Martial Arts Book Review: American Law and the Trained Fighter by Carl Brown

by Shawn Kovacich - Date: 2007-01-02 - Word Count: 906 Share This!

Being the author of several books on the martial arts and fighting, I am always looking for books of exceptional quality to add to my library. If I have a book in my library, it's definitely worth owning. One such book is Carl Brown's, "American Law and the Trained Fighter."

One of the key things to remember in any self-defense situation is that even if you are 100% in the right that may not be the case in the eyes of the legal system and/or in a civil case. What I am presenting here is a review of the author's book and therefore his opinions on the matter. Although we both share some of the same ideas, I fully admit that my opinions on a lot of what is included in this book are quite different from those of the author. You need to read the material presented, do some research of your own, and then form your own opinion.


This section starts off by asking the question, "Just what am I entitled to do in a self-defense situation." This of course varies from situation to situation and is dependent upon numerous circumstances that will be present and unique to each situation. Therefore, there is no magic answer. What the author attempts to do is give you some sound basic knowledge from which to work with and expand upon through your own research into the specific laws and legal precedents that have been set in the area in which you live.

The most important point that the author makes in this section is this, "If you ever have to defend yourself with force, and doing so lands you in a court battle, you should get an attorney." I would personally expand upon that by saying that you should retain the services of an excellent attorney before you ever actually need one.

The Martial Arts:

This section goes into a brief history of the martial arts of Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, and Aikido in the Orient as well as here in the United States.

Assault and Battery:

This section (and the next one) really delves into the "meat & potatoes" of the matter and presents numerous examples of various state precedents concerning the subject matter. Although the information presented is dated, it does provide a firm basis for which you the individual can continue your research to bring you up-to-date on the current status in the area you live in.

Assault and Battery are two separate crimes and can be charges individually or together. Additionally, you may find yourself facing not only criminal charges, but also civil charges as well.

The author has further broken down the various case laws to come up with the following five elements that need to be considered when dealing with this issue. They are as follows:

1. The nature of the injuries received by the victim.
2. The force used by the defendant.
3. Whether repeated blows were struck.
4. The manner or style of attack.
5. Whether the blows and kicks were administered to vital areas of the victims body.

According to the author, if the defendant is also a trained martial artist, the following two additional elements must also be considered.

1. Whether or not the defendant has had special training, and the extent of such training.
2. The condition of the defendant's hands and feet.

The author cites numerous examples of various incidents involving a wide array of circumstances when explaining various actual cases. Very solid information and presented in an easy to understand way.

Self-Defense and the Trained Fighter:

This section goes into a vast array of topics and provides fairly solid information on each and every one. The author also provides numerous examples and hypothetical scenarios in order to provide you with the best possible source of information. Some of the topics covered in this section are as follows:

1. What constitutes the need for self-defense?
2. Should you warn your attacker beforehand that you are trained and will defend yourself?
3. As a martial artist do you have a duty to retreat first when confronted?
4. And if so, what if you refuse to retreat when confronted?
5. Are you civilly liable for damages when using your skills to defend yourself?
6. Are there unreasonable expectations put on martial artists compared to the average citizen?
7. What about the use of pre-emptive strikes?

These are just a few of the many topics that are brought up and discussed in some detail in this section. As with the entire book, I really liked the citing of actual cases to better provide examples as to what the author is trying to get across.

The Effect of Consent:

This section mainly focuses on the liabilities present when competing in tournaments. This goes not only for the competitors, but also for instructors, tournament promoters, officials, etc. in the dojo and at tournaments.

This section concludes with a discussion on the liability issues concerning; mutually agreed upon combat, being a martial artist, and training injuries.

Recommendations and Summary of Advice:

Some of the topics covered in this section are as follows:

1. The creation of a M.A.L.T. or Martial Artist Liability Test.
2. Standard of the Reasonable, Prudent, Expert Martial Artist.
3. Duty to warn.
4. Hands and feet as deadly weapons.
5. Presumed Malice.
6. Reasonableness redefined to reflect on martial artists.

Although I didn't necessarily agree to the letter with everything the author had to say, I fully enjoyed this book and found it to be a very thought provoking piece of work that should be read by anyone interested in protecting themselves from a legal assault as well as an actual physical assault.

Related Tags: book, american, review, law, martial, arts, karate, trained, fighter, carl, brown, shawn, kovacich

Shawn Kovacich has been practicing the martial arts for over 25 years and currently holds the rank of 4th degree (Yodan) black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Shawn has also competed in such prestigious full-contact bare knuckle karate competitions as the Shidokan Open and the Sabaki Challenge, among others. In addition to his many accomplishments, Shawn is also a two time world record holder for endurance high kicking as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Shawn is the author of the highly acclaimed Achieving Kicking Excellence™ series and can be reached via his web site at:

Marc can be reached via his web site at: Kyokushin Karate

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