Israeli Krav Maga: Legally Speaking - Part 2


Legally, self-defense is an affirmative defense.  This means you admit to (counter-) attacking the aggressor.  You have the burden of proving you acted in self-defense and, crucially, that you were not the aggressor.   To explain your actions, you need only to have a reasonable belief regarding the violent nature and danger of the other person’s actions.  Importantly, apparent necessity, not actual necessity will suffice for a sustainable self-defense explanation.  

You will have to articulate why you had no choice but to use counter-violence.  You’ll have to explain the following four reasonable beliefs for a self-defense claim:

  • Intent (stated or evident goal of harming you)

  • Capability (has the prowess or tools to harm you)

  • Opportunity (proximity)

  • No preclusion (retreat was not available to you)

Your legal justification for your self-defense actions may center on (1) how well can you articulate the reasons for your actions and (2) was your counterviolence warranted (using the reasonableness standard).  To justify your actions you’ll likely have to explain:

  • You recognize the difference between normal movements and attack movements in a police statement and, possibly, a witness stand:

  • Your pre-existing learned knowledge of threats.  In other words, you’ll likely need to explain such observations as 

  1. when another person’s actions duplicate well-known or threatening attack patterns;

  2. develops proximity and ability to attack;

  3. presents counter-measures against initial safety measures you take in response.

  • Given the totality of the circumstances, why you reasonably believed you faced imminent and immediate physical danger.  

  • In a preemptive self-defense situation, why an attack was not just possible, but, it was probable (i.e. when a person acts in a manner consistent with attack movements)

  • You did not create the violent confrontation.

  • No reasonable preclusion (retreat) was available.

  • That you acted with objectively reasonable counter-force accounting for the fear and adrenaline (which can explain any inconsistencies between your perceptions/statements and video of actual incident) that affected your actions when confronting the danger. 

  • Your goal and intent was to stop the threat, no to cause wanton injury.  

  • In stopping the threat, you recognized the probable outcome of not stopping the threat (fractured eye orbit, smashing your head on the ground, broken nose, being stomped, etc.)  For this point, you may have provide answers to the following representative direct questions:

  1. Was it necessary to kick and severely damage the other party’s knee?  

  2. Why did you attack the other party’s eyeball?  

  3. After you kneed the other party in the head, why did you stomp on the other party’s ankle?  

  4. Why after disarming the other party and creating distance did you shoot him?

Some inter-related questions you may face from police and prosecutor could be:  

  • Couldn’t you have precluded the situation (left)?

  • Why didn’t you summon the police?

  • Did you instigate the dispute?

  • How did you know or prove the other party was going to attack you?

  • You train in krav maga to injure people, correct?

  • Why did you use that level of force?

  • Didn’t you intend to purposefully injure the other party?