5 Things Martial Artists Need to Understand About the Use of Force


Mastering martial arts can have enormous personal and spiritual benefits. However, knowing martial arts does come with responsibilities. One is to appreciate the ramifications of what can happen when you must use your skills. Here are five things martial artists need to understand about the use of force.

Martial Artists Are Not Deemed Lethal Weapons

Insisting that a martial artist's hands are somehow a lethal weapon is fodder for the movie theater. It is simply not true, and that includes the feet. That said, be aware that the legal system may take a dim opinion of excessive use of force by a martial arts expert.

While there is no legal requirement to register your hands and feet as weapons, you apply applicable restraint when using your martial arts skills to defend yourself.

The Concept of Martial Arts is Self-Defense

A martial artist should educate themselves on how, and under what circumstances, they can legally be covered under self-defense laws. There are many questions that can come into play if an incident ends up in a courtroom. Fighting is fighting and if you are not threatened, then you will usually lose a self-defense case.

Someone skilled in martial arts could find themselves facing serious criminal charges, or be sued in civil court for damages as a result of the use of force. While you do not need to study the legal precedents, it is a good idea to understand what constitutes legal self-defense.

Understand What Constitutes an Imminent Threat

This can be one of the hardest things to appreciate when using force as a martial artist. You may not be able to readily gauge the level of imminent intent. The ability to withstand verbal insults, or analyze the realistic seriousness of a situation, is an aspect of your training.

For instance, to retaliate with excessive force against an obviously intoxicated attacker, may be looked upon unfavorably by the courts. Be especially attentive to your surroundings, and try to assess the level of the threat before you act.

Related: What The Media Gets Wrong About Stand-Your-Ground

There Are Ways to Avoid Conflict

No matter how intense a situation feels, the best martial artists will have perfected the ability of avoiding conflict. Sometimes this skill of knowing how and when to calm a potential attacker can be as useful as the actual methods of self-defense.

While it may become imperative to use force, every logical attempt to defuse the situation first should be tried. A true martial artist knows that once a situation escalates to a physical conflict, the level of danger rises sharply. Always try to walk away first.

Assault vs. Battery

According to the Lawyers of Bell County, contrary to conventional usage in everyday conversation, assault in a legal sense is not an actual attack on another person. Assault is rather the threat of violence, There is no need to touch or strike a person to generate an assault charge. Battery is the crime associated with an actual attack. Martial artists need to be extra vigilant in not making idle threats, especially if someone knows that they are skilled in martial arts. To constitute battery, there needs to be bodily harm.

So, a martial artist must know that there is a difference between assault and battery. Assault projects a psychological threat, while a battery constitutes physical harm.

Learning martial arts can be relaxing, healthy, and arm you with the skills to defend yourself if attacked. However, you must be aware of some problems that could arise from this use of force. Primarily, know that there is a difference between assault and battery.

You should never make idle threats, whether you know how to fight or not. Appreciate the level of imminent threat and defend yourself if need be. If you are ever presented with the unfortunate consequences of using your skills in self-defense, be certain to contact a licensed attorney to handle your legal defense.


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