Today we received a request for information about the boards used in last weekend’s classes. The first board was a 1″ x 5″ x 30″ with 4 slots cut into it:

As you can see in the above picture the slots are symmetrical. There is one vertical and one horizontal slot on each end of the board. To use this board a student has to stand at a distance that will allow the hand to pass half way through the slot when the arm is fully extended. The student stands perpendicular to the board which is held by another student at shoulder height. Eight pierces are then executed. Alternating right and left hands. Below is the piercing sequence:

Pierce #1: Right hand into right vertical slot (thumb on top)
Pierce #2: Left hand into left vertical slot (thumb on top)
Pierce #3: Right hand into right horizontal slot (palm down)
Pierce #4: Left hand into left horizontal slot (palm down)
Pierce #5: Right hand into right vertical slot (thumb on bottom)
Pierce #6: Left hand into left vertical slot (thumb on bottom)
Pierce #7: Right hand into right horizontal slot (palm up)
Pierce #8: Left hand into left horizontal slot (palm up)

Students are required to bend their fingers after they pass through the slot (see picture):

So now the why. This exercise helps develop three abilities. The first and most obvious is accuracy. If the student’s pierces are off by even a fraction of an inch, his/her fingers will hit the wood instead of passing thought the slot. After only practicing with this board for a short period of time, students will see a drastic decline in the number of times they hit their fingers. Keep in mind that the slot is only 1″ wide. As stated above, a student practicing with this board must bend his/her fingers after they pass through the slot. This bending helps develop the second ability, the capability to judge distance. If the student bends his/her fingers before they pass through the slot, the knuckles will hit the board and if the student doesn’t straighten his/her fingers before the hand is withdrawn, the hand will get stuck. The final ability this exercise helps develop is self-confidence. When a student first starts working with the board they execute the pierces very slowly, unless properly motivated, because they don’t have the confidence that they can truly put their hand exactly where they want it to go. With practice, a student will be able to execute pierces very quickly with accuracy, flawless judgement of distance and with correct timing and therefore improved self-confidence.

The second board is used in exactly the same manner as the first board except for the fact that only one finger is passed through the board. This board (10″ x 10″ x 1″) has nine holes:

At first, students alternate piercing the center hole with their right and left index fingers. Like with the above board, the index finger is bent after it passes through the hole:

Once a student can consistently perform the pierces through the center hole (1.25″), without hitting the wood with the index finger, he/she moves on to the smaller holes (1″). The student executes two pierces (one right and one left) on each of the 8 smaller holes and then repeats the desired number of times. The benefits of this exercise are the same as the ones mentioned above.

When a student can consistently pass through all the holes without hitting the wood, a piece of copy paper is placed between two boards with matching holes (the pink paper in picture):

WIth the paper in place, the student must commit to executing the pierce with force in order to break through the paper. The thickness of the paper is increased with the student’s proficiency.

So that’s an overview of the boards used in the first weekend. We hope the information will prove useful to at least some of you and we will post about the other exercises soon.

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Written by Sean Pearson

Throughout his career, in an effort to become a truly well-rounded martial artist in both practice and philosophy, Master Pearson has studied a wide variety of martial arts: Taekwondo, Kali, Kyudo, Iaido, Aikido, Judo, Jodo, Bando and Tai Chi. He holds dan rankings in six of these arts and master ranks in three of them. To this same end he has studied and achieved national recognition as a wilderness survival instructor, a certified hypnotherapist, and a lecturer in Neuro Linguistic Psychology.

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