“Use-of-Force continued” by Keoni May

The Use-of-Force law, as it is practiced within the State of New York, has many similarities to other states. Therefore, most of what I have said, and what I will discuss, has relevance to all martial artists.

When I spoke previously about martial artists and the Use-of-Force, I knew that I was opening up a “can of worms.”

In regards to criminals having a firearm, an edged weapon, or a dangerous looking blunt force instrument (baseball bat, crow bar, ball peen hammer, etc.), you must always consider surrendering your valuables, if you cannot wind him with wild and reckless abandon marathon sprinting.

However, if you think that you will still die, even though you gave up your valuables without resistance, that is another story.

When a criminal thinks that you should be robbed and beaten, he counts on you to not report your felony beating to the police. (Felony beating means a nice stay at the hospital) This way, his reputation grows, and he will most likely see you as a nice ATM victim in the future.

Since he wants to haul off and knock you into the next time zone, he will be swinging with reckless abandon. This will be your moment to take advantage of this wild swing. An atemi at that moment might not really be necessary. Your criminal is using a blind rage guided muscle to your head area.

This fast momentum will be enough to throw him to the opposite side of the street with a little assistance. He will be hurt. He may want to sue, however, he might not.

I took the time to check with county court and state court records (felony cases) and I found that there are almost no cases of criminals suing for losing a fight during a mugging of their victims. Suing people is more popular with prisoners. It is only a lawyer, who wishes to make a harassment suit, and hoping for an out-of-court settlement. An out-of-court settlement doesn’t mean that the criminal won. It was cheaper for people to settle the case, rather than fighting and winning, some time in the distant future.

Aikido techniques are far more humane than martial arts that rely on striking techniques. I don’t argue that a little atemi would loosen someone up for a technique. However, my personal experience has been, criminals are masters of the sucker punch. That is what you must prepare for.

When people say that the USA has the most murders in the world, I argue that position. Possibly or maybe as a first world nation. As a third world nation, hootoos and tootsies, must have killed millions. Cambodia must have killed millions. The list goes on.

Spontaneous and instinctive training is necessary to make Aikido work in the street. I have tied people in knots on the floor with Aikido techniques. Granted, I also have the luxury of handcuffs.

People have to practice for the real world ever so often. It can still be safely done in a dojo environment.

(to be continued)

Click here to read the first installment of this series.

Keoni May, a native of Hawaii, is an experienced aikidoka who has crosstrained in numerous Asian and western martial arts. He has compiled a series of thought-provoking observations on various aikido and martial arts related subjects to stimulate readers’ thinking.


  1. I nibbled on this one last time too.

    Running is always an option, if you’re a runner. If you’re not a runner, consider that being caught or headed off, winded, in a block or so might not improve your chances.

    If the weapon in question is a gun, run diagonally. Shooting a crossing target is much tougher than one running straight away. Putting cars in the way is something to think about. Whether you’re shooting or being shot at, distance is your friend. Bad guys can rarely shoot well. Matter of fact, good guys frequently don’t shoot well when it gets real.

    Putting a busy street between you and your attacker is another thought, widely used in street fights I’ve witnessed. In fact getting in the middle of a street confers some tactical advantage. You can see what’s coming and your attacker(s) have to think about the traffic too. You might even attract police attention if the traffic coagulates.

    The difficulty about running away from somebody you might meet again, is that it will encourage him to believe in your cowardice rather than your discretion. To the extent that it motivates a new attack, bad. To the extent that it makes that attack reckless, good.

    When I was young I decided personally, that retreat from the neighborhood bully 1 – was only occasionally tactically effective, and 2 – was very hard on my mind. Retreat is even hard in military situations. That must be why it is given other names, like “retrograde”. Perhaps it is the fight-flight thing. The adrenaline flows in both cases. In the first it feeds ferocity. In the second, more usually, it feeds fright.

    Sun Ping as well as Hannibal, however, used tactical retreat as a path to victory. Hannibal at Cannae allowed his center to be beaten back and then enveloped the Romans from both flanks. The Sun Ping case is a little more apt. He allowed his light troops to flee miles headlong into a box canyon… where the rest of his army destroyed the pursuers. Apparently it was personal. He ordered a torch placed at a tree, over a scroll that read to the effect ‘my enemy dies beneath this tree’. When said enemy came forth to read the message in the twilight, the ambush was sprung and the prophecy came to pass.

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