Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pre-Assault Body Language Indicators

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved

Violence has been thoroughly studied by the FBI and other groups and what has been found out is that most violence attacks don’t happen out of the blue, but rather there predictable things that happen before hand. If we know what things tend to happen before an assault occurs we can notice them and act at that point to prevent the situation from developing into violence.

Here is a list of eight things that a person tends to do right before they attack.

Walking with their arms out of sync with their feet. A normal person will not only swing their arms when they walk, but they’ll coordinate their arm with the opposite leg. So, if they stepped with their left foot they’d swing their right arm forwards and vice versa. A normal relaxed opposite hand-foot stride in the natural way to walk and keeps us in balance. A person who is planning on attacking someone will often lose this coordination and end up either moving their feet while keeping their hands and arms frozen in place (no swinging of the arms at all) or they will tend to walk by moving the foot and arm of the same side.

Lowering of their body. Before a lion or other predator attacks their prey they will lower their body and drop their heads to get more stable; someone about to be violent will often do this as well. Typically they will slightly lower their chin, lean forwards slightly to move their shoulders over their toes, and bend their knees slightly. If you see someone do this as they come up to you it is almost a certainty that they will attack.

Evasive eye contact. Someone who is planning on attacking you will almost always want to look you over first. People who do this tend not to turn their head completely towards you but rather move their eyes to look out the corners. If you notice someone looking at you in this manner, especially continually, be aware. If every time you look at them and they look away quickly that is an indicator that you caught them doing something that they didn’t want you to see.

Rapid or heavy breathing. When someone decides to attack someone else their body prepares for this by increasing heart rate and releasing adrenaline into the blood stream. A person breathing heavily or rapids but not doing anything physical at the moment is either sick, in very poor physical condition, or getting ready to do something.

Effects of adrenaline. As stated above, a person planning on committing a violent act will release adrenaline into their bloodstream beforehand in order to get ready for the crime. If you notice the effects of adrenaline you can spot this before anything violent occurs. Be on lookout for someone who isn’t physically exerting himself but starts to breathe heavily or rapidly, sweat, or fidget. In most people their hands (especially their non-dominate hand) and their knees will begin to shake. They may also fidget, “pump” their hands open and closed, and repeatedly touch their face, hair, and body as if they’re nervous.

Something that deserves special attention is if you see someone lifting their heels and lifting up on the balls of their feet. This is a very common fidgeting maneuver by people getting ready do something physical. This is often seen done by athletes just prior to performance. Another effect of adrenaline that deserves special attention is pacing. Quite often a person will pace back and forth before suddenly turning and throwing a punch or attacking with a weapon. This pacing is another way a person will try to burn off adrenaline before they do something physical. If you notice someone starts to pace back off and give them a lot of room so if they do attack you can see it coming.

Someone “Quartering Off.” Quartering off basically means aligning their lower body in sort of a fighting stance. A lot of the time people will have natural tendency to put one foot slightly in front of the other and turn slightly to the side before they attack. This is not a traditional fighting stance as most people with their hands up, but rather a relaxed slight turn of their body and placement of their feet. If someone is confronting you and you see them start to assume a quartered stance this is probably a subconscious way of them telling you that they are about to attack. You should either move in and attack first or back up and give yourself more room and reaction time.

Raised, hidden, or busy hands. While you should never watch a person’s hands to see when they are going to attack, you should be aware of what their hands are doing while they are at a distance because if they are going to attack you chances are it will be by using their hands. If you can’t see their hands because they are in their pockets, behind their back, just not visible this can mean they are grabbing, or are already holding onto, a weapon. A person with busy hands either digging in their pockets or playing with the bottom of their shirt or jacket could be accessing a weapon. A person who is planning on throwing a punch will often raise their hand first, not in a fighting stance but in a relaxed ready position. If a person nears you and they have their hands in front of their body and you see them start to slide their arms up the front of their body above the height of their belly button that is a good indicator they are getting their arms ready to throw a punch. This also includes crossing their arms because this also puts the arms above the belly button. You may also see clenched fists or someone may quickly open and close their hands as if they’re getting ready to make a tight fist.

Playing out the attack beforehand in their head. Something that often happens before a person attacks is they play the situation out in their head beforehand, even going through a conversation they may have with you. You can often see them looking down at the ground fully engaged in their mental activity and often you will see their lips moving and maybe even their head shaking “yes” or “no” as they play out the conversation. As they do this you may notice their hand move slightly as they mentally punch or you may see them touch their clothing where a weapon is kept. This mental rehearsal might be a very subtle thing or they might be psyching themselves up and their moving may be dramatic. A lot of times you can see this behavior in fighters right before a boxing or wrestleboxing match. If you notice this behavior it is a good idea to leave the area.


rumcrook™ said...

All good info. I would add Situational awareness. It is extremely important, and having it can in and of itself sometimes foil attack plans. Becuase for many predators the element of surprise is the linchpin of thier attack plan And if they know your on to them they will often move on.

Debbra said...

Thank you for the information. I practice situational awareness all the time. I live in the mountains and see bear and coyote tracks around my house all the time. We do get other two legged predators because we are a "resort town." I think I am going to raid this site.

My son-in-law teaches my daughter how to defend herself. She's good at it. At least, she scares me. However, what does an old lady who, as my daughter puts it, "gets broken" easily do to help herself? I will read the heck out of this site and use youtube as much as possible. Thing is, I don't have the ability to judge between good information and stupid information. Any hints? Please, and thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good information generally relies in tried and true practices and definitely doesn't request anything of the reader. If anywhere in the reading it says, "for more information on this and other topics, please provide your credit card.. social security.. middle name of your first born child.." they are out for money and possibly full of it...

JDsModernMartialArts James Dolmage said...

Good information here. I would add the 'Feeling' you get if you are in tune with your surroundings. Pay attention to that.

Anonymous said...

Nice work here.

Anonymous said...

When psyching themselves up, I've seen people slap their hands together, repeatedly, right before throwing a punch.

Barbara said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge!

Evelyn Logan said...

Thank you! I will share this site link with my students (NRA Refuse To Be A Victim seminars), as well as mine the site for my own information.

Anonymous said...

I exhibit most of these behaviors because of social anxiety. No wonder people seem guarded around me--a 6'2", 210 lb. male who constantly looks like he's about to assault you.