Martial Arts & The Law

A few comments on Self Defence and Reasonable force

Referenced by Sensei Stephen Clark


Self-defence: refers to actions taken by a person to prevent another person from causing harm to one’s self, one’s property or one’s home.

 Which broken down means, to use a technique or method against another person, for example, a person steps forward to punch me, I block and respond with a strike of my own to end the attack (if only it were that easy). By the above definition this could also mean using force against someone trying to steal my property or break into my home and would also include defending my family or others at threat.


Self protection: is a much broader term

Self protection encompasses going beyond the now of dealing with the punch and using awareness and preventative measures to avoid or prevent the situation from even occurring. I choose not to associate with people or in environments where I may end up in a confrontation. Which probably means I have to live like a hermit and never go out in public. Doesn’t really work, does it? I can however choose to a certain degree to make things easier for myself and avoid places that will put me at risk, such as avoid walking through an isolated area late at night that is frequented by gangs. This would be common sense to most people, but what about those that take short cuts late at night through the park to save them a few minutes. Do you really know what is waiting in the dark?


What is reasonable force?

In the Crimes Act 1961, it states - Every one is justified in using, in the defence of oneself or another, such force as, in the circumstances as he believes them to be, it is reasonable to use.

In English this means - I may use force to defend myself and others if I fear for my safety or I believe I am at threat of physical harm. In some countries and the United States, The concept of “pre-emptive” self defence is limited by a requirement that the threat be imminent. Thus, lawful “pre-emptive self defence is simply the act of landing the first-blow in a situation that has reached the point of no hope for de-escalation or escape. Many self defence instructors and experts believe that if the situation is so clear-cut as to certain violence is unavoidable, the defender has a much better chance of surviving by landing the first-blow ( sucker punch ) and gaining the immediate upper hand to quickly stop the risk to their person.

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