STAFF at several companies have been getting into the latest team building craze at a local martial arts club – so the Gazette team went along to give it a go.
After a hard’s day slog in the office or to gear people up for a special project, more and more bosses have been booking board-breaking workshops to help their teams bond and work more efficiently.
Head instructor at Tring Martial Arts Chris Allen has just launched a board breaking workshop for corporate clients and is enjoying plenty of bookings for the mind-over-matter technique.
He said: “I chose it as a new service to offer because board breaking is an aspirational skill. When you see most martial arts movies the characters break boards and it looks great. That’s why it’s popular.
“I teach people that you either believe that you are going to break the board and you will but if you don’t believe it, you won’t.”
Breaking boards is not just a physical act, according to Chris – it’s about tearing apart the fears that hold us back in life. So after a short warming up of our arm muscles we each chose something we found challenging with the view to overcome mentally.
Anxiety, quietness, change and speed cameras all came up so Chris wrote each one down on a wooden board.
Chris said: “It’s about telling yourself that you are going to put your hand through the wood and by doing that you reinforce your belief in yourself.”
We practised on breakable boards first. Concentrating, breathing and an energy release through shouting were key to achieving it.
Shouting out while using a hammer fist strike to smash the board was definitely a stress reliever and it didn’t hurt as initially feared.
We all managed to break our wooden boards, some broke theirs in half while others smashed them into three pieces, but whether it had an effect on us psychologically remains to be seen.
Costing anything from £295 for a 30 minute session for six people, board breaking is a lot of money for some businesses to fork out, especially during a recession.
It made us wonder how this session compared with other types of team building activities available.
“In this day and age people don’t necessarily have the time to organise a big day at an assault course or a driving challenge,” explained Chris.
“It seems to me that it’s more convenient to do the board breaking seminar because we can go along to their offices or meet them somewhere. It works well as an added extra after a management meeting.”
Chris should know, because he spent six years working in the high pressure environment of sales and marketing before he trained as a martial arts instructor and set up Tring Martial Arts Black Belt Academy.
Today the business has 160 clients who all train at least twice a week and Chris is hoping board-breaking workshops will encourage more adults to take up membership.
He said: “It’s a great vehicle to persuade people to learn martial arts and teach them that it’s not about becoming a thug but about becoming a master of your own mind.”
See a video of the Gazette team break boards at www.hemeltoday.co.uk