Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Law and You

Guro Fred often talks about making sure the response is appropriate to the attack. That is, if a drunken old bum gives you a halfhearted shove on a street corner, it does not justify you breaking every bone in his body and killing him.

WWWD - "What would Walker do"?

On the surface, you may think that this is just common sense ethics. You'd be right. However, more than that there are real concrete repercussions for such hasty actions.

The law in most countries does not allow the use of lethal (or even potentially lethal) force lightly. There are usually three major points that come into play in court:

  1. Assessment - did you take time to assess the level of threat? Were you aware of the danger level?
  2. Retreat - did you make every reasonable effort to remove yourself from harm?
  3. Appropriateness - did you cease use of force when the situation was over? Or did you continue?
Universally, the courts will want to establish whether or not you had reasonable justified cause to believe yourself or your loved ones were threatened with bodily harm (possessions don't count). Even if that is the case, the court will often consider whether or not you had means at your disposal to run away or otherwise escape from harm without resorting to violence. Finally, the court will deliberate on whether your use of force was suited to the matter at hand.

A negative judgment on any of the above points could land you in prison, subject you to a civil suit involving compensation, or both. Is it really worth it? REALLY?

Martial arts training not only helps us develop the skills to overcome an opponent in a fight, it also allows us to practice remaining calm in high-stress situations, which can give us the rational mindset to not overreact and use excessive force unnecessarily.

A good instructor helps to develop your responses across a spectrum of threat levels including low, medium, and high. It is important to be able to use the correct level of response and not be either under or over-reactive.

Be aware of the law in the place you live, and act within it. If you don't, even winning can make you a LOSER.

I actually WON the fight - see you in 10 years...


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