We are going to be in a mess of trouble in a fight whether or not we strike first or after the attacker has begun the assault. We will need to articulate justification to police and the courts _our use of force reason against an attack or perceived threat of impending violence.
We should not even think about raising our hands to someone unless we have reasonably perceived we are in imminent danger of death or serious injury.
This perception should be shared by witnesses and even reflected on camera.
The question for the judge or jury should be: when did the fight start that reasonably called for 'protective action' on our part?
Did it start at the time an attacker actually launches a physical attack or is gearing up for an attack with harmful intent you have perceived?
And is there a threat or display of weaponry? Is there an obvious disparity of force about to come your way?
Generally, the legal view is that we do not have to be hit first or a hit first attempted before we can take action for self protection. Our defense may include pre-emptive striking in a situation that has reached a point of no hope for de-escalation or retreat/escape.
"An attempt to strike another, when sufficiently near
so that there is danger, the person assailed may strike first,
and is not required to wait until he has been struck."
– 16th Century English Self Defense Law -
All well and good, but we still have to be able to prove it in court. But what are the alternatives? Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
You weigh the situation and you make your decision.
One thing is for sure…if we allow an opponent the advantage of a first strike, regardless of our assumed abilities to block and counter, we may well end up in a pine box or a wheel chair.