Defence. How far?

Discussion in 'Self Defense' started by Clive Weaver, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Clive Weaver

    Clive Weaver Initiate

    I wish to hear your thoughts. I also would like this to not become a "hot topic"
    "Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six"
    I was told this by a Master at a knife seminar awhile a go and it started to mess with my head a little bit. I've always been a defensive fighter and I have always attempted to talk myself out of fights, but this comment made me sit back and rethink my training and my lifestyle. When I first started training I was young, single, with hardly a care in the world. Now I'm fortysomething, have a Wife and Kids, and they are everything to me, I have everything to fight for.
    We have all trained to defend ourselves. we push ourselves to be better than the aggressor/opponent so that we come out on top......but to take another persons life!?
    So, as the the heading says. Defence. How far?
  2. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    I think all martial artists that have put the time in when dealing with simulated violence have thought about that question, and I think as a martial artist part of what we do is de-escalate situations so that we dont have to fight because of what we are capable of , Ive spoken about it before regarding situational awareness and using a skillset to avoid being in the confrontation in the first place , crossing the road before walking past group of guys etc but unfortunately sometimes people get put into a situation whereby they need to defend themselves or their families.

    If its a legitimate self defence situation for yourself and family then there is no "too far" when coming to defending them or yourself.

    Many guys here have used that saying and it does illicit a response psychologically, many combat veterans/law enforcement guys ,we have a few on here too Im sure would agree that if you are not prepared mentally to take that step that hesitation could be the end of your life. Not an easy subject but a question Im sure we have all thought about
    Clive Weaver and Ivor Godley like this.
  3. Ivor Godley

    Ivor Godley grasshopper

    Thats an interesting one Clive, it take a certain mindset to allow someone to cause the death of another - we can't all do it. Also i guess it all depends on the laws of the country you live in and the circumstances you are in at the time i.e. location, number of attackers, size of attackers, are they armed etc.
    Here in the UK the law is flexible enough to take into account an act of self defence resulting in death, but you will have to be absolutely clear in your own mind that you had no choice because you will need to prove it in court - the case of Tony Martin comes to mind, he shot 2 burglars with a 12 bore shot gun and killed one of them, he was tried and convicted of manslaughter he spent i think 3 years in prison before they quashed his conviction.
    the simplest way to think about it is as i've been told many times, you must stop immediately your attacker is no longer a threat, otherwise you can be tried as the aggressor. if you pick up his knife and use it on him, you could easily find yourself in a world of trouble. unfortunately it has been known for the courts to side with the attacker because you have training in martial arts and they consider you a "lethal" weapon, there is a story of a martial artist who was mugged, he hit the mugger once and broke 2 of the guys ribs, the court didnt believe him and said he must have gone overboard and hit him more than once because he broke 2 ribs, he got done for assault (figure that one out if you can - i dont know if its true but its an old story i've heard many times).
    personally i would hit as hard as possible and to the weakest points (knees, groin, solar plexus, throat, eyes etc), then hit him a couple of time more to make certain he doesnt want to play anymore then run like hell, i would escalate the violence according to any other circumstances, so 5 attackers with knives, yes i would pick up a knife and use it - i have a wife and kids too who i want to see tonight :).
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  4. RJ Clark

    RJ Clark Tree Ninja Staff Member

    Like so many cute catch-phrases it falls short in real-world practicality as a guiding principle. There needs to be measured, or scaled responses in any society that has a legal system with potential repercussions from your decisions. "Better to be blah blah than blahed by blah" sounds real good until you're doing five or ten years in prison (or more) because your "solution" to a situation was too extreme and you're family is left without you to provide for & protect them for that time. That DOESN'T mean using just the minimal iota of force to "subdue" an attacker, but it does mean your response needs to be considered fairly close to reasonable in consideration to the threat. Most self defense situations can be covered by knocking them out, choking them out, or breaking something, and repeat if necessary. There are "nice guy" situations where much less force is justifiable - you can't pluck out someone's eye Kill Bill-style if he's mad and isn't taking it well that you bumped his table and spilled coffee on lap in your local Starbucks. Any weapon involved, a person/s actually saying they will kill you, multiple assailants committing a crime on you/your property, etc can justify lethal force. I know that almost any situation can escalate to the lethal level, but NOT every situation. In all things you need to use your judgement or you will be judged.

    As far as any amount of force you use to protect yourself - never feel sorry for your assailant/s. His/their choices created the situation you needed to resolve so anything that happens to them is because of their choices. That may seem like a bit of a paradox considering my initial statement, but it really isn't. Pull the trigger on what you need to do to protect yourself without consideration for your assailant/s humanity. Your response is scaled based on the threat with consideration for potential legal repercussions after which is enough to worry about without adding anything else into the mix.
  5. RJ Clark

    RJ Clark Tree Ninja Staff Member

    It's worth noting that no matter how horrendously a situation is handled by a LEO (or even former/retired law enforcement) they will almost never be held accountable under this "Judged by twelve" pithy little saying. So it's easy for them to adopt it as a catch-phrase when that consequence is never really a possibility.
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  6. dmach

    dmach Martial Archivest

    Had a similar experience at a seminar years ago when the Instructor used the words "Its OK to kill."

    This actually fits what RJ says as the Instructor in question was Jeff Speakman, seeing as he has trained FBI/DEA in unarmed combat, he probably does have something of an "Get Out of Jail Free Card".

    Speaking for myself, it would require a very specific set of circumstances for me to go to the extent of taking a life in the name of defending my home. I'm going to get a little philisophical here so brace yourselves... :cool:

    The situation itself would be dire, multiple attackers, armed and the only thing between them and my family was me. Anyone who has ANY military experience (and is realistic about it) will tell you that they are capable of physically taking a life - that is actually doing the deed. The training makes it automatic, you learn to shoot at main shaped targets "Sight over the centre of the seen mass" In this case the chest and fire. Bayonet training is not always on tyres, it includes man shaped targets as well. Killing is easy - Living with it, thats something else.

    In the end it's your training that will decide for you - it (should in any case) take over, if you train to subdue, thats what you will default to. If you train to completely :censored: up an opponent, thats what will happen. Trust your training.
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  7. Sneaker

    Sneaker Warrior Monk

    If got the money to burn ... Go add security audio/video recording at home, car, boat, lawn, dojo, garage etc

    Will that helps ?
    Clive Weaver likes this.
  8. Sneaker

    Sneaker Warrior Monk

    Another is ... Just curious ...
    Beat the crap out of them & run
    Beat the crap out of them & tie them up then call 911 ?
  9. Andy Homer

    Andy Homer Disciple

    In the UK the law states that you must use 'Reasonable Force' and that the defence was justifiable and necessary. I suppose its how you quantify reasonable, justifiable and necessary in each situation !!
  10. Aaron

    Aaron Shadow Warrior

    This is difficult to answer. I agree with a lot of what has been said here. Yes LEO/military seem to be able to say the tried by 12 than carried by 6, for civilians though the lines get blurred all too easily.
    My opinion if someone is willing to assault me and I can't subdue (verbally or physically) them quickly, and they are a real threat, I must increase the force, yo must be prepared to ramp up the force once you feel that the threat is going to be real. Killing the attacker should always be the last option... But if your the only thing that stands between them and your family, you do what ever is necessary to make sure you and them survive, if the attacker is still alive great, send the bastard to jail for the rest of his life, if not well he made the choice to endanger someone's life and harm them or there family.
    DeeD, Clive Weaver and Sneaker like this.
  11. Wongfeifox

    Wongfeifox be kind to your knees

    My dad taught me this saying years ago when I first took up martial arts after my second trip to hospital from my local town thugs/drug dealers, he also taught me "don't wait or hesitate, hit them first before it's too late" what a dad I had, but seriously I too have a family and although nowadays I can talk most people down with my posture and vocal commands I'm an aggressive fighter. I believe in going forwards until the opponent poses no threat to me and to others, be that in the present moment or in future,

    Let me defend my case in this argument, although I don't want my kids visiting me in prison I would far rather it was that than my graveside, we live in a so called civil society, but the law is an ass and most people who want to fight in the streets are far from civil. Here in the UK we are bound by many laws and from reading similar cases in America it is far from the idea of you can kill someone in your house that many Brits misguidedly think is the law over there.
    However my Sifu taught us years ago to learn the law better than any police officer, especially when it comes to self defense and so we used to have classes on the section three 1963 criminal law act and the European human rights act of 1998. Knowing these laws gives me certain freedom when it comes to my self defense such as pre emptive strikes and what I can justify. For instance I can't kick a man in the head when he is on the floor, but I can jump on his leg and break his ankle because I have a genuine fear that he was going to get up and follow me when I ran off after the attack, it is most imperative that you insist that you feared for your safety when being interviewed if you wish to have any chance of a strong legal defense.

    Also in a world of CCTV posturing plays a massive part, holding your hands in front of you in your typical on guard stance, but with palms held up in the universal sign of I don't want any trouble is as vital as making sure you take a step backwards, these will play a strong part of any legal action as well a messing around with an assailants reptilian brain receptors.

    Sneaker said to tie him up, well a fellow doorman came home one night and found two burglars in his house one got past him before he had time to realise what was going on and the other fella got knocked out, after checking his wife was ok he decided he didn't want the toe rag coming round in the kitchen full of weapons so he tied him up and locked him in a cupboard. BIG MISTAKE, after the police arrived he was arrested for with-holding without consent, which is similar, but not as serious as kidnap. Although I'm pretty sure he didn't give consent to have his house burgled, this went to court and due to the broken home from which the toe rag came from and his drug problem he was sent on his merry probationary way whilst my friend lost his job with social services working with kids and his door license. Should have phoned the boys back at the nightclub and matey would have had a very different trial.

    Ivor Godley mentioned the problem with being a martial artist in the UK and using your skills, this is a true problem that many police and magistrates believe that a martial artist should show restraint and have his teeth put through his face rather than defeat his attacker, I would always push for my trial to go to crown court at least there I'm being tried by 12 of my peers who hopefully would see it from my point of view not from a public school educated namby with no idea of what goes on in our towns at the weekend.

    Many years ago I was mugged by three guys when walking up a road with my girlfriend, it took two people driving by to drag me off the three of them as I danced on their heads, to many I would have looked like an animal, however what would they have done to my girlfriend if they had knocked me out, maybe nothing, maybe not. I've had to eject people from nightclubs off their heads on drink and drugs, these people do not care about you, or your family and even those who are decent upright citizens during the day can become animals when drunk and with a group of friends who think nothing off smashing a glass into your face, or even running over to a fight which has noting to do with them and putting the boot in to someone on the floor before sauntering off to enjoy their chips,

    On a more sour note, a good friend, well off, well educated and on his way to university was in a kebab house one night and got into a scuffle, he hit a guy who was hassling his mates girlfriend, unfortunately the guy fell over and cracked his head on a metal bollard that we have littering our streets here in the UK, the guy is now a vegetable and wheel chair bound. That incident sent my friend to prison, ruined the other guys life, that of his wife, his kid and many more in between.

    The question to ask is which one do you want to be in the above story. A punch that may drop me could kill a haemophilic, so are you never going to defend yourself in case you kill one.

    I think as long as you aren't going out causing trouble and you don't drop every tom dick and Harry who happens to be a pain in the backside, you take steps to avoid confrontation and you aren't some sort of psycho who revels in inflicting pain then why shouldn't you defend yourself with whatever means possible.

    What's the difference between a coward and a pacifist ?
    "A coward says please don't hurt me", the pacifist says "please don't make me hurt you". nuff said
  12. dmach

    dmach Martial Archivest

    Another thought has occurred to me folks which may/may not switch things up a bit.

    The legality of this situation has popped up throughout this thread - what is "reasonable force?" etc, etc...

    I believe that irony of all this is that as practicing Martial Artists, we've kind of made a rod for our own back. The way that the courts, society (and even ourselves) view us is that we are trained to be disciplined and controlled. We don't get a "whoopsy-doodle :oops:" didn't mean to do that defence legally. I could be wrong, but I think the way the courts view things is that we (Martial Artists) don't kill by accident. If someone dies at our hands, its because we MEANT to do it. Can't speak for other countries, but Australian courts (Please note I said courts, laws of Self-Defence are the same here as anywhere else, but there seems to be a distinct difference between the written word and its interpretation) takes a very dim view Martial Artists defending themselves with ANY amount of force, much less Lethal Force.
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  13. Anybody

    Anybody Initiate

    As a human being I believe in proportional response. The law purports to have that standard, however, runaway juries, at least in the US, have completely disregarded this principal. Look at the George Zimmerman verdict. This guy is in a confrontation with an unarmed individual, is losing a fist fight, shoots the kid he is fighting and the jury lets him off. Where I live a jury let a guy off for shooting two unarmed individuals breaking into cars across the street from him. Moral of the story in the US is that the authorities will arrest you, but if you choose a jury trial you'll get away with just about anything. My theory on this as that we as a society have become weak. Jurors picture themselves scared and losing those same fights and acquit when any reasonable person with a modicum of ability to defend themselves would think it was ridiculous. Rant over.
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  14. Wongfeifox

    Wongfeifox be kind to your knees

    The two posts above make some very good points, as dmach say "what is reasonable force"? what one person may consider reasonable another may not and as Anybody states the two cases are a reflection of what most normal people would consider beyond reasonable force, ok Zimmerman was involved in a fisty cuffs fight, but the other response was over the top.

    As for reasonable force, that is an interpretation of the written law, legally I'm within my rights to hit someone who threatens "I'm going to hit you in a minute" because I can claim that I feared for my personal safety and took the pre-emptive strike response to stop an attack I believed was imminent. Personally I would claim 80% of people who say this are just psyching themselves up for an attack which they can't begin without telling themselves what they are going to do, decent street fighters don't warn you, they saddle up next to you and Judas you without warning, however you have to make the distinction between them and pissed up uncle Harry at the Xmas party. Uncle Harry is also likely to be the one who says "show me some of that chop socky you do" so punching him in the throat, or choking him out is not going to be a reasonable response.
    This is a reason why I took up Aikido and Aiki Jujutsu because they offer me a way of dealing with an opponent that Muay Thai and Wing Chun do not, however I'm not yet at a level where I could use either against a pissed up knife wielding coke head with a determination to do me harm and I seriously doubt many other practioners are either.
    I have lost some friendships because people think I went over the top in a fight and because I do MA I should have shown restraint. These are the same people who have never set foot in a MA school let alone been in a real fight, they sit at home and think its all JCVD and Segal when a MA gets into a scuffle. Fighting ain't pretty and thats why most MA don't get into them in the first place, we use our skillset to avoid, or de-esculate a situation, it's just when we do fight we tend to win, by any means possible because we have trained to see the weaknesses of other peple and the human body itself.
    However I like to think my Sensei's, Sifu's and nightclub managers would always fight my corner in court and say if I wanted to hurt someone I could do it quite easily, so a broken arm here, or there is nothing to cry about when you made a choice trying to deny me my human/civil rights. If that doesn't do it a character reference form my vicar always goes down a treat.

    Anybody's quote is an affirmation of why I would always choose a jury over a judge, not because I think they are scared of losing their rights, but a judge uses his own interpretation of the law and thats final, with a jury you've got twelve different interpretations. However it sound like the second jury mentioned were smoking something that day, as for the Zimmerman trial we never got the full details over here, but it sounds like it turned into a race media circus from what I've read about it.
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  15. Anybody

    Anybody Initiate

    Definitely a media circus and there were elements playing up the racial piece. However, I think the composition of the jury was sensitive to Zimmerman being over powered (and thinking the same could happen to them) and therefore thought his actions were justified. As someone who has been in a scuffle or two, I could never think that response was justified. Just lose the fight you started.

    Another case from my area. Both the same race, so less of a factor. College party, fight between 2 individuals starts. One is winning on top punching. Crowded room with people watching. so puncher was not doing anything abnormal that would kill a guy. Guy underneath stabs him. Guy on top dies. Guy who stabs him is charged with manslaughter and jury acquits on self defense.

    All of This is why I think society in general has gotten weak. It's enough just to be losing a fight to get off for disproportionally ending a life.

    At the end of the day, if faced with the a life or death situation, I hope I engage correctly. The law will not constrain my actions (juries are crazy), but my humanity will act as a governor.

    By the way uncle Harry sounds like a hoot. Let me know if he heads to the US!
  16. Eric Dufurrena

    Eric Dufurrena The Iron Fist of Fun

    The way I have heard it goes (in court) is you have to be able to say that, at the time, you felt justified that you had the appropriate response. Especially if you have had training, they will ask you 50 different ways what happened and what you were thinking at the time, to make sure your frame of mind. If you felt your life was in danger, you are allowed a lethal response to the situation. Also, if you did take someone out real fast, maybe one hit (like perhaps a throat strike), you can also say that to strike was intentional but you were unable to control the situation, causing a regrettable death, that could have been avoided if the assailant had not attacked you. If you punched someone 50 times and the judge asks you why, you say because at the time you felt you needed to make sure he stayed down. Being in a rational mind, sure, it seems like too much, but in the moment, with the emotions going, it makes perfect sense.
  17. Void_Karateka

    Void_Karateka Pauper Karateka

    I think that's a phrase repeated in almost every Geoff Thompson piece I've ever read.

    Personally I've got too much of an ego to run away from most fights (with the exceptions of possible knife and gang attacks) so normally if it's gonna kick off I'm making sure I'm the first one to act and taking control of the situation. If I'm just fighting someone I honestly don't know how far I'd take it now. It's been a long time since I had to fight anyone. But if I have to fight I insist on whoever I'm fighting being unconscious or otherwise unable to fight before I stop (whether that means knocked out, choked out, or so battered and demoralized they'll run away). I think anything short of killing or permanently maiming a person is reasonable if they're the ones who started it. If it's an encounter that's potentially fatal to you then it's perfectly reasonable in my opinion for it to be potentially fatal to them too.

    There are exceptions to this and one would be if I was with my family. In such an instance reason and everything else goes out the window. I'll steam through whoever and whatever is in front of me to make sure they're safe with no regards to stopping at any point until everyone is dealt with. If I was unfortunate enough to kill someone in an encounter then so be it, I'll take whatever the law can throw at me and smile while I'm at it knowing I did my duty. 'Defence' goes out the window in this case and I am going to consciously target individuals and hurt them.
  18. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    Yea agreed works the same here, for a self defence "defence" you would need to prove that your life was in imminent danger at the time of the response, My criminal law professor once said that if you going to kill someone make sure he is looking at you when it happens, much harder to prove self defence if his back is to you.(Before anyone goes off on a tangent about advocating killing someone he meant it the context of the legal definition of self defence)

    We also have a defence called necessity to protect another with deadly force, so your kids wife etc, The reasonable portion normally comes into play if lets make it extreme "lets say some guy pulls out a knife on the otherside of your gate, its locked and you are not under immediate thread cause you are behind a locked gate and he stands there and you pull out your glock and put a hole in his head that would not be reasonable force because its not comparable as well as no immediate threat to your life if he cant get near you.

    could write many examples, had to do many of these, just a short quick one to show as an example
    Void_Karateka likes this.
  19. Clive Weaver

    Clive Weaver Initiate

    Thanks to everyone for replying to my post, and I appreciate the wisdom in them also. Train hard, train safe my friends

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