CCTV recordings of attacks and assaults – like this brutal video below – are hard to watch.

Yet, as I often tell fellow students at the Urban Warriors Academy, they are always more informative than choreographed ‘instructional’ self-defence videos. Instructional films (and I myself have made a few of my own self-defence videos here) are recorded in a safe gym with willing actors who fully anticipate the ‘attack’ that is about to be demonstrated. They are helpful, sure, but they are not reality.

CCTV shows how predators and perpetrators work in real life: their tools (e.g., weapons); their tactics (e.g., surprise); their strategies (e.g., using accomplices to cut off their victim’s exit route). Time and again they expose dangerous assumptions about self-defence scenarios – like, as in the case of this video, compliance does not always work. Some people want more than your possessions.

“If you’re mugged, the best thing to do is to just give them what they want.”

How often have you heard someone say that? In a way, it’s not wrong: compliance can be a valuable tactic; but it’s not a silver bullet strategy on which you can rely. Watch the video again. The victim gives his wallet and his phone to his attackers. But then, despite appearing cooperative, he is sucker punched hard in the face by one of his attackers. The poor man flies backwards and lands crumpled on the floor, unconscious.

It is horrible watching, but it shows the difference between pickpockets and muggers. Most pickpockets genuinely just want your stuff. That is why they master slipping them out of pockets and bags, hoping you won’t notice. You can’t comply with a pickpocket because, most of the time, you don’t even know they are there until you realise your phone has vanished. They use stealth and sleight of hand to minimise the risk of physical confrontation and putting themselves in danger.

Muggers like those in the video actively seek out physical confrontation; they chase the shock of adrenaline that comes from violence and exercising power over people (it’s not that different from the laddish thugs for whom a fight is part of their Saturday night ‘fun’). Like pickpockets, they too minimise risk, which is why they might use weapons, rely on a group, or select victims who seem weaker than them. Of course, it’s dangerous to generalise about such things: I’ve known people who’ve been mugged at knife-point, handed over their things, and, thankfully, have then been left alone. But, as the video above shows, some attackers want more than just your money. Rapists always do.