Given the brutal resources that trapping range provides, it is important for a self defense practitioner to fully examine his or her options in self defense. It is evident that not all situations will call for a person to blast a person back with a fury of punches after kicking him in the groin, and then follow-up with a dozen elbows, knees, eye gouges, and head butts. Every self defense system should have an “injure to a degree” table, which fully explains certain options a practitioner might have. This is, of course, a necessity for law enforcement, but for civilians as well. The options should be simple and easy (just as the overall game plan). This will make training these options more efficient and effective.
Categorizing threatening events in just three categories keeps this principle simple, while allowing enough flexibility for each level. Many self defense instructors have their own unique characteristics about this concept of “injuring to a degree”. Therefore, it is important that the practitioner creates his or her own guidelines, not only for ethical reasons, but also for legal ones. This article will propose a simple three level response table. Each level will state the intended goal (objective), and some tools that could be used. The examples given for each level are just that, examples. Please realize that these three categories can represent many different kinds of scenarios.
A Level 3 is a situation which is better explained by an irritating opponent rather than a severe threat.
Picture a 30-year-old man walking out of a movie theater late one night. He gets bumped by a 15-year-old who starts to yell at him. The irate 15-year-old calls him names and proceeds to put up his hands to fight. This is a situation where a Level 3 response might come in handy. One does not want to turn this 15-year-old into a bloody pulp, but to “freeze” him up, and leave the situation. Therefore, the goal is to inflict minimal to moderate pain, and then gain a lot of distance (i.e. leave the situation). Therefore, using an interception such as a groin kick or toe (shin) jab will immobilize the opponent, giving enough time for the person to leave the situation. Use moves to simply inflict pain giving the practitioner time to exit the situation.
Level 2 situations are scenarios where one must defend himself, but is more intelligent not to go haywire, or totally intense.
This might be a situation where a police officer has to defend himself, or if a person gets into a public (i.e. bar) fight. In both of these situations, one may not want to use barbaric tools (especially bites and eye gouges), but still implement tools that will do damage and inflict pain. In this instance, using controlled intensity might be the most intelligent option. Using this option one can apply pressure and pain, but turn up the “intensity dial” at will. The best area to do this would be the ground. This is where a practitioner can “pin” the opponent to the ground, and truly control the amount of pain given (i.e. through punches to the face).
There is no question why police officers have to take people down to the ground when they get out of hand. It is easy to control a person down there, in addition to keeping them in close enough to inflict pain if necessary. Another option in this level is the use of joint manipulations or submission holds. These can be implemented on the ground or standing up. Once again the practitioner has the option of turning up the “intensity dial” with more pressure. Level 2 situations are difficult to respond to, mostly due to the law of responding with “equal force”, in addition to the added danger of situations like these jumping up to a Level 1 scenario very quickly.
For instance, in a bar fight, most observers will only see the end of the altercation. Therefore, one may not want witnesses to just see a vicious display of head butts and elbows. Their interpretation might be, “I turned around and saw this guy smashing this other guy’s face in with multiple elbows”. That would be excessive force in most cases, at least from the observer’s view. He may not have seen the opponent take two or three swings first. Therefore, one has to be intelligent about how he responds to an altercation, especially if one is going to have witnesses testify against him. This level should be implemented into training as much as possible for many reasons, not only to practice the options, but also to deal with the emotions involved. Train with whatever tools are deemed “useful” for this level, and practice turning up and down the intensity (simulated pain/damage).
Level 1 has the goal of putting the opponent out of commission.
In this level an individual must use any means necessary to inflict the necessary damage to stop their opponent’s attack. This opponent could be a rapist, a home intruder who is attacking, or a person who is threatening bodily harm to a person’s loved ones. Situations may also jump up to a Level 1 automatically by the opponent introducing weapons or multiple opponents into the fight.
Once again, in this level a practitioner must use any means necessary to survive. The use of multiple head butts, bites, and elbows are all fair game in this category. Submission holds and joint manipulations can go past the point of no return by suffocating and breaking bones. Causing severe bodily harm or even death may be the only means of defense. Please realize that the laws vary from state to state, and country to country. A practitioner should check their own laws, especially before they set the limits for this level. Never-the-less, a practitioner should study the laws as they create their own response table, regardless of what their instructor or videotape says.