5 Ways to Differentiate Fighting from Self Defense
Being able to defend yourself and your loved ones during an attack can boost your confidence and raise your self-esteem. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking up violence and fighting for the sake of it, especially if you believe you have great combat skills.
And when you cross the line of self-defense and start fighting your opponent, you risk breaking the law and suffering the repercussions of such an offense.
However, you need not worry since we’ll discuss the difference between self-defense and fighting below to help you stay safe and avoid violent crime.
Self-Defense vs Fighting
Self-defense refers to the act of protecting oneself during an attack. It can involve running away from the violent scene or fighting back when an opponent acts violently or makes aggressive threats against you.
The general rule of self-defense is that your actions must involve responding to imminent danger, and you cannot call the police or overcome the threat non-violently.
On the other hand, fighting involves engaging in a battle or combat to defeat or destroy your opponent. It can be in the form of competitive combat, which has rules, or street fighting, which focuses more on destroying the opponent and winning the battle.
The difference between self-defense and fighting varies from state to state in the US due to varying legal jurisdictions and interpretations.
In most states, though, everyone has a ‘duty to retreat’ when faced with a situation that might lead to violence. So, your first strategy for self-defense should always be getting away to avoid committing a violent crime that could lead to a fine or imprisonment.
For example, when someone insults you or your parent, you should ignore them and walk away rather than insult them. Otherwise, it will lead to a physical confrontation.
If such a fight happens, it won’t be considered self-defense, even if your opponent insulted you first. Instead, it will be a consensual combat of two individuals destroying each other to protect their honor.
And since who strikes first doesn’t matter in consensual fights, you and your opponent will be liable for committing a violent crime.
If you want to avoid engaging in a fight when defending yourself in an assault, here are the principles of self-defense to keep in mind:
The principle of innocence establishes that a person must have actually been protecting themself but not initiating a fight.
If you somehow were the aggressor, instigating violence against your opponent, you cannot claim to have acted in self-defense.
Throwing the first punch can sometimes make it hard to regain innocence. However, factors like witnesses, evident effects of the violent act, state laws, and interpretations can also influence innocence determination.
When acting in self-defense, the law requires you to apply reasonable force and evaluate the circumstance before striking or shooting someone to defend yourself or others.
You cannot shoot or strike to kill someone just because you thought the bag an opponent held had a gun or knife intended to harm you.
Similarly, you cannot claim self-defense if you applied excess force where less force or other non-violent solution would have worked. You should also consider the gender, age, and size of your assailant when responding to an attack to avoid using too much force than needed.
Nevertheless, this principle is open to varying interpretations in specific cases since the aggressor or victim’s past actions and witnesses can determine the final judgment.
The principle of imminence establishes the urgency of a reaction in a threatening situation. If you want to make a successful self-defense claim, you must prove that you needed to act immediately to protect yourself, and you have no other defense option other than acting forcefully.
A good example is when an aggressor unexpectedly strikes or chokes you, and you strike back or knock them down using force to protect yourself.
If someone threatens you and stops, you don’t need to act violently against them since the threat has already ended. It would appear to be revenge if you act later and injure or kill someone. And since two wrongs cannot make a right, you might be charged with a violent felony.
According to this principle, you must act to show proportionality between your response and the threat paused. Responding to a non-deadly or mere threat with deadly or extreme violence will confute your self-defense claim.
For example, if someone threatens you or intends to slap you, shooting or stabbing them is not a proportional reaction. However, striking the aggressor with reasonable force can be rational and proportional, allowing you to refute an assault charge.
So, it’s essential to always bear in mind that your objective, methods, and effects of your self-defense can affect the legality of your actions.
As mentioned earlier, the law in most states requires you to run away from threats if possible. If you have the chance to escape the threat and you choose to stay and engage in violence, it can be difficult to escape legal liability.
However, the interpretation of this principle may vary in different situations, as do state laws. Some laws state that you should stand your ground, which does not demand getting away when threatened.
For instance, Texas law on criminal responsibility has the ‘Castle Doctrine,’ which allows victims to stand their ground during an attack, especially when defending their property.
The bottom line is that you must not be the aggressor or have any intentions to harm your opponent. This way, you can successfully claim self-defense.
How Self-Defense Differs from Combat Sports
Self-defense involves protecting oneself or another person against an aggressive person(s), while a combat sport is competitive fighting whereby two contestants fight against each other intending to win.
While combatants follow specific rules when fighting, assault victims don’t use any outlined directions to defend themselves. Instead, they use self-defense techniques to knock the attacker down and protect themselves from harm.
Another significant difference is that self-defense isn’t a fight of will, and victims may suffer serious post-traumatic stress syndromes. On the other hand, combatants fight willingly in sports like wrestling, taekwondo, karate, mixed martial arts, judo, and more.
Q: What is the Difference Between Fighting and Defending?
A: Fighting involves using force or acting violently to destroy or defeat someone, while defending means protecting yourself or another person from injuries or death in an attack.
In defending, it’s usually not the victim’s choice to use force or hit the aggressor to protect themselves.
Fighting is a violent crime that results in victims and aggressors unless it’s a competitive combat where we have a winner and a loser.
If you want to defend yourself and worry that your actions will appear to be a violent felony, you must adhere to the principles of self-defense. If you cannot escape the threat, consider using reasonable force when responding to the aggressor’s threats.
Q: How Do You Defend Yourself from an Attack?
A: There are many ways to defend yourself from an attack, from running away to hitting back. The safest way to defend yourself from an attack is to escape the threat by running as fast as you can while screaming to attract other people’s attention.
However, running may not work if your aggressor already has their hands on you. In that case, the best solution is fighting back using the self-defense skills that you are good at.
Some of the easiest yet effective self-defense moves include groin kick, hammer strike, stomach strike, elbow kick, and eye gouging. You’ll want to protect yourself when fighting back, as the attacker can also hit your sensitive parts and knock you down.
Other methods to use for self-defense in an attack include avoiding dangerous places, walking with confidence, and situation awareness.
Distracting the assailant when they least expect it can also allow you to escape and get help from other people.
Q: Can You Fight in Self-Defense?
A: When someone attacks you, or you realize that an antagonist is about to hit you, you can use force to protect yourself. However, you should only apply the necessary force and remain reasonable to prevent your self-defense from becoming a violent crime.
If you are the aggressor, you cannot claim to be fighting in self-defense since you started the fight or provoked your opponent in the first place. In such cases, your actions remain unlawful regardless of the results.
Q: Can a Woman Defend Herself Against a Man?
A: Yes. A woman can defend herself against a man. However, women must be realistic about their defense methods to outsmart or overpower a man.
Since men are naturally stronger than women, it takes effective self-defense skills for a woman to defend herself.
Women can defend themselves by preparing their bodies for speed and self-defense moves like groin kicks, elbow strikes, and hammer strikes.
Remaining in control of their body and being confident when attacked can also enable women to defend themselves during an attack. Otherwise, panicking will only give your aggressor more power and reasons to continue to violate you.
Q: Can Defending Another Person Be Self-Defense?
A: Yes. Defending someone else under an attack can be self-defense. If you defend someone you thought was in trouble, and the aggressor accuses you of assault, you can hire a criminal defense lawyer to help you prove your case.
This video has been included for its clarification of the topic matter. Credit goes to Fight SCIENCE
Self-defense training is an excellent way to prepare for dangerous situations. With proper self-defense techniques, you can protect yourself against aggressive individuals who intend to assault you.
However, it’s essential to remember that self-defense can quickly turn into fighting, depending on your actions. So, you should always evaluate the situation and be reasonable when defending yourself or others to prevent unnecessary fighting that could lead to legal liability.