Response Must = Threat      Return to Introduction Page

 An axiom for survival and escape is that the Response must be equal to the Threat or if you like a shorter version, 

 Response must = Threat

This logic underlies common law and statutes as to how much force you may use to defend yourself, is the standard applied to develop Use of Force models for law enforcement, and the thinking that guides military Rules of Engagement.

None of us can predict or know our attackerís intentions which may include murder and rape. 

We can only react to the physical and non-physical cues or behaviors he exhibits.  Generally a person pulling out a knife has different intentions than someone shaking their fist at you, but there is no way to really know.  The most innocent appearing behaviors may mask deadly intent as in the rape and murder spree of Ted Bundy.

You might treat the person with the drawn knife more gently if you knew them (such as a relative) or they were clearly emotionally disturbed, but if you let your relationship or kindness override the rule that keeps you safe i.e.   Response Must = Threat, you are taking a terrible risk with your own safety.  Even if you are dealing with Drunken Uncle Lou at the family reunion, the level of response has to match his intensity.  He is just the family disgrace until he pulls a knife and lunges at you, now he has become a threat to your life to be dealt with.  If you are distant from the threat, there are some choices. If he is right there, you have to stop him, relative or not.


Conversely, without becoming paranoid, you need to keep a polite skepticism about overly friendly or seemingly needy people who want to invade or share your personal space.

If you feel threatened, listen to your own concerns.  Make an exit and leave before any trouble arises.  We advise once an attack has started using enough force to be sure you can make a safe escape.  You will hear more about all of this.  Now letís look at threats and responses.

Notice: What we will and won't cover.

We devised a classification of threat and response situations we call Piles.  

The bulk of this manual assumes that we are dealing mostly with matters in Pile 1, and sometimes with assaults from Pile 3. 

We do not address Control Tactics, Pile 2 or Assassination methods, Pile 4.  Obviously if you are aware enough, have enough space between you and the threat, and avoid or defuse a situation, then the pile is not important. 

Once you have to use force, however, it does matter which pile you are dealing with.  You shouldnít use highly violent means to deal with merely annoying behavior nor should you use gentle reasoning to deal with a murderous ambush.

Remember this is just for guidance.  When it is real, choose the response that is needed to survive and escape.


None of the techniques shown here are used without risk of injury or even death to another person.  You will be subject to scrutiny if your use causes harm to some one else.  You may be subject to criminal prosecution or civil suits.  

You will have to establish that you were in "jeopardy".  The question the DA will ask is "Was the person you hurt acting in a manner consistent with a known threat"? The older more commonly used term for jeopardy is intent.

We do not and cannot take responsibility for your actions.  You need to be aware of the laws in your jurisdiction and act accordingly.

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© 2010 - Victor M. Cushing

International Modern Hapkido Federation

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Roaring Brook, PA 18444

TEL 570-842-1558

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