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Old 01-14-2001, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 3
Since I've been a kid, I've always been told stories about how once you get to a certain level in the martial arts, you have to "register your hands as a lethal weapon". Heck, I've even heard things like "You have to go to Japan to become an x-degree black belt, and then you can't come back".

I'm older (35) and wiser now but, just recently, I got in an argument with my mom about this. She says that it's illegal for high-degree black belts to get in a fight. I tried, without success, to help her understand that it's illegal for ANYONE to start a fight. And, I find it incredulous to think that it's illegal to defend yourself just because you know how.

So, is there any truth to all this? Is it "more illegal" for certain black belts to start a fight? Or, is it just a common sense thing in that it's just so much more likely they'll do a LOT of damage that they have to avoid fighting all the more?
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Old 01-14-2001, 04:46 PM
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Posts: 1,552
It's not any more illegal for a black belt to start a fight, or be in a fight. What IS illegal is an excessive use of force. For example, if you get mugged by an unarmed mugger, and you pull out a 357 magnum and kill him, you'd probably get charged with something like excessive use of force, etc. Of course it would be up to a jury to decide if it WAS excessive, or if you were justified. The same rules apply to a black belt. If an unarmed mugger attacks, and he kills him with his bare hands, he'd probably end up in front of a jury. What the jury might decide depends on the case.

There's nothing special about black belts, or skilled fighters, though. The issue is always whether the force used was appropriate for the circumstances.

Old 01-14-2001, 05:15 PM
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Location: Raiderville, TX
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There's no "registration". However, I have turned up a few cases (based on the laws in individueal states) which lead me to believe that boxers, if perhaps not other trained fighters, may be found guilty of "assault with a deadly weapon" for an empty-handed blow. When I'm feeling more motivated, I'll browse for cases.
Old 01-14-2001, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 136
I'm not sure if there are laws stating that they must register their hands, but it doesn't matter that much. Most people who have studied the martial arts long enough to attain a black belt understand that it is only for self defense, and don't go out starting fights. And, most black belts know at least 1 or 2 strikes or holds that will incapacitate someone without causing excessive damage. So, even if they get in a fight, they should have the poise to utilize enough control to not kill anyone, unless the situation warrants it.

If someone attacks with a weapon, that's a different story, and in today's society, this is a lot more likely to happen. Depending on the weapon, the definition of acceptable levels of damage changes greatly. If someone attacks with a deadly weapon, killing them is still only self defense.

Due to the nature of the martial arts, registration of someone's hands would be like forcing everyone who purchases a knife to register it. Knives in the wrong hands are much more dangerous than the hands of a black belt.
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Old 01-14-2001, 06:15 PM
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: I'm coming back, now.
Posts: 7,419
Yes, my hands are lethal weapons, Officer, but I kicked his ass!

No one has to register their hands, nor even the content of their minds, which is what really matters in martial arts. However the acquisition of such skills can be a factor in consideration of any charge of assault made against you. Assault is a matter of the perception of danger. If you are known to have the ability to kill a person with your hands, any threat of physical force you make is made with that level of reasonable fear.

It works the other way, too. If you are a grand master of Ta Kwan Do, and are accosted by Bubba Average on the street, it becomes very difficult to demonstrate how you figured that Bubba really represented a serious threat of harm to you. It doesn't mean you have to let Bubba kick your ass, but it means he would get charged with simple battery for the attempt, not Assault and Battery. You still get to smack him when he tries it, but you have to be very careful not to hurt him much.

On the other hand, if you are an Akido master, you can humiliate him at will by making him fall all over himself while discussing the futility of violence as a means of social expression. That isn't even illegal, as long as he is the one attacking you. Of course if Bubba has been taking Ju Jitsu, or Kung Fu, or decides to drop back ten and shoot your ass, you might have some problems. Akido is only the best of the martial arts against the untrained, or poorly trained practitioners of more aggressive martial arts. That does include the vast majority of drunken putzes, and neighborhood badasses. (Actually, it includes an embarrassingly high percentage of folks with awards in martial arts, but that's another whole thread.)

Old 01-14-2001, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Sunny Florida, but someti
Posts: 4,583
max nailed it

No registration.

Yes, a higher standard of control expected should you actually find yourself in a violent situation.
Old 01-14-2001, 06:42 PM
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Here is a thread on the subject if anyone is interested.

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