Newsletter (06) – Two Kinds of Violence

One thing about reading up on the Singapore Statutes relevant to martial arts and self-defence, you realize how broad ranging the laws are. It’s understandable, the lawmakers are trying to be as general as possible to cover a very wide range of situations, and yet specific enough to be useful to both judges and lawyers (and the very few martial artists who are realistic in preparing for the legal aspects of self-defence).

For example, did you know that if you throw a stone at a container of water held by someone else, and because of your stone the water splashes up on that person, that is classified as criminal force under Singapore law? (Scroll down to 350 at You can guess that many other things martial artists advocate doing are likely to cause them even more trouble with the law then!

But the Statutes of Singapore give only a legal perspective on the matter. For us, if we want to prevent or deal with violence, it helps us if we understand that there are primarily two types of violence that we are concerned with. Both can be quite different and therefore require different types of preparation. They are what I call:

1) Criminal Violence; and

2) Personality-Based Violence (PBV).

For Criminal Violence, one person or group chooses the victim(s). No choice is offered to the chosen victim(s). Surprise and ambush is a very key element. If weapons are involved, they are brought in very early and they are immediately used to hurt/injure or to force the victim(s) to do what the attacker(s) want.

In Personality-Based Violence, both parties involved can choose to walk away (but usually don’t, because pride and ego are involved). There usually isn’t surprise at all (except for the really stupid people). If weapons are involved, they are used to get attention and to warn people off. (“Back off, shut up, get out of my face! Or I’ll…”)

Here’s a video that shows Criminal Force quite clearly. For those of you who have attended my talks, you will see in this video the three elements needed for violent crime to take place, as well as how things MIGHT unfold.

Personality-Based Violence is much more varied, but I’ll give you some examples anyway. The first is the lift beating case I emailed about some time back ( and the second is this video of a policeman punching a woman.

Don’t get caught up in the question of whether what the policeman did was justified. Pay attention to how there was:

1)      The option for the woman to walk away in the first place (but she didn’t take it);

2)      Lots of shouting of vulgarities, creating anger and fear in all the people involved;

3)      Ineffective violence to start the ball rolling. The woman who was punched initiated the violence by pushing the policeman. She was probably expecting that the pushing/shoving and yelling, which probably worked before when she was dealing with belligerent boyfriends or talking with family members, would ALSO work on a policeman.

If you have already attended my talks, this is an example of why you should not try obnoxious ah-lian behaviour to deal with violence. It’s a bad habit, it damages your relationships with other people, and if you encounter someone more practiced in violence than you are, you are only escalating the fight even further, and to a point you aren’t ready to deal with.

The difference between these two forms of violence is quite large. So if you want to know if a martial arts or self-defence program will prepare you for dealing with both of these, you need to know:

1)      The common attacks used in Criminal Violence and Personality-Based Violence – yes, they are different! And the attacks in Personality-Based Violence can also be divided into two types, the attacks commonly used against anyone and the ones that are used specifically against women;

2)      How your body responds to both types of violence – and in this men and women react very differently!

3)      The types of techniques you can use for dealing with both types of violence. Again, they are different.

For example, if you are walking home alone and you are suddenly attacked by a few robbers wielding knives (like in the Kallang stabbing case), you are quite justified in crippling them if necessary to protect yourself. But if you are a nurse working in a hospital and a patient’s enraged relative tries to slap you, you cannot justify breaking his/her arm deliberately. Or if you are a school teacher trying to break up a fight between two teenagers with poor impulse control, you might prefer to be able to settle things without seriously injuring any of your students.

The main reason why I bring up the difference between these two forms of violence is because many martial arts only prepare you to deal with one of the two. If you are trained to deal out deadly strikes to any problem, you will probably end up facing murder charges when you encounter Personality-Based Violence. And if you train only to deal with Personality-Based Violence, you will most likely be caught flatfooted when you face a criminal attack.

So if you want to know more about the difference between the two kinds of violence or you have any questions about them, email me at And of course do feel free to email me any other questions on self-defence, so that I can know what you’d like to know and can write my newsletters accordingly!


Like what you get in this newsletter? Learn how to recognize more situations and how to deal with them in the Walk in Safety ™ Primer Module!


Wellness Infinity Health & Recreation Club
55 Newton Road
#05-02 Revenue House
Singapore 307987

Class Times available:

Tues: 7.30 pm
Sat: 2.00 pm, 2.45 pm

Do let your friends know about it and sign up for your classes together! I’ll start a class only if there are at least 4 people who sign up, and registration for a class will be closed once 8 people sign up. First-come-first-served, so register quickly!

Registration: email your name, handphone number and desired class time to or SMS your name, email address and desired class time to 94230900.


About Junjie
Musician, Martial Artist and father of two boys. Rambler, thinker and compulsive teacher.

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