It may be easy given my strident defense of the 2nd amendment, and the utter joy with which I argue, to think that I tend toward gung ho kill them all. If anything, knowing my love of a good argument, I really try to dial things down once I see they’re escalating.

No, I don’t always succeed.

Either way, some advice I can likely take, and a lot of others besides – with a major section header titled “how to stay out of jail” (anyone who properly references Marc MacYoung properly has at least some clue… and if you haven’t , go look up Yeah, the site design was dated, but there’s a LOT of good info there.

Many ‘self defence’ courses are great for learning techniques and principles, but omit a critical skill: how to stay out of jail.

In the words of Marc MacYoung, self-defence is an affirmative defence. It is an admission that you committed an act of violence — an illegal act in ordinary times — but you had to act due to circumstances out of your control. Per American law, these circumstances are usually abbreviated as AOJP: the threat has the Ability and the Opportunity to harm you, you are in Jeopardy, and the situation Precludes all other options.

In layman’s terms, this means that there is a clear and present threat to life and limb, there is no way to avoid or escape the threat, use of force must be appropriate to the threat, and force must end when the threat is no longer able to harm you. If any of these elements are not present, it is not self-defense. It is illegal violence and you will go to jail.

Going back to the above scenario, any use of force on my part in that incident would be criminal use of force. Even if I had come out the better of the exchange, there would be no way to justify it. Not when there was no actual threat, and when I was able to walk away. The incident was not combat — it was a dominance display, a monkey dance, and monkey dancing does not justify violence.

It’s easy to state all this after the fact. But when you’re caught in the moment, when the blood is up, adrenaline is surging through your veins and the fight-or-flight reflex kicks in, it becomes too easily to allow your emotions to destroy you.