For anyone unacquainted with the fairly impressive looking feat of breaking bricks (or wood) in martial arts, see THIS 1.5min video. I'd say most people tend to view this practice as impressive, requiring skill and training, etc. Recently, though, I've been wondering if that's really the case.
Are there any analyses of the various factors involved in this feat which suggest that it either is as impressive as it it made to look or isn't?
- Ability of a "common" man of decent strength to do the same thing
- Typical mechanical properties of the materials used
- What types/thickness of wood (pine would be much different than hard maple)
- Density or type of concrete brick/block material used
- Force analysis
- Identification of any mechanical "tricks" (leverage, why spaced apart, etc.)
I'm skeptical, as the materials are always very wide in aspect ratio (thin but long), are always many small pieces vs. a bigger one of equivalent thickness (why break 20 very thin "bricks" when one could break a slab as thick as all put together?), and are always stacked with a space between adjacent blocks.
Question: is the practice of breaking things in martial arts a skilled, impressive feat of strength and ability... or is this far more achievable by the "average Joe" than we're led to think? One other option is that it's primarily an illusion created with some knowledge of force mechanics and material properties.