When I started teaching Taekwon-Do, it was (like many schools past and present), during the evening and in school gymnasiums. Board Holders back then were big metal behemoths weighing about 200 lbs and required a truck to haul around, and the only boards available were wood boards. This made practicing breaking with students challenging and expensive.
Without a board holder, students and instructors had to hold boards for each other. The joke back then was “Why do I need a board holder? I have students?” The problem was:
So I and other desperate instructors developed home-made portable board holders. Some instructors made wooden contraptions, while others were welded steel “heads”. Mine was a little more inventive than most in that it had legs to bear the weight of the head and was designed to be braced against a wall. These homemade board holders worked…. to a point, however, they still left a lot to be desired. They were more portable then the “behemoths”, but they were still too heavy, bulky, and adjusting the height was difficult, or required people to hold them. The major advantage that the behemoths had over the portables at this point was that the students could to practice breaking by solo.
An unexpected breakthrough occurred when I was flying across the country to test under the president of the ITF for my 6th degree. I and was told:
The fact that my fellow examiners were my 110lb wife and a friend with neck and back issues would make a successful “power” break impossible unless I got creative.
The board issue was resolved by bringing UMAB re-breakable boards of various strengths because it was impossible to bring 45 wood boards on a plane due to luggage limits. Our portable metal board holder was also too big and heavy to pack. In desperation I wired a piece of wood to the inside top and bottom of a plastic soft drink crate to support the re-breakable boards that were held in place using bungee straps. The existing handles of the crate allowed two holders (one each side) to brace the crate against a wall and the breaker to smash the boards and transfer the impact to the wall rather than the holders. Although the crate sides limited the strikes to perpendicular strikes (side kick and punch), the contraption performed like a charm and we all broke successfully and earned our next rank.
It was at this point that I determined that the issues I had been experiencing were common for all Taekwon-Do practitioners.
In order to get breaking BACK into Taekwon-Do curriculum's, we needed to solve the following problems.
Using the plastic soda pop crate as a foundation and with the aid of an engineer, the Gorilla Board Holder was created and I am proud to say that breaking is making a steadily increasing comeback in schools, events, competitions and training.