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Self-Defense, Pre-Emptive Strikes and the Law

April 18, 2011

Many martial artists struggle with knowing what they can do legally when being attacked. And that’s really important when your feel that your life is in danger.

First of all, I’m not an attorney. If you want to know more about the law when it comes to self-defense, make sure you talk to an attorney and know the law in your respective area.

Danger comes in many forms. When it comes to self-defense, we know that when we are confronted with being harmed or even killed, we should take immediate action to stop it.

Under the law in most situations, the use of self-defense techniques to stop an attack must be reasonable in nature.  For example, you can’t use a handgun to stop somebody from punching you.  Here’s what the law in California says:

According to California law, you act in lawful self-defense if you:

    1. reasonably believe that you are in imminent danger of being killed, seriously injured, or unlawfully touched,
    2. believe that immediate force is necessary to prevent that danger, and
    3. Use no more force than necessary to defend against that danger.1

Having said that regarding the legal issues involved.  You should do everything you can to avoid getting into a physical altercation.  That means keep yourself away from potential situations where you’d end up in danger.  If you go out looking for an altercation, then self-defense won’t apply.  If you fight somebody in mutual combat, then self-defense won’t apply.  In that case, you’d be arrested for fighting in public.  In California it’s known as 415F of the Penal Code.

If you feel that your life is in danger from a violent attack that could really harm you or worse, then waiting for the potential attacker to attack you, where you would block the strike or attack is not a good option.  When you have exhausted verbal means of stopping somebody from attacking you and you can’t get away, then there’s only one viable option.  The pre-emptive strike.  This means that you strike first before the thug has a chance to do the same.  You must make the strike count.  End it as quickly as possible to stop this person from attacking you.  Once you stop them, then stop the attack on the attacker.

One other thing regarding the law.  If you’re far enough away from the person where you can escape, do it.  If you rush in to strike the person from across a room, then you become the attacker and will face charges.  This is not self-defense.  Again, know the law.  Talk to an attorney that knows the law in these type of situations.  If you’re in combat, then it’s a different situation altogether.

With the pre-emptive strike, make sure that you’re doing to in self-defense.  Know the law, otherwise you’ll end up in trouble & maybe in prison.

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