After any altercation, adrenaline and emotions run high. You spend all your life training and preparing for this moment, but what happens after? The world we live in may force you to defend your actions in court. While you focus on the before and during, you better get your AFTER the conflict plan together. Part of training, part of self defense is being able to defend your actions. After any conflict you will be asked to make a statement...be careful, this will be the most important words you will ever speak.
It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense, it's not About Who's Right, it's what you can prove in court to a judge and jury. It’s the way the law works. Eyewitness testimony and your statement will be the key factors in justifying your actions. What you say is more important than how you say it.
In 1996, an unhappy consumer attacked the City Marshal of Lancaster, Missouri with a hammer.(1) The Marshal defended himself and later vented his adrenaline to the responding Sheriff stating, “I hope the son-of-a-bitch is dead.” This led to the Marshal’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter and a sentence of seven years in prison.(2) The story had a happy ending, but a story four years and tens of thousands of dollars in the making, and not a story the Marshal enjoyed very much. The Marshal might have avoided the worst part of the story had he not confused his right to remain silent with the right of free speech.
In the movie, Under Pressure, a woman tried to explain the stalking and implied threats of a neighbor. After a disorganized and unconvincing recitation of ambiguous events she lamely concludes, “I’m not a very good story teller.” Most people tell stories badly. In the aftermath of self-defense there can be a giddy stream of consciousness statement which has more to do with the effects of adrenaline than reality. The basic legal advice is “DON’T.”
The first question is, “What is a statement?” In a nation which counts exotic dancing as freedom of speech, a statement is also broadly construed. In 1996, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a suspect’s refusal to uncross his legs during questioning could be taken as a statement when later charged with murder.(3) In a separate death penalty case, the court found that the defendant had purchased a used car which sported the bumper sticker, “I’m the person your mother warned you about.” At trial the prosecution argued that the fact he did not remove this bumper sticker revealed something about his character. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that it was perfectly acceptable for the state to kill this man, in part, because of his failure to remove the bumpersticker.(4) One can imagine the effect of bumper stickers bought in jest such as, “Keep Honking, I’m Reloading.” If this case does not also inspire a re-evaluation of one’s T-shirt collection, nothing will.
There is also the problem of nicknames. As of this writing, a rapper who rejoices in the stage name “C-Murder” is on trial for murder. If I were asked to defend a man named “Murder” or any variation thereof, I would charge more. Massad Ayoob testified in favor of a police officer who had killed a felon nicknamed “Snake.” Captain Ayoob slipped the nickname into his testimony which seems to have had an effect on the jury.
Written statement, a VERY BAD idea!
There is a cynical defense attorney saying: “Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you.” In the movie, My Cousin Vinnie, two, unfortunate Yankees are suspected of murder and during questioning are accused of shooting a clerk. One incredulously asked, “I shot the clerk?” This is taken down and read in court as a confession. Theater audiences laughed, defense attorneys smiled and nodded. There have even been cases where comments by other persons have been attributed to the defendant, and used against him; complete silence is the only bulwark against these mistakes.
The first statement is the 911 call. These calls are recorded and if the call sounds bad for the defendant, it will be played over and over again at trial. In one case, a man cocked his double-action revolver and went after a person who was shooting out windows. When he caught up with the threat he extended his revolver and in the process tripped the light single action trigger pull; arguably an accidental discharge. His 911 call records him saying that he thought he had just shot someone. The 911 operator, trained to keep him on the line and keep him talking, asked why he thought he had shot someone. The man replied, “Lady, I think I’m a pretty good shot.” This callous-sounding statement took accident off the table and the man had to live or die with a self-defense case. This all important introduction to law enforcement must be planned in advance.
The first words out of the caller’s mouth should be the location of the incident. If the battery then dies, or the minutes run out, or some other technological catastrophe occurs the authorities will know that something of interest is at that location, and the caller’s cell phone records can prove that he or she made the call. The next statement is the caller’s name. The core of the 911 call consists of three sentences:
“He tried to kill me.” “I was never so scared in my life.” “Send an ambulance.”(5)
The first sentence serves to introduce the roles of the parties, the caller is the victim, the other person the attacker. Being in reasonable fear of life or limb is a prerequisite to acting in self-defense. The phrase “I was never so scared…” is to preclude the prosecutor from claiming that the citizen never said he was scared “until he talked to a lawyer.”(6) The phrase “Send an ambulance” says that the caller does not want anyone to die.
When the police arrive, they will want a more elaborate statement; this should consist only of:
1. He attacked me. 2. I will sign a complaint. 3. There is the evidence. 4. I WANT A LAWYER.
This restates part of the 911 call and points out critical evidence. One cannot expect the “CSI” team to be called out to pick up every fiber and hair. If a real forensic team routinely conducted the investigations shown on television, its budget would last about a week.
The demand for a lawyer is both the best thing one can do, and a damaging statement. Anyone who is questioned by police has the right to a lawyer; this includes victims. The problem is that the police, and potential jurors, take a demand for a lawyer as evidence of something to hide. To compound the problem, the victim’s decision to remain silent and demand for a lawyer can be used again him or her in court. In the criminal system, one does not have rights, until arrested; it doesn’t have to make sense, it’s just the law. It is a left-handed fortune that people who act in self-defense are routinely arrested. It may be called something else such as “detained” or given the “Alice in Wonderland” explanation “You’re being handcuffed for your own protection.” Whenever a person is not allowed to leave, he is placed under arrest regardless of descriptive terms. If one is arrested, generations of TV shows advise us to remain silent.
Western Missouri Shooters Alliance President Sheila Stokes-Begley employs a cell phone and CZ75 compact.
If the circumstances are ambivalent, simply state a fear of being sued, and demand a lawyer to protect against frivolous litigation. Bernard Goetz was acquitted of criminal charges in the shooting of four thugs on the subway, but was sued for $43 million and lost. Police are frequently sued by criminals and the explanation is likely to ring a bell.
Self-defense cases bring out the curious, the media in the forefront. Comments to friends will be confused and used against you, comments to family will be mistaken and used against you. Both family and friends can be subpoenaed and forced to testify against you. Comments to the media will be sensationalized and this is never good. The New York City prosecutor’s office had determined not to charge Bernard Goetz, until he made unwise remarks to the news media. At some point a statement must be made. The impression is that the earlier a statement is made, the more reliable it is. In reality, the earlier a statement is made, the less reliable it is. The effects of stress will confuse the statement and even cause temporary amnesia. Inaccuracies in the initial statement will convince authorities that the survivor is both a liar and a murderer. A lawyer must be immediately engaged to organize the statement.
A lawyer is a professional storyteller. He will not tell the client how to lie, he will tell him how to tell the truth, a more complicated process than most imagine. The statement must contain facts which track the elements of self-defense. In the case of defense of home or defense of other persons, there may be other elements as well. Knowledge of the assailant’s reputation for violence would certainly be relevant. The most important element to include is fear. A police statement is no place for macho posturing. One cannot use violence against another person unless in fear of life or limb. The survivor must go over every detail of why he or she was terrified, weak-kneed, pants-pissing afraid. If one does foul one’s pants, a not uncommon event, make sure that goes into the statement. No matter how ineffective a storyteller the survivor might be, the jury is sure to believe that.
(1)1 A City Marshal is a law enforcement officer position used in Third and Fourth Class towns in Missouri. (2) State v Beeler, 12 S.W.3d 294 (Mo. 2000) at 296. (3) State v Kinder, 942 S.W.2d 313 (Mo en banc 1996) at 325. (4) State v Six, 805 S.W.2d 159 (Mo. Ban. 1991) at 167. (5) Taken from the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance “Stay Out of Jail” card, see www.WMSA.net. (6) A claim I have heard, even when false.
Kevin L. Jamison is an attorney in the Kansas City Missouri area concentrating in the area of weapons and self-defense.
This information is for legal information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions you should consult a qualified attorney.
Let's get one thing straight to the women in the audience. To men, their balls are the most important item on their bodies. Take for example when soccer players line up for a free kick. They have a clear choice: protect my nuts or protect my head. 100% without fail, they choose balls over brains. They will take a ball kicked at 100 mph to the face before they will even chance a graze to the nuts. On the list of priorities,the testicles are numero uno.
This is because it causes us the most pain and will cripple any man regardless of size, strength or will. This is a universal truth. Look at every combat system in the world from the Zulus to the Aztecs and you will see the balls are number one on the hit list. Our balls have been under attack since the dawn of time. There is no doubt that before Cain hit Abel with a rock he kicked him in the nuts first.
Recently I've done what most 40 year-olds do when they decide to stop having kids and the condom is NO LONGER an option...I got the big V (that's vasectomy to you young bucks). After almost 40 years of battle, my boys have been put out to pasture.
As I breezed through recovery I realized my nuts are pretty tough. I had heard horror stories from balls swelling to the size of grapefruit to non-operational equipment. Regardless of the warnings of my fellow man, this procedure was midnight run. Of course, putting my most prized possession out to pasture has caused me to reflect on the years of service my testicles have provided and I came to one startling conclusion...I get hit in the balls a lot.
It started with my older sister. She began ballet at the age of 5 and was no older than 10 when she realized that the best way to get a boy under control was a battement technique to the family jewels. For those of you who don't know, a battement translates into "beating". This is a generic term for various movements in ballet by which the leg is extended and then returned repeatedly (add fast and hard). My sister mastered this with awe inspiring accuracy. This was also he time I realized my balls were the "chink in the armor". The pain one feels the first time they are hit squarely in the balls is excruciating. Ladies, don't talk to me about child birth..which sucks and defies physics, but you don't run the risk of experiencing that feeling during every physical confrontation.
By age 7 I started wrestling and there was no rest for my little nuggets. While some kids opted for the protection of a plastic cup, I chose the cool kid option to go "sans protection", leaving the fate of my boys up for grabs so to speak. Unfortunately my "devil may care" attitude was not without a price. That fateful day was the day we wrestled the "Purple Wave" from Garfield, NJ.
The first time someone grabs your nuts is really an unforgettable experience. One would hope it would be in the back seat of your dads Oldsmobile, but in my case it was on the wrestling mat with another kid. We were wrestling Garfield and after the first few matches we realized that those kids had a penchant for nut-grabbing, my opponent was no exception. I was on the bottom to start the second period. When the whistle blew I remember trying to stand up when he kid literally reached from behind and squeezed my grapes. What happened next, shocked both of us.
Feeling a foreign hand on the holiest of holy part of my body was like getting hit with a bolt of lighting. I literally launched myself from his grasp. The force I used can only be compared to that superhuman strength that a mother gets when she lifts her car off of her trapped child. Needless to say, I needed no more motivation to finish the match with a victory. There was NO WAY that kid was getting another chance at an impromptu hernia exam.
As I grew, I put my nuts in greater peril. Football, baseball, wrestling and the frequent playground scraps started to condition my juevos to "take the pain" a bit. In high school the hits got bigger and the guys got stronger. During the Region 1 wrestling finals my junior year, that guy spent more time in my crotch than my girlfriend. After the match I felt he should have at least bought me dinner first.
When I was 15, I started karate and not a night went by that someone was in the fetal position gasping for air and writhing in pain. The first thing you discover in karate is that being able to kick high is not really an advantage. When sparring someone who kicks lower than you, they will always kick you in the balls. Take the round kick for example. While you're throwing a high, graceful kick to the head of your opponent, they're frantically trying to return the favor with a kick of their own whch will end up right in your nuts. Because you're extended leg literally will guide their low kick, right into your nuts and if you're cup is not in the right place..you're going down.
Now, let me tell you about people who can't kick high. They're nervous because they can't kick well. Since they're nervous the try harder. Translation: they kick harder. I have fielded more kicks to the crotch than I care to remember. The end result: you may score the point, but they won the fight since you are lying on the ground trying to uncross your eyes. So much for kicking high. I haven't kicked high since 2000.
Later in college I started to work security and get into the trouble that accompanies those types of endeavors. The worst I can recall was the time I was literally picked up by my nuts and slammed down on the sidewalk by a mountain of a guy. That left a mark and introduced me to the effectiveness of frozen peas.
Judo was another torture my gonads were forced to endure. A popular throw is called Uchi Mata or "Inner Thigh Throw". As the name suggests, this throw is MEANT for the inner thigh, but any judoka will tell you it's more INNER than THIGH. People learning this particular throw really try hard. Like most newbies, they adopt an "if its not working throw harder" attitude. Here's the rub, an effective counter for this technique is to advance towards them and jam them with your hip this works against a good fighter since bending over or backing away is NOT an option. Against a poor fighter it puts your balls on the front line. Now you won't get thrown, but something far worse will happen, a calf in the nuts. So you have a choice to make: train for the good fighters OR protect your nuts against the poor fighters. You can only guess I opted for greatness and sacrificed my balls to every inexperienced judo player to attempt the uchi mata.
And if that wasn't enough, I actually purposely "toughened my boys" to take the pain. Check out Module 6 of The Self Defense Training System (SDTS) and you'll see me take the fellas through a little conditioning session (this actually works real well).
In the end, despite my best efforts, I was still able to father two children and lead a happy and productive life. At this point, I would like to thank my balls for putting up with my behavior over the past 40 years and let them know that without them none of this would be possible. I hope they enjoy their retirement and I will see them lounging poolside in Miami.
Some people say I have brass balls, but now you know, they're just tougher than most.
If you feel comfortable, you're not learning. Comfort is not to be confused with "natural". Comfortable is that awkward, hyper-self aware feeling you get when you're doing something for the first time...you do remember your first time :)?
Learning leads to growth. Growth leads to advancement and evolution. The only way to really learn and grow is to get outside your comfort zone, try and fail.
Failure leads to success. The more failures you have, the greater your successes will be. Most people quit well before they start to see real success. That is why they are most people. Most people think that being uncomfortable and failing is a result of their ineptitude. They think poor performance is due to their lack of natural talent.
Lack of skill is not lack of talent. Skill is modified behavior. This takes time. The more simple the movement or the concept, the easier it is to modify your behavior. The more complicated and convoluted the longer the behavior takes to master. Pretty straight forward concept.
Learning and growing is the key. It leads to self discovery, self improvement and enriches the lives of the people around you. It keeps you young by reminding you of a time when you didn't know all the answers.
When you stay in your comfort zone your world gets smaller and smaller and gradually shrinks. This is what happens to most people. They hit a point where they work, they live, they basically just exist. Then they reach their 40's and 50's and lose their minds. They become depressed, question their purpose in life and wonder is this as good as it's going to get? They blame their jobs, their spouses and their kids. The count all the missed opportunities and all that they sacrificed so that they could provide a life for their families. The wrap themselves up in self pity and point a finger at the outside world when in reality, they only have themselves to blame.
At the end of the day YOU are the problem. YOU make the choices because YOU decided to play it safe. It's YOUR FAULT. Not your spouse, not your kids, not your job. Regular people make excuses, exceptional people take action. Taking action requires you to step outside your comfort zone. It could be small at first, making a suggestion at work, taking a pottery class- whatever it is, start small and take bigger steps.
Teaching people to protect themselves is not just about learning to kick ass. In fact, that's the easy part. It's a tool to enable people to have more confidence, more self reliance and more self worth. It helps people overcome their fear of the unknown. It's a major step in the right direction.
Today is the day. Do something you would normally say NO to. Do something a little impulsive. STOP sitting on your ass, get out of your comfort zone and SEIZE THE DAY BY THE CAJONES!!!!
Yep, it's Sunday Morning and I'm already full of piss and vinegar.
Combat Arts and Self-Defense has made me a good cop. I can say this without hesitation and doubt. The experiences and skills you take away from combat arts are indispensable in a law enforcement career. So, maybe you used to train and gave it up. Or perhaps you are apprehensive about trying something new. What follows are some reasons to start or get back in the game of combat arts.
1) Experience. The buzz word nowadays is “desensitization.” In other words, knowing what it feels like to get punched, kicked, choked, etc. These are definitely lessons to be learned before they happen for real. A great example can be witnessed in any jujitsu class. A new guy taps from a choke almost immediately no matter how effective the application. This is not because he/she is soft or weak. It is just a totally natural reaction to a sensation he/she has never felt. Revisit this “newbie” in six months and you will see he can hold out for two to three times as long as before. More importantly, he will also know when he is in seriously trouble. These extra seconds make all the difference in the life of a cop.
2) A Valuable Reality Check. It is extremely difficult to move someone who is truly resisting. Combat arts gives you an opportunity to deal with non-compliant subjects on a regular basis. You will see that strength and size do matter. And the pretty techniques are often useless. Simple works.
3) Strategy. This is the biggest advantage, especially with self-defense. Hitting first, hitting hard, and hitting when the opponent isn’t ready, is what wins altercations.
4) The “I’ll just shoot him” mindset- This is a silly thing that often comes from cops’ mouths. In order to use a gun, you have to recognize the threat, draw the gun, point/aim the gun, and then pull the trigger. Self-defense will show you that this often takes too much time before you’re on your ass. Never mind the fact that more than 95% of law enforcement altercations involve physical (hands, feet) or mechanical (spray, taser) force. Your body will be the weapon you use the majority of the time.
5) De-mystifying the Wrist Lock. The only way to know what techniques work is to train honestly. Relying on the wrist locks and come alongs from the police academy as your primary tools is a recipe for disaster. True training will show you these techniques are very limited.
Self-Defense training gives you another weapon on your duty belt. But this weapon serves you both physically and mentally. It can do nothing but help a law enforcement professional.
Author is Ed Kane a New Jersey Detective and Guardian Instructor with The Self Defense Company
Do you need empty hand self defense if you carry a firearm? Is strapping the "great equalizer" on all you need to ensure your safety? The popular belief that firearms enthusiasts from cops to citizens feel is that since they carry a gun, they have no need for empty hand tactics so why bother ever learning?
The people who say this are for lack of a better word, lazy. They have convinced themselves that being able to hit a target with a bullet is all they need for self defense. Their ability to survive depends directly on access to their weapon. In a perfect world, this works. Unfortunately real life situations don't happen in a vacuum. The circumstances that surround their need to draw a firearm, acquire the target and fire boils down to one factor TIME.
Will you have time to recognize a threat, draw your weapon and acquire the target? Will your weapon function correctly and will you actually shoot and stop your target with the ammo you have? If you don't you're in a world of proverbial shit as your firearm is magically transformed into a club. The only question to ask is NOW WHAT?
What happens if you don't have access to your weapon or your enemy is so close you don't have time to draw.
A lot can go wrong and it usually does. You will be taken by surprise, you will have the "OH SHIT" moment (that second when your brain finally processes the attack) and unless you get the jump on your enemy, it's a street fight. I once heard that "Everything outside 10 feet is a gun fight and everything with in 10 feet is a street fight" I think this statement is accurate (give or take a few feet).
Listen, there is no either or argument since ITS ALL SELF DEFENSE!
If you want to maximize your chance of survival you need to adapt a "Whatever it takes and by whatever means" attitude. Your bare hands, your boot a rock or a firearm, survival is what counts. You don't get any points for style.
These people get it. Even though they spend hours and countless rounds preparing to defend themselves against violent attacks they're not leaving anything to chance. They know that self defense is RESULT DRIVEN not MEANS DRIVEN. In other words, it doesn't matter HOW you get there only that YOU GET THERE.
Hey, I have firearms, I have pepper spray, edged weapons and a whole other host of nastiness waiting for any scumbag who decides to pick my house and my family as a target. This is the driving force behind The Self Defense Training System. You must condition your self to take advantage of ANY AND EVERY opportunity. You must be willing to do whatever it takes because believe me, that piece of shit who is standing in front of you trying to take what's yours has already demonstrated that he has no regard for your safety and well being.
This is the problem with most people, they can't imagine the reality of violence. Law abiding, good people imagine that their attacker has the same reasoning, logic and values. They imagine the firearm or the fact that they study a martial art is going to be enough. But it's not. The most important skill to develop is your will to survive at all costs. Don't try to project your thought process into the mind of your attacker. It does not work. You are a law abiding upstanding citizen, he is a ruthless animal. You would just as soon reason with a rabid dog than you would a crack head.
Firearm or no firearm, you must be prepared to do whatever it takes period.