RESPONSIBILITY IN THE MARTIAL ARTS

The martial arts we teach at Blaze Martial Arts are purely taught for health, fitness and educational purposes and are NOT intended to be used outside of the academy in a ‘non-sporting’ environment.

At times in our training, we cross over from the traditional sports combat or martial arts path and look at ‘street focussed’ disciplines.  This is done to bring variety to the training and to give our students an experience of other combat styles as we pride ourselves on being a school that teaches a mixed martial arts / combat sport programme.

These disciplines are only shown to our older children and adult members that understand the seriousness of the art forms and are capable of recognising the difference between what’s acceptable and what is not when it comes to combat training.

We hope the following helps:

‘With the learning of every skill, comes the responsibility of using it properly. Martial arts are no different.  But it may be said that the responsibility to use it properly is greater simply because the skill can potentially, seriously, or fatally injure an opponent.

When we use martial arts as a sport we have to follow strict rules laid down by the sport’s governing bodies.  We all accept this as part of the sport without question, but what about the rules outside of the sport?  The rules that govern us in these instances are not aimed particularly at martial artists, but at all of us, all of the time.  The rules are written as law.

So what does the law say about using martial arts outside of sport?

Well, it doesn’t actually mention martial arts but instead deals with the actual force used or the ‘threat’ of force.   We can all understand that if you assault someone you may be prosecuted for it.  What we may not understand is that we can also be prosecuted if we threaten force on another person.  The threat does not need to be verbal, it can simply be raising a fist, or acting aggressively.

What is even more difficult to understand is how we can use our skills to protect ourselves and what the law allows.  The law talks about ‘reasonable force’ and ‘proportionate force’.  That’s helpful as a starting point but what does that actually mean?

In law ‘reasonable’ and ‘proportionate’ have the same meaning as it does in the Oxford Dictionary.  This allows us to protect ourselves against an attacker with a reasonable force so that we do not seriously injure our attacker in defending ourselves.  It allows us to use sufficient force to protect ourselves but does not allow excessive force.

‘Proportionate force’ relates to what we might expect an attacker to be able to achieve and not overdo our response in defence.’

Great, but how does that apply to us?

If you train in a martial art or combat sport you have skills.  Some of us have a very high level of skill and are very proficient at using it.  Let’s try and put this into some sort of context.

If you have very limited skills (as we all did when we first started) and you are attacked by someone with similar skills to someone like Bruce Lee, for example, it might be held that it was reasonable to use considerable force against your attacker and since he had considerable skill, agility, fitness and strength, it might be held that it was proportionate to use everything in your armoury (and anything else you can find) to defend yourself.

On the other hand, if you have a very high level of skill and are attacked by someone with little or no martial arts skill things are much more difficult and complicated.

You have to consider what you can do during the attack that is reasonable, but not excessive and use a similar force (proportionate) to that which your attacker displays.  If you wade in with an armoury of potentially fatal methods and it was found that your attacker had no real fighting skill and was easily overcome, it could be concluded that you have used ‘unreasonable’ and ‘disproportionate’ force and this may lead to you being prosecuted for assault, when in fact you were only defending yourself.

So, as you can see this is the dilemma we face and we have to be careful not to overstep the imaginary line of reasonableness and this means that we have an added responsibility to use our martial arts skills correctly at all times.