Legal question regarding self defense

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KenpoRush

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I had a conversation with a young lady with a low-rank black belt (don't remember if it was 1st or 2nd,) and our conversation turned to legal issues.

She made the claim that since she is a black belt that in the state of Texas she had to register herself, (as a lethal weapon? she really didn't make it clear.) She did state that when she registered she was advise that she could not use excessive force when defending herself, which she understood it to mean she could not kick, punch or strike anyone unless her life was physically threatened. She defined "physically threatened" when someone attempted to choke her or assault her with a knife or other lethal weapon...to which she added that her attacker could do most anything else and she would not be able to retaliate for fear of a lawsuit. She said she suffered an attack not too long ago where she was almost beaten to a pulp by an abusive boyfriend...but since this guy did not attempt to choke her or attack her with weapons, she could not hit him back. She was literally pushed around senseless against walls and the floor...got several bruises to show for it as well as a black eye from hitting the floor (according to her.)

And she's telling me this as she claims that she could knock an attacker in a couple of seconds with a single knuckle strike to any pressure point of her choosing, (presumably in the head/neck region.)

I always assumed that, so long as one can claim that their life <b><i>felt</b></i> threatened that they could retaliate with justifiable force...that is, if pushed, do a takedown, if striken, strike back, if attacked with a weapon, disarm and cause little to no injury to attacker. (Always with some restraint.) Needless to say I told her I didn't buy her claim that she could not defend herself. She was adamant in her claim. I was never told by my Kenpo instructor that I could not defend myself...on the contrary, I was encouraged to do so. As SGM Parker was once quoted, "...he who hesitates, meditates in a horizontal position."

Can anyone shed some light into this? Let me sum up my request into (3) questions:

1.) Can a (state-registered) black belt defend him/her self?
2.) What is considered "excessive force"?
3.) Is there any federal/state/local law (any state/city) that prevents black belt martial artists from defending themselves?

Thanks for your input.
 

Phil Elmore

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I'm skeptical of the whole story she told you, to be honest. The "I have to register once I become a black belt" business is one of the longest running cultural myths surrounding the arts.
 
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Kirk

Guest
I live in Texas, and although not a law officer, my job requires that
I deal with people in law enforcement, daily. I've had the
opportunity to ask a lot of questions, and on top of that, what I
do in my job is maintain the criminal justice system for the county.
(Along side 20 others) I have NEVER seen a charge where there
is a specific infraction for martial artists.

It's been explained to me that you can meet force with the exact
force that's been applied to you. Basically, and eye for an eye.
If someone slaps you, you're legally allowed to slap them back.
If someone chokes you, you're allowed to avoid the choke, and
choke back, etc. If at anytime you FEEL your life is in danger, you
are allowed to kill. And as they said it to me, more than once,
"dead men tell no tales".

There is also NO requirement in this state to register yourself
as a weapon, as a black belt, as a master of martial arts, or
anything else.
 

cdhall

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Originally posted by KenpoRush

...
Can anyone shed some light into this? Let me sum up my request into (3) questions:

1.) Can a (state-registered) black belt defend him/her self?
2.) What is considered "excessive force"?
3.) Is there any federal/state/local law (any state/city) that prevents black belt martial artists from defending themselves?

Thanks for your input.

Damian,

Follow my link here or from my ad in the School Management Forum.
http://www.prepaidlegal.com/info/doughall

My service offers you access to the Law firm of Ross and Matthews here in TX. They have 120+ attorneys on staff and you can ask them stuff like this and for example get them to represent at no additional charge if your boyfriend/anyone sues you in civil court for any reason, including defending yourself.

It starts at $16/mo. It is tax deductible. Email me if you have other questions, I notice they have changed my website. The service is very comprehensive and covers your entire family. If you are in San Antonio, I have references you can check with about whether this works and how it works.

I think this story is crap, but I can not give legal advice as I am not an attorney. Since I am licensed to sell this plan I also hesitate just to give my opinion because I want to stay out of trouble. This lady needs my service badly though. She is very misinformed.

I hope this helps. Don't hesistate to contact me via email or phone.
1.877.401.6153.

Good luck.
 

kenpo_cory

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Sharp Phil is right. The whole registering yourself as a weapon in any state is garbage. This was brought up on another thread once. My instructor has been in the martial arts for about 28 years, and has traveled to most states either to train with various people or to attend seminars. I asked him the same question, he said in all his years of training he has never once met anyone that has had to register themselves as a weapon. I say her story is crap.
 
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Michael_Browne

Guest
I've never met anyone who actually said they DID register. I think I might have laughed out loud at that one. However, one of the issues that will come in to play is perceived threat. In addtion to the amount of force used. One item that will be brought to the forefront of this scenario (in court) will be when (and if) the defender became the attacker. Just because someone throws a punch at you doesn't actually give you the right to put them in the hospital. However, I'd rather have the skill and take my chances than take my chances without training.


Michael Browne
 
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WayOfTheKeyboard

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I am guessing that this woman's story is to help her rationalize about freezing at the moment of truth. This is only a guess, since none of us know the whole story.

Different states have different self defense laws; some require you to retreat if you can, even if its your home; others dont. For deadly force you have to believe you're in serious or possibly fatal danger.

Another thing; you can start out defending yourself and go too far and change into the attacker. Like, with the dance of death, you are probably breaking the law when you flip the guy onto his stomach and then stomp him, etc.

Way
 

Les

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In the United Kingdom we have a different set of laws to you guys in the States, but the following is pretty general.

Not withstanding my Kenpo activities, my 'real job' involves training people with regard to personal safety, and that includes what they can and can't do, by law.

In this country, the laws on reasonable force are quite ambiguous, but what it boils down to is this.

When you stand before a jury, you have to convince them that the action you took (applying physical force) was reasonable force, such as a reasonable person would take given those particular circumstances. Stress, fear and panic are facts that must be considered when the jury make their decision.

That is to say that even if you over-reacted, your actions might prove to have been justified if you REALLY believed you were in danger and you had no other choice.

The bottom line is, you don't have to prove that you used only reasonable force, but rather that the level of force you used was what a reasonable person would use in those circumstances.

Confused? Me to, and I teach the stuff every day.

As to 'registering' your hands as lethal weapons?
Bullsh*t! (In my opinion).

But when you stand in court, the prosecution will describe your six week beginners course as an intensive hitman style combat course.

Les
 
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rmcrobertson

Guest
The stuff that's been said, so far, sounds pretty reasonable from what I know. Among other things, there's a lot of mythology around today about what some fantasized, politically-correct, "they," won't let you do. But barring a) an insane prosecutor, b) a rich family gunning for you, c) some politician running for office, it sounds to me as though Les was dead on.

In the first place, whatever the law says, it's unlikely that a jury is going to nail you for defending yourself. It's like the questions you always see about shooting a burglar--no, the law doesn't sanction you killing somebody because they might take your TV set. But in practice, all anybody ever says is, "Well, they broke into my house and woke me up, and I thought they were going to attack me and my family, so...wham."

Beyong American mythology, it's possible that the idea about registering your hands comes from a) movies of the Fifties, b) the fact that apparently in Chile, you DO have to register with the State to train in a martial art...apparently, this dates from the Pinochet era, and I'm sorry to say Mr. Parker seemingly was involved in it to some extent.

But other than that, I like the comment that the blaack belt had said this about registering, while asserting that she could do one-shot knockouts and telling the story about the time her boyfriend beat her up. Sounds like somebody badly trained, to me...

Thanks.
 

Cthulhu

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No state in the U.S. of A. requires any black belt to register themselves as anything for any reason. I have heard of instructors milking money from unsuspecting students with this rubbish, making the students pay them more money so the instructor can 'take care of the registration' for them. Anyone telling you they needed to register themselves in the U.S. just for being a black belt is: 1) lying or 2) got ripped off as I stated above and doesn't know better.

If an instructor ever tells you this, run. If some 'black belt' tells you this, try not to laugh in their face.

To be on the safe side (and more info is always good for you), check with a lawyer. That, or get a copy of your state's statutes. I have a copy of the Florida state statutes from a few years ago and nowhere does it state that a black belt has to 'register' his- or herself.

Cthulhu
 
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ProfessorKenpo

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Originally posted by Cthulhu

No state in the U.S. of A. requires any black belt to register themselves as anything for any reason. I have heard of instructors milking money from unsuspecting students with this rubbish, making the students pay them more money so the instructor can 'take care of the registration' for them. Anyone telling you they needed to register themselves in the U.S. just for being a black belt is: 1) lying or 2) got ripped off as I stated above and doesn't know better.

If an instructor ever tells you this, run. If some 'black belt' tells you this, try not to laugh in their face.

To be on the safe side (and more info is always good for you), check with a lawyer. That, or get a copy of your state's statutes. I have a copy of the Florida state statutes from a few years ago and nowhere does it state that a black belt has to 'register' his- or herself.

Cthulhu

This urban-legend started when boxers had to register and pay a fee to the state to fight in that particular part of the country, and they still do. It was just another way for the state to make money out of sporting events. How it ever came to be that Black Belts had to do it I'll never know.

Have a great Kenpo day

Clyde
 
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GouRonin

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Originally posted by KenpoRush
She made the claim that since she is a black belt that in the state of Texas she had to register herself, (as a lethal weapon? she really didn't make it clear.) She did state that when she registered she was advise that she could not use excessive force when defending herself, which she understood it to mean she could not kick, punch or strike anyone unless her life was physically threatened. She defined "physically threatened" when someone attempted to choke her or assault her with a knife or other lethal weapon...to which she added that her attacker could do most anything else and she would not be able to retaliate for fear of a lawsuit. She said she suffered an attack not too long ago where she was almost beaten to a pulp by an abusive boyfriend...but since this guy did not attempt to choke her or attack her with weapons, she could not hit him back. She was literally pushed around senseless against walls and the floor...got several bruises to show for it as well as a black eye from hitting the floor (according to her.)
And she's telling me this as she claims that she could knock an attacker in a couple of seconds with a single knuckle strike to any pressure point of her choosing, (presumably in the head/neck region.)

Sounds to me like she got her @ss kicked and needed to come up with a solution to justify why she got it kicked because she had issues regarding it.

I have met a guy here in town who was selling his students on the idea that they had to register their hands and he would do it for them for a fee through his dojo. I researched it and in our town/province/country, this was a crock so I told him. He tried to say it was true but after a few calls etc he had to admit he didn't know what was going on. I never went as far as to say he got taken but...he understood inside.

Maybe his teacher was afraid if he used what he knew he'd get his butt kicked and this was a way to make money and make sure his looked good to his students?
 
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Kenpo Wolf

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Originally posted by ProfessorKenpo

This urban-legend started when boxers had to register and pay a fee to the state to fight in that particular part of the country, and they still do. It was just another way for the state to make money out of sporting events. How it ever came to be that Black Belts had to do it I'll never know.

Have a great Kenpo day

Clyde
:eek:

The way I heard it is when our military guys were stationed over in Okinawa(Spl) after WW2, a lot of them harassed the natives. The powers that be in the military ranks did'nt want to lose their base there so soon after the war and had their men register with the Okinawan government as military. That way, the Okinawans knew the difference between military police, who were trained in basic judo and karate, and the general military. Since then, it has snowballed into a fallacy where all black belts has to register themselves as deadly weapon

I can't recall the facts on this since I read it about seven or eight years ago.
 

Michael Billings

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OK - I can say with 100% certainty that there is no such thing as registering as a Black Belt in Texas.

We have a section of the penal code that allows for "self-defense", utilizing the "reasonable man doctrine." That is, you can use the amount of force necessary to protect yourself, OR ANOTHER, from harm, bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or death, that a reasonable and prudent man would deem necessary. This includes lethal force, and is the same standard as a concealed handgun holder is required to exercise. Law enforcement officers have a little different standard, but follow the same formula, with the provisio that they are acting under the color of their office. "Reasonable force" is famous in cases like Rodney King, where you see the lack of it. In Texas you can utilize the same force used against you, plus a little bit. There are all sorts of mitigating factors including time of day (was it night), in or out of the home, weapons used, disparity in size or difference in gender (perceptions of what force is "reasonable" to stop the attack.) I would give specific examples, but then I may have to go to court and testify, or someone quote me as part of a defense, and I rather not put myself in a witness seat or as part of a lawsuit.

This is where it gets sticky for a large male martial artist to go in front of the jury and claim self-defense. SGM Parker's story about "catalogueing the causes of death" when a Kenpoist got through, would be a tough one to sell to a grand jury. You absolutely have the right to defend yourself, and should. But think it out in the school, and practice what your response would be, contingent on the variables in the situation. Remember "It is better to be tried by 12, rather than carried by 6", and you should be ok if you exercise common sense.

There is also a less well known defense strategy from a criminal assualt charge called "mutual combat". It requires a burden of proof that the "contact" was not unwanted and mutual.

Whoever came up with the urban legand about registering your hands it was no time recently. I remeber it as far back as the 60's, with maybe Maxwell Smart in Get Smart being the first ... or maybe it was Bruce Lee in The Green Hornet? Ok, maybe I am dating myself, but I do absolutely remember Maxwell Smart saying his hands were registered weapons in that high nasal voice right before someone punched him out.

Every state has provisions for self defense, and most utilize the "Reasonable/Prudent man doctrine." But remember, this does not protect you from civil lawsuits regarding injury or wrongful deaths. It may not be criminal, but you can still be held liable in a civil suit. That is why I do have Doug Hall's prepaid legal service, although I have never used it, it does provide some peace of mind. For school owners, it could bankrupt you. Injuries in the school are usually different and negligence is the primary thing that would have to be proven on the complaintant's part. So make sure you are there watching and controlling high-risk training (sparring/grappling.) - (DOUG, YOU OWE ME MONEY FOR THE PLUG HERE.)

I'll be In San Antonio through Wednesday for an administrative law judges conference and my email will be down since I am taking the time to upgrade some hardware. See yall when I get back.

-Michael
UKS-Texas
 
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GouRonin

Guest
Originally posted by Michael Billings
In Texas you can utilize the same force used against you, plus a little bit.

I am soooo moving to Texas!!!

Originally posted by Michael Billings
Remember "It is better to be tried by 12, rather than carried by 6", and you should be ok if you exercise common sense.

Nah, " It's better to injure 10, than to kill one." That way you can send them back to warn their friends not to %$#@ with you. Then if they bring their friends back, you can %$#@ them up too!
:D
 
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Kenpo Wolf

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Originally posted by GouRonin


Nah, " It's better to injure 10, than to kill one." That way you can send them back to warn their friends not to %$#@ with you. Then if they bring their friends back, you can %$#@ them up too!
:D

ROFLMAO:) GouRonin has my vote for the the funniest poster on this board. 'Hides as Gou's ego expands, even further then it already has, as it eclipses the sun':)
 
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SingingTiger

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Originally posted by Michael Billings

Whoever came up with the urban legand about registering your hands it was no time recently. I remeber it as far back as the 60's, with maybe Maxwell Smart in Get Smart being the first ... or maybe it was Bruce Lee in The Green Hornet?

And let's not forget Barney Fife. :D

Rich
 
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Kirk

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Originally posted by Michael Billings

I'll be In San Antonio through Wednesday for an administrative law judges conference and my email will be down since I am taking the time to upgrade some hardware. See yall when I get back.

-Michael
UKS-Texas

Is it in the downtown area? Maybe we can do lunch!
 
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sammy3170

Guest
Originally posted by KenpoRush

I had a conversation with a young lady with a low-rank black belt (don't remember if it was 1st or 2nd,) and our conversation turned to legal issues.

She made the claim that since she is a black belt that in the state of Texas she had to register herself, (as a lethal weapon? she really didn't make it clear.) She did state that when she registered she was advise that she could not use excessive force when defending herself, which she understood it to mean she could not kick, punch or strike anyone unless her life was physically threatened. She defined "physically threatened" when someone attempted to choke her or assault her with a knife or other lethal weapon...to which she added that her attacker could do most anything else and she would not be able to retaliate for fear of a lawsuit. She said she suffered an attack not too long ago where she was almost beaten to a pulp by an abusive boyfriend...but since this guy did not attempt to choke her or attack her with weapons, she could not hit him back. She was literally pushed around senseless against walls and the floor...got several bruises to show for it as well as a black eye from hitting the floor (according to her.)

And she's telling me this as she claims that she could knock an attacker in a couple of seconds with a single knuckle strike to any pressure point of her choosing, (presumably in the head/neck region.)

I always assumed that, so long as one can claim that their life <b><i>felt</b></i> threatened that they could retaliate with justifiable force...that is, if pushed, do a takedown, if striken, strike back, if attacked with a weapon, disarm and cause little to no injury to attacker. (Always with some restraint.) Needless to say I told her I didn't buy her claim that she could not defend herself. She was adamant in her claim. I was never told by my Kenpo instructor that I could not defend myself...on the contrary, I was encouraged to do so. As SGM Parker was once quoted, "...he who hesitates, meditates in a horizontal position."

Can anyone shed some light into this? Let me sum up my request into (3) questions:

1.) Can a (state-registered) black belt defend him/her self?
2.) What is considered "excessive force"?
3.) Is there any federal/state/local law (any state/city) that prevents black belt martial artists from defending themselves?

Thanks for your input.

As a blackbelt martial artist you must be very careful not to damage your foe too much as the legal system has unrealistic expectations of what we should be able to do.

Cheers
Sammy
 
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