I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.
It’s a common dictum that I don’t like.
I don’t like it because it indicates a casual, often sloppy approach to training and rules of engagement, one that is bad for the trainee and bad for others in the environment they enter. To me the phrase implies an acceptance of uncertainty and a faith in the correct judgment of others, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t want the people I train questioning their decisions or ability to act or wondering whether they are going to go to court – I want them to be so clear on their self protection rules of engagement that there isn’t any doubt clouding their minds or confusing their actions.
That may sound rather trite. After all, real violent incidents are not as clear cut as television or the movies would have us believe. In many countries the law allows preemptive striking – but when does a preempt become an assault? The man or woman who preempts is rarely calm and collected but has a system flooded with adrenaline and (hopefully) a brain and a mouth (not to mention the all important body language) that is trying a number of de-escalation techniques to avoid violence. You can prematurely decide that these de-escalation attempts have failed and that a physical response is necessary, particularly if you are unused to violent situations, and end up appearing to be the aggressor. At that point in time two things will help you:
- selecting an appropriate physical response to the perceived threat, in other words one that is proportionate,
- knowing how to describe why you acted in appropriate language should you subsequently be interviewed by any law enforcement personnel.
If you design and train your responses to fit the legal rules of engagement for self defence in your country, and you drill these, you should never be in a position where you feel you are making a choice between life or death for you or a court case.
I’ve deliberately avoided going into the details of specific laws here as I know that this blog is read by people in America, Europe, the Far East and Australia. It’s up to you now. Train safely and train appropriately, so that if you do have to use your physical skills you’re not carried by six and you’re not judged by twelve.