“Defend yourself and protect others” is a protocol martial artists should follow. There may be times when it is necessary to utilize the martial training taught in class. This might be to protect yourself and take care of your loved ones. It might even be to defend people you don’t know if the situation merits protecting others in need. Whatever the cause, each particular situation requires careful consideration and an appropriate level of force if a verbal resolution or simply walking away can’t be attained.
The more skillful a martial artist becomes, the more he or she is able to finely control their level of violence and tailor it appropriately to the encounter at hand, rather than accidentally using too much or too little force. Never forget that if you feel it’s become a life or death situation, you need to do whatever it takes to survive and nothing is off the table. If the situation is not as serious as that, perhaps an intoxicated friend or loved one testing your skill, then do your best to avoid the situation (if you must get physical, defend yourself carefully by not letting the other person in).
The shoalin philosophy towards self-defense is to live and let live. A high degree of morality is very important and we expect our students to be benevolent, honest, and brave. Do your very best to avoid conflict and never seek it. Safely walk away from an unneeded altercation when possible. However, defend yourself with every ounce of skill you have when required!