With the ever-rising popularity of MMA (Mixed-martial arts) it is likely that more and more criminal cases will be prosecuted in which the victims and/or perpetrators will have had some level of training. It is important to understand that, to quote self-defense expert Animal MacYoung, “The problem with self-defense training is 1) that it doesn’t work and 2) that it does work”.

I am not trying to be funny when I say that, and neither was he. The psychology of self-defense is an enormous, complex area and the law is as well. All the training in the world will not protect you from facing criminal charges if you have committed acts construed as criminal by the police and DA’s.

First, it is a myth that a trained martial artist must be registered as a deadly weapon, or for that matter, that their hands and feet are considered deadly weapons. Yet martial arts training in California is taken into account when the question of self-defense is raised.

You are allowed to physically defend yourself with only that amount of force that is reasonably necessary to do so. If a drunk at a bar grabs your girlfriend, you are not allowed to “ground and pound” them like an MMA fighter. Once the engagement breaks off, you are not allowed to continue it, and you are not allowed to escalate the matter further. If a highly-trained fighter is in a confrontation with a drunken car mechanic who can barely stand up, it’s going to be difficult for you to argue self-defense. That is why, on the continuum of self-defense acts, someone with training is a lot better off staying out of trouble.

A good example of clearly felony assault is the case of Bobby Joe Blythe a former martial arts instructor who recently posted a video of one of his students attacking and seriously injuring a man who appears mentally disturbed.

The point at which the victim says “You got it” is where the perpetrator has no claim to self-defense whatsoever. This is important to understand. If the fight is over, then it is over.