7 posts / 0 new
Last post
RMS86's picture
Mind games of a predator

Hi all,

I had an unexpected experience involving two guys tring to jump me a couple of days ago.  I got out safely and let the police know about it but there was one thing that particularly bothered me.

They were repeatedly saying things like "wus'sup", "calm down", and "come on man."  They were speaking softly as to not attract attention.  It actually did confuse me for a second.  It actually made it hard for me to fight back.  Instead, I found myself trying to create space and make noise as one of them kept trying to get closer, still repeating himself.  Normally, one would back off from someone trying to get away and telling them to get away, right?

The altercation ended when I realized they might be trying to mug me and that I had a bag hanging at my side.  I grabbed it to check and see if it was still in one piece but I guess they thought I was reaching for a weapon.

When I spoke to a police officer, he said I should have yelled "fire" instead of help and most criminals will back off when they see their prey reach for a weapon.  The problem is, as a martial artist, I was never even told that I'd have to train for an attacker trying to play mind games with me before or during the attack.

So the reason why I'm posting this is really to ask, what other mind games do predators use to get inside the heads of their prey?

I can give more details about the incident if you want but I'd like to get more information on mind games first.


ky0han's picture


as far as I know, there are a few approach tactics that are often used by predators. One is to ask for a light, the time or change. They try to deceive you, wanting you to feel safe or at least unsuspicious.

The next thing is to figure out if you are dealing with social or asocial violence. I suggest to take a look at Marc MacYoungs website http://www.conflictcommunications.com/ for further information.

I hope that helps.

Regards Holger

Katz's picture

Very vaste topic, and a vital one too, that is too often left unexplored in traditional martial arts.

ky0han gave you a good answer. I personally find this website (http://nononsenseselfdefense.com/), also by Marc McYoung, is more thorough. Although way harder to navigate. I have literally lost hours browsing it.

Drew Loto
Drew Loto's picture

I am not an expert on this subjet, but I can at least speak from my own personal experience.  I have also encountered agressors who used lines like, "Calm down" or "its okay."  I found hearing that line to be particularly disarming because, as far as I knew, I wasn't giving off too many signs of my discomfort.  Its possible that I was quite clearly uncomfortable, but at the time it felt like a form of conversational hypnosis, in which the aggressor was trying to convince me that I was afraid, rather than responding to my already present emotion.  I managed to keep my distance and escape, but it was a very alarming experience. 

A guy I know, who has been training in the martial arts for years and who is somewhat familiar with violence has a story in which he was in a parking lot and a kid (probably late teens) came up to him.  This kid stood inches away from his face and asked him for the time.  My guy, without ever looking down to his watch, offered the time.  The kid took several steps back and said something to the effect of, "Sorry, I thought you were someone else," and walked off.  I mention this incedent because it highlights a slightly different strategy.  The kid did not try to use the question as a tactic for closing the distance on his would-be victim.  Rather, his hope seemed to be that by getting so close he could intimidate my guy.  Moreover, he wanted him to look down at his watch, to distract him very briefly.  When he saw that his potential victim was not intimidated nor willing to play his games, he felt as if he lost control of the situation and so left.  Its a nuance, but I think still an important other aggressor/victim dynamic to point out.

Th0mas's picture

I had a similar experience with two drunk and abusive guys on the train one evening a few years back...

After about half an hour of foul language and very agressive behaviour to other passengers, most of the carriage had cleared apart from me and a few others down the other end. They started to throw stuff at this point, and turned their attention onto me..

One of them walked down the carriage to me with the pretence that he wanted to apologise for his mates behaviour. I wisely stood up. The problem was he wanted to shake my right hand with his left (up-side-down shake thing), whilst keeping his right hand out of sight behind his back...with his beer bottle.

It was weird, Logically I could see what he was going to do, but psychologically I really really wanted to shake his hand...it was as if my brain desperately wanted this to be the last life-line before real violence started (which is understandable I suppose).

Sense prevailed and I did not shake his hand, but maintained a good fighting distance, distracted with questions (asked him firmly if he might keep his friend under control etc) classic fence stuff.... not sure how it would have ended if the train hadn't come to the end of the line and we all got off.

I think I was lucky, if they hadn't been so outwardly agressive I might have fallen for the handshake thing.  

karate10's picture

I had a similar situation 2 weeks ago when a guy that was intoxicated wanted to fight me for no reason whatsoever at my job in the underground parking area where I was working.......I stood quietly observing the situation, but my veins was as cold as Ice in the case If he was going to strike me since he was just about 5 feet away from me. He yelling and screaming very loud that one of the receptionist ladies observe as witness can hear him scream from the far side of the garage.

I was calm asking the individual to "Leave the property..Do you need assistance or food??...Think before you react sir." On my left hand, I also had Metal Security Detex Stick ready to defend my self if necessary.........After nearly 3 minutes, he left the property and started cussing at me on his way up the garage ramp, but at least I maintained calm because if anyone of us in a similar scenario is tense, then we will freeze.

Like I said, this is not the first time for me, but staying calm and in control of yourself is priority 1 so you can think, and react quickly rather staying very tense.

Wastelander's picture

I may have experienced something along these lines last year, but then again I could just be paranoid--my coworkers certainly think I am.

I was attending a conference downtown with two of my coworkers and we had just left with tote bags full of promotional material and free swag (pens, stress balls, etc.).  As we were waiting for the light rail train, a young man rolled up to the platform on his skateboard and then picked it up onto one shoulder, walking up to us as he did so--this immediately put me in a higher state of alertness because people that I do not know do not generally walk directly up to me, and the skateboard as a possible weapon concerned me.  He started asking what was in the bags we were carrying, and what we did for a living.  My coworkers had apparently decided that he was just very friendly, and maybe he was, but I went ahead and told him the bags were just full of advertisements for things we couldn't afford because we just answer phones for a living (trying to make it seem like we didn't have anything valuable).  He tried a couple other questions about where we were going and what time it was, but he eventually gave up on us and left after I gave him cordial answers without looking away from him or letting him get any closer.  I made sure that I was polite and friendly, smiling plenty, but the whole time I was trying to stay aware of the guy in front of me as well as anybody potentially coming from other angles.

I've had it explained to me, as well as reading it for myself, that muggers will often try to engage you in conversation or say things to distract you or make you feel comfortable, and that was all that kept going through my head.  Maybe he wasn't a mugger at all, and really was just a friendly, unemployed guy (he said something about working at the job training center downtown and not having any lunch) but I would rather err on the side of caution.  I don't need new friends that bad.