The Rules of Bad Guys: The 3 Things They Want

Christmas is in 2 days time. You’ve procrastinated and are just now finishing up your shopping and getting that one special gift. You pay for your items and start walking through the parking deck to your car. You notice that there is a guy following you that you saw in the mall earlier. You get a bad feeling. Your intuition is screaming, “Bad guy! Bad guy! Warning! Danger…danger…danger!”

What does this guy want?

What do bad guys want?

I ask this question at every Personal Defense Readiness™ course I coach. The first few answers are typically similar. “He wants your money, keys, phone, etc.” All credible answers that are all forms of the same thing. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

One answer given by a participant was, “Power. They want power.” I agree completely. But there is an important problem with that answer.

What is power?

When I ask, “What is power?”, there is usually a hesitation and a lot of “uuhhs…uuumms…” What this means is that the answer of “power” is so vague that it doesn’t really help us in a practical way in the context of a self defense scenario. And in self defense, practicality is of utmost importance.

The degree of clarity with which you define something determines its usefulness to you. – Coach Tony Blauer

Back to the scenario of the guy following you in the parking deck. What does he want?

Your first answers may be that he wants your money, the items you bought, your car, your phone, etc. And this may be true. But for arguments sake, let say you drop your items a few yards from your car and attempt to escape, but he pulls a gun and orders to you stay quite and get into his van a few feet away? Now what does he want? Why did he ignore the items that you dropped?

Do serial rapists do what they do for money or material things? Why do guys like Jeffrey Dahmer do what they do?

Bad guys want one of 3 things. Or some combination of these 3 things. They want your:

  • Property: money, phone, keys, car, shoes, jewelry, TV, etc.
  • Body: rape, torture, beatings, bullying, etc.
  • or Life: murder

These 3 things are not in any particular order. A bad guy may want to rob and rape. He may kill in order to rob. He may rob, rape, and then kill. These are just a few examples.


These crimes could arguably all be done so that the bad guy increases his power. The robber may steal money out of desperation so that he has the financial power to buy what he feels he needs, whether that is food for his kids, or to fund his drug/alcohol addiction. The rapist/murderer may do it because it makes them feel powerful. But again, this is so vague that we cannot form a useful strategy to de-value ourselves as a target.

How to Use the Knowledge of the 3 Things Bad Guys Want

In our parking deck scenario, if all the bad guy wants is your property, you can drop the items and start escaping as he grabs up the items. If he ignores the items, continues to pursue you, and tries to order you into his van, it’s to move you to a secondary location most likely for rape/torture/murder. Now you know that he probably wants your body or your life. Knowing this, you can shift psychological gears and get motivated to fight for your life. If you comply with a rapist or murderer, you will get raped or murdered. Don’t get moved to a secondary location where the bad guy has more control.

Really think and study on this. How can you use this knowledge to de-value yourself as a target in your own life in your own scenarios? Please post in the comments.

Professional credit: The concept of the 3 things bad guys want originated with Coach Tony Blauer.

1 thought on “The Rules of Bad Guys: The 3 Things They Want”

  1. Pingback: Social vs. Asocial Violence: A Quick & Dirty Introduction | Magic City Dojo

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Preference Center