Social Violence vs. Predatory Violence

When faced with violence or the potential for violence, it is important to determine whether it is “social violence” used to establish pecking order, or “predatory violence” with the intent to destroy.

“Social violence” must be avoided if you have a choice, defused, carefully de-escalated, or neutralized & removed before it can escalate into predatory violence. Once you are caught in predatory violence, you must fight 100% to destroy your attacker & not be inhibited by conditioned social behavior.

Social Violence
Social violence is controlled, limited violence used to establish dominance over other people in a social hierarchy. In most contexts today it is considered low, vulgar, and uncivilized to resort to violence in order to assert your status, protect your reputation, or make a claim to territory. Resorting to violence can have harmful legal, economic, and social consequences, so I advise that you avoid engaging in social violence. (I’m leaving competitive sport and martial arts training out of this category. Whether these constitute social violence is really outside the purview of this post.)

If you are confronted with social violence, use “Verbal Judo” to de-escalate the potential confrontation: verbalize the upset person’s feelings, repeat his expressions of frustration constructively, and give him options to honorably disengage. For example, “I can see that you are angry.” “I hear you saying you feel cheated. Help me solve this problem in by moving outside where we can discuss this without disturbing the other patrons.” Remove the upset person from the scene where there are others they are trying to impress or save face from.

If social violence begins to break out, use restraint techniques such as the bear hug, basket hold, or takedown.

Predatory Violence
Predatory violence is the intent to destroy your victim. Once predatory violence breaks out, there is no stopping it until the attacker is sated or neutralized. Unfortunately, social violence these days has a very short fuse to becoming predatory violence. That is one reason why I advise avoiding social violence at almost any cost.

If you are a target of predatory violence and can’t escape, you have no choice but to become a vicious animal yourself and destroy your attacker before he can destroy you. Forget about “self-defense.” The best defense is a strong offense.

In a violent confrontation, having any weapon (including improvised weapons) is always preferable to having no weapon. Keep the weapon hidden as much as possible to retain surprise and avoid getting disarmed. If the weapon is in the right hand, stand left foot forward and keep the attacker away with the left arm. Good weapons: handgun, pepper spray, keychain, steel baton, pipe, flashlight.

If you don’t have a weapon, you still have your “Body-weapons”: which one to use depends on the distance between you and the attacker, and the targets available to you.

You must strike hard: penetrate through the target. You must have an animal, survival mindset to destroy your attacker. Bite, gouge at eyes, hit as hard as you can.

Below is an outline of different body weapons divided by range. For more information, contact me to arrange for a free self-defense class.

I. Hardest weapons: knees & elbows

  1. straight elbow to solar plexus, face, throat or groin
  2. side elbow to solar plexus, ribs, throat, face, jaw or temple
  3. upward elbow to solar plexus, under chin
  4. downward elbow to head or collar bone
  5. knee to groin, face, solar plexus

II. Other effective close-range weapons:

  1. forearms to side of neck
  2. biting
  3. headbutt

III. Hand techniques:


a. palm strike under chin, nose, or lips: head leads the body

b. palm strikes to ears, thumb the eyes

c. palm strike to side of jaw

d. chop the throat


a. finger strike or claw eyes

b. fishhook

c. gouging at face, jaw, groin, armpits

d. hair pulling


  1. hammer to groin, temple, jawline, neck
  2. punch solar plexus or throat

IV. Kicks:

a. front kick to groin or knee: use toe, top of foot, ball, heel, or shin

b. side kick to knee, back kick to knee or groin; kicking from the ground

c. roundhouse kick to groin

d. chicken kick to groin

e. stomp the foot

While the animal mindset is the most important thing in a violent encounter, like anything else, self-defense skill is improved with practice. Taking a single workshop may be better than nothing, but it is no substitute for training on a regular basis.

Don’t believe the snake-oil salesmen who put out books and DVDs saying that their special secret techniques will teach you to defend yourself regardless of your fitness level, and without practicing. There are no secrets. Size, strength, fitness and ability level DO matter, but they aren’t the only factors.

Being enrolled in a martial arts school is the best way to prepare yourself to face predatory violence. You need to exercise anyway, so you might as well do something that is fun and practical and contributes to your self-confidence and feeling of accomplishment.


~ by nolashaolin on October 15, 2008.

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