Is “Self-Defense” Relevant?

NOTE from Casey: The following is from the blog page of Target Focus Training (TFT), written by Chris Ranck-Buhr, TFT Master Instructor. It is entitled “Self-Defense Is A Sham”. I put this up because it provides a look at “self-defense” in the eyes of Chris Ranck-Buhr, and the law, as he sees it and, I agree.

From my perspective self-defense is really the use of violence in the face of violence, and might be more appropriately named self-preservation, i.e., taking violent action before suffering the results of violent aggression. I’m not a lawyer, but I know that there is no plea of “self-defense”, nor self-preservation, there is only a plea of innocent, and the supporting evidence which may well be the defense or preservation of self or others; I know this as a thinking and functioning human being, as well as a firearms instructor and long time martial artist.

As a function of our CCW Training programs we provide our clients some excellent attorney-prepared material on the legal aspects of “self-defense”, material which every gun owner needs at there finger tips. If you want to know more about TFT or Chris Ranck-Buhr, check it out at www.totalfocustraining.com. This is an area of interest that we should all be thinking about. So, read and give it some thought!

Self-Defense Is A Sham January 7, 2011 by Chris Ranck-Buhr

When you think of “self-defense” or “self-protection”, what do you see?

I see nothing.

Okay, maybe that’s a little too harsh, too fast.

If I try really hard to cut through the ambiguous fog of those phrases, I can almost see — at best — someone getting attacked, desperately trying to get away, maybe getting backed into a corner. Flailing like a terrified animal.

At worst I see someone curled up in a ball on the ground.

That’s what “self-defense” means to me. And that’s why I won’t teach, practice or do it.

I’m only ever interested in hurting people.

The term “self-defense” has no operational value. It does not paint a picture of me doing anything of consequence — it suggests passivity, being acted upon by someone else, moving second and hoping for the best. Rather than getting anything done.

This really hit home while I was doing some reading on combat handgunning. I grew tired of the constant, politically correct phraseology of “self-defense”, “self-protection” and “home defense”. One actually has to dig deep to find any reference to killing people with bullets. And here I always assumed that’s what guns were for — a tool to enable a person to kill another without undue effort or training.

Of course, that’s the elephant in the middle of the room that we talk around using sanitized code words. Why can’t we just call it like it is?

Because every use of violence is a crime.

If someone breaks into your home in the middle of the night and comes after you and your family — threatening or outright harming you or others — and you shoot/stab/beat him to death, you have committed, at the very least, manslaughter.

It is then up to the district attorney to look at the circumstances surrounding the case and decide whether it was okay for you to commit that crime or not. This is where the legal definition of self-defense comes in.

Unless you’re studying for the bar, the term is meaningless. Slapping “self-defense” on physical training for combat or for firearms use is just society’s way of really, really hoping you’ll wait your turn and go second like polite, civilized folk do…

…and not go around terrorizing or hunting people.

Just to be clear: In pure legal terms, I will only use my training when my life or the lives of others are in danger, just as I would only find it necessary to shoot somebody under identical circumstances.

While this is the very definition of legal self-defense, I would not use that term to describe my practice.

When I go to the range or the countryside I practice marksmanship because that’s how you kill someone with a gun. When I hit the mats I practice hurting (and, yes, killing) people with fists, boots, sticks and knives.

“Self-defense” and it’s wishy-washy, go-second connotations do not figure into the physical execution. While it may describe the situation under which such behavior may be deemed acceptable by the legal system, it is a poor descriptor of the act itself:

…Hurting people.

“Self-defense” is a marketing term — because it’s what we’ve all been told is acceptable. Nobody searches for “how to use violence” because it’s assumed that only the “bad guys” use violence — the rest of us are stuck with self-defense.

It is far more effective for training to peel all the padding off the hard corners and make the accepted generalities specific.

Instead of a hopeful “for serious self-defense, go for the eyes” we get specific on the mechanical process of gouging an eyeball out of a skull. How to get it done, how to get it right, the resulting injury and associated disability, and how to practice to make that injury the most likely outcome.

While I would advocate that you only use the information we train in serious life-or-death situations — textbook self-defense scenarios — you should find the term itself to be insufficient to describe your actual training and practice. I don’t teach people self-defense — I teach them how to hurt people.

I’ve never met anyone in a social context who was comfortable with the idea of my profession as “teaching people how to use violence as a survival tool” — they will always try to get me to backtrack, saying “You mean you’re a self-defense instructor.”

Violence is the dirty, bad word and self-defense is the comforting term. (Serial killers, notorious for their terrible violence, are not known for self-defensing people to death.)

And therein lies our issue of contention: violence — hurting people — is precisely what the winners are famous for doing.

I want to practice winning in violent conflict, not training for second place.

Second place, as we all know, is first loser…

…and, in life-or-death violence, the losers… are usually dead.

–Chris Ranck-Buhr