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Brick Break

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Test Your Might!

Martial artists showing they can break bricks and/or boards with a single barehanded blow because they're martial artists. They often Kiai while doing so.

The fancy version of this is to break not the first object you hit, but the one behind it, or a specific one in a sequence. Thus demonstrating you have not only brawn, but control. The usual subversion is for someone to hurt their hand after failing to break the boards/bricks. Doing this at various levels of difficulty is often one of the criteria for advancement in rank. This can be taken to extreme levels in fiction, where characters are allowed to break the bricks with one finger or their minds or whatever.

For when a character doesn't break but literally cuts the blocks in pieces, see Razor-Sharp Hand.

Has nothing to do with LEGO bricks or Arkanoid. Definitely not to be confused with Bowel-Breaking Bricks. A Flying Brick presents somewhat more of a challenge.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Doctor Slump, there's a scene where Suppaman tries to convince Arale that he's impressive by setting up a stack of five clay tiles and breaking three of them with a punch (And boasting about it afterward while holding is sore fist). Arale responds by casually punching the Earth and cracking it in half.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In Dragon Ball, Goku did it with a single finger when Oolong challenged him to. In the first episode, he chopped firewood with his bare hands after throwing the logs into the air.
    • In a filler episode of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan tried this trick, but a little girl named Lime who was unaware of his powers asked him what he thought he was doing, which distracted him and made the logs fall on his head. He then chops them with an ax, slicing through them with no effort.
    • Also, Mr. Satan breaks a stack of tiles to show how powerful he is. (Cell was not impressed.) Also a slight subversion, as he always, without fail, breaks all but ONE brick... which still settles him as a Badass Normal.
  • In Fist of the North Star, one of Souther's soldiers demonstrates his strength by breaking a huge rock in half with his head. On the very next page, Kenshiro breaks the man's skull with a single fist.
  • In episode 28a of Jewelpet: Magical Change, the Jewelpets and Airi have to break a bunch of bricks in this fashion for their training. Airi, predictably, hurts herself doing it.
  • In Love Hina, Motoko is capable of cutting objects with her bare hands. She can even cut objects behind other objects without harming the front object. This is a result of her martial arts style, the Shinmei Ryu.
  • Kuu Fei in Negima! Magister Negi Magi moved on to boulders once bricks didn't provide enough of a challenge. And when those stopped being a challenge, she moved on to mountains.
  • Pokémon: The Series
    • An episode of Diamond and Pearl featured a contest where Croagunk had to break several bricks in order to proceed, using the Brick Break technique mentioned below. Brock's Croagunk managed to break all of them. Meowth, disguised as a Croagunk, only managed to break his hand.
    • A later episode in the Black and White featured the same thing, but with Oshawott and Dewott using scalchops to break the bricks. Meowth participates in this one too, disguised as a Dewott, using high tech scalchops that manage to break all twenty of the bricks, where the top competitors could only manage around ten or so.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Akane does it sometimes, usually to relieve stress. Even the opening narration shows her doing this Once an Episode.
    • Ryouga learned a technique later in the series that allowed him to push or break any non-living matter, so while sometimes he would break apart boulders with ease, he'd also write things in stone.
  • The Karate Club of Youkai Academy in Rosario + Vampire once had a contest to see who could break the most tombstones. Kokoa won, beating the record set by the club captain.
    • Better than that: it was actually a ruse to gain members since the challengers were breaking actual tombstones while the Karate Club were using weaker ones. Kokoa is a superstrong vampire, so this didn't matter.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Season 7 episode 14 of Happy Heroes, Happy S. sets up a stack of boards for his students to break as part of his kung-fu training session. When Little M. takes a go at it, Big M. tells him to pretend he hurts his hand on the boards since that will make the others think the training is not working as well as intended. Little M. very slightly touches the boards with his finger and fakes getting injured from it.

    Comic Books 
  • Gaston Lagaffe: One strip has Gaston announce his intent to practice karate after seeing a man perform on TV. He decides to start with a slice of Army-surplus bread.
    Gaston: KIAAAAAAAAA-
    Gaston (offscreen): AWOOOOOOO
    Fantasio: You need to to yell afterwards too?
The final panel is Gaston with his arm in a sling and Fantasio commenting on the toughness of military food.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: Karate Kid was often shown doing this during training.
  • Richie Rich. After getting mugged, Mrs. Regina Rich decides to learn martial arts. Meanwhile Richie hires a bodyguard for her, who shows off his strength by breaking a branch with his bare hands, only for Regina to karate chop a log in half. She then goes around chopping everything she can see until she splits the Earth in two. Fortunately it's All Just a Dream.

    Eastern European Animation 

    Film — Animated 
  • Parodied in the Bratz movie, where the failure to accomplish this is mistaken for an attempt at comedy.
  • During the Training Montage in Mulan, they did this with their heads. Then during a fight later on, you see Ling doing it to an enemy soldier's back.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Happens in Bloodsport, where Jean-Claude Van Damme character Frank Dux hits a pile of bricks and smashes the lowest one. The villain Chong Li says, "Very good, but brick not hit back." His sidekick Ray Jackson breaks one brick in two with a simple punch after trying and failing to imitate his friend's feat the next day, then another one on his forehead to save face.
  • In the parodic Casino Royale (1967), James Bond is introduced to an agent who breaks a cinderblock with a karate chop... and accidentally knocks himself out saluting Bond. Later in the film, Bond cracks a boulder in half with a karate chop while showing off following a successful caber toss.
  • Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan sometimes got frustrated with people who wanted them to break boards to demonstrate their prowess. As Bruce Lee said in Enter the Dragon, "Boards don't hit back."
  • In The Foot Fist Way, the main character is a suburban Tae Kwon Do instructor whose talent lies in martial arts demonstrations like brick-breaking, which impress the locals enough to sign their kids up for classes. When he runs afoul of an action star, he loses their fight, but returns to challenge the star to a brick and board-breaking competition, which he wins soundly.
  • Ip Man 4: The American Colin Frater challenges a bunch of Chinese martial artists to a fight, boasting that his karate is superior to their kung fu. He shows off by breaking three concrete blocks with one punch. The Chinese are not impressed, but he demonstrates he is also capable of breaking their bones with one punch. It takes Ip Man himself to defeat him.
  • The Karate Kid movies:
    Wow, Mr. Miyagi, can you break logs like that?
    Don't know. Never been attacked by tree.
    • The same film features this with several (6 to 10) sheets of ice. Of course, only Daniel can do it. In a Call-Back to the previously-mentioned scene, Mr. Miyagi does break a log in half with his hands at one point, to save the life of the man trapped underneath it, who happens to be his old enemy Sato.
  • In Kill Bill, this was used as part of Pai Mei's training method towards The Bride. In Vol. 2, she puts this to use after Budd buries her alive in a wooden coffin.
  • In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, The Chosen One proves his strength with one-and no-handed pushups, and punching a board. He starts the punch, stops just in front of the board, pokes it with his finger, and... it explodes, sending the two people behind it flying.
  • In Miami Connection, the main villain demonstrates his martial arts power by walking up to a stack of a dozen bricks and breaking about four of them. They must have only had the materials for one take.
  • In Seven (1979), Ed Parker's Establishing Character Moment is him breaking boards in his wood shop to stay in shape when Drew turns up to recruit for the Seven.
  • In Sidekicks, Mr. Lee breaks 10 bricks in the tournament. Barry then breaks nine bricks, which are on fire, for the tiebreaker. Also gave us this immortal quote from Mr. Lee:
  • They Call Me Bruce?. While gambling in Las Vegas, Bruce is told to "cut the cards", tries to karate chop them and breaks the table in half.

  • Danica in the The Cleric Quintet could do this to chunks of rock, being a Dungeons & Dragons monk. Eventually she also tried to do it with her head, which was considered suicidal until she succeeded.
  • In the Discworld novel Thief of Time, when Lu-Tze is being sniffily dismissive of all martial arts, he calls one of them "a waste of good bricks".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Very fatally used in 1000 Ways to Die. A skinny nerd attempts to break some bricks with his head as a part of a viral video he's shooting to score with chicks... and is dead after hitting himself on the head with a nunchaku. The brick breaking trick had actually cracked his skull, and the nunchaku hit fully fractured it.
  • Done in a "How it's done" manner by Phoebe in Beakman's World (allowing Senta Moses to use her karate skills). And yes, Lester breaks his hand on the board beforehand.
  • In an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies Mr. Drysdale hires a Karate master, who demonstrates his prowess by chopping a car in half with his bare hand.
  • Cliff did this in an episode of Cheers, using his head, after claiming to be a karate expert. Diane had to sneak him off to a hospital.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • Johnny interrupts the Miyagi-Do karate demonstration with one for Cobra Kai (just as Daniel is about to recreate his breaking ice blocks from The Karate Kid Part II), involving fireworks and having his students duke it out on stage. Then, when they set up the bricks, Johnny has his students set the bricks on fire before he breaks them all in one strike.
    • For the skills competition during the All Valley tournament in Season 4, Kyler broke a stack of bricks with his head!
    • After she left before Cobra Kai's Sekai Taikai demonstration match, Tory is forced to punch a stone dummy (a Call-Back to The Karate Kid Part III when Terry Silver made Daniel punch a wooden dummy). She manages to do it after several tries, but breaks her hand in the process.
  • Done to show how 'hard' Rob Riggle is on his Daily Show leaving montage. "BOARD!"
  • Doctor Who has the Fourth Doctor karate chop through a brick effortlessly just after regenerating. Significantly, at the end of the episode, he punches the brick in childish frustration and hurts his hand, indicating that his hyperdriven physical processes had reverted to normal.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; Will goes to a karate instructor for lessons but finds nothing in the dojo but a board on two cinderblocks. He stomps the board and makes martial arts noises, but a moment later the sensei (played by Pat Morita) comes in, looks down, and asks "What happened to my coffee table?"
  • Max claimed to be able to do this to a large number of wooden boards on Get Smart. It used the usual "would you believe it" Running Gag, until he was eventually claiming to be able to break particle board or something.
  • In the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "The March to Freedom", a Chinese man mistakenly believes Hercules bought the man's wife as a slave. He tells the people in a bar that he will hunt Hercules down and kill him. When they express doubts that he can beat him, the man chops a huge table in half with his hand.
  • Used in an episode of Home Improvement, where both a guest on Tool Time and Al have studied karate. Not knowing this, Tim tries it...and, being Tim, and it being this trope, hurts his head.
  • Parodied in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Mac and Dennis make Charlie do it while training for Fight Clubbing.
    Charlie: [pained] Oh my god! What is that made out of?
    Dennis: It's a board, so it's, you know, made out of wood.
    Mac: It's like particle board.
    Charlie: It's, like, harder than wood, dude!
    Mac: It's actually softer than wood...
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers did this in one episode when they were on a talk show.
  • During the second Ninja Special on MythBusters, the guys tested the "one inch punch". They showed highspeed footage of their expert breaking the third of a set of hanging boards, something Jamie couldn't duplicate with a normal (and higher-force) punch.
  • This is one of Oprah's many skills in Odd Squad, due to her Pintsized Powerhouse status. She can not only chop wooden boards with ease, but she can even chop cinderblocks with ease as well.
    • In the Cold Open of "Ocean and the Fly", Karate Karl attempts to chop through numerous boards, chopping through one board before making his way up to two. Otis asks him if he called Olympia and him to show off, and are surprised when he tells them that he thought he could chop ten boards before they got suspicious, wanting to see if he can actually pull off the feat for the first time. However, when he goes to chop the boards, he breaks his wrist.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! did an episode about martial arts and showed that board breaking is essentially a parlor trick that any reasonably fit person can do when they know to strike it along the wood's grain and even multiple boards if you separate them with weak supports like a line of chopsticks between them.
    • Also demonstrated by Stephen Fry on an episode of QI to make the same point.
    • Power Rangers Ninja Storm also had it, though the Rangers ended up hurting themselves and Cam - not officially trained, but still the sensei's son - was the only one to succeed.
  • One episode of The Prisoner (1967) featured Number Two doing this in his office.
  • Played with in an episode of NewsRadio. At first it looks like Joe is going to do this for a talent show, but when the board doesn't break, he reveals that his real talent is hitting stuff very hard without hurting himself.
  • Played with by Hudzen in the Red Dwarf episode "The Last Day", who demonstrates his strength by breaking a brick in half with his "groinal attachment".
  • A Saturday Night Live skit had Will Ferrell try to do this, but failed to break the board, yelling "What kind of wood was that?"
  • In an episode of Step by Step, Cody tries to do this with his head. Predictably, it doesn't go very well.
  • Attempted by a wannabe martial artist at a karate show on World's Dumbest.... After three tries, he succeeded in breaking exactly one brick.

  • Done in the video for Nicki Minaj's "Your Love", where she breaks through two cinderblocks at once.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Far Side:
    • One strip has a martial arts class see invading aliens whose bodies are made of bricks and boards, and know that their time to shine has come.
    • Another had a martial artist about to break a brick... with the wall behind him about to land on his head.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Played with in an episode of WWE Raw, where to either build him up or get people to mock him more, Eric Bischoff claimed to be an "eighth-degree black belt". He then proceeded to break things with his bare hands and feet, though the harder ones seemed fake.
  • After Umaga beat up "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, he took Duggan's trademark 2x4 and broke it in half with a headbutt.

    Recorded And Stand Up Comedy 
  • Bill Cosby has a routine about a Karate instructor whose advice was "Don't think about the surface of the brick, you think through the brick." Unfortunately, the brick was thinking "No you won't". He now only picks on things like Jell-O.

    Video Games 
  • The first Art of Fighting had one minigame where you broke several sheets of ice, and another where you karate-chopped the necks off of beer bottles. The prizes range from better stamina to new moves.
  • Kim Kaphwan breaks several boards while they're in the air with his feet in one of his Capcom vs. SNK 2 intros.
    • Try to hit a really light object in the air without just pushing it away. It's pretty freaking hard unless you know the method to it.
    • He does one better in his intro in the Real Bout Fatal Fury games: he breaks a column of ice blocks that's even taller than himself with one kick. See it around 01: 14.
  • Local chem-addled burnout Fred Allen of Fallout 4 attempted this while high on Buffout. As his terminal details, he managed to shatter ten at once...then he tried breaking a steel board. The last bit of the Buffout trial is typed with his left hand.
  • Armor Break in several Final Fantasy games. In Final Fantasy X, in particular, Armor Break can also remove a target's "armored" status, which eliminates the need for Armor Piercing Attacks for the rest of the battle.
  • The Chatterbox radio station in Grand Theft Auto III features an interview with a karate expert who demonstrates his prowess by chopping a desk in half. He fails and hurts himself.
  • One of the challenge stages in Karate Champ features brick-breaking.
  • The bonus minigame Megaton Punch in Kirby Super Star has Kirby and his opponent breaking large piles of bricks. Do well enough and you'll crack the planet itself.
  • The Imperial China Chapter of Live A Live opens with the elderly Earthen Heart Shifu attempting to break a boulder with a punch during a practice session...and fail. This is what convinces him that his time is running out and that he must seek out disciples to whom he will pass on Earthen Heart Kung Fu. The chapter ends with the surviving disciple punching the same boulder and breaking it in two, showing that they have surpassed their late master. In the final chapter, the disciple must do this many times in their specific dungeon to claim their ultimate weapon.
  • The Bonus Stage in the first Mortal Kombat (1992) was based around breaking rocks in this manner. The "Test your Might" tests were reintroduced in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, but dropped thereafter until Mortal Kombat 9. For the record, it started with wood, then went to stone, steel, ruby and finally diamond.
  • M.U.G.E.N has Kung Fu Man, the original/default character who comes with the game. His battle intro has him kick a thrown wooden board into pieces.
  • Pokémon
  • Ryo Hazuki gets roped into a martial artist street performer's brick-breaking exhibition in Shenmue II, wherein the player must pass two rapid-fire Quick Time Events in order to succeed.
  • The Sims 3 expansion World Adventures has the martial arts skill which includes an object to break blocks on. The possible blocks range from foam to space rocks. Once you've broken enough of the tougher boards you can collect gems from breaking space rocks. The sim can hurt their hand trying to break a block too high above their skill level.
  • Terra from Smite can use her Force of Nature dash punch to shatter any stones created by her other abilities to cause damage to enemies.
  • Street Fighter:
  • Super Mario Bros.: When Mario is powered up with a mushroom, he can do this from below.
  • WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$: One microgame involves breaking bricks in its basic level. To succeed, the player has to hit the A button when the oscillating pointer of the stamina gauge is within the topmost (red) area; otherwise, they'll fail.
  • With the release of World of Warcraft's Asian-themed Mists of Pandaria expansion and its monk class, this inevitably pops up a few times, including vanity items the players can buy and then break whenever and wherever they feel like. The most impressive example is probably the quest chain of Master Bruised Paw, who trains the player in pandaren kung fu, including the use of three successively-tougher Brick Break challenges (bamboo, then wood, and finally stone) and two Training Montages.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Clarence episode "Karate Mom", Mary takes a karate class with Clarence. When they get to the part when they break boards, Mary is about to take her turn when a pushy little kid cuts in line and breaks her board. Mary shows him up by taking the two halves, putting them on top of each other, and splitting those.
  • In The Critic, "The Benedictine Monk Variety Hour" shows The Pope successfully breaking a large block of ice with his forehead.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade signs Jackie up for this during a martial arts tournament. When he protests, she points out his motto: "The greatest victory is the battle not fought. Thought you liked to avoid hand-to-hand combat?" Jackie breaks the first stack, but is ordered to break a bigger one. Cue Gilligan Cut to Jackie with broken hands.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, during a Training Montage, Baljeet karate chops a stack of boards only to have them remain unbroken, but the two cinder blocks supporting the boards turn to rubble.
  • In The Simpsons, a karate commercial has Akira breaking a board with his face. He shows several people of different occupations breaking cement blocks with their faces.
    • In the episode "Homer's Triple Bypass" Akira is shown in a hospital waiting room with his hand lodged sideways in a board.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Monster Arm", Marco trains for a martial arts tournament and chops through a wooden board with ease. He then tries it with a stack of three boards and breaks his hand.
  • SWAT Kats had this, but with cinderblocks.
  • The first episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) show had Hamato Yoshi explaining where he got his other name, narrating over another scene.
    "My students [the turtles] nicknamed me Splinter. For...obvious reasons." *he chops through two boards, and then bites through a third*
  • In a Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry short, both of them take judo lessons and show off this way. It leads to an Escalating War as they try to outdo each other by breaking bigger and bigger things. Finally, Tom tries to break a huge marble block, but the block is too heavy and it, along with Tom, falls through the floor.

    Real Life 
  • Not that uncommon in certain martial arts, in fact it's a pretty standard part of training and competition in Tae Kwon Do. It's also not nearly as difficult as people think it is, though you can still break your hand or foot if you use bad technique, even with the wooden planks they start beginners with. It's also worth pointing out that one of the main goals behind this is that it builds confidence and trains students to always follow through with their strikes (failure to do so is what gets you hurt), not so much to show off how badass you are.note  Although it can certainly be used for that purpose as well. Some schools use reusable plastic boards that can be put back together after they're broken, of increasing difficulty based on their color (the hardest, of course, is black).
  • This practice isn't limited to wooden boards, bricks or stone. Some martial arts styles are known to have their practitioners break glass bottles for training. There was even a school of kung fu that trained students to break coconuts with their bare hands. Why? Breaking coconuts was meant to simulate breaking human skulls!


Video Example(s):


Ray-Ray tries to break Plank

Ray-Ray uses Plank in a brick-breaking karate demonstration, but Johnny stops him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BrickBreak

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