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Old 09-14-2004, 09:55 PM   #1
oudbruin
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Aikido And The Law

THIS IS A GENERAL POST. I'm curious to see if anyone has ever had any run-in with the law from using Aikido ( Or any other Martiual Art)
Several weeks ago, I had an unfortunate confrontation with a drunk who tried to knife me.
While it was over quickly, I was left wondering, what would have happened had the drunk been seriously hurt or some bystander injured in the flying arms and legs.
Fortunatly, for me the cops just wanted to know if I wanted to press charges against the drunk. Nothing else.
What are the Liability laws like where you live regarding your use of Martial Arts as a self defense? At what point does your use of MA become a liability verses a asset?
Where I live there are some people who have to register thier hands as weapons- Whats it like where you live?
Of course, I know there are some folks in Australia who now have problems toting around thier Iaito because of the "sword laws". .
What is your take?
Bruce
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:52 PM   #2
ryujin
 
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Talking Re: Aikido And The Law

The laws governing self defense will be different in most states and countries. "Self defense" is not a crime, it is a plea. The distinction with training only comes into play if you are determined to have been an antagonist and are found guilty of a crime, in which case whether your hands would be considered deadly weapons depends on whether or not the judge/jury felt you had the reasonable capacity or intent to hurt or kill a person with your bare hands.

As far as registering ones hands as a deadly weapon is nothing more than an urban myth. One would have to register other parts of their anatomy as well. For instance an elbow to the temple could kill. Everyone is capable of killing another person with their bare hands, so if registering hands was the case then everyone should have to register them reguardless of training.

I searched the web and the only thing I was able to come up with was this: http://www.tafkac.org/faq2k/legal_2007.html

Carl Bilodeau
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō
Renshinkan

"Yield to temptation — it may not pass your way again." - Robert Heinlein
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:52 PM   #3
kocakb
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Re: Aikido And The Law

I watched a few days ago a movie, a boxer killed someone with his fists. The judge said "in California, your education and skills are accepted as deadly weapon"...(the guy went to the prison)...as I know, in my country, your level of MA skill is also taken into account...
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Old 09-15-2004, 12:01 AM   #4
ryujin
 
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Re: Aikido And The Law

And there is some interesting stuff towards the bottom of this page: http://www.jenningscc.com/TaeKwonDo/SelfDefenseLaw.htm

The best thing to do is to look up your local and state laws. Most of which you can probably find on the web.

Carl Bilodeau
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō
Renshinkan

"Yield to temptation — it may not pass your way again." - Robert Heinlein
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Old 09-15-2004, 04:31 AM   #5
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
Bülent Koçak wrote:
I watched a few days ago a movie, a boxer killed someone with his fists. The judge said "in California, your education and skills are accepted as deadly weapon"...(the guy went to the prison)...as I know, in my country, your level of MA skill is also taken into account...
Definition: Deadly Force is actions against another which have a high liklihood of inflicting serious and lasting bodily harm.

You are justified in using Deadly Force any time you are presented with a threat of that magnitude against you or another person. Your perception of this threat must be considered "reasonable" by a jury of your peers.

You may only use Force to stop the threat. Once the threat is removed, you must stop. You may not use Force to punish, you may not use Force to protect your property. Yo u may only use force to protect yourself or another from a reasonably perceived threat. The amount of Force must be "reasonable" to stop the threat.

Deciding whther the threat justifies Force is governed (for civilians) by the following factors:
Ability: the threat must come from somone who can genuinely hurt you; this is where traiing comes into the equation. If you are a highly trained fighter, the Law will assume that a given threat must be greater for you to really be threatened than it would be for an untrained person; factors such as stature and strength also come to play as well as numvers of attackers vs numbers of defeneders

Opportunity: does a given person actually have the opportunity to actually harm you? I might know a guy would like to punch me out but he isn't currently around. I do not have the right to go find him and beat him up as a preventive measure.

Jeopardy: Jeopardy is closely related to opportunity. I need to be in imminent jeopardy to justify force. The guy who wants to beat me up has enetered the same room I am in. He now has the opportunity but he hasn't made a move to threaten me; therefore I am not in jeopardy.

Preclusion: Was there something I could have done to avoid the situation or escape from the threat? As a civilian you are expected to use preclusion to avoid using force. For instance in a bar, you might have a situation in which abilty, opportunity, and jeopardy are all present. If you use force in this situation and it is later determined that you could have simply left the bar to avoid the threat, then you are in trouble.

A guy with a knife is by definition Deadly Force. You can use whatever means a "reasonable" person would use to end that threat. You can shoot him (assuming that you are allowed to have a gun and even if not, the charge would be violation of the gun law, not excessive force). You can hit him in the head with a brick, whatever it takes. But the instant he drops the knife you are at a different level of force. As a trained martial artist you would be ok using deadly force against an armed attacker but might not be against an unarmed attacker. It would be dependent on other factors such as his perceived abilty to fight, his size and strength, any indicators as to his intentions (I'm going to kill you is a good one), etc.

This is precisely why Aikido is good to know as you have the ability to de-escalate as appropriate. You can move from deadly force locks and throws to less than deadly control techniques as needed. Many of these techniques don't "look bad" when seen by an untrained person so it is easy to articulate why you used a given technqiue at a certain level of threat.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 09-15-2004, 04:50 AM   #6
happysod
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Do not try and describe the fight in your own words, even if you feel you were clearly in the right, until you have consulted a lawyer. Especially do not use any words that would indicate any particular training, ability etc (and don't offer that information directly). If pressed for an answer, be helpful yet vague on the details until you have a professional at your side who will ensure you are not damaging your case and always do what the nice police officer tells you to do immediately. Unless your lawyer tells you it's a good idea, forget all words such as martial arts, aikido etc. Do not assume you are being seen as the "good guy" in any encounter.
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Old 09-15-2004, 06:11 AM   #7
Dyusan
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Tell the authorities your name, address, and phone number. Then say you need to speak with your lawyer. Don't say any more and don't be a jerk. The police can be very helpful in a stressful situation.

Gary Chase
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Old 09-15-2004, 06:32 AM   #8
ian
 
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
Bruce Hammell wrote:
Where I live there are some people who have to register thier hands as weapons
I can't believe this is true either. I thought it was just a cheezy joke off martial arts movies. A regulation like that is patently ridiculous. You can kill someone with a disposable pen - would you have to register that if you knew how to use it? I think they are winding you up.

(I was once told by a karateka he had a licence to 'kill people', but it turned out he was just referring to his insurance licence incase of death to a training partner!)

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 09-15-2004, 09:37 AM   #9
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
Do not try and describe the fight in your own words, even if you feel you were clearly in the right, until you have consulted a lawyer. Especially do not use any words that would indicate any particular training, ability etc (and don't offer that information directly). If pressed for an answer, be helpful yet vague on the details until you have a professional at your side who will ensure you are not damaging your case and always do what the nice police officer tells you to do immediately. Unless your lawyer tells you it's a good idea, forget all words such as martial arts, aikido etc. Do not assume you are being seen as the "good guy" in any encounter.
You do want to get the fact that a) you were "afraid" for your own safety and b) that you did something to try to forestall the encounter (I told him I didn't want to fight, I tried to leave but he followed me out, etc.) Be especially careful to make sure that as many people as possible heard you say so or saw you try to get away. If the assailant had indicated his violent intentions verbally you want that in the report immediately so the police can corroborate with other witnesses.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 09-15-2004, 10:37 AM   #10
Dario Rosati
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
A guy with a knife is by definition Deadly Force. You can use whatever means a "reasonable" person would use to end that threat. You can shoot him (assuming that you are allowed to have a gun and even if not, the charge would be violation of the gun law, not excessive force).
In Italy this does not apply.
Even if you are one of the rare private person with a gun and the permission to use it, against a knifed attacker you CAN'T shoot to kill, no matter what, unless this is the last and only possible resort.
Even police should follow this general rule.
You must shoot in the air or in legs/arms first... or you'll be prosecuted for overreaction and intentional homicide.

The same may be told about MA utilization in some self defence situations.
If you break the wrist or the nose of a robber caught with the hand in your wallet, he goes to jail but you'll be prosecuted, too, for overreaction. You only legal options are a) block b) call autorithy for help.

You may hurt (only proportionally to the threath, and never kill) only people who pose a direct threath to you or your relatives integrity or life.
The problem is that "proportionally to the threath", which is subjected to interpretation by lawyers, jury and judges.
In the case of MA use, it's hard to avoid the charge for overreaction and expecially in case of a killed or badly hurt opponent; I suppose because in the eye of a judge a martial artist should put TWICE the effort to control his reactions than a non skilled, normal person.

Just recently, 1-2 years ago (media and readers loves this kind of stuff so it had quite a resonance), a local kung-fu sensei surprised 3 men in his house after they wacked hard and blocked on a chair his wife, and threathened him of killing her if he had not opened the safe. They had no weapons, and this was their fatal error.
He killed all three in a mess of blood, flesh and broken limbs, reporting only minor scratches himself; a whitness said that he pursued the third down the stairs and snapped his neck from behind when he was trying to escape, and this costed him 20 years of jail for overreaction and intentional homicide, even if he told his intention was to stop, not kill, the third, and that he was worrying for the life of his battered wife.

Bye!

--
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Old 09-15-2004, 12:11 PM   #11
Jill N
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Hi:
>>>Where I live there are some people who have to register thier hands as weapons- Whats it like where you live?<<<

So... yudansha walking around with hands in pockets is carrying a concealed weapon?
:^)

e ya later
Jill.
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Old 09-15-2004, 02:06 PM   #12
Young-In Park
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
Dario Rosati wrote:
In Italy this does not apply.
Even if you are one of the rare private person with a gun and the permission to use it, against a knifed attacker you CAN'T shoot to kill, no matter what, unless this is the last and only possible resort.

Even police should follow this general rule.
You must shoot in the air or in legs/arms first... or you'll be prosecuted for overreaction and intentional homicide.


In California, this does not apply. Even the police do not follow this "general rule." Police, security guards and private citizens should never fire warning shots or aim for limbs. They're taught to shoot at center mass, or the upper chest. Assuming the police officer, security guard or private citizen shoots and kills an attacker with a knife, common sense should dictate that it was an "intentional" homicide. However, the real question is whether or not it was a justifiable homicide.

A year or two ago, a man walked into a local supermarket and killed two people with a samurai sword. Others ran away. When the police officer showed up, he shot and killed the attacker with the sword. There was no warning shot nor did he aim for the arms or legs. It was an intentional and justifiable homicide. There was no public outcry about excessive police force or brutality.

Let's assume there was an armed security officer or private citizen who shot the attacker. Even if the District Attorney was foolish enough to bring charges against them for "intentional" homicide, its a safe bet that there isn't a jury that would convict them.

If you have the legal right to kill someone, it doesn't matter how you do it. You could snap their neck with your bare hands, shoot them or even run them over with your car.

Quote:
He killed all three in a mess of blood, flesh and broken limbs, reporting only minor scratches himself; a whitness said that he pursued the third down the stairs and snapped his neck from behind when he was trying to escape, and this costed him 20 years of jail for overreaction and intentional homicide, even if he told his intention was to stop, not kill, the third, and that he was worrying for the life of his battered wife.


I never defended anyone in a courtroom, but I could fuck up and still do better than the kung fu sensei's lawyer. Again, it isn't an issue of intention, but whether or it was justifiable. And you could argue that it was justifiable because the third attacker was a fleeing felon. While not a direct threat to the sensei, he is still a threat to others (ie if he escapes this time, he could hurt someone else later).

You could also argue that it was technically manslaughter. The sensei didn't go home thinking that he was going to kill the people who tied up his wife and were demanding money. Since he didn't know they were there in the first place, there's no premediation on his part. He could have been caught up in the heat of the moment.

Even with his martial art skills, he still can't be held to a higher standard. If a judge tried to impose a higher standard, they'd have to define the minimum standard. And as we all know, the time honored "what does rank mean" debate rages on. People will still debate that topic until the cows come home.

And even if a judge were to determine what the minimum standard was, it would bring up a host of other legal issues. Not only would your rank be recognized in Japan or where ever, it would also be recognized by a government entity. Then they would have to dive into another mess regarding licenses and examiners.

Ultimately, you have to justify your actions. Unfortunately, it seems the kung fu sensei was not able to do so (that's another issue; if there's a language barrier, then he could always claim racial discrimination). The kung fu sensei should have done one of the following:

1. hire a better lawyer.
2. instead of fearing for the life of his wife who was tied up while the third attacker was fleeing, he should have said he was afraid for the life of the witness.
3. drag the body of the third attacker closer to his wife.
4. he should have killed the witness - that way, the police only get to hear his side of the story (see #2).

better to be judged by 12 than be carried by 6,
YoungIn
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Old 09-15-2004, 02:13 PM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido And The Law

oK, so I'm staying out of Italy....

R

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 09-15-2004, 04:19 PM   #14
vanstretch
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Hi, as a side-note, I was a sworn peace officer and was certified in a course entitled "Police Aikido" taught by an Aikido instructor (Hi George!) who was trained to do so under P.O.S.T. criteria. So from a cops perspective, I always try to gather as much info as possible from both sides,witnesses, video etc before making a decision to charge a certain party.Yeah, if its a fight and we roll up on it, both of you may go into cuffs for a few until it is sorted out, and sometimes, YES, both parties may be charged. Generally officers CAN tell who who started what, and who did what to who,etc...in a short amount of time.If in questioning someone about their perceptions of what happened and they told me that they used Aikido to defend themselves, I am much more likely to cut that person some slack in the matter.
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Old 09-15-2004, 05:24 PM   #15
Amassus
 
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Daniel - YOU may cut someone some slack if you know they do Aikido, but you know about Aikido, do all cops know as much?

I like the idea of being compliant with the officers but saying as little as possible.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 09-15-2004, 08:56 PM   #16
DCP
 
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
Jill Nielsen wrote:
Hi:
>>>Where I live there are some people who have to register thier hands as weapons- Whats it like where you live?<<<

So... yudansha walking around with hands in pockets is carrying a concealed weapon?
:^)

e ya later
Jill.
In that line of thinking, what are paroled perverts to do? They're either concealing a weapon or violating decency codes!

Seriously though, if you hurt someone in self defense and the police question you, why not just say, "All I remember is this guy came at me fast and I was scared . . ."

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
- Aesop
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Old 09-16-2004, 04:44 AM   #17
Aikidoiain
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Re: Aikido And The Law

In this country, "the use of reasonable force" is advised.

I've been lucky to have survived knife attacks - and never been questioned by the Police. An MA instructor once told me, that if you are questioned DON'T mention that you used MA techniques.

Every situation is different. Level of threat is the biggest issue. I agree that if anyone pulls a knife on you, that should be considered as a life threatening situation, therefore you must protect yourself.

It's a very grey area. I've spoken to friends who are cops and even they can't offer a definitive answer.


Iain.
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Old 09-16-2004, 06:42 AM   #18
Taliesin
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Re: Aikido And The Law

In the UK the principles are pretty much the same. You can use 'Reasonable force' against someone you have a genuine and reasonable belief they are going to attack you. You do not have to retreat in the face of such action (Not in the UK) and you are not expected to 'Judge to a Nicety' the amount of force used.

All these things are questions of fact which are unique to each specific incident.

For martial artists the argument may work as training in a Dojo is radically different to responding to an attack on the street . - But don't bet on it.

For people whose job is dealing with violence eg security or bouncers -forget it any argument about over-reacting won't wash.
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Old 09-16-2004, 09:50 AM   #19
Michael Hackett
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Re: Aikido And The Law

If you are concerned about the use of aikido or any other response to violence, then it would be worthwhile to check on the laws of self-defense in your jurisdiction. Here in California the criminal statutes allow the use of "reasonable force" to defend yourself or others from violence. Reasonable force is essentially defined as the amount or type of force that a reasonable person would use under the circumstances. There is no specific reference to the use of martial arts or even weapons. The first cops on the scene will certainly look at all the circumstances and may, or may not, make an arrest. There is no requirement here that one retreat. When the cops and prosecutors look at the circumstances, they look at the totality of the circumstances. Time, place, location, actions of the various parties, size, age, gender relationships all play into the totality metrics. A young and healthy six foot male would find himself in deep trouble if he responded to a five foot woman's slap with a pool cue for example, while the reverse situation might be viewed as reasonable.

Anything from a firearm to a flat iron to the use of martial arts and boxing can be considered to be use of deadly force depending on the circumstances. One of the major keys used to make the determination is how much force, how long, and when it was applied. Once the aggressor is neutralized, any further force is probably becomes illegal. I've seen one case where a boxer was charged with an assault with a deadly weapon for continuing to beat on his attacker after the attacker was down and out of the fight. I've seen two other cases where boxers were justified in beating one knife-wielding attacker into a coma and killing another (a single blow to the chest) when being repeatedly attacked with a full wine bottle. There are no simple rules to go by; if he does that then I can do this. You can do whatever is reasonable to protect yourself.

The earlier advice to wait for your lawyer before talking to the police is both good and bad. If you elect to do so, you will very likely be detained until your side of the story is heard. If you tell your side initially, you may avoid even a detention, or you can talk yourself into serious legal consequences. After reading Miranda warnings to hundreds, if not thousands, of people, I know I haven't got anything to say until my attorney arrives - but that is a personal choice and may not be right for you.

By the way, not all homicides are crimes anywhere. Homicide is merely the killing of a human being by another. Murder and manslaughter are crimes which happen to be homicides in which the killing is unlawful.

To paraphrase a current television commercial, "I'm not a lawyer, but I did decide whether you got to spend the night in jail or at a Holiday Inn."

Michael

Michael
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Old 09-16-2004, 10:33 AM   #20
Dario Rosati
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
oK, so I'm staying out of Italy....

R
A pity, there are a lot of good things here

Young-In Park: the debate is infact politically open here in Italy on the subject, and every time something similar happens, many asks to lessen the criteria to judge cases of self defense.
I agree with you on the sensei case (but disagree on the samurai one; if he stopped his slicing frenzy, then there was no need to shoot him dead and was not "self defence", exaclty as pursuing an escaping guy to kill him -even if he entered in your house and punched your wife- isn't).
I was only reporting the situation with a controversial example, and hadn't the intention to start a "mine legal system is better than yours" debate
I can assure Ron that life in Italy is safe at least as much as in the US, even if you shouldn't kill aggressors

I think It's difficult to compare the law in two different countries; too many social, cultural and historical aspects are involved.
It's even more difficult when one of the countries are the US, so big and etherogeneal both in people and in geography.

Personally, I think that in this matter of self defence "in media stat virtus": the Italian law protects a bit too much the un-innocent when he probably deserves beating, the US gives a bit too much freedom to overreact when there's no real need to, leading to overkill given the easy access to weapons you've there, IMHO.

Returning IT, for sure there is a common thing here and there: in case of problems with the law of this kind, is better not the reveal to be a martial artist... Aikido is surely less known here than in the US to the general public, another good reason to stay shut, IMHO.
Dunno why, but if you use a martial art to hurt someone, even if he deserved it, looks negative to many people of the general audience.
"Cobrakai" and "Niko" effect maybe?

Bye!

--
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Old 09-16-2004, 11:42 AM   #21
Brian Vickery
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Re: Aikido And The Law

If anybody is in Arizona and wants to read what the Statutes are here, go to this site,
scroll down to chapter 4, and read the various laws we have for use of physical force,
self-defense, deadly physical force, etc.:

http://www.azleg.state.az.us/Arizona...s.asp?Title=13

...*LOL*...then find a lawyer to interpret them for you! ;^)

Good luck!

Brian Vickery

"The highest level of technique to achieve is that of having NO technique!"
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Old 09-16-2004, 01:07 PM   #22
disabledaccount
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Re: Aikido And The Law

I'm studying Criminal Law right now, and just did an Aikido demonstration for some law enforcement officers for one of my classes.

Anyway, in the state of Oregon you are legally allowed to defend yourself by matching the level of force an assailant brings to bear against you. For example, if someone assaults you with non-lethal force i.e. bare hands, you may respond in kind with a stun-gun, pepper spray, or barehanded. If they assault you with a knife (lethal force), you may respond with lethal force, i.e. a knife, club, or firearm. It's pretty simple.
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Old 09-16-2004, 01:33 PM   #23
Young-In Park
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Quote:
Dario Rosati wrote:
I agree with you on the sensei case (but disagree on the samurai one; if he stopped his slicing frenzy, then there was no need to shoot him dead and was not "self defence", exaclty as pursuing an escaping guy to kill him -even if he entered in your house and punched your wife- isn't).


According to the paper, people were throwing soup cans at the supermarket samurai to fend him off. Perhaps he wasn't finished with his slicing frenzy. Even if he had stopped and was just standing there, the police officer still would have been well within his legal right to use reasonable force to stop the threat (aka shoot and kill him).

About 25 years ago, a gunman walked into a McDonald's near San Diego and killed about 20 people. Other people fled and the police surrounded the area. According to your premise, since he had stopped shooting (aka there were no more targets because people ran away), there was "no need to shoot him dead." A police sniper shot and killed him.

With regards to the escaping guy who came into your house and punched your wife, you would never tell the authorities that you chasing him down so you could kill him. People should say they were in the process of trying to apprehend a fleeing violent felon (conspiracy to commit a crime, burglary and assault if not assault with a deadly weapon or force). They were afraid he might come back and hurt him or his wife since his capacity for violence has already been established.

Furthermore, one could always claim repressed memories of childhood abuse triggered the fear and anger which led to the chase and unintentional death.

Everyone's always searching for how aikido applies to their life. There are many ways to evade and deflect, whether it be an incoming strike or responsibility.

Quote:
Dunno why, but if you use a martial art to hurt someone, even if he deserved it, looks negative to many people of the general audience.
"Cobrakai" and "Niko" effect maybe?


Someone I know was playing pick up basketball. After he realized emtions were running high, he started to walk away. The aggressor threw a basketball at him and hit him on the back of the head. The victim turned around to see the aggressor charging him. The victim ducked (sudori) and the aggressor started falling over. The victim stood up and catapulted the aggressor over. Since the aggressor didn't tuck his shoulder, he landed on his face and skidded forward. The aggressor was taken away on an ambulance in a neck brace. The victim was questioned by the police. Several witness said all he did was, "he ducked."

He was skillful enough to execute a technique but make it look like an accident...

YoungIn
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Old 09-16-2004, 02:03 PM   #24
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,122
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Bodhi describes the law of Oregon as being pretty similar to most western states anyway. Where it starts to get grey is in the area of matching force and reasonable. It isn't as cut and dried as an assailant only using bare hands locking the victim into only a bare-handed defense. Obviously it depends on your state and her laws, but if the situation is such that you must escalate to save yourself, you are permitted to do so. Being assaulted by someone who is '"cranked" out of his head and outweighs you by 100 pounds doesn't mean that you must absolutely respond barehanded. Multiple bare-handed assailants, or assailants doing a home invasion robbery don't get the advantage of a bare hand response. You may use whatever force is necessary to protect yourself. The rub is in the word necessary.

One of the best places to find out what your own statutes really mean is in the jury instructions that every judge has on the bench. They are published by the judicial council of each U.S. state and interpret the law as it is written for jurors. Almost every variation of the theme can be found in the jury instructions and may provide you with the guidance you need.

If you are truly worried about legal problems, check out what your laws actually say. You can find out the information you need on the 'net and then you won't have to rely on urban myths.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 09-16-2004, 06:07 PM   #25
disabledaccount
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 50
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Re: Aikido And The Law

Yeah, I agree with you Michael. Of course you can escalate the level of force if it's necessary to defend yourself as you pointed out in your examples. The fact is that even if you use minimal force, you can still be aressted and/or forced to defend yourself in court. All that's required is that a peace officer has doubts as the legality, or the truthfulness of the involved party's versions of what actually happend.

In my opinion, the smart thing to do is to defend yourself to the best of your ability from the immeadeate threat on the street. Worry about legalities once you are no longer in danger. If you kept a cool head and treated the situation reasonably, you probably responded appropriately. If you made a mistake, at least you're still alive.
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