Do Bricks Strike Back

Are your hands registered as deadly weapons?

“A dojo without a makiwara is just a glorified dancing studio.” Masutatsu Oyama

Are your hands registered as deadly weapons, do you have the power to cause traumatic shock with your skills or do you rely on the accuracy of your strikes, and your ability to move by the use of flexibility or sensitivity to overcome your attackers assault.

Some schools rely on natural movement, and others use extremism range of motion and powerful application of force to achieve victory. Others styles rely on balance breaking and the skillful manipulation of the opponent’s body impacting with the ground. All of these ways are very effective. Some schools use various combinations of these methods and breaking bricks with your hands, and feet was a easy way to convey the image of power on TV and movies as well as in martial art demonstrations.

When I was a kid all of the TV and movie stars that studied martial arts usually inform their adversary of the danger of entering into physical combat with them, it was used as a fair warning. The warning was almost always the same, no matter what style the actor was portraying from judo, karate, or jujitsu, basically speaking the message was always the same.

This was years before the television show Kung Fu had ever been mentioned over the airwaves. The scene usually started with the adversary approaching the actor with the obvious intention of getting into a physical altercation. Just before fisticuffs began, the actor would state, “I have to warn you of my hands are registered as deadly weapons.”

The reaction of the adversary would vary depending upon the underlying mood the director was trying to capture. If he was trying to achieve a comic element, the adversary would fain fright, and usually run away. If on the other hand they were trying to develop suspense the aggressor would ignore the warning, and proceed. This wasn’t always the procedure as often there was some combination of the two elements together.

Most schools of martial arts approach training individuals by teaching them how to turn their bodies into weapons or by teaching them how to wield weapons. The latter of these two schools will often teach its practitioners how they can transform ordinary objects into facsimile defensive tools.

Similarly some martial art traditions work on transforming the body into a weapon. They will often augment their training with some form of weapon work. This generally involves classical weapon, (classical meaning the weapon was used during a certain time period). I generally use traditional weapons to describe progressive, and innovative weapons, not being tied to ancient weapon when it’s more modern adaptation is readily available.

Some schools utilize a combination approach where the martial artist is both the weapon, and or the user of either classical or traditional weapons. By the time I was a teenager I had occasionally used this warning strategy to try to dissuade individuals from getting into a round of fisticuffs with me. Surprisingly enough it worked reasonably well but on occasion it did not. Any kid that was new to the district or any kids that moved from one building to the next as in grade school to junior high or high school had to deal with this situation at one time or another.

When you’re the new kid at school you get used to these circumstances. Generally it only took one incident before the general populace of the campus was made aware if your abilities were genuine or not. I’m sure every martial artist reading this has had someone ask them at one time or another; after they found out about your martial art background if their hands were indeed registered as deadly weapons. I am unaware of any place in the United States that actually does this but I know attorneys that would have a field day in court with a martial artist that defended themselves over zealously.

My sensei has been called as a expert witness for the state on several occasions, (it was part of his job). More often than not it has been for determining if a officer used excessive force during an arrest. As a rule of thumb, everyone must use the minimum amount of force necessary for protection, as anything above this places the defender in the role of the aggressor.

As to what the law allows for reasonable force can vary wildly from place to place, so it is wise to stay abreast of legal issues wherever you reside. Remember that no matter which method you subscribe to in the eyes of the court or a jury they may consider your hands to be deadly weapons, no matter if you can break bricks or not.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.