Bruce Lee did all of us a disservice but I don't think it was intentional. He said, "Boards don't hit back," but he said it in the context of a movie, when O'Hara arrogantly broke a board just before he was to fight Bruce.
When Bruce said, "Boards don't hit back," it wasn't a put-down of board-breaking as a training tool. It was a threat that he was going to kick O'Hara's ass in a movie.
Now, 43 years after "Enter the Dragon," when you put a video up showing breaks, a few guys who troll the internet as keyboard warriors love to say, "Boards don't hit back."
Here is my answer. Neither do heavybags. Neither do speedbags. Neither do focus mitts. Air doesn't hit back when you shadowbox.
And Bruce Lee understood what board-breaking was -- a demo of focused power. If you hit a board wrong, it lets you know. It doesn't break, and with some boards, like the black one that I use, which is the strongest, it can cause a little pain.
Let all the intelligent martial artists put this old cliche to rest, because it is just a line from a movie that has no context in training. After all, as this video shows, Bruce was not opposed to using boards as a tool.
1969 Video of Bruce Lee Breaking A Board With... by videobash
Also remember that when Bruce Lee demonstrated his One-Inch Punch, his partner was not hitting back.