Contemplating Self Defense...

Discussion in 'General Self Defense' started by Sanchin-J, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. Sanchin-J

    Sanchin-J Orange Belt

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    First off, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not meaning any disrespect to -any- of the Martial Arts out there.

    Recently, I ran across a few people who were studying Kenpo up state from where I live. They constantly called what they were being taught "Self Defense" and I was somewhat concerned as to how they could perceive that particular art as a self defense art. I've been a student of Ninjutsu for over half my life and have taken Kenpo classes for a short time while in college and what we learned was how to brutalize and destroy an opponent with techniques that were meant to sincerely harm someone or kill them, it was -not- self defense in my opinion.

    It made me think for a long while and ask myself some questions which I have personally resolved but would make for quite a discussion on these boards. The biggest of these questions is to ask, "At what point is the line drawn between self defense and simply assault?" Many martial arts teach things like breaks, submissions and even killing strikes, if someone uses these particular methods while defending themselves aren't they in fact becoming the aggressor and stepping over that line?

    It really made me think when we were having our discussion and while I may have been a bit critical of their label of being in a Self Defense type class, I still feel that what they were being taught was far beyond Self Defense and was more or less aggressive combat training. I still wonder how some arts can claim to be teaching self defense when what they teach is brutal, aggressive and in some cases deadly. Believe me, I don't see the world through rose colored glasses, there are times when deadly force has to be met with deadly force, and while I understand that, it often raises the question of who actually defines what is or is not deadly force and when/if it should be used?

    Anyhow, I'd love to hear from everyone on this, its actually quite intriguing when you think about it, and although I did point a finger at Kenpo, like I said, I don't mean disrespect by it and would like to hear what those who study kenpo have to say about it as well.
     
  2. SenseiBear

    SenseiBear Blue Belt

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    What, in your opinion, is self defense? If someone is really attacking you, you make sure they don't do it again - otherwise you may have deflected a single portion of the assault, but if you get lucky enough to block, deflect, or absorb the initial assault, should you really give them a second chance?

    I would say once they have turned and fled, if you chase them down, then you are the attacker... I won't even say I can't imagine scenarios where that is needed and justified - but you are still the attacker.

    Or, if you have rendered them physically unable to continue the assault, and then continue to beat them, again: the aggressor.

    Then surely you realize that at times defending yourself may need to be "brutal, aggressive, and in some cases deadly".

    Your State law defines what it is or is not, and when it can/should be used... Often some variation of "If the average person could reasonably believe their life was in danger..."
     
  3. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    If you look at the real world you can expect to see a disparity in perceived power between an attacker and a victim. It may be a larger man on a smaller one, a man against a woman, multiple men against one, a weapon versus unarmed. Criminals generally don't pick on those who appear to be aware and capable of handling themselves. Given those perceived differences in power , use of extreme force by a defender is to be expected.

    So what are you supposed to do with an attacker? Play patty-cake with them? If someone has escalated an encounter with me to where use of force becomes necessary, and I've exhausted all non-violent means to end it, it is a very bad situation, and I'm going to try to rip a hole through someone to exit that situation. "Brutal and aggressive?" Damn right, my responsibility to myself is to go home and be there for my wife and son.

    The person who decides if something warrants "deadly force" or not is you, the problem is whether or not 12 of your peers thinks likewise.

    Lamont
     
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  4. Hand Sword

    Hand Sword Grandmaster

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  5. Sanchin-J

    Sanchin-J Orange Belt

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    Thanks for your response on this post SenseiBear, I see your point and it actually made me realize that I don't really have a clear definition myself on Self Defense. I'm a fairly peaceful person but I've had a few situations come into play where I've been forced to use what I've learned. I think for the most part defining Self Defense is based on the individual, their perspective on the situation and their ability to exercise control in the force they use while defending themselves.

    My typical "Self Defense" techniques are used as they are called upon to be used from situation to situation. I've had moments when a simple take down and submission was enough to diffuse a situation, and other times when the only thing I could do to stop the attacker from coming for me was to physically disable his movement. Then again, when you think about the situations some of us faced in combat while serving our country, deadly force being enacted upon us was met with deadly force in return.

    Perhaps I worry too much, but I just can't see cutting off someone's arm so they can't swing at you, or bludgeoning them senselessly when you could have simply taken out a knee cap and stepped back from the situation. I think that's why the art I'm in is better suited for me, I'm not out to mangle or unnecessarily hurt someone when I'm defending myself, I'm simply trying to stop them from harming me so I can get away from them.
     
  6. Sanchin-J

    Sanchin-J Orange Belt

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    Please don't take offense to the original post, it was meant for constructive conversation not to be argumentive.

    I do see what your saying Blindside, I wouldn't hesitate to use whatever force was necessary to diffuse a situation either, I do think however that in certain martial arts, the methods to achieve such an outcome should probably not be considered "Self Defense" techniques as they most certainly step beyond the normal line between defending and assault. Kenpo was used as a the main focus simply because that initial conversation came from two students of that art. What I think I was struggling to truly say or ask in my original post was simply this:

    Is it feasible to call your martial arts training "Self Defense" if the martial arts school your studying in focuses on techniques and training that make you the aggressor rather than the defender?

    It's late and maybe this flexoril has me a little wonky, but I ask myself questions like this daily, is it feasible to defend yourself after you've transitioned in the conflict from defender to aggressor, when I'm ready to begin teaching would it be ethical to teach someone techniques that hide under the guise of a "self defense" technique knowing that the technique is originally meant to kill. I mean its stuff like this that I guess I worry about, because when the day comes that I'm ready to teach and have earned my place in my art, I want my convictions to be strong in what I'm trying to teach others.
     
  7. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    Are your concerns about crossing the defender/aggressor line or about use of deadly force in self-defense? They are two different issues.
     
  8. Sanchin-J

    Sanchin-J Orange Belt

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    More or less about crossing that aggressor/defender line.

    In one aspect, I don't want to teach my students to be overly aggressive, after all this is supposed to be "Self Defense" but on the other hand, I think there is a very real need to know some of the techniques and to encourage a certain degree of aggression. The problem is, I'm not sure how to clearly describe where that line is, I can only really point out to them when you'll know you've crossed it.
     
  9. SenseiBear

    SenseiBear Blue Belt

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    I don't do kenpo, but I feel warmly (if that is how to put it) toward their brutal, multiple strike responses to all attacks. Usually these are from their sets of techniques, and they are like mini-forms. The way I look at those strings of techniques is that they are to teach students to flow effortlessly from one technique to the next - the Grandmaster of our art put it "If one technique doesn't work, then the next one, or the next one, or the next. It's one one one one one one one."

    Hopefully, by the time the techniques and that flow are second nature, you have also trained a student to SEE and be AWARE of the results of their actions thus far, and they can break off their responses once the attacker has been neutralized.

    But if someone attacks you with what you believe to be deadly intent, you ought to be sure that their attack cannot continue. You never know what the other man has - and having your mind occupied with concerns about going too far in defending yourself seems to me like a recipe for disaster.

    imho
     
  10. Dale

    Dale White Belt

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    Hello,
    This is my first time posing on this forum so I hope my reply is appropriate.

    I think that many schools or system teach extremely, often excessively violent measures for dealing with violence which they label as "self defense" or "reality based" concepts.
    Although I understand what is being argued here I don't believe that question is whether or not these techniques are "self defense" or not but rather if they are ethical or not.
    The fact is that even the most technically flawed technique can be effectively utilised for self defense if the defenders mind-set is indeed violent or aggressive enough to pull it off. Take for example the many military combatives systems, in which the soldiers willingness to fight and disciplined killer mentality is of far greater combative importance than the specific techniques used within the system.

    With reference to the original question these techniques could certainly be labeled as effective "self defense" techniques although the ethics involved in teaching them, or the mindset for which they are designed, to civilians is questionable.

    In my opinion the ethical issue of self defense is pretty much inline with the ideas of reasonableness of force, as defined in Australian law.
    Problems arise in martial arts systems when those systems are not accommodating of this concept of reasonableness, in that they offer nothing in the way of scaled responses. If extreme violence or lethal force is the only trained response to all levels of assault, then it could be argued in many cases the idea of reasonableness will be exceeded and these techniques will qualify as excessive force.

    On a side note, when extreme violence is the only response trained for all levels of assaults, then it is likely the trained fighter will offer no response or inadequate/disorganised responses to assaults that do not meet that persons own criteria to respond in the manner in which they are trained.

    There are cases and forums where these techniques are appropriate but civilian use is not among them if this is the only response taught.
    I do appreciate that the notion of "self defense" often requires serious responses and sometimes desperate measures, however in my own experience more often than not the ability to respond with an appropriate or scaled response is far more useful. This approach is more likely to 'save your skin' in a situation where extreme violence is not called for and when it is it allows the defender to effectively deal with escalation and deescalation of force.



    Respectfully,
    Dale
     
  11. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    I've been doing Kenpo for a while now, so I'll toss in my .02. :) Many times you'll hear the term 'overkill' and yes, if you look at some Kenpo techniques, there are some brutal moves. Yet others refer to it as 'overskill' basically saying that it allows you a wide array of options, from mild to brutal.

    Now, its my opinion, that its up to the individual themselves, to assess the situation. This is usually where you'll run into differing thoughts. Im in agreement with Blindside. Of course, you opt to defuse the situation, but IMO, sometimes people rely too much on that. Sometimes that just isnt an option, therefore you need to use force. I'd say its perfectly fine to call it self defense. After all, you are defending yourself right? I'm doing what I need to do to defend myself. Of course, you need to keep a clear enough head and know when to stop. If the guy turns and runs and you chase him down to continue beating him or he's down and you keep kicking him, well, the threat is over, so you should stop. Don't drop your guard, as thats an invite for a sucker shot, but the threat is now over.

    Mike
     
  12. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    Great post! The part that I'd like to focus on is the first paragraph. Like your art, its the same as in Kenpo. The idea is just what you said...the idea is to be able to flow from one move to the next. This is where the terms "What if" and Even If" come into play. "What if" they do this after they punch? "Even if" this happens. The multiple moves allow you to have options. Being able to flow or 'graft' from one move to the next is a big part of the art. :)

    Mike
     
  13. kaizasosei

    kaizasosei Master Black Belt

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    even minor confrontations between people have elements of combat, war.
    at the first meeting and sizing or judging each other up, is comparable to spying and reconaissance. after that, an aggressor will try to use whatever means possible to break down the victim. if it is not a sneak attack, then the attack might involve intimidation and threats or also tricks. either to take by surprise or psych the victim out with intimidation.
    i believe, that intimidation is probably something that one should focus on more than the actual fighting. that is dealing with the first stages of the budding physical fight. how to neutralize..how to stand ones ground, being aware and confident of ones rights etc.

    problem is with aimless aggressive ma, that they may be freaking the person out more than they are helping them. for example, someone comes up to you and just wants to mess around or test you in some way, if you are not secure and only practice to hurt and do damage, then you#ll get all pumped up for nothing. not saying it's not good to be prepared for anything. but too many false alarms would mean that there is a issue of fear that be negative. at least, it means that one is not seeing things as they are but projecting ones own fears of people. you don't see climbers throwing darts at pictures of mountains. you don't see skydivers demonising heights. but some martial artists seem to be running from something. and they see fights and reason for bad attitude where i sometimes do not.

    of course there may be a thrill in fighting for some people. isn't that why there are ma for example. however, when one person truly does damage to another person, then it's something that wont go away and can end up being nothing like what one thought it would be. lawsuits, hospitals, getting arrested-regret guilt. not very nice.

    for many martial artists without any experience, martial art means fighting. i think it should be like that, but it's not. the arts are often very far from reality. not physically, but in a spiritual way. you watch a kungfu movie and it looks so cool to kick some *** with some funky tunes in the background. reality is more like watching a really extreme horrormovie in pitch black darkness with the volume blasting. -in fantasy land it's cool to fight and even fun somehow. in reality it can be anything but pleasant. often when fights break out, suddenly many people dont want to fight anymore. - don't get me wrong too, i love fantasy land and ma brings a huge smile to my face, but when i share that with some people, they act like they have just discovered a weakness in me.

    so im not saying anything bad about the arts themselves. rather, it's all the misconceptions that people have that are harmful. when i show something artsy for example, many will say- 'yeah but, this and that-i could have gotten you-that doesnt work-'etc. and if you really take it to simple fighting, then theres not enough art and uniqueness or it's too scary to even bother dealing with. clearly a case of not knowing what exactly is going on coupled with some grave misconceptions.
    like a child that is told to choose one colour candy and when he sees the other kid with the other colour starts crying because he wanted the other colour after all.

    but as i mentioned earlier, it's not only about physical fighting. fights more often than not don't even become physical. but if they do, it would be best to use correct amount of force if one has the ability to control that.
    of course there are times when an attack is the best defense- but an attack is an attack and may provoke only more violence.
    difficult topic selfdefense because different people will be different and have different skill levels.

    j
     
  14. morph4me

    morph4me Goin' with the flow

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    IMO self defense is doing whatever has to be done to get yourself home to your family. Self defense stops when the percieved threat has ended, if you continue after that point, you become the aggressor and not the defender.

    When I was growing up I had to defend myself quite a bit as I was a bit of a nerd. Sometimes all it took was a word or a look, usually after I made up my mind that I was going to have to fight. Other times we basically beat each other until someone stopped or it was broken up, and other times I defended myself by hitting the other guy first, it was obvious where it was going, and the only other option was to wait to get hit, I opted for preemptive self defense, did that make me the aggressor? I don't think so, but opinions may vary.
     
  15. Sanchin-J

    Sanchin-J Orange Belt

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    I'm extremely impressed with all the feedback and opinions given so far, and it is helping me quite a bit to really get it set right in my own head. Its really a good subject to discuss as it not only stimulates the mind, but keeps the awareness up of how serious "Self Defense" can really be when it comes down to the brass tacks heh.
     
  16. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    You go until the threat is stopped, when you go beyond that you have crossed that line you are worried about. That isn't technique training, that is training the student to evaluate the situation.

    Lamont
     
  17. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    A good place to start is with the concept of the Force Continuum. This originated in law enforcement, but there is a growing trend towards application in the civilian area as well. A good discussion is at http://www.usadojo.com/articles/civilian-force-continuum.htm.

    Here's an example I use that might help illustrate the concept. You are in a parking lot and someone comes onto you trying to start a fight. He's yelling, fists doubled up, etc. You raise your hands to chest level, palms out and say, "Dude, I don't want any trouble." You attempt to disengage and start to back away. He follows you, continuing the verbal assault. You escalate to stage 2 of the continuum - look him in the eye and say forcefully: "STOP! I do not want to fight you!".

    He now escalates and physically attacks you with a punch. You are now at level 3. You block and counter with a strike to the brachial plexus origin which stuns him and he drops to a knee. At this point, you can disengage and run away, and you should immediately do so. If you hit him again, an argument can be made (and probably will) that you have become the aggressor and have now assaulted him.

    Well, one decision about deadly force can be made easily - if a weapon of any kind appears in my opponent's hands, my life is now being threatened and I can respond with deadly force to save my own life.

    If my opponent is unarmed but states his intent to kill me, an argument can be made that his attack constitutes deadly force. I better have witnesses to his threat, however. It will be really hard to prove it otherwise.

    If I don't get either of these scenarios, I cannot justify using deadly force against an attacker. At least in my own mind, I can't. Someone else might.

    My $0.02 worth....
     
  18. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    A fight is a very serious thing not to be taken lightly if you get into one you have to live with the consequences of your actions or the injuries that you receive from it.

    I train police/military Sanda which was not designed to be nice or take into consideration how the other guy, that is attacking me, feels it is designed so if you have no choice and have to use it you can and will go home to your family relatively unscathed. It was designed for exactly what the name says “Police and Military”.

    I have said before it is simply a quick (quick meaning faster than many CMA styles but the training is not easy) way to learn how to hurt someone real bad. But if I were to go out and start beating people up my Sifu would stop training me. He will not train just anyone because he feels that it teaches you how to hurt someone and he does not want to be responsible for training someone that will go out and use Sanda to hurt people just because they can. His view of his skill and Sanda is it is a great way to stay in shape and if he had to he could protect himself and his family.

    I also train taiji which in application requires patients and you can keep someone at bay without hurting them if necessary. BUT there may be an occasion where you have no choice and it can do that too.

    If you are left with no choice fight and do all that you can to go home safe. If you have any other choice, take it and do not fight because fighting is a VERY serious thing.
     
  19. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    heh. Last night in class, I was helping my instructor demonstrate a technique to some higher-belt students. As he went through the steps, he provided commentary: "And then after we snap the neck, we chop to the throat, claw the face, and then cover out." Or something like that.

    Overkill? What overkill?
     
  20. kailat

    kailat Green Belt

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    1st off Meeting force with force is what most of us assume is valuable tool in self defense.

    If one can deflect and or stop the initial attack before it is started or within a few moves then that is self defense. (this again is also derived from the specific aggressive attack)

    If it's a punk in a bar, or at a restraunt or uncle Jimmy at the family reunion then self defense is and can be met w/ a simple restraining tech or simple set of movements.

    Each scenario is different. Each attack is different. Each MOTIVE is different. So to say one way is better than another way is left up to the situation. A self defense in a bar can escalate faster and deadlier than that at say a public restraunt or somewhere of that nature.

    The force continuum which was posted earlier is a great starting place. If your worried about the law and when is enough enough.. thats the best place to start.

    IN FMA we teach WEAPONS and KNIFE so therefore what we teach is a real touchy situation. Kali is kill mentality plain and simple. So why do we just teach this to anyone?

    Not knowing much about KENPO/KEMPO other than its origin it sees simular.

    NINJUTSU from my own distinction that i've studied is a good base to learn self defense. But that may not be enough in some eyes.

    Firearm training is essential for alot of self defense training these days. Your local Police Dept put on courses and explain the dos and don'ts of such situations.

    Again, fighting / self defense is dangerous at all cost no matter what the deal is. The winner is he who goes home safe that night.

    A great man once said "It's better to learn a few tech's and practice them a thousand times, than to learn a thousand tech's and pactice them a few times"...

    Many martial arts do "Cross that OVERKILL line" its up to you as a mature adult to know when and where that line is at. Or you'll be finding yourself from victim to suspect real fast123
     

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