Sep 14, 2007

A Random Break

Ha ha… this one is totally random!!!

So, you may be wondering, what do Martial artists do when they are really hyper and have an inquisitive mind? (and if not, I’m going to tell you anyway :) Well, they do many things… some very constructive and some not. One thing they do is play all sorts of random Martial Art scenarios in their head of how strong one weapon is vs. another and then ponder what would happen when a practice weapon is used against real objects and how much skill would (or wouldn’t) make up for the inferior quality of practice weapons. So many angles (no pun intended) to consider with just this one example.

An example that struck me a while back (ok, not literally) was between a wooden Bokken and a standard 2x4. I found myself wondering… “if I strike this just right, can I break it with this fake weapon? “ There no doubt that a real Bokken would be able to (and then some), but what about a wooden one?

Ok so bottom line, if you took a wooden Bokken and struck a standard 2x4, which would win? Well, let’s think about the factors involved.

The 2x4 is about 2 to 3 times as thick (mass), yet the Bokken is considerably more dense. Also, the main strength of the Bokken is technique, which is an entirely different aspect to consider. From there the angle of attack and the method of holding the board in place also greatly affects the outcome.

Well, I just so happened to have a 2x4 and a wooden Bokken, so NATURALLY, I just HAD to test the scenario. What sort of scientist would I be if I didn’t… right?! Now the 2x4 that I had was about three feet in length. Since I was by myself, I decided to simply rest the board at about a 45 degree angle from the cement wall to the cement floor. I decided that, naturally, my attack would be a downward 45 degree angle, which would intersect the board on a perpendicular line. Also, the board would face flat with the 4”(ish) side serving as the “defending” surface. I chose it not because it it the weakest side of the board, though it is, but because in the experiment, I was pitting weakness against weakness (in terms of the weak part of the sword striking the weak side of the board).

So now back to our original question… if you take a wooden Bokken and strike a standard 2x4, which will win?

Well, in this case it took two strikes. The first strike was tentative (I really didn’t want to break the Bokken) and didn’t break either. On the second strike I decided to go for broke (again, no pun intended). So, long story short… in this case the Bokken won, but barely and at the cost of its life! It snapped the 2x4, but broke the tip of the Bokken.

(and FYI, had I not slightly dropped the tip of the Bokken at the last second, I don’t think it would have broken – I actually finished the break so that I can shave it down :)

In the end I guess the moral of the story is that if you are a 2x4 and you see a martial artist with a wooden Bokken, you SHOULD be afraid :o)

And yes, I realize the 2x4 was not a clean break, but "success" was not defined as a clean break, just a break ;-)

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