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I just read on my FB page that one of my friends was a victim of the "knock out" game.  I just found out what that even is recently.

It seems to me that awareness and avoidance are key to defending against this game:

1.  Awareness of the dynamics that I usually see leading up to the choice of a knock out victim (or any other victim for that matter.)  

2.  Avoiding those dynamics.

It seems more prevalent among groups of young kids watching for someone alone and unaware.  

Other than awareness and avoidance, what other advice would you give to protect yourself against victimization of this foolish game?  (Because there are usually groups doing this, I don't see anyway to actually physically succeed in self defense, other than running and yelling as loud as possible WELL BEFORE you even get close enough for the sneak attack.  From the videos I've watched, the groups look suspect enough to stay clear of even from far away.)  

Another thing:  From an interview of some young people talking about the "game," it seems to be a blend of what you talk about on your no non-sense self defense site:  

1.  Predatorial Violence--In the sense that they actually seek out a person with malicious intent, for the enjoyment of the attack.

2.  Criminal Violence--One girl said they sometimes rob the victims, but this seems to be unusual.  From what I've seen, they video the knockout and laugh at the victim, which makes it more predatorial to me.

Territory, other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, doesn't seem a motivation.  Unaware behavior is the only "behavioral motivation," but the person isn't usually known by the group, as far as I know, and he or she isn't behaving disrespectfully, or challengingly, or insultingly.  

What do you say about the motivation?

ANSWER: This is cool. I can actually answer this question with an excerpt from the book I'm writing now, "In The Name Of Self-Defense"


Something you -- as an ordinary citizen --  can run into, whether misbehaving or not, is 'pack behavior.' A Greek philosopher  name Bion said the following. "Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, yet the frogs do not die in sport but in earnest."

Rory Miller talks about the 'group monkey dance.' That's when a group gets together to beat the living hell out of someone. His insights into this dynamic come from working as a correctional officer for over fifteen years. His observation about 'do not associate with or betray violent groups' is spot on about this subject. The unified responses are common in criminal and violent circles. Unified responses are ... ugly.

What I want to talk about is when the group monkey dance meets Bion.

Not too long ago there was a flap about the 'knock out game.'  Oh horror, oh terror. Packs of roving youths randomly selecting and beating the hell out of strangers. First off this is not new behavior. Five years ago it was called 'flash mobs'  In the '80s they were called 'wolf packs.' Earlier than that 'rat packs.' Over seas it was called 'Happy Slapping.' I don't remember the Renaissance and Roman terms for this behavior, but I've read historical sources of them bitchin' about this behavior too. So not new or news at all.

Realistically you're way more likely to be stomped by a group because you got into a confrontation with one of their members. (Ahhhh, the hermit crab syndrome again.)

Like the presence of a weapon, numbers are a game changer. The problem is ... your out of control Monkey can dismiss numbers just as fast as a weapon.

Furthermore -- and you'll see this again in being set up for a robbery -- all too often the Monkey focuses on the person in front of you and not what the rest of the group is doing. This is especially common when the soon-to-be victim is either engaged with or tries to engage only one of the group. Now whether this is to try to only fight one or to 'reason' with that person, doesn't matter -- it's usually a tactical mistake.

Groups are dangerous because they team up against 'outsiders.'  Often in the form of showing how much they are there for their own. As Rory points out a group monkey dance can often turn into a competition for proving how much you are 'part of the group' by how much damage you cause. This is what makes this behavior social in nature. Although the violence is aimed at someone outside the group, the social purposes it serves are internal.  

While it might start for a legit reason, it can easily become a dangerous and out of control, 'rah, rah, yay us' stomping.  This sporting, glee club activity is aimed at you, Mr. Ernest U. R. Frog.

The physical danger of packs come from what is called 'disparity of force.'  How dangerous is it? Here's two hints. Number one: 'strong arm robberies' are neck and neck with the number of robberies committed with a gun. (I'll tell you the reason why in a bit, but 'strong arm' is dangerous enough to commit robberies with.)

Number two: Disparity of force is one of legally accepted justification for use of lethal force in self-defense.   Remember, 'immediate threat of death or grave bodily injury?'  Three, four, five guys beating and stomping you meet that criteria.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: It's very helpful to know this behavior is no where near new.

To make sure I'm with you:
1. The issue and the danger is the group dynamic itself

2. If possible, avoid "pissing of/crossing" an individual in the group, or the group itself. Stay as far away as possible from "unreasonable" group  dynamics

#By unreasonable I'm speaking of something I just read about the literally mind altering effects of groups on individual judgment. It's actually one of the most amazing things I've ever read.  A study showed that people went along with groups because groups literally effected their perception of reality!  Not because they merely decided to fit in with a group at the time.  Not even because they feared rejection.  Not even because they were focused on majority rules or that two or more heads are better than one.  The study showed that the individuals in the groups really thought they had come to their own conclusions, and the sections of their brains that fired were the sections dealing with perception, not volition!  In fact, when a person went AGAINST the group, the amygdala fired, showing a TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF COURAGE necessary to GO AGAINST A GROUP!  Marc, this floored me dude!  Like Rory, I'm also a corrections officer #I've actually corresponded with you alot#, and I've seen this MORE THAN ANY WHERE, among OFFICERS!  I have to fight the group pull towards complete tunnel vision in making officer decisions!  It is THE MOST DANGEROUS THING in my opinion about being an corrections officer.  Not the inmates.  But the situations where a sergeant, lieutenant, and a group of officers start going gung ho in a a dangerous direction with NO NAY SAYERS!  In fact, the one who says, "Hey, hold up.  Let's THINK about what we're ABOUT TO DO," is considered a violater of "the thin blue line."  I'm digressing man.  But what you said about Bion and Rory is line with what I just read, and what I see in the jail. It's helping me to see the "knock out" game in a new light.  

3. If impossible to avoid the group, run away from the group, or negotiate with the group #or a "reasonable" individual in the group?  the "leader of the pack?# be prepared to possibly use lethal force/do what it takes to avoid getting stomped/beat to death by the group?

Thank you for your time.

I always point to the movie "A Few Good Men" and ask, 'Cruise, Nicholson. Who was right?'  Folks go "Oh oh! I know that one! Tom Cruise!"  I explain that neither were right, because both had lost sight of why the other were necessary. Both had drifted so far off in their own little worlds that they forgot they exist as part of a larger society. A society that -- while it needs men like that -- is way more than just their little slice of it.

That's a real common problem with people. They pull off in their own Private Idaho and then mistake that for how the world 'really is.' Group think is very, very powerful. Good for a long term survival approach, not so good for actually meeting the criteria of being intelligent, "thinking" and sophisticated.

Having said that, it's an interesting balance between group and individual. I read a book "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" by Ruby Payne. She talked about how the different social classes look at 'groups.'  The rich base themselves on exclusion (both they're separate from society and keeping others out). The poor view groups as safety and protection, so approach groups from inclusion. They want a powerful 'tribe' (if you will). Good way to do that is to have large numbers.  The middle class however, has a myth of individuality and self-reliance. "I achieved this" (ignoring the involvement of others, e.g. graduating college. Well yes, but the college is made up of, built by and consists of knowledge gained by other people).

I recently read a book "The Strongest Tribe" were the reason for the situation settling in Iraq was described to the General as 'America is the strongest tribe.'  This by an Iraqi. It's an important paradigm shift. One that many modern people don't understand the significance of.

Corrections -- and law enforcement -- is very much about being a member of a tribe. One that even if you win against an individual, you lose against the larger tribe. That's what keeps most of the other tribes in line. I call this 'Institutional Authority'  It is also what a lot of badge heavy people rely on.  Often not consciously, but what keeps them safe is usually their tribal affiliation, not personal skill.

Then comes what I call 'individual authority.' That is what the individual can do. How well that individual keeps it together and can take care of business.

What works best is a combo of both.

I tell you that because getting targeted is a combo of these things. But what is definitely a factor is the idea that them -- in a group -- are safe from you as an individual.

"Taking away that safety" is both the strategy for surviving AND making sure it doesn't happen.

When dealing with a group, I always target their baddest dude first.  I also drop into 'combat mode.' That is where I'm coming in with such force that the guy is unconscious, crippled or dying in three moves or two seconds. This is not technically hard to do, mostly it's about
a) NOT 'fighting' (get out of that mindset)
b) removing the body's ability to withstand/resist/flex away the force. (Instead of just slamming him head first into the wall, twist his head and keep a hold of his arm so he can't soften the impact)

Changing tracks. Years ago I heard the following, "Of 10 people, two will love you. Two will hate you, six won't care."  (It's a old bounty hunter attitude about getting information about where someone is.) I found that applies to group attacks, two are really into it. Two don't want to be there and the commitment level of the rest is 'meh'

If you reach out and rip the throat out of the their baddest dude, then immediately turn and go for their second bad ass's throat, that 'meh' usually drops to "I don't want to be here."

When an individual takes away the safety of them acting in a group, all of a sudden throwing stones becomes no fun at all.  

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Too numerous to list here. My CV (for my expert witness work in court) is at

Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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