You’re equating a safe seminar environment with an unpredictable street environment and that’s just no. Speaking as someone who has been a participating member on both sides of the board breaking seminar (the ouch, oh god my fingers side and the yay, I broke it side), I can say you’ve missed the point of the exercise. Board breaking seminars aren’t about strength or bone density or your ability to hit something, not really. It’s about teaching the student to
1) Focus and energy projection. They project their energy through a very specific point on the board. It’s about targeting and timing.
2) It’s a confidence building exercise. And it’s a very successful one.
3) Distant third. It’s cool for the parents to watch.
Insider tip: the boards that children twelve and under buy are actually thinner than the boards they give adults because they are easier to break. The average child size board is 1" compared to 2" or more for adults, and the really little ones get a half inch board. It’s really thin. Thin enough an adult can apply enough pressure to snap them with their two hands. For the really little ones (like five or six) when they have real trouble and start to get frustrated this allows the instructor to give them a little extra help if necessary. This isn’t a common practice and especially not during tests, but it happens.
This is all before I point out that board breaking means almost nothing in terms of actual combat viability. This is mainly because: the board does not move. (And neither do the instructors holding it cause when they miss, ouch. Hardest part is learning not to flinch)
I sparred my instructors as a kid and, older teens in the class, and even some adults. It’s incredibly intimidating to fight someone taller and older than you. Even when you do well, their hits hurt a lot more even when they are pulling their punches. I have also done the reverse. I’ve fought kids as an older teen and an adult. It’s incredibly easy to see everything they do, if only because no part of them is outside of your visual range. There is a reason they separate out by age group at tournaments. The major reason is safety, even for a more experienced or higher ranked twelve year old going up against a low level adult.
This is also where I point out this happened in a controlled environment with pads and mouth guards, where it was safe and no one wanted to kill me.
The trick with getting hits in first is that it’s what’s called “taking the initiative” if you can take the initiative, then you tend to keep it because you are overpowering your opponent and they cannot fight back. They are too confused by pain to fight back. This… isn’t true for a child. I say this having sparred with twelve year old black belts who were incredibly overeager with their attacks. It just doesn’t feel the same. Not because they’re slower (most kind of are), they just can’t hit as hard, they can’t bring the same amount of force to bear, and, ultimately, I could always reach them long before they reached me.
I know this is difficult for a lot of people to comprehend because television and movies, but the honest truth is that they don’t use child soldiers because kids can fight on an even playing field with adults.
Starke linked the post where I talked about the major differences between children and adults when it comes to fighting, where I talked about all the ways that a child, even a well trained child, is at a significant disadvantage on a psychological level, an intellectual/maturity level, as well as the physical one. (I also talked about why grown ass women should not be equated with children in that post, even though they often are.)
We’re also talking about a twelve year old going up against the type of adults who would kill them and as anyone can tell you that’s an entirely different ballgame.
The ways children beat adults are:
Attacks of Opportunity. Take a baseball bat to the back of some bastards head while they are passed out drunk and the problem takes care of itself.
Weapons. Especially weapons that give them range like a gun or a staff over something like a knife where, while deadly, they have to be very close to use it.