The Karate 'Licence' Myth

One of the biggest misconceptions in martial arts is that when you join a club, you obtain a sort of James Bond style licence that enables you to use your hands or feet as deadly weapons whenever the need should arise. This is nonsense. There is no such thing as a licence to use martial arts in the eyes of the law, whether your club tells you so or not. You are perfectly within your rights under the Criminal Law Act 1967 and the Human Rights Act 1998 (see below) to defend yourself or others should such a situation occur. You do not need a licence! Licences can be misleading in terms of the law, and some may suggest nothing more than a means to commercial gain for a club.

Kyudokan Karate, therefore, does not issue a piece of paper or fancy 'licence' book, and our all in monthly membership fee includes your insurance, all grading fees and access to all dojos.  

Criminal Law Act 1967 and Human Rights Act 1998

  1. Section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967
  2. Common Law
  3. Human Rights Act 1998

1. Section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967

A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offender or of persons unlawfully at large.


2. Common Law

Included in Common Law is a person’s right to protect themselves from;

  1. Attack.
  2. To act in the defence of others.
  3. To prevent crime.
  4. To arrest offenders.
  5. And if necessary use force on others in doing so

Furthermore a person about to be attacked does not have to wait for his or her assailant to strike first or fire the first shot, circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike.

It also states that no force shall be applied than is reasonable to repel the attack or prevent the crime and such force is therefore lawful and no crime is committed.

Definition of ‘Reasonable'
No legal definition of the term ‘reasonable’ exists however reasonableness will be viewed by a jury as;
  • Force that was absolutely necessary to prevent the crime from being achieved 
  • Actions that would more than likely be used by a similar rational person given the same circumstances as the defendant
  • Force that was proportionate to the circumstances faced by the defendant.
  • The impact of the circumstances on the defendant i.e. fear, anguish, confusion, etc

3. Human Rights Act 1998

  • Article 2 – The right to life
  • Article 3 – Prohibition from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • Article 5 – The right to freedom
  • Article 8 – The right to respect for private and family life.