In a self-defense scenario one may by confronted by two main groups of attackers and each group has its own motive and methodology.


Generally speaking this group of attackers has a desperate need to demonstrate their superiority over other people. The need to demonstrate superiority over others is often driven by a negative view of themselves as well as a hunger for power. The only way they feel better about themselves is to dominate other people through verbal insults, posturing and using violence as a tool. The intention of using violence is to demonstrate physical superiority. The typical BULLY will generally limit himself/herself to verbal insults, posturing and low levels of violence i.e. pushing and shoving to intimate the victim. Think of the typical schoolyard bully as an example.

The WOLF shares the same personality traits as the common BULLY but will more readily resort to violence of a more serious kind to demonstrate superiority. These type of attackers actually enjoy violence and will actively seek out opportunities to injure people. Examples include physically abusive spouses and the typical bar fighter who picks fights to prove himself/herself.

The motive of these attackers is thus to establish social dominance. From a self-defense perspective it may be possible to avoid most attacks from anti-social attackers and in many cases the level of violence can be mitigated by effective conflict mitigation and verbal de-escalation skills.


Criminal attackers differ from anti-social attackers in that their motive is not purely related to a need to prove themselves (the exception is gang related violence where social dominance must be earned through violence). The typical criminal attacker can be described as a PREDATOR who actively seeks easy opportunity to accomplish his goals. The motive for criminal predatory attacks includes greed, material gain and perversion. Criminal attackers will routinely use violence and extreme violence to accomplish their goals. The difference here is that violence is used as a means to an end and there is no social need to dominate others to feel better about themselves. The criminal attacker may sometimes be persuaded not to use violence but will easily switch to violence when required. There are no emotions or feelings for the victim. Defenses against such attackers include proper situational awareness, conflict de-escalation skills and reality based physical self-defense techniques.

The PSYCHOPATH is an extreme form of criminal attack where the objective is purely to kill /injure/harm as many people as possible. An active shooter walking into a church and randomly killing people is a good example. The motive may be religious, racial, political or revenge. This type of attacker suffers from severe psychological disturbance and cannot be stopped, except by using deadly force or by disarming.

A good self-defense training system should take the various types of attackers into consideration and should have a proper system to address each. A blanket approach training system will not be effective.

For more information contact info@cobradefense.co.za