When you were 8 years old, the words ninja and karate master weren’t Internet memes or punch lines but held a place in your mind as legitimate career options. Then you smacked your hand against a wooden board, expecting it to fly apart into splinters, and nearly broke your hand.

Now you’re older and wiser, and able to make the 8-year-old in you proud by mastering one of the all-time coolest feats of physical and mental strength: chopping a wooden board in half.

In the steps illustrated here, Sensei Mike Reeves—a seventh-degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu karate and a 10-time International Sport Karate Association World Breaking Champion—walks you through the paces of snapping your very first board— and hopefully not your hand.

Sensei’s Tip From Mike Reeves: “A first-timer can do this. It’s not a physical thing. It’s mental. But if you plan on doing this more than once, you need to condition your hands with a makiwara, which is a padded striking post.” watch reeves shatter boards, and get more karate and strength tips, at mikereevesonline.com.”

Hand-Chop-Step-1Step 1 – The Stance

“Your feet should be just outside shoulder width. If you’re righthanded, then press your right foot slightly forward. You want to have some core and upper-body tension, but not a lot; you want your body to act like a whip.”







hand chop


Step 2 – The Backswing

“With an open palm (a “shuto”) or closed fist (recommend- ed for beginners), raise your right hand high over your head, slightly behind your shoulder. This creates distance between your hand and the boards; distance and speed create power.”





hand chop


Step 3 – The Chop

“Explosively chop down, aiming at the center of the boards. don’t imagine stopping on the boards. see your hand going through the wood all the way to the ground. The boards are just in your way.”