Under the Influence

I would like to talk about dealing with an attacker who is under the influence of PCP, methamphetamines, or other dangerous drugs. I had a personal experience several years ago with an attacker on PCP.

First, a little bit about PCP. Some of the most well-known effects of this dissociative drug is its anesthetic effect (the user feels no pain), paranoia, agitation, and erratic hostile behavior.

Despite its reputation in the media as a drug that causes bizarrely violent behavior and gives users superhuman strength, research does not support the idea that PCP itself is the cause of such behavior and strength. Instead, those who experience violent outbursts while under the influence of PCP often have a history of psychosis or antisocial behavior that may or may not be related to their drug abuse. Additionally, someone under the influence of PCP is often unaware of the dangers and limitations they face, and may react to physical confrontations in a way that makes it seem as though they have extraordinary muscular strength. (CESAR, “PCP”)

I am sharing my story publicly for the first time because I think you can learn from it. I am putting key concepts in brackets [] throughout the narrative.

I saw right away that his pupils were dilated, and knew that I was dealing with a man under the influence of drugs. The most important thing in dealing with an attacker under the influence is being able to identify that they ARE under the influence. If you suspect that they are under the influence, try to avoid any confrontation and leave the area immediately if possible. Unfortunately, I couldn’t leave because he had invaded my private property and there were others present and at risk. [avoid]

The person was there to rob us (he asked for money). I tried to redirect him by manipulating him and telling him that we had nothing for him take, while at the same time, I signaled my friend to call 911. [prevent, manipulate]

I succeeded at manipulating him and he was convinced that there was nothing to take. So he started to leave.

For background, I am 5’6″. The attacker was much bigger than me, 6’3″-6’4″.

While I was following him out, he changed his mind out of the blue and immediately turned around, grabbed my throat with his left hand, and started to punch me with the other (with a big ring). I immediately released the choke with my left hand, moved my body away from the strike, so instead of the punch hitting my face, his ring simply glanced my cheek and cut me. [defense vs. “one handed choke, while the other punches”]

As soon as I released the choke, I started attacking my attacker nonstop, with giving him minimal possibility to react to my attacks. [attack the attacker, counter attacks, fluidity – The main rhythm of Krav Maga is fluidity: nonstop counter attacks.]

At the same time, my friend grabbed an iron bar and started hitting the attacker on his back and ribs. [common objects] This unfortunately had no effect and my friend was so tired from hitting him that he gave up and retreated. He didn’t know what to do anymore. [rely only on yourself]

My goal while attacking the attacker was to get him into a choke hold to subdue him. [strikes as distraction, chokeholds are the safest bet in these situations – When facing someone under the influence, you cannot use strikes to do much because they don’t feel pain. Therefore striking is only useful as a distraction. Even if they don’t feel pain, if they can’t breathe or get blood to their brain, they cannot function.]

I had a problem reaching him for the hold because he was twice my size and moving. So I started directing my strikes towards his throat. [targeting vulnerable areas]

I got two shots to his throat that made him drop on his knees. He started coughing because it disrupted his breathing pattern. Once he was on his knees, I got him in a choke hold and put him to sleep.

As soon as he went to sleep, I released him. [get off the ground]

But he woke up again, and I started striking him again (broke his jaw, nose, etc) trying to get the choke hold again, at which time the police came. [keep fighting]

Since this was in downtown San Francisco, the police came relatively quickly- 7 minutes. (I was fighting the attacker full intensity taking hits for 5-6 minutes with a lot of blood loss from the slash at my ear until I got him in the choke hold.) When the police came, they ordered me to get off of him.

Two officers tried to drag him to the corner, while a third was trying to put handcuffs on him. He had an energy boost again and he started fighting the police officers and tried to grab their guns. As he was trying to do this, they called for backup and they started hitting him all over on his arms to release his grip on the officer’s holster. He didn’t, and I could see his forearm broken from the baton strikes. I asked the officers if I could help, but they told me to stay put. Two more officers arrived and they were were able to get a hold of him, put the handcuffs on, and get him in the patrol car. Five officers total.

I hope this story is helpful for you to see that Krav Maga does work.

So that one may walk in peace.



This article was originally posted to Reddit’s /r/kravmaga as a part of their Black Belt Friday series.

One Response to “Under the Influence”

  1. Douglas Handa

    I would like to confirm about what Danny said about PCP ( narcotic), it was a originally used as a tranquilizer for large animals like elephants. People in the mid 1960 to currant times started to use PCP for there hallucinative nature. I have been a Deputy Sheriff for 14 years and learned a lot about PCP. People under the influence of PCP have also been known to brake out of handcuffs, kicked out the windows of a moving police unit and jumped out of the car then start running. There was a case where a man was shot numerous times by the police/deputy sheriffs but kept on attacking the officers with a kitchen knife. One of my friends in the Sheriff’s ,but now retired after 30 years of service , told me the toughest fight in his whole career was a 14 year old girl that was only 5′ 1″ and under the influence of PCP. This little 5′ 1″ girl fought my friend who was 6’3″ and was winning until my friend called for back up over his radio. When his backup arrived she still fought and they still had trouble restraining her. So this narcotic is very dangerous and turns people into something almost animal like. I personally have been very fortunate not to have had any experience with someone high on PCP. I would like to say that Danny’s experience was very scary, and I have heard that story before but not in detail. Most people would have been killed but not Danny, we are all very fortunate to have Danny as our trainer as well as Jeremy and Deanna.


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