Kinds of Violence - Marc MacYoung

You’ve heard us talk about our friend Peyton Quinn’s Four Ways to Keep from Being attacked.

  • 1. Don’t insult him.
  • 2. Don’t challenge him or accept his challenge.
  • 3. Leave him a face-saving exit.
  • 4. Show (preferably non-verbally) that you know what they’re doing and give them no fear but a relaxed focus in return.

Important in the sense of ‘how to avoid violence from occurring.’ Basically the difference is one is the person is giving you a choice (e.g. leave or else …) whereas, predatorial violence is he’s coming to get you.

On this summation, we have issues.

Not a problem mind you. It doesn’t go that far. Our attitude about this idea isn’t that it’s wrong. In fact, it’s very much dead on in its basic assessment. Our thoughts on this are “That’s fundamentally right, but a binary model doesn’t exactly cover all the goals of violence.” In other words we think it’s a little more complex, specifically there aren’t two basic kinds, but four fundamental kinds of violence.

  • 1) Territorial
  • 2) Behavioral Correction
  • 3) Criminal
  • 4) Predatorial

The reason we make these distinctions is that the intended goals of these are significantly different. With these differences come additional factors:

a) whether or not it will become physically violent.

b) what you can do to — and your chances of — preventing it from going physical.

The first type is the easiest to keep from going physical. As they progress down the list, however, the more difficult they become to either de-escalate or prevent (especially for the average person).

This is critical to realize because as we often say “It is unreasonable to believe that all situations can be resolved reasonably.” But the simple truth is while there are situations that — no matter what you do — will turn physically violent, MOST situations can be resolved without the use of force.

The trick is not only to be able tell which is which … but to be able to explain afterwards WHY you did what you did in that situation. Not only will the information on this page save you some beatings, but it can also help keep you out of prison.

Shifting Kinds Of Violence

While all violence is based in the fact that the person initiating the violence (or threatening it) ‘wants’ something, the different goals effect how the situation will manifest. The reason we break they types of violence into four sections is the nature of what the person ‘wants’ changes from situation to situation — and can even change in the middle of a situation.

Having said that, while that shift from one type to another can happen, it is usually based on a blend of two things

a) what is going on inside his head given the circumstances

b) what is going on inside your head and your actions in the circumstances.

An example of these points is: While it is true that someone who just offered you territorial violence (leave or else) might decide to follow you on his own,that is a violation of alpha behavior protocols. Him following you for ‘no reason’ would be an example of point A — and yes, it does happen. And this is the BIG boogey-man that people use as an excuse NOT to leave.

However, what is far more common is that the person who is offered a choice ‘leave or else’ cannot keep his mouth shut AS he is leaving (e.g. calling an obscenity over his shoulder). Another common error is the person leaves throwing ‘maddawgin’ looks over his shoulder. This behavior can — and often does — provoke a change from territorial to predatorial violence.

But this shows you the importance of point B in the outcome of a situation. That change in the other person’s motivation was provoked by what you did..

Understanding what you are dealing with is critical to finding the most effective response to the situation you are facing. And that includes increasing the chances of resolving the situation without having to resort to physical means.

A note on the use of terms and concepts.

For civilians: We have stated elsewhere that there is a difference between the use of force and violence, the two are NOT synonymous. While most physical violence is technically speaking illegal, what we are talking about here is the ‘intent’ behind that violence. So we do not identify all violence as criminal in intent. Recognizing the differences is vital to avoid victimization, unnecessary use of force or violence on your part, then understand that what we are talking about here are the intended goals of the different kinds of violence. It’s amazing how much violence can be avoided by simply leaving or apologizing.

For Professionals: In our de-escalation program we teach the four types of violence: Fear, Frenzy, Tantrum and Criminal (published in A Professional’s Guide To Ending Violence Quickly). Neither the kinds of violence or types of violence supersede each other. In fact we look at the two systems as duel lenses to bring into better focus the dynamics of any given situation. An easy way to understand the difference is inward/outward. The type of violence is the person’s motivation (inward oriented), the kind of violence is the goal/ end result of the violence (outward oriented). On this page, we are talking about the goals of different types of violence.


What does Territorial Violence look like? And what are you best strategies to stay safe when confronted with it?

Behavioral Correction:

What does violence used to correct unacceptable behavior look like? Since this is the most common kind of violence, you might want to know.


What is the difference between the previous types of violence and Criminal Violence? The goal of criminal violence is not you per se, but getting something from you.

Predatorial Violence

Predatorial Violence is the most dangerous because the person is coming for YOU! It has gone beyond all the other types of violence and is not only abusive, but most likely to turn lethal.

When It All Gets Mixed And Mushed

Human beings are very seldom base their actions on only one motivation. This is why these basic kinds of violence can get mixed and blended.

1) Anybody who says differently is

  • a. Selling something
  • b. Lying
  • c. Cherry picked the conflicts he/she engaged in (the technical term for this is bullying)

EXTREMELY inexperienced with violence (training and sport fighting are NOT actual violence).

Often all four. People who routinely engage in physical conflict know they can be defeated, hurt or killed. It’s only in the fantasy/ obsession/ marketing that appeals to people afraid of violence that the idea of being ‘unbeatable’ is promoted. In real life, you’re going to win some and lose some.

2) Now mind you, this has been debated with Peyton over a few bottles of champagne and good natured quarreling. Peyton’s position is that the two extra categories are subcategories of the original two. And yes, that model works too.

3) There are several factors that combine to cause this shift from territorial to predatorial.

Quite often individuals who are engaging in this behavior are actually betas posing as alphas. As such they are what we call “insecure alphas.” This makes them far more touchy and sensitive to challenges (which the described behaviors of the leaving person is).

Another huge factor is survival in the ‘streets’ is a complex cocktail of status, predation, display and — not just jockeying for a higher position — but desperately seeking to keep from losing status. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. An example of this is, while allowing someone to leave is acceptable (territorial) allowing someone to disrespect you while they are leaving is not. The fear is other predators seeing him allow that will challenge him.

A final — and again huge — factor, is while making comments or glaring over your shoulder as you’re leaving may be a balm to your pride, it is also common behavior of someone who is going to back away and then return to ambush the person. If that’s your plan, it is in his best interest to attack you now.

These are realities that people who insist in getting in the last word do NOT understand. And then they bemoan the fact that they were still attacked.

Why Study Violence Dynamics? - Rory Miller

You must study problems in order to find solutions. If SD techniques are the answers, Violence Dynamics is the study of the problem. I have designed models that I am very happy and successful with, but they are models, not truths. So it will take some work to be sure that I’m making a checklist for you, not a checklist of my path.

For students:

• Do you understand the difference between someone who has a personal issue with you, someone who wants your money and someone who wants to have fun with your pain?

• Can you distinguish the behaviors between those three?

• Do you understand the qualitative difference between the three types of threats?

• Do you recognize that a threat acting from an altered state of consciousness is yet another qualitatively different problem? And do you know the nature of that problem?

• Can you read terrain to know ambush zones, escape routes, where movement is limited or easy and where visibility is limited or easy?

• Can you see and explain the differences in normal and abnormal distancing and posture?

• Recognize the body language of a person concealing a weapon?

• Do you recognize the signs of adrenaline?

• Can you recognize the signs of someone trying to control his or her adrenaline level?

• Do you recognize a criminal interview?

• Can you distinguish your social, psychological and verbal options as they exist early in an encounter?

• Do you know your own threat profile?

• Do you understand what a criminal needs in order to be successful in a crime and, therefore, what you must deny a criminal?

For Instructors:

• Do you have a model that makes it easy for your students to understand the differences between criminals?

• Is that model useful-- in other words, can it accurately predict danger?

• Is the model designed in such a way as to get past student’s psychological resistance to the concept of evil?

• Have you vetted that you teach defenses to attacks that actually happen, not ones that are easy?

• Is any scenario training you do based on real crimes? Or is it back-engineered from the results that you want?


Facing Violence

Meditations on Violence


Why Study Violence Dynamics, Part 1 - Erik Kondo

Understanding models of violence vynamics should be a rather straight forward process. After all, as adults, many have mastered much more complex subjects such as medicine, law, physics, computers, and more. Violence dynamics is difficult to understand, not because the subject itself is complex. It is because unlike students of the previously named subjects, students of violence dynamics begin their study full of preconceived notions about how and why violence occurs. Many of these notions are directly tied to their identity as a “tough guy”, “innocent victim”, or “Good Guy”. Those that engage in violence are “Bad guys”, criminals, and “evil doers”. Violence is senseless, random, and “never solved anything”.

The messages of about violence come from the media, politicians, the self-defense product and training industry, anti-violence activists, and others who have ideological agendas and profit motives. Despite their claims of benefiting you or informing you, many times their interest conflicts with yours. As a result, your cup is not empty, it is very close to being full.

The end result is that many students that not only “don’t know what they don’t know”. They also “think they know what they don’t know”, and they “don’t want to know about information that conflicts with what they know to be true”. The entities that profiteer off the public’s misconceptions of violence, use methods that are designed to appeal to emotional thinking. This misinformation has “emotional stickiness”. It is hard to let go of once acquired. People can’t just calmly trade in the bad information and replace it with better information. Many people will defend what they think they know to their intellectual death.

Need proof? Go to an article on sexual assault posted in a feminist website and comment that “women should learn self-defense. “ Go to a website that promotes gun control and comment that “guns save lives”. Then visit a pro-firearm forum and state that “background checks are a good idea.” Finally, go to a martial arts forum and comment that “training in most martial arts is not an effective means of learning self-defense”. Your comments will not receive thoughtful replies and logical counter-points. You will be accused and attacked for being a victim-blamer, gun-nut, and bleeding heart liberal. Most likely you will also receive a challenge match designed to prove the fighting capability of _____ martial art.

Does it really make sense that there is only one category of human violence? Where Bad Guys attack only Good Guys, and the Good Guys either live or die? Or that there is nothing a victim of violence could have done that could have influenced how another person would respond to his or her behavior? Is all violence really without sense? Or is violence a part of human behavior that is used for specific purposes in order to achieve desired results?

If you want to understand violence dynamics you need to empty your cup and prepare to be emotionally triggered and somewhat intellectually challenged.

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?” - Zen story.

Why Study Violence Dynamics, Part II - Erik Kondo

There are multiple ways to view self-defense. Some people see self-defense as merely fighting skills that are available to you when you need it. Analogous to an insurance policy protects you in the case of a violent event, or swimming skills that save you from drowning in case you fall into the water. People who view self-defense in this manner generally believe that assaults “just happen”. They come out of nowhere with little pre-attack indicators and buildup. As such, the question of why someone is attacking doesn’t seem to be very important to them. They only want to focus on how to fight them off.

In this paradigm, any time you are assaulted, you use your superior fighting ability to defeat your attacker. Criminals are known to use tactics such as the element of surprise, deception, weapons, multiple attackers, and more to create an unfair advantage. Therefore, your fighting ability needs to be vastly superior then that of your assailants. In addition, you need to be impervious to knife slashed and stabs, and be able to dodge bullets without fail. And in the event you do possess such powerful fighting abilities, you also need the ability to effectively articulate why, given your talents, you needed to use them in the first place.

Assuming that you determine that your body is not capable of vanquishing all attackers, the next avenue is to use your mind to help implement protective strategies. For example, it is not enough to simply build a protective fortress, you need to know the methods your enemy is going to attack your fortress in order to create the most effective defense. This concept is the timeless adage “Know your enemy”.

The first thing that studying violence dynamics does is show that violence comes in many different forms. Violence incidents are shown to be more than just Bad People attacking Good People. Violence incidents happen for different reasons. These events can be categorized by the involved parties’ behavior patterns. Secondly, taking into consideration violence dynamics encourages different solutions to be found and employed that best deal with each category. And thirdly, understanding violence dynamics enables people to make on the spot assessments of other people’s behavior that help predict and prepare for future behavior.

For example, many times an individual is faced with choosing between Fighting, Fleeing, Freezing, Posturing, and Submitting as an immediate response strategy to a particular threat. Assessing whether or not the threat is coming from a Process Predator, Resource Predator, or Monkey Dancer provides actionable information on which strategy will most likely lead to success.  And which strategy has the potential of ending in catastrophic failure.

Scenario #1: You are walking down the sidewalk at night, a man jumps out of the shadows and demands your money.

Scenario #2: You are walking down the sidewalk at night, a man jumps out of the shadows with a knife, and tells you to move to a more isolated spot and demands you give him your money.

Scenario #3: You are walking down the sidewalk at night, you encounter a group of youths, the runt of the group, stops you and demands you give him your money.

Most self-defense instruction will tell you to respond in the same manner for each scenario.

Conventional/traditional self-defense suggests that you immediately Flee in all three scenarios.

Law enforcement generally advises you to comply (Submit) in all three scenarios.

Combative/street style self-defense training tells you to Fight (attack the attacker) in all three scenarios.

Empowerment self-defense teaches you to Posture with your hands and tell the assailant to "Back off!" in all three scenarios.

Violence dynamic models are tools that help you make an assessment of the likely pattern of behavior of assailant(s). It enables you to better decide what type of response from you has the best chance of success for each different scenario.

Commentary by Marc MacYoung

Two reasons to study violence dynamics:

#1 is knowing what you’re facing so you can respond appropriately. Before you can tell if something is abnormal, you have to know what normal is. This becomes particularly important because predators often mimic normal behaviors to confuse you and increase their chances of success.Another variation of #1 is consciously knowing that certain reactions will not have the desired results that your adrenalized monkey mind is telling you will happen.

#2. One of the biggest problems you’ll have if you have to defend yourself is explaining to people why it was necessary. right off the bat know this, somebody is going to be unhappy with your use of force decision. In fact, there are people whose job it is to be professionally unhappy. These people will crawl up your ass with a microscope looking for the slightest way to say you did wrong.

Commentary on Violence Dynamics - Clint Overland

Working at a biker bar in Amarillo. Real fucking dive, front of the bar had wood plank flooring and the back was dirt floors. Shit Hole joint that was the scene of every kind of depravity people enjoy. Had to stop a gang bang in the parking lot one night because we didn't want the cops to show up. The one that got the maddest was the fat chick who was getting banged.  Place was a suck fest to work at and I had to wear stab plates in my vest to keep from getting cut on a regular basis.

Frat rats showed up one night from Lubbock. Up in Amarillo slumming looking for trouble. Knew it was going to end bad for them and cornered the leader and told him it might be best if he and his little pack of friends found someplace else to party. Guy came across as a real douche nozzle and told me not to worry they could handle it.

With 30 minutes of the kids getting there 2 of them have been beaten in the men's room to damn near death and the other 4 or 5 are running out the door screaming like bitches. I was left trying to hold a bar full of inside to let them escape and then cleaning up the blood in the bathroom. See if they had listened to me and gone on down the road there would have been no problems but they thought they understood what they had gotten themselves into.

"So study violence dynamics so that you know your limitations and abilities, otherwise you may find out just what it means to reach your limits in when it matters most.

Q & A on Violence Dynamics - Rory Miller

Question: I am a woman, why should I care about violence dynamics?

Answer: Violence and conflict are pervasive and often oppressive facts of the human condition. It behooves everyone to understand the parts of the world that can harm. Knowledge is power. One of the biggest dangers, for all people, is the tendency to extrapolate from the known to the unknown. Most violent encounters stem from social conditions, and we all have some expertise there. But when those skills are attempted in an asocial setting, they will backfire. Sometimes your default programming will be actively used against you. And, if you survive, that can have devastating psychological impact. It offends me that we send young adults out into the world not knowing that there are different types of violence and with tools for only one kind. It would be like teaching children in a tropical fishing village about sharks and never telling them that tigers exist as well and you can’t be safe from tigers by getting out of the water.

Question:  I am an experienced martial artist, why should I care about violence dynamics?

Answer: There are two reasons. And it may not apply to you, everyone is different, but:

#1) in martial arts, you will get people who have studied for decades on how to handle an attack from a bad guy, but have never spent a day studying how bad guys actually attack. Would you consider going to a doctor who had only studied surgery and drugs but had refused to study anatomy, injury or illness? Would you consider taking your car to a mechanic who had every tool imaginable but didn’t know what an engine looks like? Only in martial arts will you get high-level instructors who have memorized answers but refused to look at problems.

But don’t worry about it. Most of the surviving martial systems were designed by brilliant people who lived in violent times. An understanding of violence dynamics won’t replace anything you do, it just tends to make it fit better.

#2) Traditionally, martial arts has been about teaching fighters how to fight other fighters. If you are really interested in helping your students be safe, you might need some background on how to help victim profiles evade hunters. It’s not the same problem and, honestly, it’s not that closely related.

Question: Why would I want to know WHY someone is attacking me? I just want to learn to defend myself.

Answer: No, you really don’t. Physically defending yourself is a last-ditch act of desperation. The threat will be bigger, stronger (or crazy and/or armed) and will get the first move from close range with as much surprise as possible. Trust me, you don’t want to do this. No sane person does. Understanding violence dynamics helps in at least three ways. It can help you prevent anything going bad in the first place. Knowing what kind of places are likely hunting grounds, what victim profile you project, changing that profile– all good things. Second, Violence Dynamics can give you some insight on how to walk away from things or talk your way out– and also the indicators when that isn’t an option. Third, by understanding the different types of attacks, you’ll understand when you are fighting to escape and when to disable, and you’ll understand that those are two very different things.

Question: I am mainly concerned with being sexually assaulted. How does knowing about other types of violence protect me?

Answer: Sexual assault is a label. It's not a complete narrative, nor is it a complete understanding of the problem. There are different kinds of sexual assault-- from the creeper who hangs out in the hallway outside the women's restroom, to the serial rapist with a very particular victim profile, to the opportunistic rapist, to frat boys holding a sick contest, to the perpetrator who creates a dependent relationship so that he can victimize someone for years without fear of prosecution. And many more. Defined, "sexual assault" would be a list of things necessary to define the crime. That would tell you almost nothing about the perpetrator, certainly not enough to identify, avoid or if necessary defend yourself. Understanding the bad guy is much more useful than simply understanding the mechanics of the crime.

Question: Does this model of Violence Dynamics define all types of violence? Are there any types that are missing?

Answer: When I teach the class in an SD context, I leave out most of the material on Domestic Violence and Date Rape unless I’m specifically asked. I know how the many of the criminals who perpetrate those crimes rationalize their actions and can give some insight on that. But I don’t feel qualified to give a definitive answer and the subject is far too important to make stuff up. And that’s one of the strengths of CRGI. A bunch of intelligent, dedicated, experienced people (possibly including you) are going to look at these FAQs and make them better.

Question: Do all violent incidents fall strictly into one category or the other? Are there any gray areas or overlap?

Answer: Fewer than I originally thought. Understand that the rationalizations absolutely cross over. People who commit purely predatory crimes like to blame the victim. And there are secondary gains, in that someone who did a crime for money will very likely brag about it to his friends for the social points. But the model is very robust and diagnostic.

Social Violence Overview - Rory Miller

Social violence is what, in the natural world, would be the types of violence common within a single species. This intra-species violence does not follow the dynamic or use the same tactics as violence against other species. The dominance game of snakes wrestling or bears pushing and mouthing is not like the way the same species hunt prey.


So social violence includes ritualized jockeying for territory or status. It also includes acts to prove or increase group solidarity (a powerful side effect of hunting as a team) and violence to enforce the rules and mores of the group.

Social violence can roughly be delineated as the Monkey Dance (MD), the Group Monkey Dance (GMD), the Educational Beat-Down (EBD) and the Status-Seeking Show (SSS).

Like most predatory species, humans have two distinctive modes of violence. These modes are qualitatively different on many levels—emotionally, intellectually, how they are carried out and even the common effect. Like other mammals, humans simple don’t use the same skills on our own kind that we use on food.

A schoolyard fight is qualitatively different from butchering a chicken. Killing a chicken is quick, efficient and deadly. I won’t say, “no muss no fuss” because it can be really messy, but you are just turning an animal into meat.

A schoolyard fight (or any of the other manifestations of social violence, from domestic abuse to war) involves a lot of muss and fuss. People, with a few exceptions, need to get angry before they fight each other. Angry, afraid, indignant– but there needs to be an emotional content. It is slow. No one can look at a schoolyard fist fight as a model of efficiency and even when the combatants have trained to be efficiently dangerous, as some martial artists, their skills rarely manifest in a real fight.

And even when they do, it is not the same. Kris Wilder interviewed me this morning. The podcast will be available sooner or later on Martial Secrets. Kris, like me was raised killing his own food. Butchering animals. His technique was to shake a hat at the steer, below the steer’s nose. the steer would look down at the hat and you would put a .22 LR bullet into the sweet spot. Distract/Bang. 1200 pound steer dead as toast. No muss. No fuss.

Even skilled people don’t fight like that, because they fight. They don’t just eliminate. Distract/Bang works just as well on people as it does on cattle. But if we are in our sovial modes we’ll forget that.

And don’t forget, social violence needs an audience.

In the end, we fight people, but we simply kill animals.

Humans are amazing creatures, though. It has occurred to some of us and been tested over time that we can, if we choose, use the skills of hunting and butchering on each other. It is rare. Very few people are wired to kill cold and often people who have made the conscious decision to kill still need to get angry, still need to make a show.

But it can be done. The three previous lessons (On the survival, need, and identity predator) covered the thought processes of, and how to deal with, the rare but very dangerous human who can treat you like a sandwich.

This series of lessons will cover the patterns of social violence so that you will have a leg up on identifying which are dangerous and how you can avoid them.

Humans are social primates. We are not strong or fast or stealthy. As survival expert Toby Cowern says, “As animals, we’re crap. We have no business being at the top of the food chain. Except for our brains.” Our brains allow us to adapt and learn, but our primary survival strategy is the group. We cooperate. We live and work together.

It’s not always comfortable. Humans don’t automatically like other humans, but most humans have a deep desire to be liked based on a deep fear of being alone.

Long ago, I noticed that if you hand a friend a baby and the baby doesn’t smile, the friend will get goofier and goofier until he gets a reaction. Seeking acknowledgement from a baby who could barely focus her eyes.

Being a bastard, I did an experiment and reversed it, started holding babies and staying completely expressionless. It turns out a baby, only days old, will also get goofier and goofier trying to get a smile from me. That’s some pretty deep wiring.

Need for a group, deep wiring, and the fact that conflictwill arise implies that there must be strategies for dealing with conflict within the group. Strategies for social violence.

Unlike hunting (asocial violence) the purpose of social violence is rarely to kill. Killing within the group weakens the group, both through lost numbers and in trust.

Social violence follows patterns just like language does because it is a form of communication. And it is something we have lived with every day of our lives, so we all know the patterns.

Raised as many of us were to believe that violence and conflict are inherently wrong, we have to establish some foundation.

Conflict is inevitable. Until we have a world of infinite resources, someone will have more than someone else and someone will resent that. Unless everyone is genetically engineered to be exactly the same, young men will vie for the attention of the prettiest girls. If something is inevitable, I don’t see the value in calling it ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ That’s like trying to put a value judgment on gravity.

Conflict will lead to violence if the needs driving the conflict are not satisfied in another way. If your children are hungry you will get them fed…and if nothing else will work, you will kill the chicken yourself.

If your child insists on running into the street, you will escalate through a disciplinary series of actions: yelling or a time out or grounding or… and it is the child, not you, who decides when the escalation stops. If you refuse to take the punishment to the level at which the child will respond, the child will do whatever he or she damn well pleases and maybe get killed, or maybe just run rough-shod over you. If you have naturally good kids who always respond at the ‘raised voice’ level those are good kids. That doesn’t make you a strong or even a good parent.

Social conflict has certain very specific goals.

1) To establish and maintain the identity of the group. There is no group without outsiders. Your family is your family. The other six billion or so people in the world are not. If you attempt to include everyone in a group, there is no group.

Group identity conflict manifests in a number of ways.

Though the intensity may be different, a college fraternity hazing, a gang ‘beating in,’ and the selection process for an elite military unit follow the same dynamic. Violence (or, in the military case, induced stress) can be used as a rite of passage, something you must pass through to be one of us.

It also manifests in how outsiders are identified and treated. Why do both participants in a domestic violence situation sometimes turn on the responding officer? Because he is seen as an outsider trying to take control of an in-group problem. The underlying dynamic is the same as the “Mississippi Burning” murders, and similar to a lynching. It enabled the death camps.

The scale may differ. The explanations, excuses and justifications may differ. But the dynamic is the same.

2) Social conflict establishes territory and the access to territory. In the savannah, different species share water holes. They could turn every instance of getting water into a fight to the death, but they don’t. Pushing another group to extreme desperation might be quite costly.

That said, access isn’t free. A troop of baboons who go to a water hole watch each other, protect each other, do threat displays and do their best to let everyone know that they will fight. If they fail to do this they will be killed or driven off.

Human on human, this ranges from tagging a gang’s turf to crossing a border checkpoint to everyone checking out an unfamiliar face in a local watering hole. The dynamic is the same. Groups will mark territory, they will defend territory and there will be a protocol for crossing or entering territory… and trespassers will be punished.

3) Social conflict establishes hierarchy and roles. Almost all species have a ritualized ‘combat’ between males of the same species. Deer, bighorn sheep, bear, even snakes have a type of fight that looks like violence. But it is never the way the same species kill prey and it is almost never lethal.

Two bighorn sheep butt heads. One gets the herd of females, the other walks away.

In humans it is a little more complicated. We don’t vie for a single top spot where only the alpha male gets to breed. We do need to have a place.

In any group you can think of there have been certain roles. Most groups have a leader, someone who comes up with ideas about what to do and generally gets everybody in trouble. The group will also have a “go-to” member. When something needs to get done or a problem needs to be solved, you bring it to the go-to, not to the leader.

Almost every group has a joker. And someone who listens to personal problems and offers comfort. Many have a scapegoat, one member of the group that everyone picks on and is treated like shit. There is a clue there. Many people would rather be treated badly in a group than not be in a group at all.

The stress of a child moving to a new school or an adult moving to a new job or team isn’t a fear of not belonging, of being cast out. It is a fear of being forced into a role they despise or having no role at all.

All of us have a few preferred roles.

4) Social conflict establishes and enforces the rules of the group. In many ways, rule enforcement is a subset of identity enforcement. A group without rules and norms isn’t an identifiable group at all.

Further, the rules that are enforced do not need to make sense and are often ‘carriers’ for tribal identity. All people in history ate. There is no identity in that. What they eat, how they prepared it and what it is served on or in, those make up pieces of culture.

When someone breaks rules, it may be a challenge to the group’s cohesion or a challenge to the group’s survival. In more primitive, marginal times there wasn’t a lot of distinction between those things. A group at odds with itself had a much harder time surviving.

5) Social conflict, specifically having mechanisms to deal with social conflict, are intended to keep the group going with minimal change. Even something as egregiously dysfunctional as the abuse cycle of domestic violence serves this function. As long as the pattern is repeated, the group is stable.

It seems illogical, but dying for the group is a time-honored tradition. We could not have soldiers without this part of the human condition. No firemen would brave flames or cops go on patrol. The dynamic that keeps a woman in an abusive relationship is the same.

Very few of the patterns of social violence result in anything approaching the violence of even casual asocial attacks. The human instinct to fistfight, for instance, pits fragile hand bones against the skull. Hands are broken quite often but life-threatening injury is usually by falling and hitting an object.

There are exceptions, however, and those will be addressed in future articles.

Social violence follows specific, recognizable patterns:

The Monkey Dance (for status, to establish access)

The Group Monkey Dance (Boundary setting; bonding or betrayal)

The Educational Beat Down (rules enforcement)

The Status Seeking Show: The exception.

Details to think about:

  • Most of the patterns are not dangerous.
  • Insecurity raises the potential for violence
  • Othering turns it asocial (Rwanda)
  • In modern society, all people are members of several tribes at once.

Asocial Violence - Rory Miller

Asocial violence does not see the victim as a person, but as a resource. Asocial violence is the domain of the predator and the humanity of his victim does not enter into the equation.

A predator will use more violence for less cause than a normal person.

The ability to use asocial violence on another human being is dictated by ‘othering. ’ To hunt and butcher a human being is an entirely different order of violence than to argue, fight or kill in combat. It is a qualitative, not a quantitative difference. The perpetrator has othered the victim to the extent that the constraints, both social and genetic, on in-group violence are gone.

Security Level Violence

I want you to do a thought experiment. Relax, take a deep breath, and answer a few questions. First, imagine that no one is going to help you and your children are in danger of starving. What would you be willing to do?

Would you steal food?

Would you rob (use violence or the threat of violence to steal) for food or money for food?

Would you kill?

These are the first questions, the easy ones. To save your children, what would you be willing to do? What lines would you cross? I use ‘to save your children’ in the question because most people imagine their own starvation as something noble or heroic. They imagine they could ‘take it’ and make sacrifices and stick to a moral code but can’t really imagine what the changing blood sugar, fear and desperation would do to their minds. So we stick with children for this little thought experiment.

Ready for the next series of questions?

Would you prostitute yourself? Would you prostitute you children to feed them? Prostitute just one of the children to feed the others? Or maybe sell one and pretend you did not know why the child was wanted?

I don’t know why people hesitate more on these questions than on the question of killing, but they do. Murder is officially more evil than prostitution, right? Maybe, in this thought experiment, murder for food is a little more abstract and easier to imagine in soft focus. Maybe.

More questions. Whatever strategy you chose to feed your children, you are an adaptable human being. Would you eventually become okay with your decision? Even self-righteous about it? You are the one killing, stealing or pimping… would you really blame yourself for that? Or find someone else to blame for driving you to it?

Would you eventually tell yourself that what you are doing is noble and right? That your victims are the bad guys? If it turned out to be successful and you moved from the edge of starvation to affluence, would you quit doing the crimes? Or would it have become a way of life? And would you teach your children to follow in your footsteps?

Play with those thoughts for a moment.

We live in an unbelievably affluent society. Our modern response to the possibility of hunger, much less starvation, doesn’t involve getting a spear or laying traps, but going to a government office and filing paperwork. No one seems to see anything odd about that.

It is so easy to forget, when you have never personally been hungrier than you wanted to be (fasting is a completely different experience than starving) that the possibility of children starving has been the norm for much of human history. It is still the norm in many places in the world.

Yet we are surprised when people act from this world-view. We get self-righteous and indignant. That may be a justified attitude, but it is not useful.

In modern times, this threat isn’t about food. That little thought experiment we just did? That desperation that drives you to do things you know are wrong? Things that become less wrong the longer you do them until you feel fully justified and righteous? That is where addicts live and it drives a huge amount of the crime in this country.

This has profound implications for avoiding and de-escalating violence stemming from this level. It is much different from the social conflict we are used to. Everything you know about protecting people’s feelings or deferring to status or showing respect is irrelevant here. The threat wants stuff. Stuff that he can sell to feed his addiction. It is not about his feelings or his past or his inner child. It is about his need.

The only things that will work on the threat are the things that would work on you if your children were starving. The thought experiment will help you empathize with the threat’s state of mind and help you avoid the traps.

What would you do if your children were starving? How far would you go? How far will the threat go?

How would you set up your crimes?

Would you prefer to burglarize an empty house? Threaten in privacy? Use overwhelming force from ambush or invade a home and catch the victim(s) off guard?

The threat will do the same thing and for the same reasons. Almost every incident of conflict in your life has been social, and almost all of the social incidents had one thing in common: an audience.

When someone switches to predatory violence, an audience magically transforms into witnesses. This is the primary clue: IF THERE ARE NO WITNESSES PREPARE FOR PREDATORY VIOLENCE.

It’s not a switch that most make quickly or easily. No matter how ineptly, incipient criminals have been socialized to some extent. They had a parent or parents. The attended at least some school. Their first time using or threatening to use violence, they are amateurs. They are nervous and it shows. Instead of using the weapon for either immediate violence or to take control, they treat it like an amulet, like a cross to keep away vampires. The best I can describe it is that like most inexperienced citizens they don’t look like they are using a gun so much as hiding behind one.

In the first crimes, the threat is often hesitant to use force. Sometimes the victim reads that and attempts to use social skills to end the situation. When you see someone who is hesitant and fearful trying to exert power, what are the social strategies? Often to intimidate or punk him out. You see the weakness, the line where he should break and you push it: “You don’t have the guts to pull the trigger!”

But this isn’t social. Social is two monkeys vying for status. An inexperienced predator is trying to teach himself to stop acting like a monkey and start acting like a leopard. What would a leopard do? Oh, yeah. Kill the stupid monkey.

There is a common pattern of a new criminal hesitating until he starts to lose control and then using massive force to regain control. His first extreme violent crime.

As the threat becomes more experienced, there are some changes. One is what I call ‘othering’. We can use more force on things different than ourselves. We can squash bugs, shoot deer, butcher livestock…but we fight people. The more we can convince ourselves that someone is not like us, the more force we can use, the faster we can use it and the less psychological damage is associated with it.

Othering is a skill, and as a criminal becomes more experienced he becomes better at it. He can use force, even extreme force, without hesitation. The humanity of his victims gradually ceases to be an element restricting his actions.

What does restrict his actions becomes a very cold risk-reward analysis. What will he get and what risks will he run?

Violence, especially extreme violence, draws a lot of attention and carries potentially long sentences. The more blood, the greater chance of being caught. Experienced criminals think in these terms. Pressing close, making a citizen nervous so that the citizen offers some cash is zero risk, at most a city ordinance violation for the hard-to-prove “aggressive panhandling.”

This implies three strategies for making you an unlikely victim:

1. Lower the potential rewards of the risk/rewards equation. This is not as effective as you might think. There is no element of social justice to the equation, no morality of ‘robbing the rich.’ Many criminals steal from people poorer than themselves, because no matter who they steal from, the robber will have more, and that is the goal. A local contact (this is two years out of date) said that a heavy heroin habit in my city runs $400 dollars a day. Stealing items other than cash, he can rarely get more than 10% of the value… so an addict may have to steal $4000 worth of goods every day. That’s volume and under the press of withdrawals, most threats can’t afford to be picky. This is a one-way street, by the way. You can’t lower the potential rewards enough to make you completely safe, but you can raise the rewards enough to influence the criminal to take greater risks. See below.

2. Raise the risk. Every self-defense instructor’s advice to walk with confidence and express self-value fits right here. The threat may feel confidant he could take anyone, but why artificially raise the risk? Attack the easy. Same as wolves and injured caribou. Staying in crowds. Attracting witnesses. Dialing 911 on your cell. Letting it be known that you are armed…and this is a tricky one, because a gun is a very valuable thing. Admitting you are carrying one MAY make someone choose another victim… or it may make him take extra precautions and use more violence faster to get your weapon.

3. Shake his confidence in the equation. When a threat approaches, he expects certain behavior– maybe a scared glancing around or nervous fumbling. Maybe pleading. A lot of victims just become passive. Someone who seems too calm makes the threat wonder if he has missed something. The possibility of a weapon is often more effective than the presence of a weapon. A nod or wave in a random direction may make the think threat he has missed allies.

If you understand the type of threat, you can adapt your tactics and better avoid the situation. If you cannot avoid the situation, you can choose tactics at the appropriate level of force and, possibly more important, articulate you decisions.

Self-Actualized Violence

Quick Maslow recap:The basic idea is that there are five states or levels of struggle. Each level must be addressed in order.

The most basic level includes survival needs: food, water, shelter and protection from immediate dangers. If any of these are threatened, you don’t really care about much else.

The second level is security needs: Will you have food tomorrow? Will you be safe tomorrow?

The third and fourth levels are social—the need to belong and the need to have status or esteem within the group.

Dr. Maslow theorized that if these four basic levels were secure, each individual could then move to a higher level, become “self-actualized” and start living the dream.

It’s a good theory and it is widely applicable to issues of conflict and violence. Not just in possible motivations but also in identifying our own blind spots. Our ancestors took care of our survival and security needs long ago. Few people become self-actualized enough to truly live their dreams. Most of us struggle at the third and fourth levels, the social levels.

Our conflicts have been social: who is in charge? Who does the boss like better? Will she think that I am a wimp? Who does this guy think he is? Will I fit in?

When our experience with conflict has been all social, we default to those strategies, especially under stress. The last two lessons talked about how violence can arise from the lower level needs and how that violence is qualitatively different than social violence.

Today is all about violence arising from the highest level of personal development. Self-actualized violence. Identity violence.

In college, we were told that self-actualization was positive, the source of all creativity and altruism (…and that struck me wrong right there, for there are countless stories of altruism and heroism when survival and security are threatened.)

When I revisited Maslow at the Police Academy supervisory course I was cautioned against hiring self-actualized people: “They do what they want to do, not what you tell them to do.”

The thing is, if you are a generally good person and take care of all your basic and social needs, you have the confidence to take risks in being a good person. You become a better person. And if you were a dick and achieve self-actualization, you become a self-actualized dick.

They are relatively rare, but self-actualized predators exist, and they are very different than other predators. They do not hurt, humiliate or degrade to fulfill a need, not in the sense of needing food or needing drugs. They enjoy the act. They enjoy the begging victim, the sensation of killing or raping or conning. It is no longer something they do. It is who they are. And it is possibly the only thing that makes them feel alive.

The psychobabble gets in the way here, as urges and desires get called needs, as predators in interviews subtly present something they wanted to do as something they needed to do. You may have a hobby or career that you love, the one thing that makes you feel good, the hallmark of your identity… but you could walk away. You can’t walk away from air. Intense desire is qualitatively different than a need. Remember that when predators rationalize their behavior.

On the other hand, if you DO have a hobby that is the most important thing in your life, the one thing that makes you feel complete and whole, the one endeavor where the world makes sense (how many 30+ year martial artists are reading this?) you have a handle on this mindset. Horrific as it may sound, some get the satisfaction from beating and rape that you get from your hobby.

Their acts have become their identity. They no longer merely kill or rape. This predator IS a rapist. IS a murderer. Less violent, but on the same dynamic, are the professional conmon and grifters.

A young man in custody for stabbing a girl told detectives that it was the most awesome feeling of his life, the ultimate rush…and since that day he had been looking for a chance to stab someone else and feel it again without getting caught.

A man questioned about two rapes he confessed to: “To be completely honest? They were the best experiences of my life.”

This is a hard thing for most of us to wrap our minds around. We can barely imagine motivations that might drive us to extreme violence—desperation, revenge, or to save something (a country) or someone that we value greatly. Most of us can’t really imagine loving it, finding our true selves in the tears and bruises of a woman begging for mercy.

And it is a mistake to assume that because we cannot truly grasp it, it is not happening.

Like predators driven by need, predators driven by the love of the act, the process, learn the skills. Most start out very inefficient. Some make elaborate plans and many love the planning process, the watching… but in their early attempts at mayhem they are often clumsy and unprepared for the messy reality (like many who study self-defense).

It is my belief that many serial killers start their careers late because they get caught after these tentative explorations.

They become efficient with time. They become skilled.

Not driven by withdrawals or addictions, they are also not distracted by pain. Some deny that they are different than other people. One told me that he only does what everyone else desires to do and that all others are bound by fear. He felt he was only special in his bravery…but his victims were always small and weak.

Many understand that they are different, and different becomes better in one’s own mind very quickly. This is important with questions of rehabilitation. have you ever ‘fixed’ someone who believed he is smarter and already better than you? I have never once met a violent criminal who had doubts about his own superiority over both his victims and the society trying to ‘fix’ him. (See last section of this post.)

Most people follow social rules and are never consciously aware of them. It’s not just that most of us do the right thing, we do the right things without it occurring to us that it is an option. I hold my hand out, you shake it. You have a choice, but if your job or life involves meeting people frequently, you will shake my hand before it occurs to you that there is a choice.

Identity predators see these choices, and feel superior because others do not. The predator thinks, his victims follow their instincts.

This is a deadly distinction. I’ve said again and again in these lessons that it is a mistake to equate social conflict with other types… not only is it a deadly mistake, but the process predator is not blinded by fear or need or pain. He knows the social games and he will use them.

Social violence is rarely dangerous and almost always completely predictable. As long as a skilled predator can keep you in your social mode, as long as you keep trying social strategies he has absolute confidence that:

1) You are completely predictable and

2) You will not be able to bring yourself to hurt him

Not only are social scripts ineffective, they will actively be used against you. And used to increase the victim’s pain and humiliation as the survivor agonizes over social strategies (which often include pleading or flattering), wondering, sometimes for years, if they somehow encouraged the violence.

Identity predators have much in common with need predators. The will become efficient over time. They have othered the victim to a level that allows extreme force. They will avoid witnesses.

They are discouraged by the same things as well. Raising the stakes is the most effective. A credible threat of force discourages the threat. They do not, generally, like pain and do fear injury.

You can lower the stakes, but this can be hard because many process predators have a ‘type’ a specific victim profile and it is impossible to know in advance what a specific predator’s type is. Generally, though, if the payoff is to see someone scream and beg an indifferent or stoic demeanor may be somewhat effective…except for the ones who need the challenge. As with Resource Predators, lowering the stakes is the least effective and least reliable strategy.

The payoff for an identity predator is primarily emotional. This is not a strategy I recommend as a first choice, but some maybe discouraged if the designated victim doesn’t play the victim role ‘right’. For adult and violent crimes, the strategy is nearly worthless, but for dealing with bullies, whether on the playground or in the office, it is imperative that you never become an entertaining victim.

The identity predator has one more twist that is not shared with the need predator. Because the identity predator enjoys the process, the process can be quite drawn-out. Emotional pain may be as satisfying as physical pain.

Low level (non-violent or low-level violence) predators may enjoy bullying and degrading people without ever obviously harming them. They enjoy not only having a submissive partner but making the partner be submissive in public.

And this is something very important to understand about the conflict/violence scale: process predators who enjoy emotional abuse will never, ever admit that what they do is violent. And there is a huge amount of this type of emotional violence perpetrated by self-righteous people convinced that because their cause is just (in their own eyes) or it is “for the greater good” that what they do is not emotional abuse. And they are just as skilled in evading personal responsibility or introspection as any serial rapist. But what they do differs no in kind, but merely on the scale of physicality.

More violent predators may use social skills and social pressure to keep the victims from talking, or even to ensure that they are available for further victimization. In Iraq, Saddam’s Mukhabarat were notorious for video taping their sexual assaults and then using the threat of the videos to elicit more victimization…

In some cases, especially with predators who victimize children, the target will be ‘groomed’ into a victim personality. The will be taught that acquiescence is the best survival strategy. Victims will systematically be denied control of their own lives. In a dynamic called ‘learned helplessness’ they will be showered with gifts or with punishment, randomly… so random that they never learn the triggers and come to believe that they have no control and should just obey.

None of these mindsets are so alien that we can’t understand them, but none of them respond to social controls or social expectations…and for entirely logical reasons.

Scenarios of Asocial Violence - Clint Overland


1. See a guy in a wheelchair and I want to rob him. Easiest way is smash him with a brick from behind.

2. Woman walking down the street walk by her bum rush her head first into a wall an take what I want.

3. Big guy walking by know he’s got cash . Head shot with a pipe or brass knuckles from behind.

4. Two women walking dark street come up behind them hit the one one the left then the one on the right use a figure 8 swing.

5. Guy flashing cash at the bar watch for him to piss smash his face into the urinal an take his money.

6. Stalker watches you knows your habits patterns and rhythms. He waits for your lull when you don’t pay attention. Then behind you with a sap behind the ear, he takes you out either does whatever there or moves you to his rape cave.

7.  Guy spends years studying . Ninja stuff , lock picking, chemistry, rope and knots, has a fucked up fantasy life that your a part of. He watches every thing you do. Goes through your trash knows you (his version) . Knows your kids your family . Patently he plots and waits. Gonna get you an make you his. You will make a wrong move one time and he will wait till then . That’s the scary part you don’t know whose radar you pinged.

8. Family out for a shopping spree . Man walks up point s a gun at child . Give me everything . Makes the kid walk with him as he backs away. You move wrong the kid is dead.

9. Couple walking. I want her . Wait till they pass a dark spot. Crush his skull after clubbing her, she's the noise maker. Oh she will make enough noise late. Gotta get rid of him, he is the fighter.

Asocial Violence Comes in Two Forms: RESOURCE and PROCESS - Marc MacYoung

Now the goals of asocial violence are totally different than social violence. I tell people that -- unlike social violence -- resource predation is about stuff you can put into a wheelbarrow. I can put my wallet into a wheelbarrow. I can't put my pride, emotions, social status or self-esteem into a wheelbarrow. Thing is asocial/resource does NOT happen like a monkey dance. The goal is to get what the person wants and to be done with it. That puts its on a totally different level, different goals, different tactics. Including in this is you set it up so it can be done in the most effective and safest way possible. The guy walks up to you asks for a cigarette and the next thing you know you're looking down the barrel of a gun and he's saying 'gimme your wallet.'  No huffing, puffing, posturing and posing to show how big his dick it. Here's the deal: gimme your wallet or get shot.

Here is where people screw up, most of what they are training to handle is actually 'social violence' -- even the macho crap they're calling combatives.

Facing asocial violence isn't time for trying to throw the dude a high-school-fight-on-steroids beating. You either need to take the contract (gimme or else) or the dude needs to be on the ground unconscious, broken or dying in THREE MOVES or less. Any other option WILL  get you shot. If your training can't meet those standards, take the contract.

The second type of asocial violence is 'process.' This is the big boogeyman everyone claims they're training for. Great ... well, except it's rarer than hen's teeth.  Process predation is easy to understand because -- in every other case -- violence is a means to another end.  In process predation, violence IS the goal. The guy is planning to attack from the start.  This is the tantrum throwing, rage-o-holic who uses violence the same way a drunk uses getting drunk as a form of self-medication. This is the serial killer or serial rapist who gets off on the power trip of violence. This is the abuser who comes home looking for an excuse to beat the hell out his family. The guy comes to the situation, preplanned to go off.

Seriously, you can't change these guys. You can't de-escalate them, you can only deter them. This usually by coldly looking them in the eye in a way that tells them that they need to go find another victim. Because, if they try to take it there, their life is on the line too. This person you have to plan on using the three moves or less strategy on.

Now this is where people tend to get all 'what iffy' about finding excuses to go all kung-fu-commando on the guy. Recognize three key points.

1) Social violence can be de-escalated, asocial violence can only be deterred.

2)  Peyton Quinn's Five Rules work to de-escalate social violence, they will NOT prevent asocial violence -- having said that, IF you violate them, you will make an asocial act personal and the guy will HAVE to come at you. He is going to punish and hurt you for 'disrespecting him

3) The sign that it is asocial is that what works to peacefully solve social is NOT working.

An even more important point of #3 is YOU have to keep up your end of the contract. If you break the deal/twist the script, then of course the situation is going to escalate. Let's say someone says "Leave or I'll kick your ass" The big "What If Monkey" question is "But what if he follows me?"

Well, here's a hint about that: You shouldn't have called him a cocksucker as you were leaving.

Sure you took the deal and were leaving, but then you just had to get that last dig in  It sounds stupid, but people do it all the time -- especially people who think they're too smart to do something that stupid. Someone pulling an ego saving behavior is a much more common reason for  someone following you than a process predator thinking he's found an easy target. Here's where keeping your inner Monkey on a leash is so important. Your Monkey knows what will hurt him, embarrass him and humiliate him -- just like your Monkey feels he's done to you -- so it's going to grab ahold  of your mouth and throw that shit. For no other reason than to 'get even' -- except now you've just challenged and insulted his monkey.  If someone did the same to you, you'd follow him too.

So don't do it. Especially don't do it and then deny you did it and/or whine about the results.

Having said that, there will be occasions where things just don't work out. You do everything in your power to de-escalate and the guy either keeps on or keeps on trying to change the script. For example someone sticks a gun in your face and demands your wallet. Straight up, it's safer to just calmly give it to him. But, if he then tells you to get in a car (or move to any other 'secondary location') then  that's NEVER a good sign. The way the normal robbery script works is give him the wallet and either he takes off or tells you to get gone. Taking people to secondary locations is when really bad things happen.  That's when you need your three moves or less level of violence.

Realistically, if someone is breaking away from a script, you have to come out of it too.  And believe it or not, that  does wonders to deter asocial violence. Most violence is over social issues and is very scripted, this includes 'fighting.'  A fight is a very scripted and 'safe' form of violence. If you're doing everything to de-escalate and violence and the guy isn't following the script, that shows you whatever is going on isn't social. If that's the case then it's not going to be a 'fight.' You're going to have to do him in three to be safe.

Simply shifting into the assumption that you're facing asocial process predation will cause most people to jump back onto script. He told you to leave, when you started to and he started following you, you shifted to prepare to handle being attacked by a process predator. It's amazing how

Resource Predator Recap - Erik Kondo

Resource Predation is conceptually easy to understand. Robin Hood was a resource predator. He stole from The Rich and gave to the poor. His robberies were impersonal. His victims were seen as only The Rich. It was to some degree nothing other than a business transaction. A redistribution of wealth. His victims could look at their robberies as a toll for passing through the forest.

Even through the threat of violence was used, Robin Hood did not want to use violence. He wanted his victim’s resources. He didn’t want to harm them. But, let’s imagine that one of his victims gets enraged upon being robbed. He threatens Robin Hood with Maid Marian’s assault and murder upon his release. He vows to return, capture, and hang Robin Hood and all of his Merry Men. What was once an impersonal interaction has become personal. Given that Robin Hood holds all the power, his outraged victim has placed himself in perilous circumstances.

In the above example, the victim is using Monkey Dance responses to a Resource Predation situation. By not simply complying with Robin Hood he is putting himself in much greater danger. The conflict management response to many resource predation situations is to comply as long as the predator continues with the behavioral script of resource predation. That means you need to know when the situation is on script and when it is going off script. When the situation goes off script, you can expect different behaviors to arise. Behaviors that may be much more harmful to you than a loss of your valuables

Here is a real life example of this situation.

Process Predator Recap - Erik Kondo

It is important to keep in mind that while Process Predators come in all shapes and sizes, they also come with different levels of motivation also known as intent. People tend to think of Process Predators as the relentless scary stranger. And while that person does exist, there are more lowly motivated Process Predators than there are highly motivated Process Predators.

A lowly motivated sexual predator may want to engage in a sexual assault, but he is only willing to incur a low level of risk in doing so. The majority of stories you hear of women “fighting” of attackers in the street involved lowly motivated attackers. Once these attackers met resistance, even if it was ineffective, they ran away. Not because they were forced away, but because they feared society’s punishing response.

As with the Resource Predator, these type of assaults are impersonal. The predator has dehumanized the victim. But unlike the Resource Predator, the goal of the Process Predator is some type of violence. There will be violence regardless of whether you resist or not.

Deterrence through the use of strong boundary setting can be an effective response against lowly motivated Process Predators. De-escalation requires humanization not dehumanization. De-escalation can also be misinterpreted as weakness. Weakness is not a deterrence, it is an attraction to many Process Predators.

The highly motivated Process Predator is the stuff of nightmares. This predator is willing to take substantial risk and exert great effort to achieve his goal. Deterrence effectively means avoiding this predator entirely by not catching his attention. The ineffectual “fighting off” techniques and tactics that scare off a lowly motivated Process Predator most likely will not work with a highly motivated one.

Conflict management requires identifying this person as soon as possible. Once again, knowing the script is vital for determining who you are dealing with. Handling highly motivated Process Predators requires the use of tactics such as deception, pre-emptive strikes, traditional weapons, weapons of opportunity, and combat techniques design to main or kill as quick as possible. The tactics and techniques needed against a highly motivated Process Predator are likely to get you put in prison when used against a lowly motivated Process Predator, lowly motivated Resource Predator, or Monkey Dancer.

It is imperative to be able to determine which type of predator you have encountered in order to formulate the most effective response. You need to be able to identify the behaviors that indicate that the situation has changed from one type of violence to another.

Resource Predator - Rory Miller

A Resource Predator wants something and has decided to get it from his victim.

He is willing to use violence, but will often only threaten violence if he believes intimidation will work safety. The Resource Predator will use violence to get your money or your car.

  • $ Wants something tangible, e.g. cash, car
  • $ "Othered" on a scale
  • $ Learned behavior
  • $ Learned attitude
  • $ Basic Mugger, Robber, Burglar ...

With a Resource Predator, you can usually give up the resource - your money, your car, whatever - and the situation is resolved.

Video Links:



Process Predator - Rory Miller

For the Process Predator the act of violence is the reason itself.

The crime is the goal. The rapist, the serial killer, the ritualistic torture murderers are process predators.

The Process predator requires time and privacy for what he intends to do. One of the reasons that home invasion crimes are so brutal is because our homes are setup to be secure and offer privacy. If the process predator does not come to the victim, he will try to move the victim to another place to with more privacy and security. This is called the secondary crime scene. It is very, very bad. The is no good outcome from a violent criminal wanted to spend private time with you.

The fact that he is attempting to move you to a secondary crime scene or has invaded your home is a solid indicator that you are probably dealing with a process predator. If you do not end the situation it can and likely will escalate into a trap, torture, and murder. Any risk to escape is worth the price. Get out of there.

Video links:

Violence Dynamics

Violence Dynamics is the study of:

(1) Violent social processes and the way individuals and groups violently behave and interact. 

(2) The relationships between individual violent interactions and group level violent behaviors. 

Violence Dynamics is a social science. That means that the "rules" of violence dynamics are not absolute. They are observations thought to be true. They are not facts that are scientifically determined to be true.

Violence Dynamics

Violence Dynamics is the study of:

(1) Violent social processes and the way individuals and groups violently behave and interact. 

(2) The relationships between individual violent interactions and group level violent behaviors. 

Violence Dynamics is a social science. That means that the "rules" of violence dynamics are not absolute. They are observations thought to be true. They are not facts that are scientifically determined to be true.

Monkey Dance - Rory Miller

Most, if not all animals have a ritualized combat between males of the same species to safely establish dominance. Snakes coil around each other and wrestle. It can look like mating to the uninitiated. Deer and elk lock antlers and push and fence. Rams slam their horns, reinforced with massive blocks of bone, into each other. Humans fist-fight or wrestle. In all cases, it is a ritual with specific steps, genetically designed NOT to be life-threatening. This human dominance game, the Monkey Dance, follows specific steps.  You have all seen it:

  • A hard, aggressive stare.
  • A verbal challenge, e.g., “What you lookin’ at?”

An approach, often with the signs of increased adrenaline: gross motor activity of arm swinging or chest bobbing, a change in color, usually with the skin flushing.

As the two square-off, there may be more verbal exchanges and then one will make contact. It will usually be a two-handed push on the chest or an index finger to the chest. If it is an index finger to the nose it will go immediately to step No. 5. If there is no face contact, this step can be repeated many times until one of the dancers throws

A big, looping over-hand punch.

This description is simplified and shows only one side. It must be emphasized that there have been thousands of generations conditioned to play this game in this way. It is easy to get sucked in and a very difficult thing to walk away. Backing down from a Monkey Dance, unless you take or are given a face-saving out, is extremely difficult and embarrassing, especially for young men.

A full MD will look more like this:

1) A hard, aggressive stare. The recipient will either look away or meet the stare. If he looks away, dominance is established and the instigator will move on. If the recipient:

1a) meets the stare or

1b) tries to be dismissive (like saying to friends, “I think that guy has the ‘hots’ for me”),

either of which will likely cause the situation to escalate.

1c) It is possible, however, that the aggressor here is looking for or willing to settle for a Status-Seeking Show (SSS) in which case looking away, being submissive, may mark you as a good target. Also, any submissive body language increases your likelihood of being targeted by a predator.

2) If the stare is met and held, it will escalate to a verbal challenge, e.g., “What you lookin’ at?” Again, if the recipient at this point looks away and pretends to be very interested in something else, dominance is established and the aggressor will likely move on. The recipient, especially if girls are watching, will have an incredible urge to respond in kind. It is, in fact, fear of being humiliated by not responding that is driving the dynamic. The MD is not a game you play. It is genetically programmed and unless you possess wisdom and exert will, the game plays you.

2a) In order to defuse, the looking away must be submissive. It must be humble. If the recipient looks away but starts snickering with friends  or making low-voiced comments, the verbal challenge is repeated and escalated, “Hey! Asshole! I’m talking to you!”

2b) If the recipient is not feeling submissive and is not mature enough to avoid the MD,

he answers the verbal response. “Who’s asking?”

3) An approach, often marked by adrenalin-linked signs: gross motor activity of arm swinging or chest bobbing; a change in color, usually with the skin flushing. 3a) At this point, other monkeys get involved. Friends of both sides try to intervene, get between the two and prevent any further escalation. This is one of the best ways to have a face saving resolution. No one is injured, no one backed down. Status is not established but the willingness to fight for status has been, no matter how easy it was for bystanders to separate the dancers. This sets boundaries and allows both to co-exist with mutual respect, one of the main goals of the Monkey Dance.

3b) If one of the dancers is alone, he now has the face-saving exit in that he is not backing down from the opponent, but from the group. If the lone person does not back down, it is probably a special case and will likely end very badly.

3c) If no intervention is forthcoming, and again, especially if girls are watching, things will escalate to step 4.

4) As the two square-off, there may be more verbal attacks and then one will make contact. It will usually be a two-handed push on the chest or an index finger to the chest. If it is an index finger to the nose (remember face contact, above) it will go immediately to Step #5. This pushing, with low-level contact can go on for some time.

5) A big, looping over-hand punch. At this point the fight, such as it is, will be on.

Get this—no matter who issued the verbal challenge, who pushed first or who threw the first punch there is no self-defense here. With all of the opportunities for preclusion, for not joining in the Monkey Dance, for simply leaving, this will be classified as a mutual combat fight. Both parties may go to jail. One certainly will if a serious injury results—even if it was from stumbling and falling.


The Monkey Dance is very much a male ritual. It is a contest for status between males. Women, generally, do not feel the male fear that others will see them as wimps for not playing. And guys, for the record most women see backing down as mature and not cowardly (with thanks to the movie, “Support Your Local Sheriff”.)

Very rarely a man will perceive himself to be in a Monkey Dance with a woman.  It indicates a man who has not been properly socialized at all, has likely picked a woman out of desperation to be of superior status to somebody and can become dangerously enraged if the woman is not submissive—and sexually predatory if she is.

The MD is almost always initiated with a person that the aggressor sees as close to his social level. In other words, a normal person will not follow the steps of the MD with a child. There is no status to be gained and the very idea that you thought that there might places you in a very low status.

Nor will a normal person MD with a very high-ranking individual, like a mob boss. Captains are constantly jockeying for influence, but they don’t do it with generals and only the very insecure do it with lieutenants. Middle management is a hotbed of one-upmanship and subtle challenges, but the middle managers don’t MD with the boss and the few that do MD with the line staff are the kind of managers that both make life hell and are the source of thousands of jokes.

Video Links:

Group Monkey Dance - Rory Miller

The Group Monkey Dance (GMD) is a show of group solidarity. There are two levels, at least. In the lowest level an outsider is discouraged from interfering with group business—it is a way of establishing territory.

Families are tight-knit groups. Domestic violence incidents are acts within the group. Sometimes, when the police intervene, both parties turn on them. Even though one was a victim just moments before and in fear for her life, husband and wife, attacker and victim, often band together to drive away the outsiders.

This is behavior that is familiar in chimps and baboons—your tribe will band together to drive away or scare off members of another tribe or a predator. If you don’t play, your loyalty to the group might be questioned.

In the higher level of GMD, the victim is sometimes an outsider but often an insider who is perceived in some way to have betrayed the group. The group bands together in an orgy of violence, possibly beating, burning and cutting on the victim. It is literally a contest to show your loyalty by how much damage you can do to the outsider. Some of the most brutal murders, lynchings, and war atrocities are examples of the Group Monkey Dance.

Most GMDs occur when an outsider is within the threat-group’s territory. There is an exception. You may remember the wildings in Central Park or the roving band of young men randomly beating people in Seattle. This pack behavior follows a similar dynamic and serves the same purpose as any other GMD—it strengthens bonds within the group. Causing fear in others (and fear is power) is just a by-product.

In earlier societies, this bonding-through-violence was ensured by hunting large game animals.

In May 2003, developmentally disabled 22-year-old Jessica Williams was tortured, stabbed, beaten, and her body burned by her “street family” for alleged betrayal.

At least eleven people were charged. I worked with most of them. In custody they ranged from respectful to fearful. This level of group violence gets called a lot of things. A group stomping, a wilding, a gang rape … even a drive-by shooting has some of the same dynamics. Humans are primates and sometimes, as primates, we indulge in violence as a group or even as a mob.

…in any group or subculture where violence is an acceptable tool, betrayal (real or not) can be met with horrific violence.

This type of violence isn’t about status. There is no proving you’re a better man by being part of a group that kicks someone to death. This, the Group Monkey Dance, is about one of three things:

1) Teaching an outsider to respect boundaries. Domestic violence calls are often cited as one of the most dangerous police situations. No matter how brutally damaged the victim is, there is always a chance that both the victim and the victimizer will turn on the responding officers. I have a video of a young man breaking up a fight. Both of the involved fighters and the audience turn on the young man.

Humans in groups prefer to handle things within the group. They become resentful and sometimes violent if an outsider decides to “fix” things. The tighter, smaller and more cohesive the group, the more interference is resented.

Here’s an example that most readers will relate to, one that many readers have actually done. If you are an older sibling, you picked on and fought with your younger brothers and sisters, right? Little dominance games happen all the time between children.

However, when your little brother or sister started school, if they were bullied, didn’t you step in? Though the dominance game (new kid with a group of other kids in a new school) was natural, it violated the idea of family. You may beat up your kid brother, but no one else can.

Stopping others from picking on your family is an example of forcing an outsider to respect boundaries.

Emotions are contagious and when one member of a group starts getting violent, other members of the same group join in. It seems logical that they do this out of fear that their own loyalty to the group might be doubted and they might be seen as outsiders. It seems logical, but I doubt there is that much thought involved. People join in too quickly.

The solidarity with the group allows an intense level of violence. The more one identifies with the group, the easier it is to see an outsider as “other” and the ability to other sets the amount of damage one can do.

2) Betrayal. Betrayal is one of the deepest emotions in the human animal. Treason is punishable by execution even when nothing else is. For many years, killing a cheating spouse had its own legal defense and was termed an “excusable homicide.” Florida’s statute for instance, in part reads:

782.03 Excusable homicide.—Homicide is excusable when committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent, or by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or upon a sudden combat, without any dangerous weapon being used and not done in a cruel or unusual manner.

Perhaps this comes from our prehistory, where starvation was a real danger and anyone who couldn’t be trusted risked everyone’s life. In any case, in any group or subculture where violence is an acceptable tool, betrayal (real or not) can be met with horrific violence. It becomes a contest where each member of a group proves loyalty by what they are willing to do to the betrayer. The case that opens this story was a local example. Middle-eastern stonings over adultery are another. However, in almost any culture that defines betrayal, it will be punished with the most extreme force allowed.

3) Bonding. There are few things that bond people with one another as much as committing violence with a small group of friends. Our ancestors would hunt big animals as a group and tell stories about the hunt and each other. In the intensity of the chase and the spear you would find out much about your compatriots: who was cool under stress, who lost control, who was afraid and who you could trust. The intensity of shared experience makes a tight group.

An officer and friend stopped a riot in a jail by walking into the module, grabbing the largest of the rioting inmates, spinning him in the air and slamming him into the ground.

Nothing has changed. I am tighter with the former members of my tactical team than with most of my blood family. Combat veterans and even people who went through intense training feel a close bond. The dynamic is the same in drive-by shootings, wildings in Central Park or even fraternity hazing.

Avoiding the group monkey dance

The first rule is to never betray a group. You may leave a group (and all groups that I am aware of, even the most violent, have a mechanism to leave) and may even become an open enemy afterwards, but betraying a group from the inside, or even being believed to, is very, very bad.

If you choose to get involved in an insider situation as an outsider, think it through. Cops have a duty to act. Civilians don’t. If you don’t need to get involved, weigh the risks and decide if it is worth it. Be as objective as you can. It is dangerous.

The best verbal intervention is to present yourself as an objective outsider who has no opinion and doesn’t care about who is right or wrong. Right or wrong are determined by in-group standards in any case. “Break it up! You’re hurting her!” immediately puts you in a position of both being an outsider and judgmental. “You’d better knock it off, I overheard someone calling 911 and the cops are on the way,” will break up the situation without turning the focus to you.

The bonding monkey dance is a special case. Some are performed for fun (wildings in Central Park, videoed beatings on YouTube) some are protecting territory or market share (drive-by shootings) and some are simply for cash.

Situational awareness is an over-used phrase. Without specific education about the things you need to be aware of it’s only words. Meaningless. For this type of crime, what you are looking for are patterns of motion. You’re looking for groups moving purposefully together; groups that cease talking and laughing and split up after spotting a mark; the patterns of a pincer movement or triangulation; staged loitering, where people lounge against walls, but with unusual separation, so that when you walk past they are perfectly staged, one in front of you and one or more behind.

Humans in groups prefer to handle things within the group. They become resentful and sometimes violent if an outsider decides to “fix” things.

Sometimes, in neighborhoods with experience of gang violence or where a violent group is creating trouble, you can read the flow of other people. As a rule of thumb, if you’re in an unfamiliar place and all the natives clear the street, you might want to think about it as well.

If you become the center of a Group Monkey Dance (GMD) it is hard to overstate the level of danger. The safest of the variations is the simple group mugging for cash. There’s no value in excessive damage and the bloodier the crime the more it gets investigated.

But if any member of the group is insecure and senses a loss of control he will explode into violence. Emotions being contagious, the rest of the group will likely join in. The damage can be horrific. None of the other variations are better.

There are four tactics that I have known to prevent a Group Monkey Dance. Three require special abilities.

The most obvious and the easiest was an act of such overwhelming violence that it shocks and scares the group. An officer and friend stopped a riot in a jail by walking into the module, grabbing the largest of the rioting inmates, spinning him in the air and slamming him into the ground. Not many people can snatch up a 240-pound man and lift him overhead.

No matter how brutally damaged the victim is, there is always a chance that both the victim and the victimizer will turn on the responding officers or the good samaritan. If you choose to get involved, think it through!

The second is to make the threats laugh. That’s hard to do. Don’t count on it. The things that make a group of people who enjoy hurting others laugh are not the same things that tickle audiences in nightclubs. This will not work if the GMD was triggered by betrayal or a perceived betrayal.

The third tactic is to increase either the doubt or the danger level. If the threats know that you are armed, it raises their risk. Looters in major disturbances famously avoid armed premises in favor of unarmed. I generally don’t advocate ever showing a weapon, except perhaps in this case. Like any time that you show a weapon, if the threat display doesn’t work, you will almost certainly have to use the weapon or it will be taken away and used against you.

People who have allies, back-up or a reputation for fighting all raise the risk. People who do not respond like victims, who stay unusually calm or act strangely increase the doubt. Neither of these will matter in betrayal or some random acts of group violence but they might dissuade a group lacking in confidence without a personal issue with you, the victim.

The fourth and most effective tactic is to get the hell out of there. Run.

Video Links:


Monkey Dance Recap - Erik Kondo

A Monkey Dance is a commonly occurring category of violence that is defined by certain behavioral patterns associated with social violence.

• The main goal of a Monkey Dance involves around establishing and maintaining social standing within a group.

• Many times a Monkey Dance is a mutually engaged contest for domination.

• Emotions and defense of ego are primary drivers of many Monkey Dances.

• Both males and females engage in Monkey Dances, but males are more likely to be involved.

• The involved parties of Monkey Dances are usually of similar social status, size, and gender.

• In terms of the Human brain, Monkey brain, and Lizard brain model created by Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung, the Monkey brain dominates and effectively highjacks control of the conflicting parties’ behavior.

• Monkey Dances are incidents of illegal fighting. They are not self-defense situations.

• A Monkey Dance has the reasonable probability of being defused if one party intentionally tries to de-escalate and withdraw from the situation.

• Monkey Dances are not intended to seriously injure the parties involved. They are intended as displays of dominance. Therefore, the techniques used in most Monkey Dances are generally less effective than true “combat” techniques.

• Many times, Monkey Dances involve patterns of back and forth escalating verbal and body posturing (Escalato) that precedes the physical engagement.

• A serious consequence of a Monkey Dance is a knockout punch which causes the other party to hit his head upon falling to the ground. Many people have died or been seriously injured in this manner. Due to the injury created, the initiator of the punch is potentially subject to serious legal consequences and lawsuits.

• Monkey Dances are typically broken up by bystanders. In fact, the presence of an audience is a good indicator of a Monkey Dance.

• Due to the dominance of the emotional Monkey Brain, what was originally intended as a simple “beating” can degenerate into overwhelming violence when one party becomes enraged and continues to attack his downed opponent with more “combat” techniques such as head smashing and stomping.

• A Monkey Dance can also turn into “combat” when one party begins losing and feels trapped. He may then escalate the situation by using a weapon or more deadly techniques.

• Monkey Dances can spawn revenge actions and feuds when one party feels the need to get even.

• A single Monkey Dance between two parties can escalate in to a Group Monkey Dance between many people.

• Much martial arts instruction involves teaching Monkey Dance fighting techniques, not self-defense responses.

As a result, many martial arts students engage in Monkey Dances while thinking they are actually engaging in self-defense

The conflict management response to a potential Monkey Dance comes from assessing the behavior of the other party. In order to not get drawn into a Monkey Dance it is extremely important to resist the Monkey Slide and keep your Human brain dominant. Your Monkey brain must be tightly controlled. Given that a Monkey Dance is mainly a threat to your ego, not your physical self, the most effective response usually involves using verbal techniques of de-escalation that “satisfy” the other party while also enabling you to disengage without further conflict.

Territory Defense - Rory Miller

Defending common territory is the hallmark of any group, whether an army, a tribe, or a troop of monkeys. Humans have expanded this idea and symbolized it in that many are willing to fight and die for intangibles - a flag, patriotism, a place in heaven. Just because the territory being defended or invaded is imaginary does not make the passion of the defenders any less.

Territory defense can also be very logical. From cowboys fighting for water rights to modern drug organizations fighting for market share, in areas where law is weak, as in the Old West; or not an option because you really can't report that someone stole your illegal drugs, individuals and groups will defend their own things in their own way.

How violent the defense (or offense) may depend on the ability to "other" the opponent. As will will discuss with predators, most normal people cannot kill another human being in cold blood. Many cannot shoot even in war; some can't kill to defend their own lives. Much of the conditioning of soldiers and bonding in other social sets serves the purpose of making it easier to see the enemy as "other": not us, not like us, maybe not even human.

If you can convince yourself that you are killing animals, you are free to use the tactics, tools, and mindset of killing animals and less likely to fall prey to the conscience and psychological damage of killing your fellow human. Even if you can't go that far, can't convince yourself they are only animals, if you can only convince yourself that they are very different, they no longer have the righ to courtesy - the warnings, the challenge or the mercy- that you would extend to your own group.

Territory Defense is the bridge between social and asocial violence. It is profoundly social - the defending the group, the group's home, the group's resources - but it is often carried out in a method that is profoundly asocial. This is  situation deliberately created and maintained by the leaders and elders of the involved group. From drill sergeants and squad leaders in the seventies talking about "gooks"  and "slopes" to modern Crips that write all B's with a line through them, preparing people to fight and preparing people to be vicious involves a conscious cultivation of the enemy - or the victim pool - as "others".

Video Links:

Educational Beat Down - Rory Miller

Most of the people reading this will be comfortable products of comfortable homes with significant education and socialization. This is the norm in North America, where I happen to be writing. The norm is so powerful and pervasive that it can be very easy to believe that the values of middle-class Americans are universal. They are not. There are societies and sub-societies where violence is merely an easy way to solve problems; where a beating is considered as easy  and more effective than talking.

There are places in the United States where if you do something rude and improper you will get disapproving looks and people will whisper about you. They might snub you in the coffee room or not invite you to go bowling. And there are places in the U. S. where doing something that society considers rude will get you beaten without a second thought.

If that is news to you, take a second and let it seep in.

Once upon a time, an inmate was beaten in one of the dorms at my jail. I was called to investigate. The dorm housed 65 inmates in an open bay (no cells) and the man had been hit in the center of the day room while watching TV. He looked to have only been hit twice—a bloody nose and a black eye.

I was pretty good at investigations. The inmates knew and trusted me and in most “nobody saw nothing” situations I would have the attacker identified and removed in under an hour. This time nobody was talking. They didn’t seem angry or afraid, more . . . embarrassed. I talked to the victim. He wouldn’t tell me who hit him, of course. What he did say was, “Sarge, I had it coming. I forgot where I was. I was watching TV and I said, ‘Hey, look, you could kill three niggers with one bullet.’ Next thing I knew I was lying on my back. I deserved it.” He looked me right in the eye, “It was sort of an educational beat-down,” he said.

He was able to return to the dorm with no problem. The message had been sent and he showed that he had received it. His behavior was, to his peers’ satisfaction, corrected. In certain groups, this is normal. A casual beating is how rules are enforced and community standards, such as they are, are upheld.

Big Dog Theory

Generally, if you were stupid and should have known better the Educational Beat Down will be quick, sometimes just a single strike, almost off-hand. It is the exact same thing as when a character in a comedy thwacks another on the head, only with a bit more intent. It is a spanking between adults.


If the recipient of the EBD acknowledges that they were wrong, (unless the transgression was particularly egregious—for instance in certain societies it would be the duty of the brothers to kill a sister’s rapist), it is over quickly.

If the victim does not acknowledge that they broke a rule, if they argue or get indignant, then the assault will escalate. The person who delivers the Educational Beat Down is usually a respected member of the group. This is not a Monkey Dance, with two young puppies wrestling for dominance. This is a lesson, with the Big Dog batting the puppy to the floor and maybe pinning it there. (Still, it is not the same as predation, not in people or dogs.)

Not acknowledging the transgression sends the message that the victim does not acknowledge the Big Dog’s status. It is taken as a clear indicator that he either does not know or does not care about the rules and must be taught a lesson. The damage will escalate until the transgressor/victim acknowledges that the message has been received. That acknowledgement must be free of excuses.

Another circumstance where the EBD will escalate is when the lesson is less for the transgressor than for everyone else. On May 7, 1929 Al Capone had Albert Anselmi, Joseph Giunta, and John Scalise tied to their chairs. He then beat them with a baseball bat and had them shot in the head. The lesson taught and the message delivered wasn’t for Al, Joe, and John. It was for everyone else. Dead people don’t learn anything.

This escalation can be extremely violent and occurs most often, and slightly less predictably, when the Big Dog is insecure in his status as leader or elder.

Video Links:

Status Seeking Show - Rory Miller

If a young Threat brutally beats a foreign tourist in a random explosion of violence... it wasn’t random. It was just a surprise for the onlookers and the victim.

In a marginal society, like the criminal subculture, a reputation for violence is a very valuable thing. If people think you are crazy, apt to “go-off” they treat you with more deference, fear to push your buttons. It is the perfect example of Machiavelli’s observations on fear and love—both are nice, but if you have to pick one it is better to be feared than to be loved:

“Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, . . . and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”—Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince *

So how does one safely get this reputation? Beating on your allies, your own group, is rarely conducive to having them watch your back. It is counter-productive and dangerous, except at the very top of the social strata. The Big Dog, however, already has the reputation and actually puts his power in doubt by needing to show it.

Beating on enemies would work, but members of other groups have friends and, sometimes, long memories. That could easily escalate well beyond what you are prepared to deal with or want.


So how about victimizing someone traveling alone or at least with no large male companions? An outsider, but not an enemy. A relatively easy mark...

Understand this—the Status-Seeking Show can violate almost all of the rules of normal social violence and that is the point. The SSSer is trying to show his craziness, his willingness to break social rules. So they won’t necessarily attack someone of their own social level (the norm in the Monkey Dance). Beating a child or woman shows craziness; beating a superior—like shooting a cop or ambushing the boss, is taken as both crazy and brave, no matter how safely the ambush was set up.

They also have no need to follow the steps of the Monkey Dance by issuing a challenge. The SSS is not limited in damage like the normal MD, either. A savage beating, knifing, or killing all satisfy the Threat’s purpose.

Understand this—each type of violence serves a purpose. It might make no sense according to the way that you look at the world, but your worldview is small and limited and, most importantly, does not matter when someone is trying to kill you. The Threat’s worldview is the one that is calling the tune.

Video Link:

Distinguishing Social and Asocial Violence – Rory Miller

In some ways this all comes close to the Intent-Means-Opportunity triangle.  An immediate threat has to have all three.  Most of the time, you are the resource, the source of intent.  the threat is his or her own means and the terrain and your behaviors supply the opportunity.  But that’s kind of simplistic.

Social and asocial are done for different reasons and so they have different requirements, from the bad guy’s point of view.  The primary difference is that in most cases, social violence requires an audience.  For asocial violence the audience magically turns into witnesses. Some of the types of social, like the bonding GMD, are social within the group but asocial between the group and victim.  And some, maybe most, bad guys will try to get social benefits from asocial crimes (bragging about a mugging, for instance) or vice versa (going through the other guy’s pockets after winning a Monkey Dance.)

So that’s the big one.  Presence of others: generally social.  Absence of witnesses: generally asocial. Presence of a bonded group and you are alone: bad day for you.

Exception: certain types of predatory acts do use the crowds as camouflage. But by their nature, they can’t be extended scenarios.

Second, the behaviors are different.  Social behaviors, even if they are going to violence, are normal.  We perceive them as normal because they stay on a script that we all know.  One of the things that makes predators so effective is that:

1) We are wired to assume and expect the scripts (corollary: when someone is clearly going off script most victims don’t recognize it)

2) Many, especially the socially skilled and especially sexual predators, mask their predatory tactics in the social scripts.  For instance, there is a natural progression in romance where a couple meet, enjoy each other and gradually want to spend longer times in more privacy.  Which is also exactly what a process predator wants. Predators learn to accelerate the natural process.

For our purposes, I’ll call the social behaviors (including the social violence behaviors) ‘normal.’  People don’t consciously recognize normal, and without that recognition, abnormal (predatory) behavior is often missed, dismissed or excused. Missed- not seen at all.  Dismissed- seen, but ignored as unimportant. Excused- acknowledged as odd but doesn’t count because there is probably a perfectly good reason.  So victims either don’t see or ignore the warning signs.

Aside- One of the secret deeper reasons that I teach SD law as an articulation class instead of a decision making class is that if the person can explain things to a jury, they can also explain why they need to act to themselves in the critical seconds. That helps some people slip the leash.

So you have to know normal consciously before you can recognize abnormal.

Basics are proxemics, facing and stance, hands and structure, and group behavior.

Normal proxemics varies widely across different cultures.  In North America and most of the places in Europe that I’ve visited, the comfortable distance for a stranger to stand is about a half pace beyond arms reach.  You will get a creepy feeling if people stand too close and you will elicit a creepy feeling if you approach inside the bubble.  It’s an easy experiment to do.  This distance changes with intimacy.  Acquaintances are slightly closer, friends closer than that and intimates very close.  And there is a very particular range+eye contact that you will see with cons who have done prison time together– standing very close but looking past each other’s shoulder.

This bubble is not round.  It’s best to feel this rather than read it, but that creepy feeling isn’t engendered by a stranger approaching from the side until he is much closer.  Well within striking range.  It is even closer behind.  This is why we can handle stadium seating and sitting together on buses, but tables are a certain width.

The normal approach is to stand in front of you at the edge of the bubble.  An experienced predator will, while acting friendly and social, generally approach from the flank to be in striking range. (Not addressing ambushes from the rear, only the stuff you can see coming.) So, normal is from the front, out of range.  Anything else should put you on alert.  But remember this is very different in different cultures.  If you try to insist on your bubble in Arabia or South America do not expect to make friends or be accepted.  There are profound tactical reasons for maintaining a certain distance but sometimes the strategic reasons trump the tactical.  And remember, you are looking at signs of abnormality for danger, and normal/abnormal is measured from the threat’s conditioning, not yours.  Someone from a close culture who maintains distance may read as sensible to you, but he might well do it because of mental illness or excessive aggression.

Facing and stance.  The normal monkey dance fighting stance is one of the stupidest possible ways to stand for fighting.  The combatants tend to be up on their toes, bouncing, arms akimbo and with feet and hips perpendicular (side to side) to the threat. And usually tense with muscles bulging.  Slow, stupid, no base and with targets exposed.  It is an attempt to look big, like a cat puffing out its fur.  Understand that even well trained martial artists also tend to do this if they get their ego involved.  It’s an emotional reaction and is the default if you respond emotionally.  It is profoundly inefficient.

Almost all normal (social) interactions will have that foot position.  Social violence will have the crappy posture and foot position but will violate the bubble from the front.

A predator will blade up.  He will have his power in line with his target (you).  One of the elements that people miss, ignore or dismiss is that he may keep his shoulders and hips square with his feet bladed.  feet are important, not the rest. The other thing is that if the threat approaches from the flank and faces the same direction as you it feels friendly (facing the same direction mirrors your body language) and the feet are naturally positioned for the power to be in line with the target.

Inexperienced predators may not know this.  Early crimes it is common for the threat to have no more experience than you do.  (He will get mentored later, or learn by trial and error).  So you may be mugged by someone giving all the signals of social violence (up on toes, shitty stance, loud) but with a gun.  Is a gun part of normal Monkey Dance behavior?  No it is not.  Therefore this is abnormal therefor probably predatory.  And this situation is very touchy.  Resource predation plus a fragile ego and a firearm is a recipe for disaster.  If the threat feels endangered or disrespected he will erupt.

That’s feet.  Next hands. If there is a weapon, that tells you two things.  First, this is a potentially very bad day and second, he wanted you to see it for a reason.  If you live in a weapon culture, you know the rules of social violence (dueling) in that culture better than I do.  In my culture, monkey dances don’t involve guns or knives. If a weapon is involved it is either a predator or someone who was recently humiliated in a Monkey Dance trying to get his manhood back.

Aside– Do what you need to do to survive, but never humiliate any one.  It never serves any purpose other than to stroke your own ego.

If a hand is out of sight, it could be good or bad.  No one keeps a straight arm with a hand hidden behind a thigh.  No one just rests his hand on his back hip under his jacket. But a lot of people stand with their hands in their back pockets and a flat hand like that means they feel no threat.  (This is a stacking point here: unusual body positioning plus signs of adrenaline?  Big red flag.  An alert individual showing extremely relaxed body language in a clearly dangerous situation?  Big red flag.)

Precursor moves.  Most people, for whatever reason don’t just hit.  They pull back first.  They think it feels more powerful.  This chambering or loading is often disguised as turning away or glancing around– and that last sweeping glance of the area is a final witness check just before things go down.

Groups and places.  If there are only two people at a bus stop and they are strangers, they keep distance.  All guys know the urinal rules.  There is a pattern to where people stand and which direction they face as  an elevator fills.  People that know each other stand together and talk.  If they see you, go quiet and split up, that’s likely bad.

So with groups you look for coordinated movement, any separation that makes you the apex of a triangle or any static positioning that makes you walk between two people.  In pack behavior you look for groups (usually young men) moving purposefully or trying to intimidate/get a reaction from others.

All of this could be expanded, but these are the basics.


Understanding Violence Dynamics - Erik Kondo

By now you should have a basic understand of types of violence – Social and Asocial.

You can identify and discuss Rory Miller's model for the main categories of Social Violence – MD, GMD, EBD, SSS, and TD.

You can identify and discuss Rory Miller's model for the main categories of Asocial Violence – PP, RP.

You can do the same for Marc MacYoung's categories of Territorial, Behavioral Correction, Criminal, and Predatorial.

Now you need to understand that these categories of violence consist of known behavior patterns. The patterns can also be thought of as scripts. Some of these behavioral scripts are more dangerous than others. As long as the behavior follows the known script, you have a method for assessing future behavior, both good and bad. The type of script provides an indicator of how to handle the situation.

The script also provides a sign of what might be happening next when the behavior goes off the original script.

For example, when you go to the beach you can usually identify the potential danger of the waves due to the wave action. Waves go in and out, in and out, in a fairly regular pattern with the tide. Now all of a sudden, the waves disappear. The water seems to have dried up. The waves have now gone off script. If you don’t know about pre-arrival tsunami behavior, then you will think that you have just “lucked out”. You can now go explore the newly exposed seabed looking happily for shells and sea creatures.

In this case, it is not enough to only know that the waves have gone off script, you also need to know what the new script is. Your response to the new script needs to be to get the hell out of there as fast as possible, and warn other people on your way out.

In terms of Violence Dynamics, you need to know when the other person has gone off script. When the script has changed from a Social situation to a possible Asocial one. In addition, by knowing that you are involved in a Social situation, you assess that you can use Social responses. But an Asocial situation requires an Asocial response.

The Social-Toolbox contains the scripts and responses for Social Violence. The Asocial-Toolbox contains the scripts and responses for Asocial Violence. It is essential not to get the toolboxes mixed up. Using the Social-Toolbox for Asocial violence can be ineffective or it can make the situation worse. Using the Asocial-Toolbox for Social Violence can get you put in prison.

So what’s in these toolboxes? Rory Miller talks about the well-known responses of Flight or Fight, and also the lesser known Posture and Submit, along with Hide, Hunt, and Intel. Most people have some version of these responses in their general toolbox. When a situation comes up, they pull out the responses that have worked for them in the past. This is social conditioning or habit.

Most of time people are faced with social situations and they respond with Social-Posture and Social-Submit. If the situation gets physically violent, they may also use Social-Fight. These are the tools of the Social-Toolbox. But their Asocial-Toolbox is empty. When faced with Asocial Violence, they also need Asocial-Posture, Asocial-Submit, and Asocial-Fight.

The two toolboxes contain ten responses of Flight, Social-Fight, Social-Posture, Social-Submit, Asocial-Fight, Asocial-Posture, Asocial-Submit, Hide, Hunt, and Intel.

Now before, you cry Hick’s Law and say that ten responses is too many to choose from. That you rather be “tried by 12 than carried by 6” and just use your Asocial-Toolbox, think about the following scenario:

Expert mountain bikers and skiers respond incredibly quickly to varied terrain. Nobody accuses them of being paralyzed by Hick’s Law. Yet, when zipping down the mountain, they are constantly encountering obstacles. They have multiple choices: Go left of obstacle, go right of obstacle, go over obstacle, stop in front, slow down and go over, speed up and go over. That’s eight choices. They have to make a split-second decision based on all the factors involved and choose the one that they feel creates the best outcome. Choosing the wrong response could have serious or deadly consequences. Some responses are lower risk, lower reward, others are higher risk, higher reward.

Experts have the experience and knowledge to determine effective responses with a low margin of error. Novices make choices out of habit, fear, or ignorance. Experts know the scripts and behaviors. They are able to accurately judge the situation and chose the best course of action. They can do this not because they know less and see less options, but because they know more, and see more options. Experts know their toolbox. They know exactly what’s inside and how it’s used.

Violence Dynamics helps you know what’s in your toolbox. It helps you decide which tool to use, and why and when to use it. And when not to use it, and why you should get a different tool.

Fighting is Not Self-Defense - Erik Kondo

Most people want to learn how to fight for self-defense.

But fighting is illegal when involved in a Monkey Dance, you should be de-escalating. When threatened by a lowly motivated Resource Predator, fighting could easily cause the situation to escalate, you should comply and give up your valuables.

When attacked by a highly motivated Resource Predator or Process Predator, there is a good chance you will be ambushed and taken by surprise. You need to use conditioned counter-assault techniques. Fighting is too ineffective. When targeted by a lowly motivated Process Predator, you may be successful with just using strong boundary setting and instinctive resistance. Thus, trained fighting is not needed. Fighting also has the potential to escalate Educational Beatdowns and Group Monkey Dances into severe beatings. Being targeted by a Status Seeking Show means that it is unlikely you will be given the chance to fight back.

Violence Dynamics shows up that fighting is not self-defense.


Rory Miller

“Force is a form of communication. It is the most emphatic possible way of saying “no”. For years my job was to say no, sometimes very emphatically, to violent people. I have been a Corrections Officer, a Sergeant, a Tactical Team member and a Tactical Team Leader; I have taught corrections and enforcement personnel skills from first aid to physical defense to crisis communication and mental health. I’ve done this from my west coast home to Baghdad. So far, my life has been a blast. I’m a bit scarred up, but generally happy.”

Rory Miller

“Force is a form of communication. It is the most emphatic possible way of saying “no”. For years my job was to say no, sometimes very emphatically, to violent people. I have been a Corrections Officer, a Sergeant, a Tactical Team member and a Tactical Team Leader; I have taught corrections and enforcement personnel skills from first aid to physical defense to crisis communication and mental health. I’ve done this from my west coast home to Baghdad. So far, my life has been a blast. I’m a bit scarred up, but generally happy.”