Avoiding Excess Force: A True Story
by Prof. Gene Roos, 9th dan, Jujitsu
Editor's Note: The following true story illustrates
not only an excellent self-defense technique, but it also brings into
focus the competing issues of self-defense versus avoidance of excessive
force. The author has contributed photos of this technique to help illustrate
Recently while a jujitsu (jujutsu) student, and assistant instructor
in the art, was standing in line at a fast food restaurant, a second
larger patron attempted to break in front of him to get to the counter.
The student spoke up, saying that he was there first, and that they
would be served shortly.
The larger man backed off (returning to the rear of the line), but
a few seconds later pushed ahead again, driving his shoulder into the
student's back. This time student just tried to ignore the interruption.
It didn't work.
The second patron became more confrontational:
With his right hand he grabbed the student's right shoulder and attempted
to turn him around. To avoid things getting out of hand, and not wanting
to hurt the aggressor, the student responded with a simple jujitsu technique.
Without turning, the student placed his own left hand (across his body)
on top of the attacker's hand (to hold it in place). Then, while turning
slightly, he placed his right forearm (from the inside) on the attacker's
right arm (an unbendable arm technique), and then rotated his body counter
clockwise as he moved his right arm in a downward spiral.
This took the aggressor to the ground, but didn't injure him. Then,
to prevent retaliation, the student pinned the aggressor's wrist (wrist
lock) in order to keep him from moving.
While this was going on, a restaurant employee had telephoned the police.
Upon arrival the officers started to arrest both of those involved.
The student, however, told the police that he was just trying to get
the attacker off him and then to restrain him until they arrived. Another
restaurant employee also reported the facts of the incident that supported
the students statement.
The policeman replied that if the student had punched or kicked the
attacker while he was on the ground, he would also have been arrested.
The attacker was then arrested and taken to the hospital for observation
and/or treatment of any possible injures.
In any self-defense situation such as this, there are always legal
questions, such as, when does excessive force begin in the eyes of the
law? Everyone has the right to defend himself or herself, but when does
the level of force exceed that necessary for self-defense?
One limitation of karate, taekwondo and many kung fu styles that rely
on punches and kicks is that the defender can easily be perceived to
be the aggressor or having applied excess force. And if the defender
strikes an attacker after the threat has ceased, he or she may end up
arrested and possibly sued.
One advantage of Jujitsu techniques is that they are usually perceived
by onlookers as well as law enforcement as a soft, non-aggressive defensive
response. This can also minimize any civil legal consequence.
As a side note, readers will be glad to know that the restaurant employees
were so impressed with what the student in this situation had done that
they gave him a free dinner after the police left.
About The Author:
Prof. Gene Roos, 9th dan Ju Jitsu, and 4th dan in judo, is a member
of the Board of Directors for the America Ju Jitsu Association. In
1958 was awarded Shodan (Judo) and won the Regional Judo Champion.
In 1958 & 1959 was Judo State Champion. His instructors include:
Harold Brosious (Ketsugo), Dennis Palumbo (Hakko Ryu Ju Jitsu, 8th
Dan), George Kirby, & Shizuya Sato (Ju Jitsu), Wally Jay (Small
Circle Ju Jitsu), Dr. Sacharnoski (Hard Style Ju Jitsu & Ki) and
Master Mochizuki (a student of Funakoshi, Kano, & Ueshiba). He
is also the author of a series of upcoming books on Aiki jujitsu as
well as a number of videos including: "Aiki Jujitsu" (a
three video tapes series with manuals); "Deadly Attacks"
(defense against 30 knife, gun, stick and empty hand attacks); "Deadly
Attacks- part II"(defense against an additional 30 knife, gun
and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks III" and "Devastating
Throws and Other Deadly Attacks " (defense against 30 advanced
combat throws, knife attacks, stick, and a rear shotgun attack), For
more information see: