We’ve all been in this situation: You’re in the path of someone who’s seeing red. Their hands are tightly balled into fists, and their eyes are filled with rage. What do you do?

Anger significantly increases the likelihood that conflicts will escalate to violence or danger. When considering how to deal with angry people, it’s vital to de-escalate a situation in which violence is likely to occur. That way you can avoid the risk of injury to you or to another person.

While self-defense training, particularly Krav Maga, can provide lifesaving techniques to deal with violent and dangerous situations, knowing how to deal with angry people before a situation turns physical can spare everyone from harm.

De-Escalation and Compliance

When you’re face-to-face with a potentially violent individual, the best course of action is to avoid an unnecessary confrontation in the first place. For instance, if you find yourself in a road rage situation, don’t pull your car over. You have nothing to prove to the other driver, and confronting them will only escalate the situation and possibly even place you in serious danger. Just stay in your vehicle, continue to drive safely, and contact the police if necessary.

If you’re face-to-face with an angry person, walk away if you can. Don’t challenge or antagonize them. Remain calm, refrain from continuing any argument (if an argument did indeed lead to the escalation), and agree with the person. They may be dead wrong, but it’s better to placate them and walk away unscathed than to risk a violent confrontation.

When De-Escalation Fails

When engaging with an angry person, try to keep a 2-to-3-foot radius around you on all sides. This will render you less vulnerable to attack and also prevent you from appearing like an aggressor. Simply giving the other person space can help to de-escalate the situation. However, if someone encroaches on that space, you have a choice to make. You need to quickly decide whether you’re going to get away or prepare to defend yourself.

Place your hands at about the level of your chest and ask the person to calm down. Speak to them in a calm, controlled voice while keeping your hands at chest-level. This positioning of your hands will enable you to defend yourself if an attack should occur, as your hands will be closer to your face. If the person continues to pose a threat, look the person directly in the eyes and use verbal cues such as:

  • Stop
  • Leave me alone
  • Walk away
  • I’m not talking to you
  • I want nothing to do with this

Be firm, stand your ground, and then try to walk away. If you have friends nearby, return to them. There is strength in numbers. If you’re able to leave the premises, do so right away. Call out for help and even get the police if you need to. Even if you think you can handle yourself, you don’t want to get into a fight if you don’t absolutely have to. The aggressor may be armed, they may have reinforcements, or they may pursue criminal charges or legal action if you get the better of them. It’s not worth it.

What to Do If Attacked

Knowing how to deal with angry people is only half the battle. In many cases, you can do everything right and still find yourself on the receiving end of violence. If you are attacked despite your best efforts for prevention, you’re going to have to defend yourself. Here are some important points to consider:

  • When it comes to self-defense, use all of your attacker’s vulnerabilities: groin, throat, eyes. You’re fighting for your life, so you must be prepared to do what it takes.
  • If multiple people are confronting you, don’t get flanked or caught in the middle of them. Always try to stay on the outside.
  • If there is something within reach that can be used as a weapon, use it to your advantage.
  • Most importantly, if the violent person is someone close to you (a spouse, a significant other, a parent, a son or daughter), remove yourself from that situation and reach out to the authorities immediately. Domestic abuse of any kind should never be tolerated, and it will continue if left unchecked.

At Krav Maga Worldwide, we teach strategies for self-defense that are actionable, effective, and easy to implement. We have Krav Maga facilities located worldwide, and we invite you to check them out.

You can’t always prevent an attack, but you can prepare yourself.

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