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Intelligent Self Protection Solutions: Combative Psychology and Street Applied Martial Arts
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 ¿what is reasonable force?

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Richard Grannon

Posts : 1825
Join date : 2008-02-18
Location : KL

PostSubject: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:12 am

Quote :
Dear Richard,

The recent 'Solo Drills' made sense to me as usually a person is perhaps 40 to 80% (nothing is ever 100% 'perfect'),in any given situation on the street, maybe coming back from work, ill or tired. The drills done in an exhausted state meant that a person will be able to defend themself to an extent where the attacker gives up or the 'victim' gets more help.

I have run into a recent problem that I would appreciate you advice on the technicality of using physical and verbal 'violence' . I was arrested last month for domestic assault. The police officers said to me that because I was making verbal threats (in retaliation), and I was shouting, I was 'assaulting' the person. Also the person was also challenging me to make the first move. Obviously I played the 'game' wrong and pushed the git, and because the retard called 999, they're the victim. I was thinking that the other person will get into trouble once I explained everything, so I stayed. Instead they got treated like a victim and I got a caution and the full treatment like a criminal with mugshot, fingerprints and dna taken.

Could you explain to me to what degree of force (!) I can use without being arrested myself, if I am in a threatening situation. The 'law' state reasonable force but I do not understand that, do I dodge attacks, throw them, punch/kick them, use joint locks, break bones/incapcitate them? As you have seen, the amount of stabbings, muggings, and assaults have increased in London than anywhere else in the country. Sometimes it starts verbally, or not.

On the subject on verbal assault, when I am responding back to the attacker, they start making claims that I have assaulted them and they make threats to call the police. I haven't used the 'fence' but there is a distance and it is like one is waiting for the other to move to attack to be 'right' according to the law. I tried to emulate Steve Wilkos when dealing with the retards, but all it does is get me into trouble, so often I keep my mouth shut and act like an 'untrained' person who is 'afraid' and avoids physical violence.

I got an email from you about 'blank face' cd. I am thankful that I had some good mentors from employment and driving lessons who knew about NLP, rapport, and emulating a successful person mindset and actions in order to be successful yourself. When I read your comments on it, I knew that this works, because I understood from experience that there were times when I passed my driving test after failing many times, or 'smashed' through an interview and was selected, because of a change in my mindset. It doesn't always work because I haven't fully understood how to apply it but I am getting this cd to refine the skills and learn more.

Thankyou for your time and effort in making these dvds/cds,


I usually think of reasonable force as that which one could justify in front of a jury of one´s peers. Obviously I´m not qualified to give legal advice.
Anyone else want to help out maybe? Is there an easier way for us to think about this issue?
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Posts : 261
Join date : 2008-02-19
Age : 45
Location : east midlands UK

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:33 am

Obviously, always a difficult topic. Maybe the most difficult.

Thinking about it rationally, it seems pretty straight forward. If someone's giving you a mouth full, keep them at arms length and talk to them. If they're closing in on you maintain the gap with a push from the fence. If you HONESTLY feel there's a imminent physical threat then a pre-emptive strike might be in order, but it needn't always be a KO or a flurry of strikes. Just because there seems to be a lot of violent crime / knife crime / gun crime in the Uk doesn't mean you can escalate your response to a mouthful from a yob.
We always try to keep reasonable force in mind when we train. If we're doing pre-emptive strike followed by flurry of strikes, a take down and finishing moves, we're always keen to remind students this is for high threat levels. A big nasty looking dude with "fuck off" tattooed on his face and a large glass ashtray or a pool cue in his hand. If it's some chav at the bus stop calling you a wanker it's not ok to beat him unconscious, just in case he 'might' have a stanley knife in his shell suit.

With all that said, in the heat of the moment it's easy to misjudge the threat level and either react too late or over react. In a strange way it actually helps to be a well trained small guy than a big guy in this regard. If I'm in court and stand 5'8" and weight 11st-12st and my attacker is 6' and 15st it's easier for me to argue I felt in genuine danger. My co-instructor is a 6'2" and best part of 20st so would have a much harder time arguing that point.
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Posts : 46
Join date : 2008-06-03
Location : Worcester

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:08 am

I reckon it is the most difficult question for people interested in MA and SP stuff. We train to become this flash of nastiness 'IF' the situation occurs where you 'THINK' your life may be at risk and then you do what is 'REASONABLE". All too ambiguous really isn't it? I know I've been taught that if the shit hits the fan then you do what you need to do to get out of it and whether that means a lot of violence then at least you survive to try and tell the police and courts what happened rather than being a mushy mess on some pavement somewhere. That makes sense when it's written down but much less so in context. has to be based on context doesn't it? Surely. There's no one answer for what is and what is not classed as 'reasonable' because it is so subjective. Some guy comes into my house at 3am in the morning to nick my computer and I see it as reasonable force to twat him with a hickory stick and bundle him out in little pieces into the cold. Reasonable to me because the fucker shouldn't have been in my house at 3am in the morning! To the 'law' this would possibly be a little over the top and I should merely have shouted at him to get out, said I'm going to phone 999, restrain him if needs be and then hang on for the 30 minutes or so it will take for help to come along.

If some chav with the possibility of a stanley in his shell suit (nice imagery, like that Very Happy ) is all mouthy then the reasonable response it to say a few words (if the ego requires this) and to walk on by. Again though, very simplistic isn't it.

As a side note - how does it look to a jury of peers when someone is hoiked into court on an assualt charge where the defendant actually thinks they used a 'reasonable' amount of force to get out of the situation, and the jury are then presented with the fact that this guy spends quite a lot of his working day (when he is suppsed to be working Razz ) on a discussion forum called StreetFightSecrets looking into such delightful tricks as eye gouging, preemptive strikes etc Very Happy I suppose that would also affect the case and said jury's opinion of that person. (that 'person' spending too much time on the forum is meant to be me by the way and not saying that you all don't work hard!!) On a serious note - how much of a difference would this make in a court of law?
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Posts : 39
Join date : 2008-06-27
Age : 29
Location : South Wales, UK

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:45 am

As Adam quite rightly said, a very difficult point. A question the police ask everyday.
Primary legislation comes under S.3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967. "A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in the effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large"

Your behaviour must be seen to demonstrate safety, efficiency, control and restraint. But mainly they must answer were your actions necessary in the circumstances and were they proportionate. As Rich said, could you stand up on oath and honestly justify your actions as being necessary ie you honestly feared for the safety of yourself or another person. I agree with Adam, the problem comes from the armchair critics/judges/barristers/politicians who dont understand "heat of the moment" as they have never encountered such people/problems in their lives.
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Posts : 261
Join date : 2008-02-19
Age : 45
Location : east midlands UK

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:44 pm

to add to my previous post on this, I have a couple of other points that I believe work in my favour in this area.

Firstly, I'm not a nutter who's looking for the slightest opportunity to try out my skills on anyone that steps out of line. I have absolutely no quarms about walking away from aggro or avoiding it totally.

Secondly, I've been training 14 years as an adult and have never been in any legal trouble. I've certainly been in a few scraps and Police have occassionally been involved but it's never got past the stage of the police making an on the spot evaluation of the situation and coming to the conclusion that he deserved his slap.

Thirdly, my students (or more realistically my training partners, I just happen to organise the group) include police officers, door staff and prison officers. I hope if it ever did reach a court situation the character witnesses would be a help.

I've yet to actually hear of a case where anyone has got into trouble for laying into a burglar. If you tied him to a chair and started cutting toes off it's different but if, in the dark, you decide the threat level of a potentially armed burglar requires you to let it all hang out I doubt a jury of your peers would send you down for it. This is not the same as laying in wait for them with a shot gun on your lap bom
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Posts : 144
Join date : 2008-03-28
Age : 51
Location : South Florida USA

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:20 pm

Not sure how things work in the UK regarding Assault and Battery. In the US, if you verbally threaten someone with bodily harm you have commited assault. If you act on that threat and get physical, it is then considered Assault and Battery. Sounds like this individual baited you by getting you to react to his threats and then him calling the cops.
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Posts : 261
Join date : 2008-02-19
Age : 45
Location : east midlands UK

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:44 pm

I think I'm right in saying someone putting you in fear for your safety with a verbal attack has commited 'Common Assault' but obviously, your reaction to that has to be proportionate.

If someone tells you you're going to get your head kicked in and you genuinely believe it's going to turn physical any second you may well be ok to throw a pre-emptive strike. However "doing the Chippie Riverdance on their heads" afterwards is not ok. (Quote Geoff Thompson I think Very Happy )
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Posts : 76
Join date : 2008-07-15

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:31 pm

Every state, and every jurisdiction has there own terminology and laws regarding lethal
force, and when lethal force is justified. However, you are universally justified in the
necessary use of lethal force when there is a reasonable fear of immediate, or
otherwise unavoidable danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Serious bodily injury is defined as any injury that cripples; permanently disfigures; or
could cause death within minutes, days, weeks or months. Cuts, broke bones, and
internal injuries to the vital organs and brain are all considered serious bodily injuries.

Temporary cosmetic injuries such as black eyes, swollen lips, abrasions and mild
surface bruises are not considered to be life threatening or serious body injuries. Using
lethal force to protect yourself or others from such injuries is a serious liability and you
will loose in court.

If you can avoid the lethal confrontation, and it is safe to do so, you should, as you are
only justified to use lethal force if you cannot retreat. This law is very controversial, and
changes dramatically depending on the state and jurisdiction you are in. Some states
even have laws that state that you must retreat from your own house, if possible.
Make certain that you understand these laws.

However, even though there are laws that may permit you to ‘stand your ground’ and
fight, even though you can easily avoid the confrontation, especially in your own home,
it is recommended to make every effort to avoid the threat if you can. By avoiding the
threat, you:

* Greatly reduce the chances of injury to yourself and others,
* Greatly reduce the chances of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
* Greatly reduce any Aftermath Emotional symptoms.

You will hear people talk about protecting their personal property, standing their ground
in their own home should their home be violated by an assailant, or assailants.
Remember, you can not use lethal force to protect property. Also, that big screen TV,
camcorder and computer were obsolete the day you purchased them. It is highly
recommended that you Retreat, if safe to do so, Call the police and then call your
insurance company.

When is Lethal Force Justified against an armed attacker?

For lethal force to be justified, you must have reasonable fear of immediate and
otherwise unavoidable danger of death or serious bodily injury AND your assailant
must have the Ability, Opportunity and the Intent to inflict these injuries.

Ability. Your assailant must have the physical strength and power to kill, cripple or
cause permanent disfiguration through the use of physical strength, unarmed fighting
skills, weapons or firearms.

Opportunity. Your assailant must be capable of immediately inflicting injury by
striking you at arms length using bare hands, conversational distances with blunt and
edges weapons, or any distance with a firearm.

Important: You are in immediate danger when faced with an assailant holding a
blunt or edged weapon at a distance of 21 feet. An assailant, with no obstacles
in his/her way, can travel 21 feet in 1.5 seconds. With your pistol in your holster,
chances are 50/50 that your assailant will win. Chances are higher that you will
lose, if your assailant is skilled.

Intent. Your assailant must be acting or talking in a manner, that any reasonable and
sensible person would assume that your assailant has the intention to immediately kill,
cripple, or permanently disfigure you.


Witnesses to the events must also believe that your assailant had the intent, the
opportunity and the ability to immediately inflict serious bodily injury or kill you.

When is Lethal Force Justified against an unarmed attacker?

For lethal force to be justified against an unarmed attacker, you must have reasonable
fear of immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or serious bodily injury
AND your assailant must have the Ability, Opportunity and the Intent to inflict these
injuries. However, with an unarmed assailant, there must exist a Disparity of

Examples of Disparity of Force include:

* Large man against a small man.
* Man against a woman.
* Two or more men against one man.
* Three or more juveniles against one man or one woman.
* Able bodied man or woman against a disabled man or woman.
* Man or woman known to have training in the Martial Arts against a untrained man or woman.
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Join date : 2008-04-17
Age : 52
Location : Washington DC

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:44 pm

you've covered all the bases, more than i could have i reckon. my humble addition is that i know of 3 instances where people i've known (2 happened to the same person) have quickly turned the tables on the chav and had to defend themselves for it.
1. one guy i used to train with had someone pick a fight with him, he quickly (kick/punch/punch) dropped him (this is the extended version that
i've referenced before--i add that because i don't want to sound like everyone i know fights all the time...ha); a guy with the chav said, 'hey, that's my cousin!!' and got the exact same. he went down. cops arrived and the two chavs made their predictable claims and my friend got locked up.
2. the same guy, defended himself against someone with a gun...shot and killed him with the guy's own gun. there was a year long court trial that included emotional testimonies from the dead guy's family; character references on behalf of my friend (from friends--to his tae kwon do teacher--yeah, i said tae kwon do). the teacher made it worse by saying, "if he had pulled a gun on me i'd have shot him myself". he barely got off the hook from it. i never went to the trials but heard about it after the fact.
3. a security guard i know had the same situation happen...he got off because (i think) it was easy for people in the court to believe it was 'by the skin of his teeth' bruiser, him.
4. another security guard i knew shot his supervisor while in a heated dispute--no mercy for him. it was too unambiguous.

my humble conclusions are as such (supporting what Adam has already said):
-lay the ground work for character references--which does include staying out of trouble (obvious) but also includes verbal fences. "i'm leaving, don't follow me--i'm done, and we're done..." kinda like... so it's obvious to all that you WALKED AWAY from trouble but it sought out your company anyway.
-it's like what Richie says about avatars--be careful what you present.

i know (personally) that my height and weight is in my favor (little solid guy), but my tattoos and squint aren't--laugh now, but i was in a court trial trying to press charges against someone who's argument started off being based on my look and how it provoked a response in them. it was a ludicrous defense, and my attorney ripped it to shreds, but someone had the bright idea to use it. it might work occasionally i guess. luckily for me the charge had to do with nicking something and not assault.
my brother found someone breaking into his garage and kicked the guy left, front and center. when he told me about it, i didn't think much of how it COULD have turned back on him. i empathized. my only concern for him were possible repurcussions of a different sort. they never came.

my take on the first thread is this--i say this not knowing enough about the circumstances.
chav barked
chav got bigger response than was prepared for
chav backed down and added 'sour-grapes' to the menu

my only question is (and i say this with no judgement--truly), why did the police believe them: are you a big guy? with my first friend, seeing him towering over two terrorized morons was not going to win him a plea that he was defending himself (ha). the feeling was, 'you brute, you could have just walked off or something'. annoying, but it also reflects if police are intimidated by you (as an aside). if you are, sadly, you'll have to present more of a benign (however you spell that) persona--something that i say with some reluctance because i have trouble with that, but the dividends are the element of surprise--and the deficiencies are that you may get bothered more.

as another aside: i got into alot of trouble when i was young. when it came to things like:
more serious practical jokes that really weren't funny
etc etc etc
even though i was sometimes the least involved, my name was always dropped in the hat first when the shit hit the fan blades. my friends were always the low profile sorts, and i was the posturing bold sort. i was on everyone's radar. one of my childhood friends got all good grades, was rich, was tidy, mild mannered--but was finally caught at something because it was so over the top...'shooting out parked car windows all over D.C.'. what a loony he was, but the point is that he wasn't on anyone's radar because he postured something more quiet and reserved. please don't anyone think my point is that you can do things and get away with it when you're meek looking!!! let me add for good measure so i'm not misquoted, 'staying out of trouble is easier when you are in the right, but also don't intimidate police, jury and judge'. there, that was my point!
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Join date : 2008-06-27
Age : 29
Location : South Wales, UK

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:58 pm

Yes Victor an ASSAULT does not have entail you touching another, it can simply be verbal. The actual contact is BATTERY. To complete assault you just need to put someone in fear of......Verbal threats here would result in a Public Order offence.
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Join date : 2008-04-29

PostSubject: Re: ¿what is reasonable force?   Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:14 pm

Reasonable force? As others have said, it depends on the situation. All that is require for an assault to take place, is intent and ability. So yes, if you are shoved or verbally threatened in an aggressive way, then both these things have occurred.
As to the force you can give back? Lets be honest, in most western countries you're fucked. The secret in my opinion, passive set up followed by palm heel. Go through the whole, de-escalation/ I don't want to fight thing. Something which will then enable a preemptive palm heel. Again, you have not formed a fist and punched, you have not engaged in verbal aggression yourself. And so, it is very easy to go with, 'I thought I was about to be hit. He said he had a weapon (useful if significantly bigger than aggressor). I pushed him away.' If the cops get involved, stick with the, 'I thought I was about to be assaulted.' line. Do not get tied down in specifics as a means to justify yourself. That can work against you. For, if you were in such control as to remember it all, your actions will face far greater scrutiny. Remember, you don't have to prove your innocence. The burden is on police to prove you guilty.
Too, when being interviewed later, be polite. Do not swear. You can keep to your story by being articulate, if at a loss to understand why you were the victim of the attack. Remember that, you were the victim. Just because you KO'd the bloke doesn't change that.
Sorry to any LEO's who may read this and take offense. I admire the work you do. I certainly would not want to face what you do everyday. Nevertheless, the law which you must work to does not favor GG's who must face aggressors.
Best of advice of all though, if you have to drop someone, get the hell out of there if possible. Of course, that is something not applicable in the case of a neighbor.
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