Striking an aggressor preemptively is legally permissible* in many jurisdictions across the world, in order to protect yourself, third parties or property.
The principles of having genuine belief that you need to defend yourself or having a fear for your safety is central to a self defence claim if your have to hit first, before the aggressor has initiated any physical action.
To protect yourself legally, it is paramount that you can demonstrate four key principles in order to have a legitimate claim of self defence.
We’ve previously referenced these as the IMOP acronym.
The INTENT to hurt you must be shown by the aggressor, for example through their verbal statements, body language or physical movement or manoeuvring. You must explain how you saw this intent and why it was fearful to you.
The MEANS to hurt you must be in place. If an angry old lady threatens to beat you up, the angry intent may be present but the means are not legitimate for you to hit back. The greater the means, for example through size, skills or weapons, the more elevated your response can be.
The OPPORTUNITY to hurt you must be present. If someone has the intent and means to attack you, but are ‘only’ verbally abusing you from across the room or road, they don’t have the opportunity to hurt you. You proceeding to close the distance to enable this opportunity can seriously damage any later claim to self defence.
The PRECLUSION to violence, or the ability for you to prevent something from happening, should be fulfilled. If staying put in a dangerous or volatile situation and not extracting yourself from it, claiming self defence from fear for your personal safety if it turns physical will become more difficult or questionable later.
Always remember the IMOP principles. Before preemptively striking, you should actively try to make sure – to witnesses if possible – that the four components are covered.
Saying ‘Stay back, go back, don’t hurt me” (loudly, clearly, more than once and avoiding ‘back off’ as it can be easily misconstrued as ‘f*** off’) whilst moving away to a position where the aggressor must change direction to reach you will reveal that you consider the intent, means and opportunity to be such that you fear for your personal safety. It covers all three elements.
If you have no way of removing yourself from the situation (maybe because the exits are not available or you are with third parties that you are protecting), you are now set to strike preemptively, maintaining an explainable legal argument as to why.
The person striking first has the clear advantage as action beats reaction. To put yourself in that position, always make sure you are legally covered to do so.
*Always check local self defence law where you live, travel, study and work.
TOP TIP | THE USE OF COMMON OBJECTS IN SELF DEFENCE.
When carrying a common object intended for self defence, in many legal jurisdictions, the UK included, the legality is defined by the intended and relevant application of the object (as stated to the authorities, if challenged or questioned).
Carrying an everyday item such as a tactical pen, a tactical torch or a spray can is legally acceptable – AS LONG AS the declared purpose and potential usage of the item appears reasonable and relevant.
For example, giving a reason that a tactical pen is carried by you to be used to defend yourself, if required, makes the item an offensive weapon in law and carrying it becomes illegal.
Explaining that you have it because you anticipate to use it practically, such as together with a notebook or that you actually use it in your daily work, makes it permissible if you rely on as a reasonable force tool in a violent confrontation.
A tactical torch in your car is purposefully useful if you or someone else has a vehicle breakdown and can be explained, post-incident, as a reasonable item to have at hand.
The similar principle applies to common objects as self defence tools you plan to use in any intruder scenarios, such as within your home.
If you hit an intruder with the heavy metal lamp on your night table, it might be ok (if genuine fear for your safety was present and reasonable force was applied) but if your explanation to the police on their arrival is that the lamp was intentionally and strategically placed there to be used to strike potential intruders with, you’re now in potential legal trouble.
The point of this post is this: As a self defence practitioner, take advantage of common objects as self defence tools but invest thought in how you make these relevant to your daily activities and be clear on how you would appropriately and reasonably position their existence to the authorities, if questioned.
Finally, of course, make sure you receive training on how to use your self defence tools of choice, making you ready and prepared if you ever had to use them.
TOP TIP | THE APPLICATION OF TACTICAL PENS.
Much more effective than a tactical pen in dark conditions, invest in a high-lumen tactical torch to aid your self defence capabilities.
Once acquired, make sure you undertake some training in how to apply it, either in a dedicated topical seminar or simply as part of your normal striking routine. Ask your instructor for help.
After the training, make sure it is deployed easily, such as from your belt, inside an accessible pocket or as an attachment to a bag. Practice how to reach, grab and deploy it so it becomes second nature in a stressful situation.
You’ve now multiplied your advantage in a fight, even against multiple attackers. If you don’t believe it, do some nighttime training and try it out. You’ll be amazed.
TOP TIP | CHANGING YOUR TRAINING ENVIRONMENT.
If you always train in an open, spacious and clinical dojo or gym setting, you’re missing out on pivotal practice on how to adapt to and apply the everyday environment around you.
Set up and run seminars or sessions away from your daily routine, such as in cars, parking lots or indoor locations such as homes, bars or offices or on using different environments, for example in stairwells, whilst seated and even in everyday clothing.
You will immediately notice the difference and change your Krav Maga and thinking.