How to defend against a headbutt


Headbutts are commonly used in anti-social attacks. Anti social attacks are motivated by ego. The attacker feels a constant need to show dominance over others and use verbalization, posturing and violence to achieve his/her egocentric goals.

Contrary to popular belief, anti-social attackers are not scared individuals who will back off if you punch them first or if you punch them back. Anti-social attackers crave power. They want to be in charge. They want to dominate others. They are skilled at violence and often enjoy violence. Many people believe that if you have a bigger and stronger physique that anti-social attackers will not pick you as their next victim. The opposite is true. Remember, they are driven by ego. If they can knock out a bigger and stronger opponent, imagine how that will boost their ego, especially if this is done in front of their peers.

Know the signs

A favorite tactic of anti-social attackers is to close the distance and posture at the same time. Posturing include things like lifting their arms side ways in a lowered position while making direct eye contact and approaching their victim. This may be accompanied by using intimidating language, swear words or racial insults. Very often the attacker will come within a few inches of the victims face…. That is when the headbutt is at its most effective and virtually impossible to defend against!

Some more telltale signs

When an attacker is about to strike, there are some clear signs that commonly appear :

  • Repeating the same phrase again and again
  • Excessive eye contact and virtually no blinking
  • Trembling lips & chin
  • Flaring nostrils
  • Changes in facial skin color ( pale or red or a combination of red with white around the mouth)
  • Excessive talking to distract or suddenly the attacker stops talking in preparation to attack
  • Firsts opening & closing or tightly clenched
  • Trembling body

How to deal with this

As mentioned earlier, anti-social attackers are motivated by ego. So the best course of action is to not let your own ego make decisions on your behalf. Most anti-social attacks can be avoided or de-escalated if you can put your ego aside.

Remember that it does not matter how good a fighter you are, there is always somebody that can beat you. Beating can mean walking away with a bruised ego or it can mean ending up in a wheel chair or a mortuary. If you win, there is also no upside. You may face legal charges, retaliation by friends and family. Imagine the consequences if you do knock the attacker out and he goes down, hits his head on a pavement and dies. Was it worth it?

So the best course of action is to give your egocentric attacker what he wants – power. Acknowledge that you were wrong (even if you were not), offer an apology or remedy and get out of there as fast as you can. I know, I know, I can imagine the look on your face at this time. Just remember what I said earlier about the consequences…

Ego is a poor substitute for intelligence - self defense training

Sometimes the attacker just wants to fight for the fun of it

Sometimes you will be confronted by an aggressor just because he wants to fight for the fun of it and nothing you say or do will stop this person from confronting you.

Now what?

The first step is to get your hands above your elbows. Action is always faster than reaction. If you try to intercept a punch or other strike from a position where your hands are low, you will always be too slow. Holding your hands up with palms facing towards the attacker and slightly forward gives you a much better chance of defending against an incoming strike. This also makes it very difficult for an attacker to headbutt as the attacker needs to get close to you to headbutt. as long as your hands act as a barrier fence, it will be difficult to do so. Now you are in a more favorable position to decide on the next move…

For more information on how to deal with a violent attack, visit

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