What would be the judicially acceptable adjective to describe the commonly taught mental conditioning to surviving a violent encounter?
That is an excellent, and very thoughtful, question.
I am a fan of: "If you have to fight, fight like a cornered cat." That is my catchphrase. Some people think this just means "Fight really hard." That is not it, not at all. What it means is to fight with a goal in mind. When a cat is cornered, she's not interested in fighting with whatever has threatened her – but she will do whatever it takes
to get to safety. Reaching down to get your hands on her is like sticking your hand into a blender. Bad idea!
A cornered cat will harm you if she absolutely must. But her goal is not to hurt you, and it isn't to not
hurt you. Her goal is simply to get to safety.
Whether any of this is court-defensible, I don't know. Have not tried it yet. But I can articulate how this phrase fits very neatly into the legal realities of self-defense. Any similar phrase that you choose should be able to do the same thing.
Also, I second Constantine's recommendation. Rory Miller's work is excellent.