Most of the techniques we teach in budo, whether it is karate or judo or aikido or anything else, are not simply dangerous. They are extremely violent. Many of our students want to learn budo for self-defense. For a long time I didn’t think about the meaning of self-defense. The term was thrown around so much everyone in the dojo just assumed we knew what it meant. I’m quickly coming to realize that I don’t have a clear enough understanding of what self-defense means legally to be sure I won’t get myself in trouble if I’m ever in a situation where knowledge of exactly where the line is drawn is important.
I’ve been doing a little bit of reading by a couple of different writers and one term that comes up is “the Monkey Dance”. This is used to refer to the social dance that revolves around social violence, which usually falls outside the circle that includes self-defense. Part of learning the skills of combat, is learning when it is appropriate to use them and when it isn’t.
I’ve heard too many people say “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” This seems to demonstrate a willful ignorance of the law. If you know the law, it’s not too hard to figure out what the appropriate response is. If you don’t know the law, you’re likely to get yourself in a lot of trouble. Even the military has rules of engagement.
The best resources I’ve found so far for understanding the rules we operate under are
Teaching budo means we are teaching skills that people can apply in life. If we teach these skills, we have the responsibility to teach people when it is ok to use them, and when using their skills could land them in jail.