Kinds of Violence – Marc MacYoung


“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. “

               –  Moshe Dayan

Although it is not popular idea (especially among ‘urban warriors,’ people obsessed with winning and anyone who wants to believe they can say and do anything without repercussions), the raw truth is: Sometimes you just gotta take your beating like a man.

This becomes especially applicable if you regularly choose to fight. Because, no matter how good you are physically … you ain’t gonna win all the time. And the more you step up, the more you’ll have to learn how to take a beat down.

OR … you can look at the social dynamics of a situation and see if there’s another way to solve the problem that someone is willing to go violent over.

After a lifetime of engaging in violent conflict, trust me when I tell you the second choice hurts less.

And yet, ever day millions of people manage to find themselves involved in interpersonal violence. Not because the other person attacked, but because they refused to consider the second choice.

Oh BTW, want to know something about preventing violence? MOST violence comes with instructions on how to prevent it! You want power? You want to be safe? Start by learning what can cause a situation to escalate into violence and what YOU can do to either cause or prevent it.

Four Kinds of Interpersonal Violence

You’ve heard us talk about our friend Peyton Quinn’s Four Ways to Keep from Being attacked. On that subject we agree with him whole-heartedly. Another subject that he talks about is the different kinds of violence, specifically the difference between Territorial and Predatorial violence — and how important it is to recognize them.

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

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.


COMMENT by Erik Kondo

1. This is a DECIDE stage in terms of the 5D’s of Self-Defense – DECIDE– DETER-DISRUPT-DISENGAGE-DEBRIEF
It deals with educating yourself about the nature of violence, crime and criminal behavior.

2. This is also a 5th Dimensional category (Violence Dynamics) in terms of the Multi-Dimensional Paradigms of Self-Defense

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