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American Sheepdog Online CCW Resource Magazine - Self-Defense: What does that mean?
  • Self-Defense: What does that mean?

    A recent discussion in our Firearm Instruction forum made me think about the core definition of self-defense.

    The Encarta Dictionary listing:

    Self-Defense: Self-de-fense (Noun) the use of reasonable force to defend yourself, your family, and your property against physical attack, or the right to do this

    Yes, we can debate "reasonable force" in certain situations. But for the purpose of this article, I want to look at self-defense as it applies to a life or death situation. I'm not a lawyer, and nothing here should be considered legal advise. It is my opinion that in a life or death situation, reasonable force should be replaced with "any means available". The discussion mentioned above was in regards to eye gouging to defend oneself. I can see some guys saying; "I'd rather be poked in the eye than kicked in the groin!" I'm not talking about a simple poke in the eye, I'm talking about literally putting your finger or thumb inside your attackers head. Is that extreme? Is more extreme than putting a 230 grain hollowpoint through their head or chest? After all, we are talking about life or death here, not a guy stealing your wallet.

    There is a moral component to carrying a firearm for self-defense and each person that chooses to do so should take a moment to give themselves a gut check before acquiring a permit or carrying a firearm. Are you capable of causing serious harm or taking a life in defense of yourself or another? If you are not capable of that, you should not carry a firearm. As it pertains to eye gouging, if you can't do it, you are not fully capable of defending yourself and you could likely die in a violent encounter. The taking of life or causing serious bodily harm should not be taken lightly, it is not natural in a civilized society. It is natural for us to be compassionate and giving. But we are not talking about cold blooded murder, we are talking about self-defense.

    I have personally made peace with using any means available to save my life. Growing up in a small southern town, I can recall many fights as a kid and teenager. I do not have any formal training in hand-to-hand defense, unless you count that 6 months in Tae-Kwon-Do class at about age 11. I'm a graduate of what you'd call the School of Hard Knocks. There was a period in my life where we would fight for respect or the simple sport of it. We would meet in the woods near the Power Dam in front of headlights and away from prying eyes and the police. We tried to have some sort of discipline to it. If it went to the ground, you got on the ground with your foe or you backed up and waited for them to stand. Kicking someone when they were down was "not cool" to do. There were times when a large circle of people would surround the fight to watch for any foul play, even times when we would stop the fight if it was going no where. Afterward, you would shake hands or give a head nod to consider the feud over.

    This was not self-defense, it was planned so to speak. Sort of like the skin fight between the Greasers and the Socials in the movie The Outsiders. In a life or death situation with my attacker knocked to the ground, I would not hesitate to stomp their head with the intent of breaking it open. That may seem shocking but it's my life on the line and there is any fight left in them, I plan to ensure it ends. I don't remember where it came from but I remember a saying about fighting.

    • A man can't fight if he can't see
    • A man can't fight if he can't stand
    • A man can't fight if he can't breath

    With no weapons involved, if you accomplish any one of those three things, the threat is basically over. I consider those points extremely valuable in regards to hand-to-hand fighting.

    Eye gouging could be fatal or result in a permanent disability.
    (Standing) Busting a knee, not fatal, but it would most certainly result in permanent damage and disability.
    (Breathing) A solid punch to the throat. It could be fatal from crushing the wind pipe if not treated quickly or it too, could result in permanent damage and disability.

    Should we be concerned with death or disability when actively defending our lives? No! Our focus should be on staying alive by any means available. Do a Mike Tyson and bite an ear off to get the upper hand. Pain is a deterrent and could give you the one second you need to recover and capitalize on the pause. So to finish my thoughts on self-defense, do whatever it takes to stay alive. Don't hesitate, and don't stop until the threat is neutralized.


    Comments 4 Comments
    1. texengineer's Avatar
      texengineer -
      I'm less worried about not doing enough to defend myself, and more worried about doing too much. I know that in a life or death struggle, I would do whatever I needed to do to stay alive; however, making sure that I don't use too much force in a confrontation that doesn't require it is where I focus my energy right now. I know that as I get older it will be easier to discern, but for now I just keep on running scenarios in my head.
    1. rockinmcp's Avatar
      rockinmcp -
      Thanks UGA and tex... for bringing up this really important topic. I was formally taught for many years to pull punches as a means of showing "control", as all martial arts students typically are. I have seen black belts "get there clocks cleaned" by an average boxer in the ring or on the street -- not truly a life or death situation, but boxers are trained to focus that punch for maximum effect, every time - just like it is the real thing.

      I formulated an opinion as I grew older and went through the "Friday nite fights" out in some field. When I, and UGA and probably most post-pubescent boys, was/were young fighting was a "social" event; this even extends to the typical (but not all) bar parking lot fights - it's what testosterone-filled young men do. It become anti-social when one or more fellas (or young ladies, I guess) become socipathic (not a psychologist here, just speculating), and stop caring about opponent's life or limb -- at this point our adrenaline must peak and we must do what we must do to survive!

      I think texengineer is correct, we have to keep running those scenarios and visualizing as to what we will do if the occasion presents itself -- I always like to say that the best way ought of a situation is the "back door", but sometimes it's blocked but objects, persons, or circumstances. That's when we have to provide the necessary deterrent(s) to resolve the situation and get out in "one piece" (hopefully).

      Almost enough said...when I was 19 (yea so many years ago) I was home on leave and in a drunken stupor and was attacked by three "friends" outside a house party. I was literally set up and got the crap beat out of me (nose broken in 3 places, 2 broken vertebrae in my neck, 87 stitches inside my mouth, etc. -- I'm paying for some of that damage today!) When they were "done" with me they left me in a heap on the ground --- one had driven off and the other two were havin' a smoke before they departed the scene. Third party accounts say that I got up in a rage and made certain both of them went to the hospital along with me - I guess it was a heck of a mess. It took years for me personally to remember what I did and it still makes me shudder to think about both sides of that "fight"...when I did remember I learned pretty clearly what my asocial inner animal will do, and it's scary. [This was not self-defense, it was blind cold retaliation and, somehow self-preservation.]

      Finally, inside us all is the animal survival. We have to try to find it, understand it, control it, and use it when we must for the protection and preservation of ourselves and our loved ones. So keep running those scenarios and look for the back door first, if there's time!
    1. SkivMarine's Avatar
      SkivMarine -
      In early May two years ago, we had an incident here at the Veterans home where I live.
      One of the residents attacked another resident in the hall way, and knocked him to the ground where he proceeded to stomp on the man's head.
      The perp then sat down in the hallway, and waited for the police. When taken into custody he said; "I did it. That's all you need to know."
      The other resident was comatose for a few days and then died of his injuries.
      The perp has since been found guilty of 1st degree murder.
      He still hasn't told anyone why he did it.

      I mention this because I see it as a situation where the taking of a life to save another is not only justified, but would almost be a DUTY.
      I feel a stab of guilt that I was not there that day. I could have stopped it. And I would have done so by violent means.
      As it is, there were several Vets who witnessed the attack, and NONE of them did anything. They were afraid that if they had done anything they would have gotten in trouble. And the way the rules are around here I don't doubt that one bit.
      But I still think SOMEONE should have done something. The hell with potential trouble. If you can save a life, you should do so.

      And that's about all I want to say about this situation for now. It's still a source of pain.
    1. Eccentric's Avatar
      Eccentric -
      Self defense means self defense and you do whatever you have to do. To do less and expect that a more minor action will "convince" an attacker to break off the attack is very foolish. You stood between them and something that they wanted and not to to do what is necessary, not to stop the threat with the means available would be dangerous, possibly deadly to both you and/or family members, etc.

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