Less-Lethal Crowd Control and Budo

This was an eye-opening article about the proliferation of the largely unregulated crowd-control industry. Occupying the grey space between military munitions and police armaments, it turns out that many of these items are prohibited by the conventions of war against being used against enemy soldiers but are commonly used by nations against their own citizens.

Take the tear gas, which has been around since at least World War 1 and was prohibited by the 1925 Geneva Protocol. We take for granted the use of tear gas against civilians, even though the effects can be horrific (again, we can’t use it against enemy soldiers!). The process of testing and manufacturing tear gas seems to be pretty unregulated as well, which is concerning for the multibillion dollar industry of less-lethal munitions.

This information on less-lethal munitions is relevant to martial artists for several reasons.

Self-Defense Training
If the primary purpose of martial arts is self-defense, then understanding the capabilities and effects of less-lethal weapons like tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bangs can inform martial artists about what defensive measures could be effective or ineffective against such tools.

Ethical Implications
Martial arts typically involve a code of ethics and discipline, including when and how to use force. The article highlights the ethical concerns around less-lethal weapons, which can provoke discussions within martial arts communities about the responsible use of force.

Awareness and Preparedness
Martial artists could encounter less-lethal weapons during peaceful protests or civil unrest. Awareness of these technologies can help them prepare mentally and physically for such situations, potentially including how to administer first aid for related injuries.

Advocacy and Activism
The article may inspire martial artists to become advocates for appropriate use of force and to participate in conversations about law enforcement practices and policies regarding crowd control, given their expertise in combat and self-defense.

Legal and Human Rights Knowledge
Understanding the legal landscape around less-lethal weapons may be relevant for martial artists who are also instructors or school owners, as they may provide guidance to students on the broader implications of self-defense and engagement with law enforcement.

Health and Safety
Knowing the physical effects of less-lethal weapons can be crucial for martial artists in terms of personal safety and providing assistance to others during demonstrations or conflicts.

The intersection of martial arts with the topics raised in the article comes down to understanding the use of force, the implications of such technologies on personal safety, and the ethical considerations surrounding self-defense and combat.

Budo practitioners should understand the risks from crowd-control munitions. Whether you decide to attend a protest or you happen to be near a protest, a sudden shift to violence will more require a mindset closer to battlefield tactics, rather than street tactics, in order to keep yourself and others safe.

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