Here is the situation:
You are attacking someone with a wooden pole (such as a pole arm or tree branch). You either (1) hit as hard as you can and the pole breaks into two pieces on impact OR (2) hit quite hard but the pole remains in tact. Assume that you are hitting the same spot with the same angle and everything, so the only difference is how much force was applied.
Which would cause more damage?
My gut instinct is that a weapon that breaks would transfer less of the impact to the person it hits, thereby causing less damage. However my boyfriend pointed out that if you are hitting someone hard enough that the pole breaks, you have used the maximum amount of force that the pole can withstand, so the most force you can transfer with a single blow has been done.
[Edit: I don't have an education in physics beyond high school, but it looks like this question has never been answered on this site before. That could be because I didn't know the physics terms to search for though! Any pointers in the right direction are appreciated.]