This morning I woke up bright and early to instant noodles again. I didn’t have any coffee and made sure to stay nice and relaxed until the day’s event – power breaking.
Once again, I had to wait at Kukkiwon and watch my teammates compete in other events before it was time for power breaking. Some of them competed in poomsae (patterns) while others competed in downward knife hand tile breaking. The latter event seems incredibly difficult, though I would like to try it some time in the future. You need to break as many flat tiles as you can (arranged on the floor) with the pinky finger side of your hand. It requires a lot of practice and good form.
The master that I train under and my club grandmaster competed in the knife hand tile breaking event and my grandmaster ended up coming away with bronze in the international division. Congrats to Grandmaster Wong!
One thing I’d like to note is that throughout this tournament, a lot of people worked very hard to make sure things ran smoothly. For example, the floor staff always efficiently removed the debris after a round of board / tile breaking to ensure the next event could start promptly. Bravo to the floor staff!
Finally I was called to report to the waiting area to compete in power breaking. This time, I left my phone with my club members for safe keeping so I don’t have any pictures of the waiting process.
What’s interesting about power breaking is that when you report to the waiting room, you need to write down your “challenge” for that round. That means you have to write down how many tiles you’re going to try and break. This is a bit tricky if you lack experience and don’t know how many tiles people usually try to break. During the Korean rounds, I studied the average challenge numbers and found it ranged from 12 to 15 tiles so for my challenge I went with a conservative 12. You don’t get penalized for the ones you fail to break so it can’t hurt to pick a higher number than you’re capable of breaking. The only caveat is that the height of the stack of tiles can affect the difficulty. I’ll explain that more in a later post.
They called around 6 of us onto the mat at a time and we were given 1 minute to arrange our tiles onto the breaking platforms. I actually cut one of my fingers while moving the tiles because I was so nervous I grabbed one of them too tightly. We were all provided a silicone pad to place on top the tiles so we wouldn’t cut our fists up later.
When my turn came and I was called up to bow and get ready, anxiety got the best of me once more and I wasn’t as loose as I would’ve liked to have been. That might have been partially affected by the fact that I had absolutely no experience with the material and so was a bit apprehensive. How much power could I apply without damaging my hand? I had no idea. So my turn came, I got into position with left foot back and right foot forward, gave another meagre shot, brought my left hand up, hopped up slightly and brought my left fist down on the tiles. I could tell right away that I didn’t apply enough force but at least I broke 9 tiles and that was enough to advance to the final round. Many competitors broke less.
We had some yummy instant noodles and eggs back at the house for lunch before watching some club members attempt board breaking via side kick or back kick. This event takes a high degree of skill and accuracy in your kicks.
I also walked around a bit outside. Free Red Bull was being handed out so I happily grabbed a can but I was still a bit tired from the stuffy stadium air so I went to the expo grounds to grab a “Dutch coffee” for 6000 won. I have no idea why it’s called Dutch coffee. It tasted like slightly strong coffee with ice cubes in it.
After all the events for the day wrapped up, we headed off for some amazing Korean fried chicken. I can’t stress enough how good Korean fried chicken is. It’s one of the things you MUST try when in South Korea. We ate at a Samtong fried chicken branch in Gangnam. The food was so good I found it hard to stop eating.
That’s all for Day 5! Day 6 will be quite the day as the finals take place for both power breaking and speed breaking. Stay tuned!