Responding to Threats: Sequential Use of Force

Sequential Use of Force is a term used in legal and self-defense circles to explain “justified use of force” against another person or persons when threatened with physical harm.

We’ll first look at some of the legal data about responding with force, then how we develop a system of self-defense to respond to threats.

Here are some state laws we can use as examples. If you haven’t read our article about how states vary in their self-defense laws, please read that to see how your state law reads.

Montana

45-3-102. Use of force in defense of person. A person is justified in the use of force or threat to use force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary for self-defense or the defense of another against the other person’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, the person is justified in the use of force likely to cause death or serious bodily harm only if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm to the person or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Connecticut

Sec. 53a-19. Use of physical force in defense of person. (a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, a person is justified in using reasonable physical force upon another person to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force, and he may use such degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose; except that deadly physical force may not be used unless the actor reasonably believes that such other person is (1) using or about to use deadly physical force, or (2) inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm.

Illinois

(720 ILCS 5/7-1)(from Ch. 38, par. 7-1)Sec. 7-1. (a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.

Maine

§108. Physical force in defense of a person – A person is justified in using a reasonable degree of nondeadly force upon another person in order to defend the person or a 3rd person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful, nondeadly force by such other person, and the person may use a degree of such force that the person reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose. However, such force is not justifiable if: A. With a purpose to cause physical harm to another person, the person provoked the use of unlawful, nondeadly force by such other person; or B. The person was the initial aggressor, unless after such aggression the person withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person the intent to do so, but the other person notwithstanding continues the use or threat of unlawful, nondeadly force; or C. The force involved was the product of a combat by agreement not authorized by law.

Mental Defense (Avoidance of Conflict)

Grace Martial Arts teaches a system of Situational Awareness we call 60/360. You can read more about it here.

Most people will be safe if they are aware of their surroundings at all times. The basic steps are –

  • Awareness
  • Alertness
  • Avoidance

Threat Response Levels

Grace Martial Arts teaches these Response Levels to physical threats (based on the laws of each state where Grace Martial Arts teaches  self defense).

  1. Walk or Run Away (Response to Threat Force One)
  2. Verbal Command and Defensive Posture (Response to Threat Force Two)
  3. Run or Stun and Run (Response to Threat Force Three)
  4. Physical Restraint (Response to Threat Force Four)
  5. Temporary Incapacitation (Response to Threat Force Five)
  6. Great Bodily Harm (Response to Threat Force Six)
  7. Deadly Force (Response to Threat Force Seven)

Our goal is to respond to threats justifiably. Knowing self-defense laws in your state or any state you will visit AND knowing Threat Response Levels will help you make the right decision in the event you are attacked.

The next seven articles in this series will feature detailed information about each Threat and Response level along with photographs and videos to help you learn how to defend yourself or someone else in a variety of situations.

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