Alpha Male v Predatory Threat

There is a common phrase which to me is so true,

'Dumb people make simple things complicated,
Smart people make complicated things simple.'

I've seen a lot of conflicting theories and approaches for a whole range of 'attacks' somebody may use. It seems that there is a different counter required for every possible technique an attacker may come at us with! If this were true, it would make the area of Self Protection a very complicated field... Luckily, there ARE some smart people out there who simplify things and make them more likely to succeed under pressure. I have been lucky enough to learn from some of these people.

Fundamental Difference

You see, there are only two types of attack. That is all. One is an 'Alpha Male' and the other is the 'Predator.'

Forget about the technique of an attack for the moment. Think beyond techniques, think mindset. All aspects of an encounter are affected by the type of attack it is. A previous post, The Full Spectrum, briefly touched on Alpha Male v Predatory threats and this will now be discussed in more detail here.

Both groups target their victims differently. They are looking for two very different types of victims. Two very different situations lead up to the attack. It requires two very different approaches immediately prior to the encounter going physical if de-escalation and avoidance is going to be achieved, and it requires a different mindset and commitment if it does go physical.

Alpha Male Behaviour by NeonMan

The Differences

The 'Alpha Male' is typically an intoxicated male who wants to prove either to himself, his friends, a girl or a combination of the above, that he is the top dog. He can beat anyone. He is a hard man. This type of person will often pick the biggest guy around to fight for no other reason than he is the biggest. HE wants to be the biggest, strongest and fastest male around!

The 'Predator' is very different. He wants to choose a weak victim. He wants someone who will not fight back. The 'Predator' may simply want to take something from its victim such as a wallet or money. Kidnapping is also something a 'Predator' engages in as is Rape. They will avoid the strong and go after the weak.

It is generally only crimes labelled Assault, which are 'Alpha Male' activity. The rest are generally 'Predator' type attacks such as Robbery, Break and Enter, Motor Vehicle theft and as mentioned above, Kidnapping and Rape.

The Approach

Events leading up to an encounter going physical are quite stark in their difference. For an encounter involving the 'Alpha Male', there will generally be some posturing much like what is seen between animals of the same species on wildlife documentaries. Chests will be puffed out, loud voices used, maybe some chest poking or pushing and aggressive body language and gestures.

The 'Predator' will be silent. He will stalk his proposed victim and asses his chances of success. He will choose the weakest in the pack. Again, to use the wildlife documentary analogy again, the 'Predator' is like the big cat stalking a group of its prey. It looks for the weakest victim. It wants the maximum chance of success with the least likelihood of sustaining an injury in the process.

Stalking its Prey by griangrafanna

So What?

Understanding these fundamental differences between the two different types of threat will give you a better chance of avoiding them. The following points will act as guidance for strategies in dealing with each of these threats:

Alpha Male

  • Do not appear as a threat
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Do not get sucked into an argument
  • Have thick skin
  • Do not get baited by verbal slurs and challenges
  • Leaving the bar or walking away may be the only option
  • Leave your ego at home
  • Avoid going to places where young males drink excessively


  • Be aware of the threat
  • If you detect a possible threat, get eye contact
  • Let them know you have 'busted' them by the above
  • Avoid areas where 'Predators' lurk
  • Do not fall for distracting questions (this is designed to drop your guard)
  • Walk confidently and with purpose
  • Do not slouch and walk with your hands in your pockets
  • Do not stare at the ground, be aware of your surroundings
  • Know when you are in a higher threat environment such as a car park at night


These points will assist in avoiding becoming involved in these encounters. Having an understanding of both the 'Alpha Male' and the 'Predator' will greatly aid in using the appropriate strategy for the appropriate threat.

There is an excellent article over at the International Hoplology Societies website titled The Two Faces of Combatives which is a more in-depth analysis of the two types of threat from a human combatives behaviour viewpoint. The 'Alpha Male' and the 'Predator' are basically directly related to both intra-species combat and inter-species combat. I recommend the article to everyone interested in Self Protection.

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out, TMA v Modern Systems or What is the Most Likely Attack on the Street?