Break test (Kyepka)

One of the four elements fo taekwondo (besides sparring, styleforms and self-defence) is the breaktest. It is a obligatory part of the black-belt exam and is s popular element of taekwondo demonstrations.


Breaking an object is a good way to practise concentration, power, focus, speed and precision on non-living objects, without injuring oneself or another. It is very important to realise that a proper technique is needed and a breaking technique within your limits, because without it you can easily injure yourself, sometimes even permanently!

Practising breaking objects helps you to realise that your body itself is a very strong weapon. It also helps you to understand that during practise with a partner, you have to be very careful.


The material that is most often used for breaking techniques is wood since it can be easily broken with either hand or foot. Other materials include bricks, tiles and sometimes even baseball bats!

GM. Moon Breaking objects can be performed with any rigid part of the body. In taekwondo, the most common are the hand or the foot, but breaking can also be done by using the elbow, the knee and even the head.
(The photo show GM Moon of the Hwalmoo Hapkido federation, performing a break-technique with his head)

In order to break an object, it is best to start light. Use an object that is easy to break, instead of directly trying to break a thick board, and start with a technique in which you feel confident. Use your techniques as they are taught to you and try to be as releaxed as possible. When starting practising breaking techniques, it might help you to focus a few inches behind the actual point of impact.

The physics behind a breaktest

Impulse = force (delivered by the strength of t=your muscles) times time (delivered by the speed of your movement). (The second law of Newton). Therefor, the shorter your contact with the board, the bigger the force component will be and therefor, the easier the board will break.
momentum = mass (weight) x velocity (speed in a certain direction), The change in momentum is the momentum when you hit the target minus the momentum whem you come to a stop, which is determined by weight and speed (== impulse??)/ The force applied to stop a movement determines how quickly it is stopped, since we can say the the mass used to create the momentum will not change.

In order to break a board (or any kind of material), you must cause a shearing moment in the board that is larger than the critical moment for that type of material. When you try to break a board, the board itself is supported as both sides. If you perform your breaking technique well, you will hit the board in the center which leads to an equal distribution of force on the two parts. Both parts will supply a reverse force of half the initial force.

When the force meets the board, the top of the board will be in a state of compression and the bottom will be in tension. This will produce a torque on an axis through the middle of the board. If the torque is great enough the board will break.

Besides force other elements that are important are power and pressure.

The thicker the board, the harder it is to break the board. That is why often multiple smaller boards instead of one thicker one are used.

Copyright (c) 1994-2016 by Barry Nauta (barry_at_nauta_dot_be, or Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "Copyleft".