Monday, June 11, 2012

The tricky matter of self-defense

Self-defense is a tricky matter.  For one thing, nowadays most folks learning the art of self-defense (nicknamed: martial art) will probably never be in need of doing self-defense, and the minority who did might not fair better than a "brave guy" picked randomly from the street.  The old Chinese wisdom in self-defense is: First bravery, second physical strength and thirdly skills in martial art (一膽二力三功夫).  In sports-combat, the order will probably be reversed having regard the fact that fighters are classified into weight categories and there is a non-life-threatening event for a trained athlete.

The situation of self-defense is different: people won't fight fairly, precisely because people who initiated a fight usually have a calculated advantage (otherwise why initiated the fight in the first place), and precisely because of this, their weaker adversary, if he is not too drunk, will try every (dirty) trick to reverse the imbalance in power.   Some time ago I read from the news of one incident, happened in Shenzhen, of a vicious fight between two off-duty bouncers and a fat/weak kid in a video-game place in the small hours.  The fight was initiated by the two strong men wanting to stop the kid from making too much noise.  The two were badly chopped by a sharp knife carried by the kid for self-protection.  One was certified dead shortly arrived at the hospital while the other couldn't get over his frustration of unable to protect himself after years of martial art training and experience in carrying out his professional duties of punishing trouble making guys at pubs and night clubs.

Another piece of news I read happened in Taipei.  An Olympic tekwando champ was blackmailed by a couple of gangsters who threatened otherwise to break one of his legs (so that he could no longer take part in his sport).  The champ chose to solicit help from the police instead of trying to defend himself in case of attack, which most likely be in the form of ambush, and probably when he was having a flu or something - the most advantageous situation for his attackers.  The culprits were arrested and jailed.

On the other hand, I have also read stories of real people expressing thanks to their martial art masters, saying that what they have learned saved their lives.  These guys are either lucky or brave, or both lucky and brave.  The lesson seems to be that firstly don't get into a situation of self-defense if one possibly can, and if one can't avoid one, do it as if your survival depends on the outcome.  Needless to say, one should always consider the legal aspects behind a situation to avoid legal impacts arising from a self-defense incident, in particular when a weapon is used, as the kid in Shenzhen regretted too late.

Legal consequence of self defense


  1. I think that martial arts training can only improve your chances: you will be physically in shape, have some measure of eye hand coordination; with hope be able to maintain a clear mind under duress and so on.

    You have to do the work but you can't guarantee outcomes.

    The last time that I was in a physical fight was over 30 years ago.

  2. I absolutely agree with you!


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