It’s very common for new members, particularly some of the younger and more impressionable ones in Martial Arts for Kids classes, to start asking questions about martial arts practitioners smashing bricks and solid wooden planks etc.
This is really something that we would like to play down, particularly with novices. It is something done to demonstrate total control and mastery but it isn’t magic!
Let’s throw some light on the subject.
The basic physics
If we ignore the sub atomic world, everything we know in our universe conforms to some version of the laws of physics. So, when you see a demonstration of brick or plank smashing, everything is taking place within the laws of science.
For example, if you take a plank of wood, the longer the distance between the two things it is balanced on, then the greater the structural forces will be in the middle. That’s why you will see expert martial arts practitioners usually striking in the middle of the object they are trying to break and with a significant distance between their strike point and the supports at either end.
There is also a direct relationship between the brittleness of an object and its breaking point. You won’t see too many martial arts experts going out and breaking sponges!
So, the first message is that there is absolutely nothing mystical going on here. What experts are doing in these circumstances is applying their body as a delivery mechanism for the basic physical forces of nature.
Why do it then?
This is something you will mainly see in demonstrations. There is, of course, a little bit of showmanship and PR here. We’re all human!
However, there is also a very serious reason for this type of training and practice. That is all about confidence, self-belief and technique.
No martial arts expert is ever going to go up to an object and try and break it if he or she knows it is absolutely physically impossible to do so. What they are doing is putting themselves at the edge of achievability and testing their own inner strength and to some extent technique in order to “make the difference” between success and failure.
For example, martial arts techniques talk a lot about “striking through” something not striking the object itself. If you try and break a plank by hitting it on its surface because that is what you see, you may well fail. Be able to “see through” the object and “strike through” it with self-confidence and you may well break it.
So impressive as it is, this is a serious business even if it’s one that we don’t like to overplay in terms of its overall importance in the scheme of things!
Would you like to know more? Why not come along and see us to find out.