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Instructor Graeme Welsh

07966 273 062




The Law

Judo and the law

The Criminal Law Act 1967

Scales of Justice

Section 3 of The Criminal Law Act 1967 states that "a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime or in the effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large." This then allows for reasonable force to be used in self Ė defence.

Common Law - use of force

If you have an honestly held belief that you or another are in imminent danger, then you may use such force that is reasonable and necessary to avert that danger. The high ranking judge, Lord Griffith in applying the use of force to the question of self-defence said... "The common law has always recognised as one of these circumstances the right of a person to protect himself from attack and to act in defence of others if necessary to inflict violence on another in so doing. If no more force is used than is reasonable to repel the attack, such force is not unlawful and no crime is committed. Furthermore, a man about to be attacked does not have to wait for his assailant to strike the first blow or fire the first shot, circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike."

Human Rights Act 1998 - Schedule 1

The use of force is covered by Article 2, Sub-Article 2 of Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation to the right to life. The use of force, which is no more than absolutely necessary in the defence of any person from unlawful violence. It is vitally important that a student of Judo understand their responsibilities to the public, themselves and their families.

Reasonable force

It is essential that the first action of the person defending themselves is to demonstrate that they do not want to fight. They must try to defuse the situation or best of all find an escape route. The best way to defend oneself is not to fight at all but to walk away from the trouble. It is possible to step back raise your hands ( open with the palms facing forward ) and say NO I donít want trouble, please let me go. Let us assume this has not worked and you now believe that an attack is imminent. At this point you are probably justified in defending yourself by striking, kicking or throwing the aggressor, however once your personal safety is no longer threatened you must not become the aggressor and continue the attacks. This would be considered beyond what is reasonable. It is now time to walk away!

It is often assumed that because you are a trained martial artist you can deal with any situation and therefore you must not make the first move. However life is not this clear cut. As mentioned previously, it is expected that the defender will attempt to defuse the situation or walk away but if this fails a pre-emptive strike may be used but again only enough force should be used to defend yourself.

Weapons and the law

Martial Arts Weapons

Weapons clearly have no place in the practice of judo, however, the following information is included for completeness.

Section 139 Criminal Justice Act 1988 states that "it is an offence to have an article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed, (folding pocket knives are exempt provided the cutting edge is not more than three inches long) in a public place." Section 1 Prevention of Crime Act 1953 states that "it is an offence to have an offensive weapon whilst in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. Offensive weapons will normally be of two types: any article made or adapted for causing injury and other articles intended to be used for such purposes.

The Restriction of Offensive Weapons Acts 1959 and 1961 state that "it is an offence for any person to manufacture, import, sell, hire, offer for sale or hire, or expose or have in possession for the purpose of sale or hire, or lend or give to any other person a flick knife or gravity knife.

The above Acts of law were extended by virtue of Section 141 Criminal Justice Act 1988 and Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988, to effectively outlaw other types of weapons. These are: The butterfly knife or balisong, knuckleduster, telescopic truncheon, push dagger, shuriken, shaken, or death star, hand claw, footclaw, manrikigusari, or kusari, swordstick, hollow kubotan, blowpipe, or blowgun, kusari gama, kyoketsu shoge and belt buckle knives.

Items that are not offensive weapons per se, but are carried for the purpose of self defence, will still mean an offence is being committed. For example, a person carrying a tool bag with a hammer in it is not committing an offence, but if the hammer is being carried purely for defensive purposes, then an offence has been committed.

Finally we have discussed that a person is entitled to defend himself using reasonable force so it must follow that a person can use anything to defend himself as long as itís within the guidelines of reasonable force and the item used is not designed to inflict pain. Eg dustbin lid, briefcase or handbag.

Welwyn Garden City Judo Club

Based at Gosling Stadium, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Telephone: 07966 273 062, Email: