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Black belt laws

New York, NY |

There always have been myths that if you are a black belt in any type martial arts that you have to register your hands as lethal weapons. Is this true? And also I heard that if you get into a fight, you must tell your opponent that your a black belt prior to the fight. On top of that, the police/courts will be harsher on you knowing that you are a martial arts expert when the law comes around. Is any of this true?

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Attorney answers 4


If someone is hurt in a fight. You will be evaluated harshly by a court. You are the expert.


I've never heard of black belt laws. The only thing you said that makes any sense is that a DA will be tougher against someone who is a black belt and uses the martial art to commit an assault.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 385-8015 or via email at The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


LOL, I remember this old "chestnut" from grammar school days. It was all the talk at recess.

Now, as an attorney doing criminal defense and also heavily involved in pro boxing, I can reveal that not even Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali ever had to "register" their hands as lethal weapons. It's the same for MMA stars, karate and judo practitioners, etc., it may even be true for Chuck Norris but I won't go there.

Certainly, in a trial someone's martial arts or fighting ability, can be an important factor. But you aptly describe the registering of mighty hands with the police as what it is, a myth.

It's certainly a durable myth, I will say that.

Law Office Of Michael Marley
Phone 917 853 4484


I agree with Mr. Rothstein, I can see the DA being harsher on a black belt in a traditional fight because of the unfair advantage. Think of it as a 5th grader beating up someone in Kindergarten. I believe that registering your hands as weapons is an urban legend.

Richard Southard
I am a former Deputy Bureau Chief with the Kings County DA’s Office with over 15 years experience specializing in criminal law cases. I offer free in-person, phone and video consultations.

All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. However, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication. For a privileged private consultation, contact me at 212-385-8600 or via my website

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