Keeping it Simple

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Keeping it Simple

Post  Nick Hughes on Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:31 pm

I was working on the re-write of my upcoming self protection book and was going through the AOJP checklist which is one way to ascertain whether or not you're justified in getting in a scrap with someone.

It's a bit windy to be honest. You have to ask yourself does the bad guy have the Ability to do me harm, the opportunity to do me harm, am I in jeopardy and finally, have I tried every other option.

I figured by the time you ran through all that you'd probably be on the floor having the snot kicked out of you.

I think (and this one came from my other book on success believe it or not) it can be a lot simpler.

How about asking yourself "Am I fighting because I have to, or because I want to?" I'm hard pressed to see where you would end up in trouble legally if you were fighting only because you had no other choice. It's usually the ego driven crap that lands you in hot water in my opinion.

Chris, any thoughts on this?

Nick Hughes

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Re: Keeping it Simple

Post  Chris on Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:13 am

Hey Nick,

I totally agree with you that the legal position on violence is much more simple than people believe. The vast majority of the confusion in the area of self defence and legality comes from the intent to clarify the position. The largest amount of harm comes from the well meaning intent to give "normal citizens" protection under the law.

You've got to remember that for every rule that says "you MAY do A, B or C, " there is some lawyer reverse engineering that rule to make the point that "well if you haven't said expressly that you MAY do Z then that's now illegal" hence the "castle" laws in the US where the desire to allow people to protect themselves in their homes has led to an ungodly mess of a legal wrangle.

In relation to your specific question around fighting because you want to or because you have to then it's a good one. MacYoung makes some great points about being brutally honest with yourself and social violence. The vast majority of violence has at least an aspect of social violence contained within it, or at least a decision by both parties to engage. If you can be brutally honest with yourself and understand when you are part of the problem rather than the solution then you can certainly avoid the vast majority of legal issues.

I would say the question is fundamental. "Am I here because I want to be or because I have been forced to be here" If at any time you could disengage safely then you have to ask why you haven't. Now, there may be good reasons to engage rather than disengage but you have to be aware that you are now actively participating in the encounter and you are no longer necessarily the victim of an attack. You may be acting legally but you have lost some of the protective ground the law gives you.

In order for your question to be even more effective as a protective measure you need to ask the question before any violent encounter and DURING any violent encounter. You can go a significant way in showing that you were reasonable in your actions if you are consistently asking yourself "Do I HAVE to fight". throughout the encounter. I would argue that from a mental perspective that may not be the best mindset to have in a violent encounter but it's certainly a good mentality to have from a legal standpoint.

The problem, as always, is that legality when it comes to violent action is subject to the interpretation by others due to the nature of the defences to the offences you may face. You may feel that you HAVE to fight but be aware that the key to acting legally is how others see your actions. As a result, it is never a bad thing to be absolutely, brutally frank with yourself around your actions.

You've also got to remember that just because a guy signs up for an argument doesn't mean he is signing up for the best of three rounds. Legally we should be able to disagree without being penalised should that disagreement move across the line to violence. In short, I should be legally entitled to argue with the guy who steals my parking space without losing some legal protection. That doesn't take anything away from your question as a good benchmark for common sense and broad legal compliance. You wont go far wrong if you follow that framework.

cheers Nick.

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Re: Keeping it Simple

Post  artinmotion on Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:36 pm

Your 'acid test' gets to the very essence of the first limb of the reasonableness test, that is to say, 'necessity'. If you use force against another person because you "want to" (in the sense that you're choosing to use force when you have other alternatives available) then your use of force isn't necessary. It is therefore not reasonable. If you're using force because you "have to" (in the sense that you have no reasonable alternative), then your use of force is necessary. It is therefore potentially reasonable force.

So your test works nicely to that extent and is helpful.

What it doesn't appear to encompass is the 'proportionality' limb of the reasonableness test and both limbs must be satisfied of course. This is because (interestingly enough) you can have force that is necessary but not proportionate; and force that is proportionate but not necessary - and in neither situation would it be reasonable!

Anyway the proportionality limb can be summed up quite simply by the well known expression:

"Don't take a sledgehammer to crack a nut"!


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Re: Keeping it Simple

Post  RichardZ on Sat May 05, 2012 10:54 pm

I think the legal systems are being more persuaded by attorneys whom have made a muck of protection of oneself, protection of one's property, and protection of proper moral endeavors.

From the issues of attorney persuasion and liberal thinking, these common types of “protection”, are challenged into a world of PC (Political Correctness)

How can anyone, once a physical confrontation is engaged, think about legal issues?

To further elaborate;

Yes, in my youth, I was involved in many brawls. Also to mention scrapes with the law. I am not proud of this. That said, as I grew older, and started a family, I haven’t any real battles worth a battle cry.

I now distant myself from going into areas or being near people who may push the envelope of violence.

Indeed, road rage, uncouth shoppers, tempered people at sports gatherings (even kids) are among some areas, which could be hard to avoid.

But as a martial artist, I have trained to overcome such distractions. Distractions from one of martial art virtues-discipline.

Many martial artists undergo the rigorous physical discipline, but it is the mental discipline which is the hardest for any person to overcome. Be it that it is, humans are under the influences of emotion.


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