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Have you ever spoken to someone that knew that you practiced martial arts and when you suggested that they try it out they came back with I’ll just shoot them and then they point their finger like it’s a gun? I used to say okay, I’m ready, lets fight and you shoot me with your finger gun, but now I don’t even bother. The truth of the matter is that a gun is not the answer to every situation. Being in law enforcement I’m required to carry a firearm in performance of my duties and I also carry concealed when I’m off duty.

I believe every law abiding citizen has the right to carry a firearm to defend them if that time comes. The only problem is that once the weapon is drawn and a round leaves the chamber, it’s a done deal; you can’t take it back. Forget about the notion of shooting to wound, it’s not going to happen. First of all you have to be an exceptionally good shot unless it’s at point blank range and if you manage to shoot someone in an extremity there’s no guarantee that the person won’t die. One of my former co-workers from several years back told me that her mom caught her husband cheating on her and shot him in his leg. The bullet severed an artery and he died as a result of the gunshot wound.

After you use your firearm whether it was justified or not, you’ll still need a good lawyer. Now I’m not saying that martial arts are the answer to every situation either… In law enforcement we have a matrix called “use of force continuum”. Basically this continuum states that you use the amount of force necessary to control the situation. Walking away or talking your way out of a situation comes before the use of force for the average citizen. The bottom line is that competent self-defense skills will provide an opportunity to regulate or control the amount of force used if it becomes necessary without having to go directly to deadly force.

Now imagine you’re facing an assailant that is larger and appears much stronger than you are. Do you think your locks, punches and or kicks will be enough to take this person down? I’ve heard some say that the reason my techniques work so well is because I’m a big guy and strong. Even if my size and strength give me an advantage, the advantage is no longer valid if I face someone larger and stronger than myself if I use this kind of rationality.

Everyone has the potential to defend themselves effectively against someone who is bigger and stronger than they are if they train for it. We should constantly evaluate our skill and the “what if” factor so that we will be more prepared in the event that we are faced with a self-defense scenario.

One thing’s for sure and that is that if we train diligently, we will feel more confident in our ability to defend ourselves with less than lethal methods.

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Comment by Guro Lawrence Motta on June 19, 2014 at 10:41am

Zach,

Another excellent post!  I agree completely.  Same goes for a knife.  So many instructors these days are promoting the carrying of multiple blades and teaching rapid deployment and implementation of the blade in use of deadly force.  It's fashionable and sells well to a fearful and largely insecure audience.  We try to advise our civilian students that if they deploy the blade, they better be prepared to lawyer up and spend some time in jail.  Even if they are acquitted of criminal charges, they will still have spent some initial time in jail unless they flee the scene of the incident (in which case, they probably won't be acquitted if caught).  I like to tell my students what my Grand Master told me, we train so we don't have to fight. 

Understanding your limits, the likelihood that you will be injured and the potential legal/emotional/psychological consequences that come with lethal force is a big part of why we train.  Understanding the bigger picture allows us to make good, rational decisions when evaluating what you call the “use of force continuum”.  Avoiding unnecessary conflict because we have trained and have little or less to prove to anyone or ourselves is also a key benefit of Martial Arts study. 

Thanks again for a great topic.  And, thanks for serving the public.  We appreciate it!

GLM

Comment by Zach Jenkins on June 19, 2014 at 2:38pm
Thanks Guro Lawrence, excellent comments!

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