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Self Defense: Winning or Avoiding Fights by Recognizing the 3 Types of Attackers

Updated on August 17, 2011

In a conflict of self defense situation two of the most important things to know are:

-What kind of attacker you are dealing with,

-And when the fight has started.

This article focuses on the different kind of attackers and how identifying them will allow you to protect yourself and loved ones, and even prevent you from ever having to use self defense tactics.

There are three kinds of attackers:

Bully: This isn’t just for the playground. This is a grown man who will pick a fight to increase his social ranking.

Predator: This is a pure criminal looking to take something you have (car, money, jewelry) or looking to commit a sexual crime.

Emotionally Hijacked: This person is a highly emotional individual who had been thrown into a rage by any number of things. He can be offended by you bumping him, cutting him off in traffic or in a theater line, looking at his wife/girlfriend, etc.

Your self defense strategy must depend on which kind of attacker you are dealing with.

First and foremost you only have a good shot at de-escalation with the emotionally hijacked. The bully can be reasoned with but it requires you becoming submissive to him (I’ll tell you how later). The predator is the least likely to respond to reasoning.

Here’s a short description of how you deal with each of them:

Violence for Material Gain
Violence for Material Gain

The Predator:

When dealing with a predator your options are to either give him what he wants and run (not a bad option if it’s just your wallet). Or you can stay and fight for what he wants (if for example he wants your wife or girlfriend).

Running or giving a predator you wallet is a valid self defense strategy in some situation. Remember that anytime you get into a street fight you are entering a potentially lethal situation.

It’s really important to know what you are and aren’t willing to fight for ahead of time. Consider this, it would be a miracle to escape a violent conflict without any cuts, scrapes or even serious injury.

Think about it this way; how much money is in your wallet (maybe 200 bucks if its payday) and how much is it going to cost if he lands a head butt and I you some stitches (even if you win this is going to cost you at least $500).

Be smart. I’m not saying when you should and should not fight but in order for you to have the best self defense strategy possible you have to know the answers to these kinds of questions ahead of time.

The Bully:

The bully is not a coward like everybody says. He has probably been getting in fights his whole life because that’s how he saves or raises his social standing.

He is probably picking you because he is bigger and stronger. The best way to de-escalate the situation is to show him that you recognize his dominance and he doesn’t have to fight you to prove it.

This can be real easy. You say, “hey man, I don’t want to fight you, I know you’re gonna kick by butt.” This is a real self defense tactic, just maybe not a favorite one for most of us.

The problem is for some of us like those in law enforcement or in jobs where your dominance is part of your livelihood (captain of a fire station etc), or if you are with your wife or kids and you just don’t want to take it, you cannot be submissive.

Just realize that he is not going to respond to any other reasoning. Either you submit or you fight.

The Emotionally Hijacked:

This guy is out of control. He has anger issues, and you are on the receiving end of it. He has a hair trigger and you have cocked the hammer. One smart ass remark out of you and he is going to totally lose it.

Be careful with this guy. There are some self defense techniques you can use to potentially calm him down but you have to be very careful about it.

In brief you have to get him talking about why he is so mad, show him you understand and care how he feels (without agreeing with him). Then tell him you are sorry he took your comment or actions the wrong way, or you are sorry for bumping his car etc.

This is a way simplified version of the proper de-escalation technique, but it gives you an idea about how to deal with an emotionally hijacked person from a self defense perspective.

For a more detailed explanation of de-escalation check out my article on the subject called "The Truth about De-Escalation and Self Defense."

How to use this information:

This information should give you ability to assess a potentially violent situation. Instantly recognize who you attacker is (one of the above three), and give you the tools to avoiding or prevailing in the conflict.

The knowledge you now have gives you the ability to react quickly if you need to use self defense techniques to take out a predator or other assailant.

For some brutal self defense solution that will end any fight within seconds check out or my blog at

Stay Smart and Stay Safe,

Bob Pierce



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    • juliannekristine profile image

      juliannekristine 6 years ago from Philippines

      Awesome! This is a really useful information. I've been doing karate for 1 year. Now, atleast I know who to do the karate chop with. hehe :D