In the real world, what happens when you beat up the bad guy?

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Knowing when and how to use our martial arts skills is really a complex thing. We train to be strong, fast, and effective. We know how to put bad guys down.  We’re supposed to be the good guys, right? Unfortunately, not always…

Example #1, as told by my friend, AP: About ten years ago, I worked as a security guard in one of the biggest supermarkets in the city. It was my first job. Because I was already in Arnis then, I always carried my sticks. One night an intruder came and when confronted, he attempted to attack me with a balisong. I hit his head with my stick, ONCE. But that one strike rendered him unconscious. As a result, they suspended me from my job and I almost got jailed. 

Example #2, from a yahoo forumThere is this bully that has been tormenting me for a long time, he makes fun of me even in public, picks on me, humiliates me, and everyone one around laughs and join in the bullying. One day I just had enough so I took this guy and beat the SH*#@ out of him. Now people say that am the bad guy. They give me those disgusting  looks and say “I can’t believe you did that!” They make me feel like a freak. WHY IS THAT? If you beat up a bully you lose anyway?

Ohhh… I feel bad for them. I would have done the same thing!

But really, what does the law say?

Laws differ from country to country or even from state to state but here’s the basic definition:

SELF-DEFENSE (source :The Free Legal Dictionary / Farflex)

  • commonly asserted in cases of HomicideAssault and Battery
  • person may use reasonable force when it appears reasonably necessary to prevent an impending injury. A person using force in self-defense should use only so much force as is required to repel the attack. 

So for Example#1 above,  AP should not have hit the attacker’s head. He should have just hit the arm to remove the weapon and stop the attack.

For the Example #2, he should not have beaten up the bully. He should just have used some reasonable force, like pushing.

I sort of feel bad saying these conclusions. It seems unfair to to the good guys.

But are my conclusions correct?

What’s your opinion on this?


Many discussions of the self defense law are full of legal jargon and hard to understand by non lawyers like me. This one is relatively understandable, click here.


11 thoughts on “In the real world, what happens when you beat up the bad guy?

  1. Anonymous June 25, 2013 / 8:53 AM

    exercise gentleness- power under control c”,)

  2. O July 6, 2013 / 7:42 PM

    well, I too have experience the same but physical contact on the assailant that render him unconscious or hurt makes you more guilty in the eyes of the blindfolded woman especially if you are skilled with the sticks. what an unfair world. my take on this is that extreme self control should be exercised, you should well think ahead of the consequences. Have you seen Jet Lee’s Fearless? the situation is similar in this movie.

    • thedeadlydance July 10, 2013 / 2:07 AM

      Yes, extreme self control. Yesterday I showed my mom a video of a knife fighting practice. She asked,”So that’s what you’re going to do for self defense?” I said, “Of course not mom. I’ll get in trouble if I do that!” Sometimes, I wonder if we can really use the skills that we practice.
      No, I haven’t seen any jet Li movie yet, can you believe it? I’ll put it on my list of movies to watch. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  3. Mio December 12, 2013 / 9:36 PM

    An arnisador who hits and renders an armed assailant unconscious would have to rely on the various ways the police, the lawyer and the prosecutor treat and handle the case. These 3 people could spell the difference between jail and freedom. (I know because my father once served the public as a Manila prosecutor.)

    Often, if the prosecutor, in particular, sympathizes with the arnisador (as the defendant) and decides to exclude some evidence unfavorable to the arnisador, then that arnisador could sleep soundly at night knowing that he won’t get imprisoned.

    Note that Venancio “Anciong” Bacon, founder of the Balintawak style, spent years in jail for using a weapon to defend himself and kill his opponent during an ambush. I don’t how the case was prosecuted, but his stay in prison was shortened because Col. Tabimina, the father of renowned Balintawak instructor Bobby Tabimina, was said to have played a role in Bacon’s early release.

    In contrast, Nick Elizar, a follower of Bacon’s style and founder of Nickel Stick Balintawak, didn’t go to jail for hitting with his rattan an armed robber who threatened to harm him if he doesn’t surrender his day’s earnings as taxi cab driver.

    Note also that different jurisdictions treat armed responses to armed attacks differently.

    Here in Canada, the principle to be followed in self-defense is that the defender has the DUTY TO RETREAT.

    If a security guard here in Canada hits an armed intruder and injures him, the company who hired the guard would also be liable under the rule of VICARIOUS LIABILITY.

    In Florida, USA, however, it is different, The law allows the defender to STAND HIS GROUND and defend himself using reasonable means under the circumstances. The means include the use of deadly force against the attacker if required.

    • Lester Usapdin August 16, 2014 / 2:19 PM

      I think GM Nick doesn’t have his arnis stick when he was threatened by a hold-upper in his taxi and instead did empty hands technique. I don’t know.

      • Mio December 31, 2014 / 3:18 PM


        “A couple of years later, an incident occurred that changed Mr. Elizar’s opinion about taxi driving. He was held up by two men. Sensing immediate danger as soon as he turned into a dark street, Nick Elizar was already on guard. The first man pulled a knife. Before he could direct his knife to Nick Elizar’s neck, it was already countered. While Nick Elizar was twisting the first man’s arm, the second who had undoubtedly realized that he and his friend picked the wrong taxi this evening, proceeded to abandon his partner. Left with only one assailant, Nick Elizar pulled his attacker out of the car, after already throwing away the knife to prevent any serious injuries. He called for help. Seeing that there was no one around, he took out his stick and proceeded to hit the would be robber. After which, he called for the police to collect the criminal. He then retired from taxi driving, looking for a better way to earn a living.”

  4. thedeadlydance December 13, 2013 / 10:34 PM

    Thank you for this comment, Mio. This self defense thing is confusing and sometimes arbitrary.
    The Duty to Retreat thing is what my brother was saying while trying to annoy me the other day. He said that my training is useless since in real life situations, the best self defense is to run. Yes, of course i said, but tell that to the family of the girl who died from a bad guy’s knife stabs. Of course she would have wanted to run, but she couldn’t. Some knife defense training maybe, would have helped.

    • Mio January 8, 2014 / 8:13 AM

      Please also read the interview with Bob “Silver” Tabimina re his training with GM Venancio “Anciong” Bacon inside Camp Crame:

      Even when GM Bacon was incarcerated at Camp Crame, he seemed to have been given a privileged status to receive a special treatment. How can a prisoner in Camp Crame, during martial law, be given the permission to teach balintawak escrima, a violent art, to a visitor such as Maestro Tabimina. Well, Maestro Tabimina’s father was a ranking police official.

  5. Mio December 16, 2013 / 4:11 AM

    I remember my old law professor giving us a background of this case titled US vs. Jose P. Laurel. (Yes, the Laurel here is the former president of Philippines during the Japanese occupation.) This is a case touching on the issue of self-defense and provocation.

    While reading this case, I again got a cultural glimpse of the Batangueno’s definition of “barako” and his penchant for carrying weapons outside of his home, particularly the balisong and the baston. I take an exceptional pride for having a blood of a Batangueno (my dad) in my veins. In Batangas, arnisadors or escrimadors are also referred to as “bastoneros”.

    My professor asked us this question in relation to the case: “Do you know why former president Laurel would always wear a black ribbon on the left side of his chest? This is to remind himself to never repeat what he did to his adversary in this case.”

    Read: the case ( and get a mental picture of our former president as a knife fighter using his skill against a bastonero.

  6. Lester Usapdin August 16, 2014 / 2:12 PM

    For me, as long as you don’t kill the other person and the threat stop, whatever weapons or means you used are fine with me. Can these law makers bring you back to life if you died of stabbing and are they doing something to stop bullying in schools? In the end, it’s you who will do the task of saving yourself, not the government.

    • thedeadlydance August 19, 2014 / 9:10 PM

      That’s what I’m thinking also. Can they bring me back to life? Will they be there to protect me and my loved ones?

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