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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2002 4:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 493
Location: Framingham, MA USA
This type of introspection is met by disdain by many MA's but should be faced with as much of a view toward legal self-defense, as we deem our physical self-defense.

Can one become guilty of assault and battery while performing, drills, bunkai, sparring and other 2 or more person participation in physical demonstration and applications?

This forum has been reporting cases and laws, regulations and changes concerning their possible impact or effect on martial artists. We have tried to instill the reasoning applied by the courts including subjective tests and objective tests, the latter utilizing standards, to judge cases.

However we are faced with the day to day friendly situation encountered in the dojo or tournament ring while participating in our normal MA learning process.

The same set of circumstances with variations can result in liability while engaged in normal and friendly activity.

Example: You are practicing defenses against downward club attacks and you decide to step in quickly by stepping in and forward and apply an arm-lock forcing the attackers elbow backward, while foot sweeping, and do so with such force that you go down (albeit while controlling the club arm) and slam him onto the floor or mat with such force, as to fracture or dislocate a shoulder.

club arm) and slam him onto the floor or mat with such force, as to fracture or dislocate a shoulder.

You will be evaluated on your skill level and experience. If you have great skills, which process might involve your rank as well in applying an objective test. you could be found to be negligent to some extent, resulting in civil liability and damages.

Why? Because if you are skilled, you will be held to a degree wherein you should have been able to control the back fall releasing the locked elbow and shoulder from taking all the weight while still controlling the club arm.

I am sure that many of you can come up with a better depiction or scenario. My point is that, while there are assumptions of risk assigned to any sport, that assumption may be overcome when injury is the result of negligence. If a white belt performed the same defense, it could be deemed and accident.

Escalations in force due to ego, chemical cocktail or for what ever reasons, can and will result in injuries and liability. The law is blind as to machismo or customs, and the standard of reasonableness in a particular set of facts will apply. Drills utilizing blocks and strikes can result in escalation to the point of injury. Koticitae (Uechi arm conditioning) can become a whose tougher routine.

Applications of full contact in a point sparring event are fairly common, and seldom result in law suits, but the underlying liability is always present.

How many times have you heard of hockey players being charged with assault and battery for high sticking and other forms of violence. Even though there is a high degree of assumption of risk in the normal game of hockey, there must be some control.

Bad blood between two parties (gathered by witness evidence) can result in the same conduct being negligence and also criminal assault and battery.

My mission statement is to make us aware that the risks are their and so is liability.

It is not my intention to weaken the martial art for sensei who teach under tough realistic situations, but if you do so, you must also teach the more difficult control necessary to prevent injury and consequential liability.

All of the chain or franchise martial arts schools must adhere to a high standard of safety dictated by their liability insurance carriers. These directives cover even such items as first aid kits in dojo, equipment, sparring gear and equipment and the like. Even the dojo floor surfaces are subject to insurer approval. I know that many of you are aware of rules advocated by tournament requirements such as those advocated by KRANE.

For the dedicated teachers who teach as an avocation and cannot spend for insurance because of limited student enrollment, please take the time to inculcate students in safety practices.

If you have any suggestions or comments that involve martial arts and incumbent liability, please feel free to post them.


Alan K


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