Daniel H. Wilson is the type of author we love at GeekDad. He has a PhD in robotics and has written books on surviving a robot uprising, the science of science fiction and hosted the show, Works, on the History Channel. So when his publisher sent me a copy of his latest book, I was pretty excited.
Unfortunately, Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown is not a book we can recommend to our readers. Detailed in its 142 pages are description after description as to how to hurt friends and family. It’s an instruction manual that’s a potential powder keg in the hands of a twelve-year-old boy, the target audience for this book, according to the book’s publisher.
Before I get called too many names or criticized for my parenting techniques, let me say this: as a kid I fought a lot with my brother – we visited the emergency room more than once. What’s more, I think it’s OK for kids to occasionally settle their problems physically. How can kids understand boundaries – and their consequences – if they aren’t allowed to explore them? As siblings, fighting is so ingrained in our DNA, it is nearly impossible to avoid.
However, I think kids do just fine without step-by-step instructions for de-pantsing for maximum humiliation, creating a poo wand from a stick and dog crap or any of the other 124 techniques described in the book. Yes, there are practical jokes and harmless activities detailed, but they are far outweighed by moves and techniques designed to hurt, embarrass and disgust. Granted, Wilson has said he tried to avoid anything that would injure or scar someone permanently, but done incorrectly, many of the exercises in his book could lead to real harm.
Had this book been positioned a little differently, aimed as nostalgia for adults or used some other tact, my reaction most likely would have been different. But with all the anti-bullying laws and regulations being passed, can a pre-teen kid really understand the limits for what he reads in a book like this? I’m not so sure. Nevertheless, Nickelodeon bought the movie rights to Bro-Jitsu, so there may be no avoiding this silly idea.