Skill-Collecting: Fight tips from the recent UC Berkley assault

A young conservative with a group known as the Conservative Leadership Institute was recently assaulted on the campus of University of California, Berkley, as reported by the Daily Wire. You can watch the video at that link, but be warned, there is some objectionable language.

It appears from the story that he simply began filming an escalating verbal exchange between two men, and then he became the target of one of them.

So, far it seems that the young conservative activist was the victim here from the information that is presently available.

I want to focus, not on the politics of the story but rather on the fight, and just give some things to think about should you ever end up in such a situation. This is presuming the reader has no previous combatives training.

Get distance from the scene in advance

One needs to weigh the value of filming evidence against the value of ones personal safety. Get distance before things get bad and be a good witness from there. Then film it if you must. But whipping out a phone in the fight zone says, “I want you to get in trouble, so there!” Besides, it’s a college campus. There were witnesses all around, filming no less. It’s better just to do as the author of Left of Bang says, “Just get off the ‘X’”.

If you’re being targeted, deescalate, escape, and evade

So, the victim in the video then became the focus of the aggressor. He’s now stuck on scene. It sounds like he told the aggressor, “You won this fight…”. He was attempting to verbally diffuse the pride of the aggressor. It’s better to put away your ego and go on with life without becoming a viral story. Reminds me of Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” If you can diffuse a mans anger, it’s no guarantee he’ll not get angry again in a minute, hence, deescalate, then escape or evade. Out of sight, out of mind.

When an attack begins, manage distance in the fight

If you can’t leave the scene and the attack has started, it’s good to keep trying to manage distance. Several times in the video, you can even see how they are close to each other. Then the aggressor steps back slightly to throw his right hand at an effective distance. You need to either be out of reach, or be prepared to get well inside of reach with a clench or take-down. Don’t stand in the “strike zone”. Think of it like a traffic light. Red is outside his reach, so no punch. Green is “Go”, completely inside his reach so he’s ineffective. In that case, you’re likely already defensively entangled. Yellow is the caution zone. In yellow, you’re not entangled with him, and you’re not out of strike range. In the video, the victim stands right in the yellow zone- with his hands down!

Keep your hands up

Keep those hands up!

Keep those hands up!

Put the phone away. Just. Stop. Filming. Then keep your hands near your face. It may look weird, but it’s better to defend yourself and not get injured than to have video proof you got punched in the face.

The man in the video was a known aggressor. He had already overthrown the activists table, slapped the phone out of his hand, punched the victim several times, and also physically grabbed the victim. Forget how weird you look and get your hands up.

Respond to the threat with force

So, you were unable to preemptively leave the scene, the aggressor will not be verbally diffused, he’s now physically attacking you, and you have your hands up and are trying to manage the distance. Now what? You are justified in stopping the threat with physical force (different from lethal force).


This is why it’s good to have some empty-handed combatives training and some grappling skills. Even if you did it for only a few months, it would serve you well. You can’t learn that from a blog post.

Stopping the threat simply means doing enough to end the threat and no more. Once the threat is stopped, doing more, in the eyes of the law, might make you the aggressor of a second conflict.

Once the threat is stopped, get away. Get far away, enough that you are no longer in danger. You can give your statement to police later.

Take some lessons from the victim at Berkley, and stay safe.