The Law of Self-Defense

by David Dye Sensei


Disclaimer Notice
Information contained in this handout pertains to the laws of Self-Defense in the state of California. All members training at Shuyokan will be given a copy of this handout and any member testing for rank will be required to be familiar with and know the material contained in this handout as part of their promotional exam.

It is a legal and moral obligation of all martial arts instructors who teach any type of martial arts that can be used for self defense to be familiar with, know, practice, and teach to their students the respective laws of Self-Defense within the city, county, state and/or country that they reside. Martial arts instructors can be legally held responsible both criminally and/or civilly for the actions of each and every one of their students that they have trained or are currently training.

Since many of the techniques taught at Shuyokan can be or are designed to be used for the purposes of Self-Defense, it is important for all members training at Shuyokan to know and be familiar with their legal rights on how, when and to what extent they are allowed by law to use any of the techniques that they have been taught that can and/or could be used for the purposes of personal Self-Defense. Any member training at Shuyokan, who by their very actions, violates any of the laws of Self-Defense as described in this handout either by maliciously and/or negligently misusing any techniques that have been taught to them by any instructor(s) and/or assistant instructor(s), is grounds for immediate termination of their membership and permanent removal from the Shuyokan Dojo.


Self-Defense - Legal Definition - Black's Law Dictionary
The protection of one's person or property against some injury attempted by another. The person is justified in the use of force against an aggressor when, and to the extent it appears to him, and he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such aggressor's imminent use of unlawful force. One who is not the aggressor in an encounter is justified in using a reasonable amount of force against his adversary when he reasonably believes: (a) that he is in immediate danger of unlawful bodily harm from his adversary, and (b) that the use of such force is necessary to avoid the attack, (i.e., one threatening only bodily harm), and to use deadly force against his non-deadly attack.


"Reasonable Force" - Legal Definition - Black's Law Dictionary
"That degree of force which is not excessive and is appropriate in protecting oneself or one's property. When such force is used, a person is justified and is not criminally liable, nor liable in a tort."


Self-Defense - California Jury Instruction Code Section 5.30
The following is read to jurors who sit on criminal court cases in California involving defendants who have been charged with assault and battery (CPC 240 - 242) and are claiming self-defense.

"It is lawful for a person who is being assaulted to defend himself/herself from attack, if, as a reasonable person s/he has grounds for believing and does believe that bodily injury is about to be inflicted upon him/her. In doing so, that person must use all force and means which s/he believes to be reasonably necessary and which would appear to a reasonable person, in the same or similar circumstances, to be necessary to prevent the injury which appears to be imminent."

Shuyokan Sayings

"I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy than be a success at something I hate. --- George Burns"