dismisses board-breaking because of something Bruce Lee said in a movie needs to think a little deeper.