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Challenging the Norms: "Cheating" in Self-Defense

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck- John Steinbeck

Self-defense is a fundamental right and a vital skill in today's unpredictable world. It empowers individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones when faced with danger.

Challenging the Norms: "Cheating" in Self-Defense
Challenging the Norms: "Cheating" in Self-Defense

However, the concept of "cheating" in self-defense raises complex ethical questions and challenges conventional notions of fairness and morality. In this article, we delve into the intricate landscape of cheating in self-defense, exploring the boundaries, dilemmas, and the ethical considerations that come into play.

When we hear the word "cheating," our minds often conjure images of dishonesty, deception, and morally questionable behavior. However, what if I told you that there's a unique perspective on "cheating" that challenges these preconceptions and explores it as a critical skill in the realm of self-defense?

Defining Cheating in Self-Defense

In everyday life, cheating is synonymous with dishonesty, breaking rules, and gaining an unfair advantage. It's a term that carries a negative connotation and is universally discouraged in various contexts. But when it comes to self-defense, the lines blur, and the concept of cheating takes on a different meaning.

Cheating in self-defense refers to actions that may seem ethically questionable or even unlawful in ordinary circumstances but are taken to protect oneself or others from harm. These actions can include:

  • Striking first: In self-defense, preemptive strikes are often necessary to neutralize an imminent threat. While this may seem like a "cheat" against the principles of non-violence, it can be essential for survival.

  • Using improvised weapons: Employing everyday objects as weapons can be seen as a form of cheating when confronted with an armed assailant. This unconventional approach levels the playing field.

  • Deception and distraction: Creating diversions or lying to an aggressor to gain an advantage may be considered cheating in a moral context but can be a lifesaver in a self-defense situation.

Society has hard and fast rules against cheating. It's universally perceived as an immoral act, and individuals who engage in it are often viewed as "bad" or "unethical."

However, here's where things get intriguing. In the realm of self-defense, situations can arise that demand individuals to violate these deeply ingrained "good guy" rules to ensure their safety.

When adrenaline is pumping, and confusion and potential harm are imminent, the lines between right and wrong can blur. The seminar poses a critical question: Can you set aside these rules and do whatever it takes to protect yourself?

The Ethical Dilemma

The ethical dilemma surrounding cheating in self-defense arises from the clash between societal norms and the primal instinct for survival. Our society places a strong emphasis on fairness, honesty, and adherence to established rules, which are essential for maintaining order and harmony.

However, in moments of life-threatening danger, the instinct for self-preservation can override these norms. Here are some key ethical considerations:

Proportionality and Reasonableness

Cheating in self-defense should be proportionate and reasonable. Actions taken to protect oneself must be commensurate with the threat posed. Using deadly force against a non-lethal threat, for example, may be seen as disproportionate and unjust.

Immediate Danger

Cheating in self-defense is typically justified when there's an immediate and credible threat to one's life or safety. It becomes ethically challenging when the threat is less clear-cut or when the danger has passed, and retaliation continues.

The Duty to Retreat

In some jurisdictions, individuals have a legal obligation to retreat and avoid confrontation when possible. Ethical dilemmas may arise when one chooses to stand their ground instead of retreating, even when it's legally allowed.

Accountability and Consequences

Individuals who employ "cheating" tactics in self-defense must be willing to accept the potential legal and moral consequences of their actions. This includes facing scrutiny and potential legal repercussions.

The Concept of "Whatever it takes,"

It may be empowering to say, but it requires an unparalleled commitment to personal survival to follow through. This is where the idea of "cheating" comes into play. In self defense, cheating is considered an essential skillset. But is it genuinely "cheating" when it's a matter of life and death?

People perceptions of right and wrong and examine the nuances of ethical decision-making in high-stress situations. It encourages self-reflection and prompts individuals to explore the boundaries of their ethical beliefs.

Exploration of Cheating

Take the intellectual and emotional journey that forces us to rethink our understanding of morality and ethics in self-defense scenarios. It reminds us that sometimes, survival may require us to challenge the norms and redefine what we consider "cheating" in the pursuit of our well-being.

Sometimes, survival requires bypassing all the rules. At our organization, CVPSD, we consider this ability to adapt and do "whatever it takes" an essential skill. Is it really "cheating" then? Ultimately, it's an exploration of the human capacity to adapt and evolve when faced with the most challenging situations life can throw our way.

Cheating in Self-Defense

The concept of cheating in self-defense underscores the complexity of ethical decision-making in high-stress situations. It challenges us to examine the boundaries of fairness and morality when our lives are on the line. While society rightly discourages dishonesty and rule-breaking, it also recognizes the fundamental right to self-preservation.

Ultimately, the ethics of cheating in self-defense hinge on the principles of proportionality, reasonableness, and immediate danger. It's a delicate balance that varies from situation to situation, making it imperative for individuals to be prepared, well-trained, and aware of the ethical implications of their actions.

In the end, the goal remains the same: to ensure one's safety and the safety of those we care about while navigating the complex moral landscape of self-defense.

Violence Prevention and Self Defense Resources

The goal of the Center for Violence Prevention and Self Defense is to stop violence by educating at-risk people and empower them with the skills needed to protect themselves both online and live training. CVPSD's live training is available to people of all ages in New Jersey including children, adults and the elderly.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, our mission is to prevent violence by building skills and inspiring individuals to be agents of personal, community & cultural change.

Live conceptual seminars teach the origins of violence and how to assess risk and set boundaries for healthy relationships. Experiential classes teach hands-on interpersonal skills and strategies to prevent and stop assault. Our self defense instruction includes techniques from Jujutsu, MMA, krav maga, Kickboxing, and more.

The Center for Violence Prevention and Self Defense reaches individuals and communities through partnerships with schools and other nonprofits, community groups, as well as classes for the public. By reducing the fear and impact of violence, we help to create a community where people live powerfully, experience freedom.


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