7 Lessons From Recent “Knockout” Attacks

New stories and headlines about victims of the “Knockout” game seem to be popping up every day or two.

This is, in part, due to the media focusing their efforts on finding knockout incidents, and also in part due to kids seeing videos online and pictures in newspapers and wanting to try it, but unfortunately, it’s popularity is on a dramatic upswing just as we’re entering the Christmas shopping season.

If you’re not familiar with knockout, it’s a grotesque evolution of the “Charlie horse” game.  With the Charlie horse game, one friend would go up to another and attempt to punch them in the side/back of the leg to give them a Charlie horse.

With the knockout game, kids go up to a random stranger and attempt to knock them out with a single blow.

Here are a few examples:

So, what lessons can we learn from this and take into the Christmas shopping season? It’s not acceptable to let punks like this dictate how we live our lives, so let’s pick out what we can do to minimize our risk and maximize our ability to counter an attack, if one does happen.

First, true asocial violence is random and sudden.  There’s no time to puff your chest, do some fancy Bruce Lee motions to intimidate your opponent, or rip your shirt off to show your muscles and veins.

Second, true violence is not “trading blows” like what you see in boxing or mixed martial arts.  The first person to successfully hurt the other person wins.  Either because they take out their opponent with a single blow, or because their opponent is temporarily unable to defend themselves and the attacker can pile on additional damage to end the fight.

Third, violence is like a steak knife.  A steak knife can be a useful tool when it’s cutting steak.  It can be used as an evil instrument of terror in the hands of Lorena Bobbit.  Or it can be a tool that helps a heroic mother stop a violent home invader from attacking her and her children.  In any case, as disgusting, inappropriate, and immoral as these attacks are, there are great lessons to be had in watching them. Ignore them at your own peril.

Fourth, your environment is a weapon.  Which do you think hurt the teacher more?  Getting hit in the head by the kid, or his face hitting the concrete curb at 10-15 miles per hour?  If you find yourself a potential victim of violence, use your environment whenever and wherever appropriate.

Fifth, targeting matters—size doesn’t.  These kids aren’t bigger or stronger than professional fighters.   They’re just putting as much force as they can possibly generate through as small of a striking surface as they can and targeting a weak part of the human body.  As you can see, neither the size of the attacker nor the size of the victim matter.  That is one of the core fundamentals of Target Focus Training and why I recommend it so strongly.  To learn more, click >HERE<

Sixth, situational awareness works, but it’s not a magic bullet.  Situational awareness is key for avoiding violence, but some of these victims may have done all that they practically could and still been blindsided.  I personally try to avoid being so “aware” that I appear so intense that I’m the one that people are scared of.  There’s a time and a place for that persona, but it’s not a 24/7 thing.  If I run across a group of choir kids in the mall or on a street, I don’t want to stare them down like I would a pack of tatted up, dead eyed kids with droopy pants and wearing colors.

Seventh, have a plan and work your plan.  Last week a 17 year old tried playing “knockout” with a guy at a bus stop.  The 17 year old failed.  His intended victim was able to respond by firing 2 rounds into his attacker before he was able to attack again. He had a plan, practiced it, and was able to execute it under extreme stress.

I applaud the intended victim for turning the tables, but there’s a HUGE lesson here, especially with winter upon us.

Drawing a firearm from concealment and engaging a target takes TIME.  If it normally takes you 1.5 seconds to draw and engage from concealment and you add just another ½ second for winter clothing (including gloves and/or the effects of cold fingers) and don’t include any time for shock or delayed reaction, you’re looking at 2 seconds.  That’s 2 additional seconds that your attacker has to get lucky and end the fight before you even get into the fight.

That’s why I stress empty hands defense so strongly.  With the same 2 seconds that it takes to get to and deploy your firearm in a violent encounter, you could engage your attacker with 2-3 effective strikes…any of which could end the fight and allow you the space and time necessary to safely draw your weapon to deter other attackers.

The same intensity and targeting that the kids use in the video to take out their victims (sometimes larger and stronger) in a single strike is the basis for the tools that you want to master to be able to defend yourself and your loved ones.

It’s simply a matter of knowing what parts of the human body to target (eyes, ears, throat, groin, knee, etc.), how to deliver a critical amount of force through those targets with only your bodyweight, and how to create deep, high-quality neural pathways in the brain as quickly as possible so that you can execute these techniques properly under stress without having to over-think it.

The system that I’ve been using (and recommending) for almost 20 years that delivers on this better than any other system that I’ve tried, researched, or used is Target Focus Training.

Developed for the Navy SEALS by Naval Intelligence officer, Tim Larkin, TFT is the real deal.  That’s why I trust TFT for myself, my friends, and my family, why numerous government and law enforcement agencies trust it, and why multi-multi-millionaires from around the world pick TFT as the one system to learn so that they can protect themselves from violence.

Click >HERE< to get an incredible discount on the TFT Survival Pack.

And, if you’ve already got the Survival Pack and are ready to take the next step, go >HERE< for the TFT Lethal Force package which will teach you the advanced techniques to stop close-in threats as quickly and effectively with your bare hands as if you had a firearm in your hand 24/7.  This is incredibly powerful stuff that has the potential to completely change your life because of the quiet, calm, earned confidence that it will give you.

****Tuesday Update****  The following book was recommended to me and I discounted it the first couple times.  I finally checked it out and after seeing that Thomas Sowell, Alan West, and Sean Hannity all recommend it, I bought it.  If you have read it, please share your thoughts about it and how it applies to the Knockout game.

About David Morris

David Morris is the creator of the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course, the Fastest Way To Prepare Course, Urban Survival Playing Cards, Tactical Firearms Training Secrets, and other books, courses, and articles on preparedness, survival, firearms, and other tactical topics. He lives with his wife, 2 boys, and 2 dogs.


  1. Great blog you have here.. It’s hard to find quality writing
    like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like
    you! Take care!!

  2. it’s all about race. the powers that be have been deviding our country and will continue to
    do so. where is the media on this one? blacks can and do attack white’s often and get away with the crimes, but if 1 white defends themselves it becomes racial.

    • It’s important to recognize that race is a trailing indicator…not a leading indicator. The leading indicator is the culture of entitlement, apathy, and victimhood that’s rampant in “ghetto” areas around the globe.

      Take a baby, regardless of color, and put them in a ghetto neighborhood and a ghetto school where the kids raise themselves, have no adult role models, aren’t exposed to the Gospel, have poor nutrition, have no expectations of greatness, don’t value education, have no goals, and over expose them to sexual and violent content at a young age, and you’re going to get a predictable outcome. Most won’t turn out well. Some break out, but most don’t.

      Take those same kids and put them in a loving 2 parent family (rich or poor) who value morality, respect authority, encourage education, achievement, and goals, and you get a completely different outcome…regardless of color or race.

      In other words, it’s not about race…it’s about culture.

    • j l morehouse says:

      it’s upbringing that makes a good or bad person, not color.

    • Hey Ron, maybe I would take your post as less of a joke if you could spell even the most rudimetary word correctly. You cant so I see you are uneducated or just lazy so I cant take you seriously. See how a probable typo on your part can be taken in the wrong way and used in a prejudicial manner against you? You were probably thinking how wrong the first two sentences of this reply were. Your not lazy or uneducated, you say. How can this guy I dont know make these false, ridiculous assumptions about me due to one little mis-spelled word?!! Well, thats how MANY minorities think about caucasians who frequently (read: almost daily) do the same thing to them based on their skin color or geographical location. Upbringing defines who does what-not color. For every minority malcontent menace to society that you can find-I can produce an upstanding, productive member of society who is just as outraged by this jack-wagon game as you are! In fact, one just wrote this response to you…

  3. j l morehouse says:

    David that video made me sick and angry.

    I was hit from behind by a group of black young men in their 20′s. They broke a beer bottle against my head and robbed me of 12 dollars. I received 9 stitches, a concussion, and was in the hospital for 3 days.

    I am not a little man or afraid of most people but I was caught off guard because I knew these guys they were my neighbors–I new all of them. This happened during the day, in the ally right next to my home.

    None of these guys were ever prosecuted and there were witnesses to the crime. The city prosecutor said the witness were unreliable because they were drug users.

    It not just strangers to watch out for these days it could be people you know, which make living in this world harder.

    I carry pepper spray with me all the time and I always have a second person with me now to help watch our backs. It’s the way it is. Good article keep them coming.

  4. Orrin M. Knutson says:


    The real topic of this discussion was somehow lost, worrying about who trained who.

    Let it suffice that the “Knockout Game” is a dangerous and deadly social phenomenon spreading within our twisted society. These kids are urban predators, plain and simple. I don’t want to hear any bleeding heart crap excuses about, “Broken homes, lack of supervision, poor social skills, bla bla bla.”

    These sewer rats take pleasure and pride in violently harming innocent people, period! Unfortunately, their method of attack is to “blindside” the unsuspecting. Watch the videos; they pick a target, pass them by, confirm they are not looking, run up from behind and strike with all the brutality they can muster, then run like gutless cowards.

    About the only defense from these unprovoked surprise attacks … is to look past your nose and remain alert to the obvious gang-banger/thug appearance of those people nearby, I humbly suggest the following.

    1. Take your head out of your butt and stay aware of who is around, passing by or approaching you on the street where there is not a large mass of witnesses. But, don’t forget these punks WANT others to see how tough they are, but most knockout game attacks are not committed in mass crowds. In that kind of scenario the scumbags lose their nerve, because they fear reprisals or attacks themselves, from the honest and brave people that may be close by, before they can escape.
    2. Unfortunately, we are all fair game walking in an asphalt jungle filled with lurking predators. So, put that damned cell phone away! Don’t wander through the alligator swamps texting, chatting or playing a video game. You are just begging to be a victim!
    3. If you are a music buff, fine, but walking dangerous streets is not the place to be jamming out with ear-buds stuck in your head. Your hearing and focus to the environment is completely compromised … making you and easy kill.
    4. Profile the hell out of people in the environment. Little old ladies, women with children and gentlemen in business suits are not hunting for pray.
    5. Quit walking with tunnel vision. Look into questionable peoples faces and eyes … if they are “eyeballing” YOU, and you are not drop dead gorgeous or something, they are targeting you! They may be knockout gamers or maybe they are just criminal muggers hunting for a score. But, if a thug looking type is looking at you he sees fresh meat.
    6. When you observe subjects that make the hair on the back of your neck twitch … for crying out loud give them a wide birth if you possibly can.
    7. If you cannot help but pass close to them you eyeball them right back. Connect with them as a real person not a video avatar they want to smash. Look them in the eye and speak directly to them in a pleasant manner, say something like, “Hi there!” “Good morning!” “How you doing?” “Happy Thanksgiving.” Merry Christmas.!” Say something … anything directly to them that is non-confrontational. Suddenly, to them you become a real person and you’ve subliminally identified and scared them, if they have evil intentions!
    8. When you carry concealed, fine. But, kids playing the “Knockout Game” are rarely packing heat. Even if attacked, if you shoot any of the slimy little jerks the aftermath for you will be daunting. The media, cops and authorities will make you the criminal, just like they did George Zimmerman. Rather than risk shooting poor misguided, misunderstood and unarmed (very likely minority) “Innocent Children” do your best to AVOID DANGER! And that does not mean using your gun as a empty threat or bluff … the little bastards might well take it away and use it on you! We all know there are no second place winner in a gunfight … what many armed citizens forget is … The best gunfights are the ones we avoid completely!
    9. Always carry something heavy in your hands!!! Ladies … you’ve usually got a purse that is heavy and can crush a skull! Men … we tend to go about with nothing of consequence in our hands most of the time. Think about walking dangerous streets with a computer bag, briefcase or a Bible (yes I said a Bible with a strong leather case and handles).
    10. When you are alert enough (or just dumb lucky enough) to see an attack coming, drop your Christmas packages, etc. take a double hand grip on your weighed bag and swing it like a bat … and aim for the fences!!! Don’t stop swinging until the thugs are down or retreat. During a pack attack, once one scum-sucker goes down, the rest run.

    Of course there is a lot more to be said, but you get the idea. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas to All and please pray daily for our beloved America, our Wounded Warriors and their families. Let’s take back our streets, our nation and our Constitution!

    God Bless,
    Orrin M. Knutson
    Author of Survival 101: How to Bug Out and Survive the First 72 Hours
    (Retired Peace Officer and LEO Street Survival Instructor)

    body language,

    • Well Orrin….you’ve got my vote.

    • Hello Orrin,

      I just wanted you to know that thuggery doesn’t come in any specific color, race or creed. It just exists in an evil heart. So for you to say “probably minority” in your above article disappoints me. As a retired cop, u should know that there are vicious white kids running around playing this foolish game also. Stupidity is what it is. Please try and use your head for something besides a hat rack next time you make inflammatory statements.

  5. Good artical David. Over hear in the UK it is known as ‘happy slapping’ and will normally involve a group of younger youths attacking from behind while one uses a cell/mobile phone to record teh crime.
    Now knowing their modus operundi , I exercise caution passing groups of youths where one has a phone out, appearing to film the others doing nothing and the group lapse into silence. THta seems to be thet key thing. Silence. Normally a group of youths are boisterous and loud, but its that silence that precedes the attack that seems to be a dead give away. Hope this helps.

  6. joana briggs says:

    It looks and sounds like these kids took your training or some where else. They seem to know the points and have the support of their peers. Where is the community? The man being interview was actually smirking at times. This is a long/wrong way to go but in a country with no jobs and little opportunity how do they show their

  7. Good points regarding time to respond, especially wearing heavy clothes. This type of criminal offense, and the defense necessary to thwart it, are street ugly. Katas and detailed movements are useless, and most people in a time of real stress and physical altercation couldn’t remember them or perform them anyway. I try to keep it simple. I focus the acronym, “BENT” (“Balls”, “Eyes”, “Nose”, and “Throat”). Focus your strike(s) on any of these areas that are available (and ripping an ear off doesn’t hurt either(you anyway). Just enough time to either defeat your criminal assailant or to be able to draw your weapon and use it to prevent any further deadly action against you.

  8. the problem is that the attacks come with no warning, no confrontation from the front, back or side. Situational awareness seems to dictate instantaneous prep when young people are seen. In a crowded urban area this is a very serious and dangerous problem

  9. frank kovich says:

    Being a old fella, I do not have the power and speed of youth. In winter when heavy clothes are on, your best areas to strike is the neck and face area. LI-18 on the side of neck and ST-9 next to the adams apple are great areas. On the face area I like a palm strike over the eye with the top of palm hitting the eyebrow and the bottom of palm hitting the upper cheek. Also the mental nerve (chin bone area level with the outside of either lip.) Locations of LI-18, ST-9 and mental nerve can be found by a google search. Strikes to these areas can result in pain, disorientation, spine damage, ko or death depending on force used. Be careful with them and use them at your own risk. People defending themselves have also been sued by using excessive force.

  10. Vic Monzon says:

    Great article, David.

    This current fad is a very dangerous threat. Your observations and recommendations are very realistic and practical.

    Your recommendation of TFT led me to acquire his training materials and attend a weekend LV live event. VERY practical training backed up by TFT analysis of street violence and injury analysis. Far and away more focused tools than my earlier training in Aikido, Judo, and Karate.

    You da Man.

    BTW, remind me never to debate with you ;-)

    Cdr Vic

  11. I was born and raised in Brooklyn N.Y. You have to use whats at hand, garbage can alley whip (car antenna) or a good one is take a paper soft drink cup turn upside down and try to put your index finger thru the bottom with one strike, when you can use the same thing to the attackers eye and scratch the inside of his brain. The marques of queens bury rules goes out the window. you have to be an animal in this kind of situation, because that’s what you are dealing with. Another is grab and ear and yank real hard, hard enough to rip to off if you don’t it will hurt like hell, just thwack your ear with a finger and you will see how it hurts. Take a knife sharpener to one long edge of an old credit card or store rewards card hold in hand in pocket take a fast swipe to the face with sharpened end. (your mileage may vary leave these to trained killers ; ) )
    living in peace in CO K

  12. These video clips look like the assailant has something in their hands like a roll of quarters or something like that. I could see after the strike, the assailant kept their fist closed.

  13. I have practiced hand to hand or empty hand fighting for 40 years. Now I am crippled up because of a degenerative joint disease. There is no way I can hold my own against anything tougher than a paper bag these days. I do carry a strong cane and a concealed firearm. I am very aware when out and about. Even though I have the cane I still walk in a way that does not present me as an easy target. I smile and am polite, I don’t come on-guard if I’m approached. However I make sure of my surroundings all the same. Taking advantage of reflection, position and timing. I go out to shop or run errands early in the day and make sure others are watching too. If I feel uncomfortable I will change my direction or even not do what I was about to do. People need to listen to their instincts or they will fall into a trap. Be careful of where you park and enter and exit establishments again keeping the time of day in mind. Not all but most no goods do not get up early but may have been up all night. Travel in pairs or groups and watch out for your fellow man and we will all be better off for the tough times coming in years to come.

  14. Mr. Morris, Tim is a great guy and is doing a fine job teaching TFT but you are wrong on the account of who developed the course for the Navy SEALS. Jerry Peterson developed it and Tim was a student of his. Great article otherwise but give credit where it is due.

    • Hi Gus,

      I appreciate your comment, but I think we’re going to need to disagree.

      I’m sure there’s a way to explain this while giving everyone their due and I’m not sure I’ll get it done, but here goes…

      Tim was in BUD/S training to be a Navy SEAL, made it through hell week, and had a catastrophic ear drum rupture while in dive training that made it impossible to become a SEAL.

      Rather than being sent back to the regular Navy, a high ranking Naval Intelligence officer tasked Tim with finding/creating/developing the replacement for the empty hands combattives program that the SEALS were using at the time.

      Tim’s job in the Navy at the time was to develop the program.

      Jerry had taken higher level Kung Fu San Soo concepts and developed his system around it. Jerry is/was a true American hero and a warrior’s warrior who had an incredible career in Vietnam effectively using his system in multiple hand-to-hand encounters. He happened to be teaching it…either in San Diego or on Coronado, I forget which. In any case, Tim found Jerry and his system was selected.

      Jerry is an absolute off-the-charts genius, and I went through the trainings that Jerry and Tim had when they worked together in the 90s. When they went separate ways, I kept current with both of their systems for several years. There is no doubt that both derivations are incredibly effective, but the reason why I only endorse Target Focus Training is that Tim, Chris, Matt, and the other instructors have put an incredible amount of effort into their teaching systems. In short, they have refined San Soo concepts and what Tim and Jerry did when they were together and have created teaching methodologies to SAFELY teach the concepts to students and help them create muscle memory/neural pathways WAY faster than with traditional training methods.

      To put a finer point on it, the way that Tim teaches not only builds muscle memory incredibly fast, it does it in a way that older people and people who aren’t in their physical prime can learn the concepts without injuring themselves and train using the concepts without injuring themselves.

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