The Science Of Why Group Attacks Are So Vicious


It is 9 pm, and you are on your way back from the local shop. Inside your 5 pence carrier bag are the essentials for a great night in with your other half.

Nachos and Netflix await you and as you walk home you check your Facebook feed to see what is ‘going on’ in your world.

The journey should take only 5 minutes, but suddenly everything goes dark.

You can now hear a few voices, and you are certain you are lying down in bed. Then a beeping noise catches your attention.

Suddenly you try and open your eyes, but one won’t open, the other does so slowly.

When it opens, you see your other half, your parents and a Doctor. They are speaking, but you can’t hear them, it feels like you are under water.

Then you realise what happened; it starts to come back to you. The last thing you remember is being on the floor in the street, and a size ten boot is coming at your head as if you are a football and it is match day for the pub football team.

It is at that second you realise you have been not only beaten but destroyed by a group of human beings.  What is left now is broken, it will take time, possibly years to heal.

You look at your other half, and you see them crying. You know it must be bad, and then you realise that you have to be at work on Monday and you don’t get sick pay.

Fear hits you at this point, not because you are hurt, but you realise that things are only just about to become difficult. The long road to physical recovery with also come at a financial cost because if you cannot work, you cannot earn money.

It is at this moment you get a chance to look at yourself. As a Doctor shines a light in your eye, you see a reflection of your face in his spectacles. It is not okay, you have swollen lips, and your jaw looks out of alignment. Your eye is swollen shut, and you have a bandage on your head.

You lie there feeling helpless and ask yourself one question, ‘how could someone do this to me?’


Why Groups Are Dangerous

The above example is dramatic but do not let that take away from the reality.

Every weekend a person will find themselves like this. It is not ‘big’ enough to make the evening news, but it is still life changing for those involved.

So what happened in our story that was loosely based on fact? Our central character was attacked by a group.

In 20 years of police experience, I have never seen anything quite so savage as a group of determined attackers.

But what makes them so dangerous?

Well, have you ever seen Jurassic Park 2? There is a section where these tiny little dinosaurs that are no bigger than a cat take down a guy 20 times their size.

How? Through sheer numbers.

But that does not tell the true nature of group attacks. A lot of groups work tactically.

I recall one group of lads terrorising large housing estate. These kids ranged from ages 11 all the way to 18, and everyone was scared of them.

I could not understand why until one day I saw them in action attack three police officers.

It was an incident I witnessed on CCTV, and I saw these ‘kids’ surround the cops and throw objects and then one at a time storm in and take a punch at a police officer. They never saw it coming because the attack was on their blind side.

I saw the kids also do the same to a grown man about 6 foot 3 inches tall. He went after them for smashing his windows, and the result was the group took him down.

First, they surrounded him and then weakened him. Each time he would try and grab one they would back off, and the others would dart in and hit him, often with a bottle or piece of wood.

Eventually, they caught him and dragged him to the floor where the group rescued it’s members and then proceeded to beat him with precision.

You have to understand that these lads and girls had not learned this in a dojo, they did not pre-plan this. Instead, this had evolved from the desire for the group to survive and also achieve its goals.

But at the core of this group is an underlying psychological principle that powers the viscous nature of their assaults.


Diffusion of responsibility

Diffusion of responsibility is the name given to the sociopsychological phenomenon whereby a person is less likely to take responsibility for action or inaction when others are present.

What happens when a group attacks, is that they ‘feel’ less guilt for their actions because that guilt is shared by the group. Many times in an attack, a gang member might only land one strike, and they justify this as a minor role.

From experience when you have a person seriously injured following a group attack it is incredibly difficult to know who landed the ‘blow’ that caused the severe damage.

And this is the nature of group attacks.

Boxing matches have a cumulative effect where the boxer is punished over the time of the bout.

In a group attack, the strikes tend to be of a nature where one person will have inflicted a serious injury with their strike but knowing who did this is incredibly challenging for both investigators and the actual group.

After all, how can you tell which punch caused the brain haemorrhage?

This is how responsibility is diffused. It means the group can all land their hardest punches, one or many and still feel that they only played a minor part of the assault.

And it is for this reason that groups can destroy another human being as if they were Piranhas. Mentally they all only see themselves as doing a tiny part!


Surviving Group Attacks

Defence Lab has front-loaded its syllabus with group attack situations/ techniques for a good reason. They are incredibly dangerous.

However by understanding the psychological reasoning of a group you stand a better chance of survival.

The first and most easy to implement counter strategy is to trigger what I refer to as ‘Survival Instinct’.

We are pre-programmed to want to survive, and when people attack in a group, they rarely consider what the victim can do to the group. There is almost a belief that the team is invincible.

So you need to strike with power and accuracy to such an extent that it make others in the group ‘concerned for their safety’. When you hit the group members, hit them hard!

The next strategy is to make them ‘work’.

This should be at the corner of every self-defence system, but so few realise this power. I never think I can beat everyone in self-defence.

For example, if a heavyweight UFC fighter took an issue with me I am going to have some problems. But that would not be my goal in any self-defence situation.

If I cannot avoid the incident, all I care about is not surviving but making them know they have been in a fight.

I want them to know that I did not ‘go easily’.

I never concern myself with the outcome of the incident; I am concerned with giving them a tough time. By doing this, it keeps me in the ‘there and now’.

If they land three shots, I am going to land five! They take me down I am getting back up!

In group, fights do not curl into a ball and hope for the best. This is where Defence Lab techniques come into play. An ability to defend and fight back all at the same time!

The final tactic I use is called ‘Engage the group’.

If a group attacks you will find that some do not want to hit you, they are there just to watch and stop you escaping. My rules are simple; they are fair game!

The weak link in the chain might be standing there, and if they are not trying to stop the incident, they are in the firing line for your shots.

By engaging the groups ‘sideline players,’ you can invoke another psychological principle which is ‘the care and protection of others’.

We are hard wired to protect others, and in any group, there will be weaker members. You do not know who these are which is why everyone is your target.

In the past, I have seen a weaker member of a group hit hard, and this caused the whole incident to stop as the group came to the aid of the ‘lesser member’.

In a group attack, it is all too easy just to go at the people that have just ‘hit you’ but see them all as targets, and this will give you the edge!



When attacked by a group, you will face a situation that is both frightening and dangerous.

Wouldn’t you like to be ‘trained’ to deal with that situation?

If so Defence Lab is for you. It is one of the few martial arts out there that focuses on the dynamics of actual group combat.

A group attack has the power to change your life, and this can happen at any time, all it takes is for you to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!

It is time you prepared yourself for this?

Thanks for reading