Was I justified?

SamT

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Info you'll probably want: I'm male, 5'11, 190 pounds, and am currently a 9th Gup (Yellow Belt) in Tang Soo Do.

Recently, I got in a bad argument with some of my family members. The reason for the argument was in regards to an exchange student we were hosting wanting to leave, and them bad mouthing her for it.

It eventually escalated to one point between my sister (20, 5'6, skinny) and I. She threatened that she'd try to slap me. To this I replied, "Bring it on!" After a few more moments of shouting, she did attempt it. I used a somewhat modified high block to block her slap, and then push her back away from me. When I pushed her back, it wasn't with force, and she only took a step back. At that point she left me alone physically.

Later on in the night my little brother attempted to charge at me and hit me. I swiped away his arm with the same block, grabbed him by the shoulders, and redirected him out of my way. In doing this, he hit the wall (not hard enough to hurt him), and several picture frames fell off, and a small ceramic knickknack fell off of some stacked shelves against the wall. He also left me alone after that, and stuck with verbal remarks.

I know that the best thing would have been to ignore them all and walk away, and I wish I had done that. Regardless of that, were my defenses still justified, or am I in the wrong for what I did? I do believe that most of the escalation was due to my continuing the arguments.

Thanks.
 

myusername

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My first reaction to your post is yes your physical defensive reactions were justified (assuming of course your younger brother is of similar size/age and not a toddler!). From what you say no one got physically hurt despite them attempting to physically hurt you.

I agree that you should have walked away before the situation reached that flash point and you have been very honest in saying that your continuation of the argument was a major contribution to the direction the situation was heading. With out being there and hearing what words you used it is hard for anyone to make any judgement on wether you were right or wrong that evening. Only you know the answer to that.

Families are hard work though. I trained as a mental health nurse and now work in the drug and alcohol field so I am quite adept at verbally de-esculating situations but I find it very hard, if not impossible, to transfer these skills to any family arguments. I guess the people closest to us know how to press our buttons! I've had rows with my brothers over incredibly stupid and insignificant issues that I would never have with anyone else. However I will say that on the rare occasions that I have verbally de-esculated a family row I have always felt better for it!
 

hkfuie

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Sam T, It sounds like you regret what happened and it also sounds like you don't think it was a good thing. I did not get how old you are. When I was young and still living at home, my brothers and I would tussle some, but there came a time when we decided we were too old for that. You know the line in your mind that you will not cross? We decided that it was BEFORE any physical confrontation. If you feel regret, I think that feeling is telling you something. Maybe part of you has decided you have grown beyond the tussle with your sibs phase of life? It sounds like no one was hurt. Good luck figuring out what this means to you. Everything I have said is about me and my experience. Only you know what is right for you.
 

tshadowchaser

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With in families **** happens some times. The fact that no one was injured is a positive. The fact the issues could not be culled to a less stressful state is bad.

In reacting to protect yourself you where correct. Not hurting others under the circumstances was also correct.

Now could this have been avoided by your leaving the premises at that time , maybe.

I think you need to sit down with each of the others separately and have a calm talk over a coffee. Soda, whatever.
 

grydth

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Sam, I can't pass judgment on what goes on in other homes, just tell you what we do here.

Violence among family members in the home is not tolerated. There are 6 of us total when we're together and all have been involved in the martial arts. We own various weapons as well, so we do not take the risk of anything heating up and spinning way out of control.

Family members need to have some better ways of resolving issues than striking each other. Do what many do not do - talk it out. Figure out how to stop it from happening again.

As a martial artist, you will learn that "bring it on" is inconsistent with your philosophy - you should be using language to cool down the situation not issuing a challenge.

I had way too many useless confrontations when I was younger, and one just has to learn from them. You also have to be better than I was at mending fences, which means making peace with your brother and sister as a family. Mutual apologies all around is a good start, spreading some favors and good deeds around helps.

The fact that you are asking means you are half way there.... keep going.
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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Someone tries to hit you then you have the right to defend yourself.

But you said "bring it on" that right there means you instigated or provoked her. Kinda of like meeting a Lion and poking it in the eye and saying well it tried to bite me so I shot it.


If you are physically fighting your family members then as a Martial artist you have failed to defuse the situation before it has arised to physical contact.

So right to defend yourself(noone wants to get hit well usually noone)

Wrong to provoke.
 

Jimi

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Sam started nothing physical. Sam also simply spoke back to a THREAT (Bring it on), from a sister, none the less a THREAT, A slap or anything else she volunteered the threat. His younger brother also initiated the physical. My opinion is that he merely responded to others own anger issues, regardless if he has trained in the arts, and his family, over whatever issue (Strong words or language) chose to escalate things to the physical. He obviously is not happy with the turn of events, but because he is a student in the martial arts, this does not negate the fact that his family CHOSE to bring it to a physical level. Do not forget their trespass (to even a low level of violence, sister slap or lil' brother charging headbutt) because he must take the high ground as a student of martial arts. What the sister did (Very low level of threat) was still assault (THREAT) & battery (STRIKING AT HIM). Sam is not directly responsible for family members inablity to keep from getting physical over an arguement. SAM, if you would have struck back and done any damage to either one of your family members, I would have no respect for that. I am not saying he was an absolute inocent, but from his account family chose to lash out, he simply tried not to just stand there and take it cause it's your sister & lil' brother. It is regretable that it happened, but SAM is not patting himself on the back like "My sister tried to slap me so I used my art to put her in her place & when my lil' brother charged me he got what he deserved." Give Sam some credit for not being gung ho to END the arguement physicaly.
 

myusername

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Sam started nothing physical. Sam also simply spoke back to a THREAT (Bring it on), from a sister, none the less a THREAT, A slap or anything else she volunteered the threat. His younger brother also initiated the physical. My opinion is that he merely responded to others own anger issues, regardless if he has trained in the arts, and his family, over whatever issue (Strong words or language) chose to escalate things to the physical. He obviously is not happy with the turn of events, but because he is a student in the martial arts, this does not negate the fact that his family CHOSE to bring it to a physical level. Do not forget their trespass (to even a low level of violence, sister slap or lil' brother charging headbutt) because he must take the high ground as a student of martial arts. What the sister did (Very low level of threat) was still assault (THREAT) & battery (STRIKING AT HIM). Sam is not directly responsible for family members inablity to keep from getting physical over an arguement. SAM, if you would have struck back and done any damage to either one of your family members, I would have no respect for that. I am not saying he was an absolute inocent, but from his account family chose to lash out, he simply tried not to just stand there and take it cause it's your sister & lil' brother. It is regretable that it happened, but SAM is not patting himself on the back like "My sister tried to slap me so I used my art to put her in her place & when my lil' brother charged me he got what he deserved." Give Sam some credit for not being gung ho to END the arguement physicaly.

Well said.
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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See thats the thing. "Bring it on" if it was not said could have avoided the whole thing. This fight was not so much defense it was an Ego driven action as soon as the words "Bring it on" came out.

Which provoked the others Ego to react thus a conflict of Ego.

If you are a Martial artist you should be able to not get into this for lack of a better word Pissing matches and use your art for self defense. Agreed that as soon as he was attacked he had every right to defend himself because that is a natural instinict.

A skilled martial artist should avoid being in this situation and if put into it defuse it by correct wording and then self defense. Correct wording was not used here resulting in the end conflict.

Sam did end the arguement physically. He pushed which is physical and redirected the other into the wall which is also physical.

Anyway both parties were in the wrong because this could have been handled with a cooler head.
 

Tez3

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Ah so easy to be wise for other people after the event!
As someone else said, families know how to push your buttons.
Don't take it too much to heart Sam, my kids don't argue now they are grown up (and live apart lol) they're good friends now but dear me when they were younger! My son once told his sister she'd been adopted, he'd also held her by the ankles and dangled her over the bannisters. she got her own back of course but the thing abut families too is that it often works out fine in the end.
The thing I'd suggest is that next time when your sister or brother try to argue with you or get a strop on is to be really polite and cordial with them. This will satisfy everyone who thinks martial artists should be calm and non violent but it has the added bonus of annoying the hell out of whoever is trying to wind you up!! :angel:
 

Gordon Nore

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Sam,

I'm not sure what kind of justification you're asking about... whether it has to do with the law or the tenets of your art. If you and your sister were adolescents, I'd chalk it up to hormones. She is twenty, and you are? And your little brother is?

Your analysis of the event focuses on your choice of technique, rather than how the situation escalated and what you might have done to de-escalate it. You say the discussion was about an exchange student leaving your home. My gut tells me when families argue, especially heatedly and to the point physical contact, they're usually arguing about something else, and the current topic is cover for old disputes.

Admittedly, a block -- modified or whatever -- is better than striking. However, you were able to use your block because you knew what your sister's attack was going to be. The next time could be different. And what you probably need to be thinking about is how you are going to handle yourself the next time there is a family disagreement. There invariably will be more disagreements -- that's what goes on in families.

Is this a one-off situation, or is there a pattern here?
 

jks9199

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I'm not going to say whether I think you were justified or not. But, given the account as you describe it -- I could easily make an argument for locking YOU up for domestic assault, because YOU instigated the violence, even though your sister threw the punch. You conveniently omitted any details about why your brother tried to strike you; consider what that might mean.

I'm also going to note that, if you have to ask, you probably already know the answer.
 
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SamT

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Thanks for all the replies. Here's some added details. I'm 17, my brother is 15. He's about 5'8, not sure of weight (average build I guess). Regarding the reason as to why my brother had charged me, he made a comment about my brother-sister relationship with the student, trying to imply it went farther than that. At this I brought up him bragging to his friends about how "intimate" he had gotten with his step-sister. This set him off. Looking back at this, it seems that I am responsible for what happened. Hell, I was the one who started yelling.

Thanks to everyone for the input, it seems that I need to control my words and attitude more.
 

Glycerine0160

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I come from a family of four. I'm 20 years old. I have had MANY battles with siblings growing up. Of course, I only started JKD when I was 19. When I first started I liked to almost shadow box with a kid or two at work. (Actually, Hell I wish I could do it now, I've advanced so much from then.) Everyone is really overblowing this though. You simply parried/blocked the punches away.

Sure you said bring it, and sure you are an egostical idiot. But cheers to that. Hell, now you got to see what your block would be like in a more real life situation. Your adrenaline was flowing along with your temper, and you acted. Be proud of yourself. Not to mention, be proud of your ability to choose the level of force you did. You acted off instinct, muscle memory, and you decided a simple block was sufficient. Your little brother, well that was an accidental fall on his behalf.
But honestly, as I said before, this is a joke. I've gotten my share of beatings as a kid from older siblings and I gave them to my friends and younger siblings. Actually, about two years ago my sister and I got into a fight. She was condeming me for visiting a girl from my past (one who I shared a deep intimacy for but things didn't work out) and it was none of her business. In no way was she included (except that she found out I saw her at that time and she did not like her) so I told her to shut up. Then I pushed her and that escalated into me throwing a head lock (I took a year of wrestling)
I regreted that. I tested the boundaries. Does excessive for like I displayed work as you get older? No, I found out the hard way.
 

chinto

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yes if they try to lay hands on you .. you are justified. that is absolute. but, saying " bring it on" can be questionable, however i have some relatives who the only response that might.. i say again 'might' stop an altercation is that same response... so that can be a judgment call.

Just please remember an old, but very true maxim... " if you fight you may DIE!!"
 

CoryKS

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Wow, you guys really take the foreign exchange program seriously.
 
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SamT

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I talked to a black belt from my dojang today at school, and explained it to her as I did here. Her response, when I asked if I was wrong in that I provoked it, was "I think you know the answer to that yourself."

And she has a point. I'm seriously re-evaluating my thoughts about the prevention part of self defense, as I seemed to have had it all wrong before. I'll hopefully be talking to my instructor tomorrow too.
 

Nomad

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I talked to a black belt from my dojang today at school, and explained it to her as I did here. Her response, when I asked if I was wrong in that I provoked it, was "I think you know the answer to that yourself."

And she has a point. I'm seriously re-evaluating my thoughts about the prevention part of self defense, as I seemed to have had it all wrong before. I'll hopefully be talking to my instructor tomorrow too.

This in itself shows growth. Looking at your mistakes in an even light and not re-inventing what happened to favor your side is a good sign. Use this incident as a learning experience. Apologize for your part, don't worry if they don't apologize back, and move forwards. Next time, use what you've learned to act in a way that you would like to have done this time (in hindsight).
 

Jimi

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I hope that Sam & other members understand my intention with expressing my opinion. I was simply pointing out that it seemed that Sam's family members were the ones who initiated a physical confrontation. His sister & lil brother both chose to make it physical and according to manys opinions, an arguement or heated words are no reason for such a physical altercation (Although a very low level of physical force= A slap or charging someone.) JadecloudAlchemist wrote "Sam did end the arguement physicaly. He pushed which is physical and redirect the other into a wall which is also physical."
While this statement is absolutely true, it omits the fact that his siblings chose to get physical FIRST, and his physical response would be impossible without the siblings engagement in the physical FIRST. That statement sounds like a condemnation. Regardless of how ugly the arguement got, Sam only went physical when faced with two family members volunteering this physical event. Again, not saying he is an innocent, he admitts to contributing to the arguements escalation. Yet my point is that he did not initiate the physical and his physical response was (In my opinion) not near as deliberately intentional as the force being sent his way. I hope I am understood, and not taken for expressing a view like his family got what they deserved. With what I quoted from JadecloudAlchemist, my reading of it sounds like some believe he wanted to END it physicaly. My opinion is that he did not chose to nor want to make it physical, but was faced with it. Again it is regretable that this happened. I simply wanted to restate my opinion because I felt I was not understood, not picking on anyone, just my 2 cents worth and then some:)
 
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