Expert Witness for Martial Arts Training

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As a lawyer with 40 years of martial arts training, David Kaufman understands the issues that can arise when training, teaching or promoting the martial arts.

Two examples:

A man with a black belt in karate is playing basketball at a public recreation center. Another man takes a swing at him, so the black belt drops into his standard response: he blocks the punch, punches the man twice and throws a kick to the stomach. However, the two punches have turned the attacker around so the kick lands on his kidney. The attacker runs away and calls the police. The police arrest the man with the black belt for assault with a deadly weapon. Did the black belt do something wrong? What? How can he prove in court that he is innocent. It could take an expert witness showing the jury exactly what happened and why and explaining why the black belt was only defending himself.


Look at the photograph of the woman knocking the man down while training in the dojo. They were practicing at 50% effort when she suddenly increased the effort level. He fell, the photo shows how badly, onto the dojo’s unpadded floor. Who is liable? How much? How can the various people demonstrate who is or is not at fault? It would take an expert witness to explain the situation to a jury so as to make the situation clear.


These are fairly typical cases arising out of martial arts training. As an expert witness, David Zachary Kaufman can explain to the judge and jury that:

  • In the first example, the black belt’s entire sequence of block/two punches/kick was a single move that lasted less than a second, a pure reflex created by years of martial arts training. When the attacker tried to throw a punch, he triggered this reflex. Expert testimony could show that this was merely a black belt defending himself.
  • In the second example, what are the normal training practices and normal safety precautions taken by black belt martial artists, and martial arts schools, and what are the injuries that can occur in normal training despite everyone’s best efforts? This information is crucial to determining whether or not any person is negligent and, if so, what injuries their negligence caused. In this case, all three may be negligent: the woman for an improper throw, the man for an improper fall, and the school for an unpadded floor.

Click here for Expert Witness CV.