Grey Areas, Self-Defence and Deescalation in the Martial Arts

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Self-Defence, is knowing how to fight… right?!?!!?

In self-defence, deescalation can be among the best ways to deal with a potential threat. For those not familiar with deescalation, this refers to calming down someone that may be ranting, raving, causing a scene, or acting in a threatening manner. Automatically lashing out or performing your self-defence techniques at someone that is behaving in such a way is not the best approach to take. The reason is there will always be consequences to any actions involving physical violence. This is even true when you are defending yourself and it is especially true if your defensive actions cause injury or harm in an unwarranted way.

That said, there can be times when trying to deescalate can be a very wrong decision. This might seem more than a bit complicated so let’s flesh the scenarios out.

Is it always right to use your self-defence techniques?

There are quite a number of oversimplified discussions of violence and self-defence that give false impressions of what constitutes legally acceptable means of being able to defend yourself.

A person yelling and screaming and insulting you may be obnoxious. They might even be very scary. What they might not be is a threat. If you are not physically harmed or directly threatened by someone and that person walks away and you give chase and hit him, that is no way self-defence. Hitting likely would constitute assault on any jurisdiction on the globe. This would not even require deescalation since the person has walked away from the situation.

On the other hand, trying to calm someone down who is in the act of striking you or, worse, using a weapon, can be very hazardous. The harm being perpetrated on you could lead to a severe injury or even a fatality. There are reports of people believing someone was hitting them and then, when the adrenaline of the attack wore off, they realized they were being stabbed.

As you can see, there are a lot of grey areas and question marks surrounding the martial arts. Unfortunately, most martial arts training programs solely teach the fighting side of the martial arts and do not delve into other serious issues surrounding self-defence. Now, the fighting aspect is important from a self-preservation perspective but this only comes into play when there are no other options. Again, trying to avoid or deescalate violence is always preferred. However, there may come a time when you have to act and act accordingly. And yes, you would have to do so within the law.

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