Responding to Threats: Level Five

In the last part of our series we looked at Threat Level Four which is where you are with other people (e.g. family, friends, strangers who are victims). You could run away to protect yourself, but you don’t want to leave other people alone to face an attacker. If you haven’t read that article yet, please click here.

Let’s move now to Threat Level Five.

[Because of Covid 19 restrictions, we are not able to record an instructional video in this part of the series.]

[Podcast version available to listen to at the end of this post.]

Threat Level Five is where restraining an attacker won’t work. It may be because you aren’t able to restrain them or your restraint techniques won’t work well enough or long enough for other people to get away from the attacker.

Response Level Five is where we use temporary incapacitation to stop the attacker.

Incapacitation is basically preventing someone from functioning in a normal way. A self-defense technique that incapacitates an attacker means removing their ability to continue their attack. Physical restraints can do that, but what if that won’t work in a particular situation?

Legal Considerations

Our response should be in proportion to the action (justified response). Aggravated criminal battery is defined legally as –

 a physical act that results in harmful or offensive contact with another’s person without that person’s consent — involving an additional, aggravating factor, such as the infliction of serious bodily injury or the use of a dangerous weapon. Wex Legal Dictionary, Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School

I taught martial arts and self defense in Florida for many years, so I’ll use that state’s law concerning aggravated battery as an example –

784.045 Aggravated battery

(1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:

1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or

2. Uses a deadly weapon.

(b) A person commits aggravated battery if the person who was the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.

So, what can you legally do to defend yourself against a Level Five attack?

Let’s look at Florida’s law again as an example –

776.012 Use or threatened use of force in defense of person.

(1) A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.

(2) A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

Most state laws allow a person to defend themselves or others from this type of violent attack. The legal defense to support your response is to show that the force you used to defend yourself was in proportion to the threat (justification).

Threat Response = Threat Level.

[You can look up what your state requires you to do in the first part of our series.]

So, how do we incapacitate someone? Here are some examples of techniques that can work.

  1. Trap/hold to disable
  2. Trap/hold/throw to disable
  3. Strike/kick/trap/throw to disable

Striking/kicking/throwing someone to incapacitate them can lead to their being injured. These techniques can knock an attacker unconscious, break bones, dislocate joints, etc.

Attempting to use incapacitation techniques compassionately becomes more difficult than previous response levels because of the many variables involved in striking/kicking/throwing someone. That’s because attackers are usually moving toward targets with their own ideas about hurting people. That makes compassionate responses more difficult.

Personal Considerations

You have the right to defend yourself. If someone attacks you with intent to cause you or someone else with bodily harm, you can use almost any self-defense techniques shy of killing a person. Karate, Jujutsu and Kung Fu techniques work well in many cases.

Once you have neutralized the attack, getting away from your attacker is recommended. Once you are away from your attacker, you can talk with family or friends or call police to report the attack.

Next Time

The highest threat level is where one or more people intend to cause you or others great bodily harm. What can you do? We’ll look at Threat Level Six in the next part of our series.

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Responding to Threats: Level Six Grace Martial Arts

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://gracemartialarts.com/2021/04/26/responding-to-threats-level-six/
  1. Responding to Threats: Level Six
  2. Responding to Threats: Level Five
  3. Responding to Threats: Level Four
  4. Responding to Threats: Level Three
  5. Responding to Threats: Level Two

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