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Psychological Warfare for Multiple Assailant Street Fights

Psychological-WarfareThis post is an installment in the Defend Yourself Against Multiple Attackers series.

Dealing with a multiple attacker encounter is every bit as psychological as it is physical. Here are some psychological strategies to consider to gain emotional and mental control over the situation.

1. Destroy the Pack Mentality

There is a very good chance that the participants in a multiple attacker confrontation wouldn’t be doing what they are doing if they were alone.

In a pack, the feel safe, protected, anonymous and motivated by peer pressure. Psychological strategies are intended to destroy the coherence of the pack and make your assailants think and feel like weak, vulnerable individuals who will be held responsible for their actions.

2. Be The Aggressor

If you are confronted by a group of people, and all indications suggest that the situation is about turn violent, then attack the attackers. You’re going to get your ass kicked any way if you “go defensive,” so go for it!

Pull out all the stops and turn the tables on exactly who is in danger. Put THEM on the defensive. Make them feel like they’ve cornered the “wrong dog” and they’re about to be bit!

3. Take out the leader quickly

I mentioned earlier in this report that every pack is going to have an “alpha member;” a dominant personality that is responsible for instigating the fight or motivating the others to participate.

If you can identify and access that person, take him or her out first. The other members of the pack may not be so quick to assume the role of the new leader and run the risk of the same fate as their predecessor.

If you can’t identify a “leader,” identify the big mouth. He’ll be the one who’s in your face, talking trash and firing up the rest of the group. Drop him mid-sentence to take psychological control over the encounter.

A third option is to take out the closest, most available member of the pack. You’ll have a low probability of success if you have to wade through the group to get to the leader or the loud mouth.

If someone is more accessible, and its obvious that he or she is an antagonist and in on the encounter, then make an example of that person and introduce him to the pavement.

4. Single out individuals within the group

Keep in mind that members of the pack (not necessarily all of them) feel protected and anonymous. The more you can make them feel vulnerable, alone and identified the better. Here are a few strategies to consider.

Challenge a member of the pack, “Come on tough guy. If you’re as tough as you think you are, why don’t you fight me yourself. You and me, one-on- one, man-to-man. (this is an example of the Defiance Strategy)

Members of a pack don’t want to appear weak or scared in front of their peers. They certainly don’t want to get their ass kicked in front of them.

This tactics COULD have your assailants backpedaling and looking for a way out of the confrontation. The individual should realize that he’s going to either accept your challenge and risk defeat or decline it and risk looking cowardly.

Keep in mind that this tactic CAN backfire. The pack my blow off your challenge and attack you as a group any way. If the individual takes you up on your offer, and you defeat him, be ready for retaliation from the remaining members. At the very least, you have one less attacker to contend with.

Another example of the Defiance Strategy is to single out an individual within the group prior to the situation turning violent and make it crystal clear that no matter what happens to you, win or lose, you’re coming after him. Or that you know who he is (if you do) and will be reporting him to the authorities.

The third and final defiance tactic I’ll throw at you is to drop a member of the pack with a preemptive strike to a vulnerable area (the nose, neck, nuts or knees) and challenge the remaining members in a “who’s next?” challenge.

I’m not saying that these tactics will always work; nor can I guarantee that they will produce the desired results. However, based on my experience with pack psychology and victim selection I feel that they are options to consider.

5. Inflict a painful injury

Another strategy that is frequently recommended in multiple assailant encounters is to deliver a devastating, painful and visible injury to a member of the group WITHOUT knocking him out.

I’ll be honest with you… I have found nothing concrete or scientific to validate this strategy but it makes sense based on pack psychology.

Inflict a painful, visible injury on a member of the pack that leaves him either dazed on his feet or writing on the ground. This can destroy the coherence of the pack and their sense of protection. There’s a good chance that it’ll send the remaining members running for the hills.


In the next post, I’ll discuss the 9 multiple assailant street fighting strategies that will increase your odds of success.

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About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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