By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, February 8, 2006.

Ethics and justice in any given self-defense situation must always be taken into account by the Martial Arts practitioner. Anyone can learn techniques that can be devastating and destructive to the human body, but what tempers the ethical use of one's skills? It is the application of responsibility and justice as per the self-defense situation. What is your opponent attempting to do to you? In order for any practitioner to apply his techniques against an opponent he must be able to evaluate the situation clearly and immediately. Once the situation has been assessed, the level of justice must be determined. Thus one must apply the techniques appropriate for the situation.

It is a responsibility for any Martial Arts practitioner to decide based on the greatest good for the greatest number. One must decide whether the situation is a self-defense matter. A practitioner must be able to evaluate the situation's worthiness for defense. Is the opponent verbally attacking or is he getting into one's space and making an attempt to injure? One must be able to clearly evaluate the situation and do it swiftly. Awareness of one's environment will play a vital role in determining whether there is an actual threat to one's survival. The speed by which one can evaluate will decide one's fate because the communication lag will cause injury or death.

After one assesses the situation and determines the exact situation clearly, then one must apply the exact degree of ethics to the situation. One would not physically harm someone who is just trying to be intimidating with his words. It is very easy to walk away from that kind of situation. One does not want to get into legal trouble because one stepped beyond the boundaries of one's own ethics. If one is being physically harmed or the intent is to injure, then one must go into action as immediately as one has completed one's evaluation of the situation.

The exact justice to apply must be decided quickly. If an opponent is just physically pushing, one has to decide what kind of techniques to apply to that level of self-defense. If an opponent is using a weapon of any kind, it should be determined that injury, maiming, or death is the intent. Thereby, the appropriate techniques would be used for that type of self-defense situation. Justice in accordance with the type of techniques go up on a threat scale of minor to possibly death. A practitioner must act with the correct techniques because it will mean being too excessive or one knocking on death's door.

It is not easy for any Martial Artist to determine ethics and justice in any given situation. But it is a responsibility that one must embrace. One cannot be afraid to apply what is necessary as long as ethics, justice and truth is on one's side. The next time one examines one's training, one should look at the importance of training with intent, assimilation and application of knowledge, and the establishing of certainty. It does mean life and death.