Taekwondo is a workout for the body and the mind. And when both are performing at their peak, there's no telling what you might do, including breaking a pine board.
Taekwondo Master, Forrest Gibson assures us, we can do it. "You’ll be able to break boards, when we’re done with this, you’ll be able to break.”
We're not sure we buy it, but who better to teach us? Gibson's diverse class includes white belts and black belts, ranging in age from 7 to 70.
Each class begins with a bow. It's a sign of respect and shows you are readying your mind for the upcoming class. A series of kicks and punches prepares our body for a workout that is surprisingly aerobic.
“It’s a really good cardio workout," says Gibson. "Usually every class we do, we start out about a half hour of nothing but kicking and punching and yelling and we get a really good aerobic workout going.”
Power, balance, even breathing techniques are taught so students perform at their highest level. Drills are designed to develop coordination and concentration.
"Because you're so physically and mentally focused on what you're doing, you're pushing yourself so hard and you're kicking so hard... mentally your body is in tune with what you're doing."
We learn how to block, dodge and duck during the punching drills. Most of the students make it look easy. It's not. But that's what keeps many of Gibson's students coming back.
"A lot of them are here to have fun. Some of them are here to learn how to defend themselves. Some people just want to get a good workout and just lose some weight and they need some kind of motivator."
After a couple more drills and a few jump kicks, we find out if Master Gibson can live up to his promise.
"All right, let's go break some boards."
The kids are not intimidated. For them, the boards are stepping-stones to the next level of learning. Some break them with a flying side kick. Others, use the palm of their hand. We stick to the basics.
"Step up and just touch the board," instructs Gibson.
Erin finds the center of the board and launches a few practice kicks. It's time to give it a shot. After a loud, "Hi-ya," Erin releases all her energy into the board. It doesn't break.
Gibson isn't discouraged. He reminds us that Taekwondo is about physical and mental strength. On a third attempt, Erin splits the board in two. Sonya does the same. The look on their faces turns from amazement to accomplishment.
If they can break a board, there's no telling what they might do next.