Black Belt Magazine Article Review -“Deadly Weapons”

I have been a subscriber to Black Belt Magazine for over 20 years. Through those years I’ve seen the magazine evolve, and change along with the various “flavors of the month.”

For the most part, I approach Black Belt Magazine as if it were a Hollywood gossip magazine. There are lots of articles and photos, but little or nothing of substance. It’s basically throne room reading, if you get my gist.

More often than not, articles are poorly written, show bias, and really offer nothing new content-wise. In fact, if you look at many of the authors or who they are writing about, they are often the same people who purchase major ad space in the magazine. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

What really irritates me, even often perplexes the hell out of me, is how often Black Belt Magazine asserts something new and revolutionary has been discovered or created by so-and-so-bigwig. Ninety-nine percent of the time, these articles turn out to be nothing new or innovative at all. For a publication specializing in martial arts, they should just know better.

However for all the magazine’s faults, every now and then they do produce something of value and worth reading.

In this instance it’s a two-part article titled, “Deadly Weapons,” by Scott Marrs and Andy McGill, which appears in the August and September 2007 issues.

Basically, the articles are written to inform people how the law really views the martial arts, the liability of combatants, self-defense issues, and how hands and feet are viewed as deadly weapons.

While I feel the articles are too short to do full justice to the topic, the authors did a good job answering a lot of questions martial artists may have about the law. Certainly, this is one of the few occasions where I’ve seen these questions–man of which I’m asked in class–covered to any extent. It’s also nice to see someone actually addressing known fallacies, and setting the record straight.

I, for one, feel it is extremely important to teach my students the law as it relates to using martial art skills, even in a life and death situation. This is especially important given the fact that any civil suit filed regarding possible excessive force has the potential to include me, as the teacher of those skills.

Unfortunately, very few schools discuss martial arts and the law. As a result there is a lot of misinformation out there. I can’t start to tell you how many times I’ve been asked if my hands are really registered as deadly weapons.

I know I will encourage my students to read this article. Not because we haven’t covered most of this material in class already, but just so they can get another perspective on the material.

I also recommend anyone involved in the martial arts should also read it. However, like the authors state, “Don’t’ rely on this article as legal advice. The jurisdiction in which you live may have different laws and standards than discussed here.”

View the article in PDF format: Part 1, Part 2.

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