There were 400 pine boards inside the Mountain View Community Center in Edgewood Saturday morning. By the end of the day there would be 800.
The boards were being broken in half by hand and by heel during the third annual PNW Taekwondo Duel.
For competitor Dan Cazalet, 44, of Fife, the Duel was his first taekwondo competition.
“Going through the board is not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Cazalet said of the first time he split a board.
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Aim, force and technique are the keys, he said.
The competition drew 100 participants from as far as northern Oregon, organizer Lynell Ray said. She and her husband Matt own Lee’s Martial Arts in Edgewood.
The day offered taekwondo practitioners that ranged from small kids to a 60-year-old the chance to compete against themselves or others.
“You get a lot of ring time in a small competition like this,” Ray said.
Some competitors were showing off their form, called Poomsae, while others were sparring with each other.
Flags sewn on their doboks, the uniform of the Korean martial art, reflected different national origins from the U.S. to Mexico. They were tied with belts that ranged from green to yellow to brown.
Some were beginners and others are black belts who are trying to make the U.S. National Team within the next year or two.
The day was a fundraiser to support functions at the community center including after-school, summer, food and senior programs.
Cazalet had been trying for years to talk his daughter Kylie, 13, into taking up taekwondo. He finally promised to join her if she agreed to start the sport.
“I was a 43-year-old, very overweight, no coordination, very nervous to do it, but I promised my daughter,” he said.
A little more than a year later he’s a new man.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Cazalet said. “I’ve got my confidence back. I’ve dropped about 90 pounds.”
Fellow competitor Donny Proctor, 48, of Edgewood, started taekwondo at age 6.
He took a few decades off but four years got back into it.
Beyond building strength and self-defense skills, “taekwondo is one of the best martial arts to keep yourself flexible, your mind focused,” Proctor said. “It’s a martial art, and it’s a sport.”
Proctor was also breaking boards Saturday. While Cazalet was using his hands, Proctor was using his heels.
The boards measure 9-by-12 inches and are three-fourths of an inch thick. Judging is done on technique and the success — or failure — of board breakage.
Within 10 seconds, Proctor broke all three boards with three different styles of kicks, his heel making contact with the boards held by three other men.
“You’ve got to be right on target,” Proctor said.
Cazalet also broke three boards in succession. He’s split as many 30 boards in one session.
“I came out of there with a sore foot and sore thumb,” he said.
Though the men split the boards with an almost surgical precision it hasn’t changed the way they do home carpentry.
“I still use the saw,” Cazalet said.