"The Author, it must be remembered, writes from his own standpoint!"
My personal "Interpretive" Lens!

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"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour

"Ideally, your self-defense will never get physical. Avoiding the situation and running or talking you way out - either of these is a higher order of strategy than winning a physical battle." - Wise Words of Rory Miller, Facing Violence: Chapter 7: after, subparagraph 7.1:medical

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

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Should a practitioner use the preemptive strike for self defense?

Preemptive: Serving or intended to preempt or forestall something, esp. to prevent attack by disabling the enemy; An adjective used to describe some action designed to forestall or deter some anticipated negative outcome. A preemptive military strike, for instance, is one taken before the other party has taken military action, based on the belief that the other party would otherwise strike.

Thanks Sue for the question/idea for this post.

Self Defense is difficult to justify to twelve jurors, i.e. the court system if prosecuted. Yes, even if you firmly believe that your actions were to forestall an attack by a threat it can be determined that you stepped past the acceptable point, which is fluid by the way, of what is to be determined legal defense.

If you really want to preempt an attack it is better to preemptively avoid the entire situation or use some preemptive tactic that involves leaving, running, etc. to a safe zone. When you add in the word strike as to preemptively applied you open the door wide to a view of your "aggressive action" toward another human being. That human in this type of scenario is no longer the aggressor/threat/attacker but that has shifted from them to you.

It should be noted that witnesses, uninformed/uninitiated type, will most likely not see the "tell" that resulted in your preemptive strike but will only see you strike "first." If you hit first, you are the aggressor. If you are the aggressor then you are breaking the law - in most places U.S.


  1. With the usual "I am not a lawyer" preface: The key to justifying pre-emptive force is that you must be able to explain to investigators and a jury why pre-emptive force now prevented a greater use of force later.

  2. I agree in principle with what you say Charles but there must be occasions where the best 'tactical' strategy has to outweigh the best 'legally tight' strategy. For example if your life literally depended on striking first should this not be used? Both Funakoshi and Itosu supported pre-emptive striking in the right situations (when all other pre-fight avoidance/de-escalation stuff had been exhausted), though I expect the legal implications were a little different in those days! Here's an interesting article about pre-emptive striking by Iain Abernethy: http://www.practical-martial-arts.co.uk/practical_karate/iain_abernethy/ia_no_first_attack.html

  3. Hi, Sue: Mr. Miller presents a comment that fits the answer you may be seeking.

    Yes, Sue: For me, personally, there are situations, in general, that I may or may not use a preemptive strike. I have vetted this in my mind and given myself permission to do so ... as to repercussions, as you can tell by the post I have also thought of those things and am willing to go the distance if no other choice is available.

    Mostly, avoidance, avoidance, avoidance!

  4. Oh, thanks to you and Mr. Miller for your insight, comments, and just providing thoughts to consider.

  5. Hi Charles and Rory, thanks for the insights here. I think I may be defining pre-emptive striking a bit differently to you two - my misconception not yours! I need to think about this and probably post on it later...