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Smashing Boards with Your Head (or whatever)
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No, that's not a metaphor, I really want to talk about karate people breaking boards and bricks and ice.

The Straight Dope's latest column is on the subject. He spends most of his time talking about pencils and technique, and even tries it out himself.

I sent him a letter referring him to debunker James Randi on the subject.

I went to my nearby lumber-yard and asked for some 1" X 8" X 14" pine boards, and the clerk immediately asked if I wanted them for karate demonstrations. Yes, I said, and I wanted the grain going across the boards, not along the length. Well, he told me, we have those already cut, for karate schools — but be careful not to let them bounce around in the car, because they split very easily....

He also told me they carried paving-bricks specially made for the schools, too. These were very high in sand-content, he said, so they crumbled easily.

It's not so much technique as preparing the materials and most other forms of hucksterism. I also mentioned that I'd often heard of these people baking boards either in ovens or out in the sun, to get as much moisture out of the wood as possible.

These guys aren't channeling chi or doing anything particularly impressive. I seriously doubt even the most accomplished karate master would try to break a nice thick piece of mahogony supplied by an impartial third party.

'Cause they'd break their fuckin' hand.

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