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Drew Loto
Drew Loto's picture
Most frequently encountered violent attacks by gender

Even though this topic is brought up every so often in this forum, I was hoping that this thread could serve as a one-stop shop for this information.

I remember reading that researchers have compiled lists of the most common violent attacks that civilians face.  What I can't remember is whether this study looked specifically at the UK, or the US, or another particular society.  I believe researcgers divided the results by gender.  Does anyone know where one could find such a study?  Has it been published online, and, if so, do you know the URL?

It seems to me that incorporating this knowledge into regular training is one of the most important ways that a TMA can gear his/her practice towards self-defense.

What role does this type of information play in your own training or in the ways you think about self-defense?

JWT's picture

The information (immediately) below, which I included in my first book, also still seems to hold true based upon what I see in youtube videos, BCS statistics and A&E statistics. The only real change since then is that in the UK the banning of smoking and the greater action on glass has lead to glass damage becoming less common and glass is now a less common weapon than a knife.

The nature of Violent Attacks: In 2001, in an article published in the Journal of the Shotokan Research Society International, R. J. Nash presented data that had been gathered from a Home Office study group formed to investigate violence within modern society, based upon evidence taken from Europe and the United Kingdom. This article listed, in frequency order, the most common pattern of attacks that were made on both men and women. These lists are reproduced here by the kind permission of Jeff Nash and the editor of the Journal of the Shotokan Research Society International, Bob McMahon. These lists tally with the types of injuries and statistics revealed by the earlier statistics and thus the attacks listed are worth considering. Male on Male, Close Quarters: 1. One person pushes, hands to chest, which is normally followed by the pushee striking first, to the head. 2. A swinging punch to the head. 3. A front clothing grab, one handed, followed by punch to the head. 4. A front clothing grab, two hands, followed by a head butt. 5. A front clothing grab, two hands, followed by a knee to the groin. 6. A bottle, glass, or ashtray to the head. 7. A lashing kick to groin/lower legs. 8. A broken bottle/glass jabbed to face. 9. A slash with knife, most commonly a 3 to 4" lockblade knife or kitchen utility knife. (Apart from muggings, sexual assaults and gang violence, the hunting/combat type knife is seldom used) 10. A grappling style head lock. Only one occasion of a well known boxer, caught on night club cctv, opening the conflict with a hook punch to the body. Offences against the person, male on female: This data was gathered from interviews with victims and offenders and from statements. Data only covers robbery/sexual methodology and changes relative to first contact with victim ie., venue/ night/day etc. Domestic violence is not covered as this is a specific subject of its' own. 1. The victim was approached from the rear/side/front, a threat was made with a weapon, and then the weapon was hidden. Then the victim's right upper arm was held by the attacker's left hand and the victim was led away. 2. A silent or rushing approach was made from the victim's rear, and then a rear neck/head lock applied and the victim dragged away. 3. The same approach as in #2, with a rear waist grab. The victim was carried/dragged away, normally into bushes/alley etc. 4. The victim was pinned to a wall with a throat grab with the attacker's left hand. A weapon-shown threat was made, and then the weapon hidden, and the victim led away. 5. The victim was approached from rear/ front/side. The attacker grabbed the victim's hair with his left hand, and then she was dragged away. The Most Common Wrist Grips, Male On Female: 1. The attacker's left hand, thumb uppermost, gripping the victim's raised right wrist. The attacker threatens/ gesticulates with his right hand. 2. With the victim's right arm down, the attacker grips the victim's right upper arm with his left hand and her right wrist with his right hand. 3. The victim raises both arms, with both of her wrists gripped. The attacker's hands are vertical with the attacker's thumbs uppermost. 4. With the victim's arms down, the attacker grabs both upper arms. 5. With the victim's right arm down, the attacker's left hand grabs just below the right elbow, and his right hand grabs her wrist.  


Injuries We are fortunate that a great deal of data has been collected by both the Police and (anonymously) by the Accident & Emergency departments that maps the types of injury sustained in violent assaults. The participation of A&E departments in particular has been significant, since they are able to collect data on crimes that would not necessarily be reported to the Police. This data helps form a picture of the severity of the violence inflicted by offenders on their victims, and the areas of the body that are most commonly targeted. According to the BCS 09/10 only 51% of all Violent Crime resulted in physical injury. This dropped to 34% for all Muggings (robbery and snatch theft). The most common type of injury recorded is that of a minor bruise/black eye (31% of cases), followed by cuts and severe bruising. Incidentally minor bruises and black eyes were also slightly more common in domestic and acquaintance violence than in stranger violence. It is interesting to note that of the injuries recorded in violent incidents in the 09/10 BCS Survey only 2% suffered concussion or loss of consciousness, only 2% broken noses, 3% broken bones and only 1% chipped teeth, and of course 49% received no injuries whatsoever The majority of attacks were not serious therefore, but to put these numbers into perspective the British Crime Survey for 2009/10 estimated 2,087,000 violent incidents against adults in England and Wales, which makes each percent equivalent to 20,870 cases. That equates to a worryingly large number of violent incidents and a significant number of broken noses and serious head injuries. It is interesting to compare the statistics above with older evidence from the Tackling Alcohol Related Street Crime Project in Cardiff and Cardiff bay in 2003. This noted that the majority of injuries sustained by casualties were to the Face/Neck/Head/Teeth (73%), while only 11% of injuries were to the Arms/Legs/Hands and only 3% to the Trunk.  

The statistics correlate what many people have experienced, or seen in footage of real violent incidents. The head is the most common target of all violent assaults. In the Cardiff TASC Project study the number of injuries to the hands and arms may in part be explained by the natural reflex to protect the head with the forearms and hands.       

Weapons used in Violent Crime (England and Wales) 2011-12 Weapons used: 22% No Weapons used: 78% Not sure: 1% Weapons Knife: 6% (Knife crime down 9% on last year) Hitting Implement: 5% Glass Bottle: 4% Stabbing Implement (eg screwdriver): 1% Firearm: 1% (down 18% on last year) Stones: 2% Syringe: 0% Other: 5% 29,513 incidents of violence involving a knife or sharp instrument. 193 knife/sharp instrument homicides 2011/12. 235 knife/sharp instrument attempted homicides. Threats to kill:1145. Knives used in 15,470 robberies. Knives used in 207 reported rapes (of 42976 recorded serious sexual offences).

Knives used in 65 reported sexual assaults (of 42976 recorded serious sexual offences).      


I search online for publications or contact academics directly and then do my best to keep up to date.  Regrettably the presentation methods keep changing, but fortunately I have at least 10 years of recorded data on certain patterns which are no longer listed.


john titchen

Kyoshi's picture

@John Titchen, thanks alot for that post - just what i was searching... do you have a link for the original article or where to get it (either buy or PDF)?

I remember once seeing statistics from LEO, regarding types of reported aggrevated assaults, such as punches and strikes to the head, wreatling, takedowns etc. chokes strangles etc.

JWT's picture


The original Jeff Nash article can be read here (the book was never published and Jeff has sadly passed on so far as I'm aware): http://www.kitsunekan.com/articles/jeffnashhaov.php .

The data from that article and a good deal more related statistics are in the introduction to Heian Flow System: effective karate kata bunkai, which is available on amazon.  I won't be including crime stats in my next series on the Heian but may pubish summaries of over a decade of data in a later book.

In terms of LEO, you might be thnking about this article: http://ejmas.com/jnc/2007jnc/jncart_Leblanc_0701.html

Hope that helps

john titchen

Kyoshi's picture

Sharing is Caring!

Thanks alot John! I think the LEO is that one.. hmm..  i think i saw some document several years ago also depicting that victims oftens was showed, then struck in the face. or showed then went to wrestle.. can't find it - but pretty similiar to the article from Jeff Nash

Thanks again

Kyoshi's picture

Maybe some of the Koryu Uchinadi people working with HAPV, can tell if McCarthy Sensei have provided newer research in this field, or have some data to back up his HAPV theory ? :-)

Kyoshi's picture

JWT wrote:

I design all my drills as one to one drills, and this is how they are practised at a basic level, but as soon as we move to full contact simulations then I'd say it is 50/50 between one on ones and 2+ on ones (or 2 v 2 or ever increasing numerical variations).  Some of the videos I posted earlier had 2 v 1, but they were sequential (in other words the brief was that person two would only attack after person one, even though for the defender the 'threat' of two people is there) and I regard those as one on one attacks.

I work this way because (according to the most recent BCS) 39% of all violent crime is committed by groups of more than one person.  These figures vary year on year, but here is my summary of the last 8 years of data for England and Wales.

No. of offenders

Lowest %

Highest %

09/10 %


54% BCS 07/08

65% BCS 08/09



9% BCS 08/09

14% BCS 03/04



7% BCS 02/03 08/09 09/10

9% BCS 05/06


Four or more

19% BCS 02/03 08/09 09/10

25% BCS 08/09


For me one on one training is the best way to learn and drill core evasion, grappling and striking techniques.  However, I feel that as soon as we move into full contact it is important to move into multiple attackers.  This really works people's perception of space and positioning in a different way, and adds extra encouragement to finish quickly (or stun, switch targets, and return as/if necessary).

edit: sorry the data appears as a table until I save it!


I found this in an elder thread John, again you have some interesting statistics, would you care to provide the source - the above statistics are VERY interesting!! (sorry, i don't hope im stealing the thread!!)

JWT's picture

Hi - those statistics were from the old British Crime Survey.  The table didn't reproduce so well here. I used to note down the numbers every year.  The modern CSEW (Crime Survey in England and Wales) does not list this data.  As you can see, the majority recorded violent crime in England and Wales is (and has been for the last decade) one on one.