Breaking the Board of Vulnerability

"Each of us strengthens all of us" is a concept that resonates deeply in the Villanova community. While this phrase may mean many different things, one aspect is that Villanovans rely on each other. Share a situation when you have needed help and what you have taken away from this experience.

I assume kicking position. My fists held near my chest as I stare down my enemy and consider all the things that could go wrong: kicking the holder's hands, injuring my foot or leg, and worst of all, facing the humiliation of not breaking the 1-inch thick wooden board. As a third-degree black belt I like to believe I have mastered all parts of the art. After 12 years of training, I had kicked millions of paddles, completed thousands of forms, picked up a few medals and even became an instructor. There was one aspect of taekwondo, however, that I could never grasp. Board breaking.

Unfortunately, my mind believed that an even bigger embarrassment than not being able to break the board in front of my students and colleagues was asking for help. I had a reputation to maintain that deterred me from soliciting the support I needed.

Nevertheless, I was determined to break the board with my jump spinning back kick at the next testing. Of course, I intended to do so independently.

I trained in my basement for weeks. I took my rebreakable board, edged it between two stationary chairs and kicked until I could no longer stand. I had broken it a few times, but the success rate was quite appalling. That night after all the tears and...

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