Nevada County martial artist Kirby DeLaunay breaks bricks and barriers |

Nevada County martial artist Kirby DeLaunay breaks bricks and barriers

Her path into the record books started more than 25 years ago.

Local martial artist Kirby DeLaunay was “challenged” by a family member and what followed were impressive feats of physical and mental strength, as well as piles upon piles of broken bricks.

The Nevada County native has been practicing martial arts since she was 3 years old. Her mother thought it would be a good way for her to learn how to defend herself if trouble ever arose. By the age of 17, DeLaunay became interested in the technique of breaking, specifically bricks. Further fueling her desire to strike through a compressed block of clay and shale was being told she couldn’t.

“I was challenged by a family member,” DeLaunay recalled. “I was told I couldn’t do it. I was told I was a girl and I couldn’t do it. Basically I was challenged.

“From there, I began buying bricks and breaking one to five to 10 and just worked my way up.”

She’s been breaking bricks, records and barriers ever since.

In 2016, DeLaunay put her martial arts prowess on display at the Nevada County Fair, breaking 150 bricks in 1 minute, 33 seconds to become a Guinness world record holder in brick breaking.

“When I look at that stack of bricks, I’m not seeing them the way everyone else is seeing them,” DeLaunay said. “I’m seeing the ground below them and that’s what I have to hit. I’m not hitting that stack of bricks, I’m hitting the ground below them.”

Honors piling up

DeLaunay recently put on a brick breaking exhibition at Locke Annual Asian Pacific Spring Festival in May, and said she has set a goal of breaking 300 in 2019.

“If Kirby puts her mind to it, she can do whatever she wants to do. The world is her oyster,” said martial arts hall of famer and world champion kickboxer Robert Parham. “She’s such a shining example of not only what a martial artist should be, but what a person should be.”

DeLaunay is more than just a brick breaker, though. The 43 year old is a nine-time state champion in sparring and Kata’s weapons in two different circuits. She was inducted into the Masters Hall of Fame in 2016. She was inducted into the Hall of Honors in 2017 as an Ambassador and for Outstanding Achievements in Martial Arts. She was invited back to the Hall of Honors in 2018 and received an award as an Ambassador of Goodwill. This year she is set to be inducted into the 2018 Who’s Who Book Of Legends and is being featured in the new book “Breaking Barriers.” DeLaunay has also acted in several movies, including Soul Cage and Jackson Bolt, which is set to debut in August.

“It’s a big barrier that you have to really break through,” DeLaunay said of her life in martial arts. “There’s many challenges. There’s a lot of discipline. There’s the mental part of it. You have the spirituality part of it. You have to have the social skills, the discipline, respect, the fighting part of it if that’s what you choose to do … There’s an attention to detail and responsibilities you have. All of this to build up, and to me it means an easier life and something I can pass down to the youth, which I’m very involved with.”

While her martial arts exploits have taken her to places far from home, DeLaunay said she wants to be a force of positivity here in Nevada County.

“I want to help out our community as much as possible” she said. “I want to give back. I was raised here. There are a lot of youngsters that need help, a lot of young adults that need help.”

a righteous path

DeLaunay teaches a class every Tuesday at the Nevada City Veterans Memorial Building and does motivational speaking as well as demonstrations at local schools.

“I want to share my knowledge with other people,” she said. “I want them to know there are other things out there you can do to put you on a righteous path. I’ve said this before and I’ll be blunt. There are two paths in life, and this is what I was taught by my mother, you got a screwed up path and a positive path. If your going to pick the negative one, don’t expect anything good out of it because nothing good is going to happen, and I’ve already seen that path. So, I made a choice at a very young age, I’m going down the positive path.”

It was at one of DeLaunay’s visits to Lyman Gilmore Middle School that inspired Trinity Davis, a 13-year-old student who had nearly been abducted a few years ago.

“I thought she was so inspiring,” said Davis.

DeLaunay’s speech brought Davis to tears and the two exchanged phone numbers. Davis has been training with DeLaunay ever since.

“I’ve learned a lot of discipline and courage,” said Davis. “I’ve also learned that when you have something, you got to flaunt it. Whether it’s strength or courage, you should show what you got and it’s important to be strong.”

Davis’ mother, Tasha Young, said she’s seen great strides from her daughter since she started training with DeLaunay.

“It really helps her focus,” Young said. “Trinity has come a long way. She used to goof at first and didn’t get the seriousness of it. Now, she’s got solid form and discipline.”

DeLauney added that her achievements in martial arts and her drive to give back are a product of how her mother raised her.

“I dedicate everything I do to my dear mother, my No. 1 fan.” she said. “She is the reason I am the woman I am today. Without her none of this would have happened. R.I.P. mama.”

In addition to her commitment to her community, DeLaunay said she will continue to work in movies and train for her goal of breaking 300 bricks in 2019

“The future is going to hold what it’s going to hold, but I know this: I’m going places and nothing is going to stop me. Nothing.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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