At the time of writing, the definition of the tag is:

Self-defense or private defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one's property or the well-being of another from harm.

The expended descriptions touches on defence against armed and unarmed assailants, the law, and mental stress. This makes this a huge area.

While some questions have been really good and useful, others have been little more than wishful thinking in hypothetical situations. Yet, all are covered under that tag.

There is a world of difference between sexual assaults, rape, a "friendly" bar brawl, a street mugging with a weapon, and an assassination attempt. Yet all are covered under that tag.

There is a world of difference between "self defence" in a small student town, a city whether run down or affluent, ghettos, favellas, and war zones. Yet all are covered under that tag.

This does not even touch on whether the defender can use unarmed, mêlée, or ranged weapons in their jurisdiction.

Martial arts are only a tiny element of self defence. This site is about martial arts, not self defence. So, should many questions on self defence should kinda be off topic?

The law on self defence is complex, varies from local to local, and we certainly should never, ever, give legal advice nor should requests for legal advice be answered in anyway. This, should be off topic for sure. Some things that are legal in some countries might lead straight to jail in others: for example, carrying a concealed weapon in the UK vs some states in USA.

So, what can be done?

I have no idea thus me asking the question so that the community can reach an agreement.

4 Answers 4


It's up to the questioner to give sufficient context to make the question useful; not the tag alone.

You're absolutely right that context is necessary and makes a world of difference in what answers work, or even if an answer exists at all, or fits with this Stackexchange or not. However, the tag itself is less of an issue compared to the amount of misinformation out there.

Are you more concerned that the tag is messy and we might do well with some secondary tags to help people better search within it? Or having a better way to deal with inappropriate questions ("How do I jump kick 5 dudes with guns without getting shot?")?

  • Too many questions tagged self defence read to me like hypothetical scenarios with the best answer being it depends... Mar 14, 2016 at 9:39
  • Maybe we can come up with some guidelines for narrowing the questions into better specifics, with a mind towards the usual types of bad questions? The sad reality is that many people will come to this particular stack exchange with misinformation, just as much as I'm sure one of the physics boards probably has to field a million and one "does quantum physics mean I can have superpowers/travel through time/negate all science as we know it?" type questions.
    – Bankuei
    Mar 14, 2016 at 21:39
  • Narrowing it down would be great. Mar 15, 2016 at 7:07
  • 2
    Maybe we can add some bullet points to "What Topics Can I Ask About?" ( martialarts.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic ) and include under the "Questions that should not be asked..." to cut some of those things off when they appear. That said, usually when people ask crappy questions like that they don't read guidelines or use Google to research on their own, either, so it's unlikely to reduce the amount of bad questions to begin with.
    – Bankuei
    Mar 17, 2016 at 4:19
  • Yes, that would be great. But what should we put there? Besides, that's why we have the "close" button. Mar 17, 2016 at 8:28
  • Something along the lines of "Hypothetical self defense questions that are unlikely nor anything you are planning on training for", I would imagine. At least if we get a weird question, we could point to that and ask, "Why is this a question you're asking? How often is this happening that you are worried about it?" etc.
    – Bankuei
    Mar 17, 2016 at 15:09
  • I edited the tag. Comments? Mar 17, 2016 at 15:28
  • 1
    If we are making poor quality hypothetical questions off topic, this needs to be in the on-topic/off-topic document. There is no guarantee that the question authors will attempt to use the self-defense tag.
    – mattm Mod
    Mar 17, 2016 at 19:01
  • I will also point out that some ridiculous hypothetical questions have been well received Self-defense against chainsaw attack
    – mattm Mod
    Mar 17, 2016 at 19:23
  • 1
    I think "any hypothetical situations" is too broad. There's hypothetical "it hasn't happened to me, personally, yet", hypothetical "This is pretty close to things that happen often enough", and then hypothetical "What if 5 guys in clown suits, each with a different weapon attack you in the Mortal Kombat Temple?" It's the last category we're worried about, really.
    – Bankuei
    Mar 19, 2016 at 17:26

I would consider to be non-sport, defensive applications of martial arts. By being present on this StackExchange site, questions are implicitly about martial arts, which currently does not include things like infantry training or vehicular combat.

I don't see how many poor questions being tagged with self-defense is a problem for the tag. These poor questions will still be asked even if we remove the tag; they will simply be tagged differently.

I agree that legal questions are best avoided.

I don't understand what the expected relation is of to . It would also help to have tag guidance for and and .


Personally I think the tag should stay and self defense should be considered on topic.

I think is best described as an adhoc group of techniques, practices and experiences that are extracted or adapted in whole or part from various different arts, taught and used outside the context of that art.

The best way to think of this is when teaching a women's self defense class. You teach a bunch of quick and easy techniques that will inflict some pain and buy them some time, along with some strategies for escape and avoiding trouble. Most of the techniques will be adaptations of the actual technique because the participants are not going to train and learn the proper technique.

The best use of would be as a main root level tag in place of a specific art.

As for topicality, self defense would still exist without the martial arts but it would be a drastically different beast. The martial arts are so inextricably interwoven into self defense that it should be a valid on topic subject except on a case by case basis. But even though we allow the questions, self defense is a loose enough topic that people could ask very open ended questions, so we need to ensure they stay specific and answerable.

  • If we want to use a definition like this, we need to change the description and retag a lot of questions. From examples martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/159/… and martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/5803/…, it is clear that people do not agree on what the definition of self-defense is.
    – mattm Mod
    Apr 1, 2016 at 19:33
  • @mattm I agree there's probably a bunch of questions that need to be reviewed - unfortunately we can never eliminate crappy or lazy tagging. Your first example is an interesting one, it's probably borderline for self defense. I guess we just need to agree on a definition for self defense, then retagging can proceed as needed.
    – slugster Mod
    Apr 2, 2016 at 3:25

I dont believe self defence this would be a usful tag.

Why? Most people associate self-defense with marital arts even to define martial arts you would need to use self-defense in it.

mar·tial arts noun Various sports or skills, mainly of Japanese origin, that originated as forms of self-defense or attack, such as judo, karate, and kendo.

So as a tag it would be useless.

We could break it down into sections: defense, block, attack, protection, etc.

  • If we divide aspects of martial arts into sport and non-sport, isn't self-defense equivalent to non-sport? Isn't that useful?
    – mattm Mod
    Apr 1, 2016 at 19:23

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