NOTE: Below this article is an Associated Press news piece from May 8, 2018, illustrating this important information.

I was raised on the Clint Eastwood, John Wayne style of fighting.  Haymakers and unwritten rules that you never hit a man when he is down. Even when the kung fu boom hit, the fighters seemed to follow some ideas of honor and integrity while they gouged out a bad guy’s eyeballs. That’s the movies, let’s talk about real life.

Most hand-to-hand fights are actually three to four fights rolled into one. As self-defense or martial arts instructor, you have to understand this.

One of the five components that make up a self-defense plea from prosecution is an imminent threat. If a person says he or she is going to smash your face and starts to move in ways that support that intention, that could be argued as an imminent threat and could allow you to preemptively act first to protect yourself.

That is fight #1. If, with assertive verbal judo, you can talk down the aggressor or put distance between you, then you have won and no one is hurt. Fight one is over and all is well.

If verbal judo and distance don’t work, fight #2 is on. This is where it gets very dangerous for a martial artist, self-defense expert, or any trained fighter. If you are defending yourself, you have the right to “end the threat.” This is really important to understand. If you knock your attacker out and then jump on him ala’ MMA and smash his face, you have just started fight #3 and you may well go to jail for it. The threat is over, yet you continue to fight. Bad move.

Even though the law says that you must stop at the end of the threat, the fact that you are a trained person can be used AGAINST you. Regardless of training, once the threat is over, you must stop.

Fight #3 will probably cost you every penny you have in legal bills and will most likely be fought from a jail cell.

I am not a fan of the UFC effect on martial arts. Go to YouTube and search for street fights etc… and you will see many videos of people stomping and punching the head of a 100% unconscious person. I don’t blame UFC/MMA for that, but their fighters do exactly that all of the time. These fighters are heroes and role models to young kids. This is where they learn to fight.

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Martial arts expert argues he pummeled man in self-defense

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine mixed martial art fighter is losing his argument that he was defending himself when he repeatedly punched an unconscious victim in the head.

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court upheld Richard Matthews’s conviction of aggravated assault for beating a man outside a bar in 2015. The judges say the evidence doesn’t support his self-defense claim.

A bouncer testified then-45-year-old Matthews spun the victim around and punched him in the face until he fell to the ground. He says Matthews then sat on top of and repeatedly punched the injured victim.

Matthews says he thought the victim was going to grab his wife’s rear end. Matthews says he wanted to make sure the victim didn’t hurt him and stayed down. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to request for comment Tuesday.