The art of fighting without fighting!
If you have ever played poker you will notice that people have ‘tells’. Tells are small, discrete body movements that people continuously use when they want to hide certain emotions or feelings, for example, a poker player may continuously play with their watch when they are bluffing. Just like expert poker players, martial artists should learn how to read and give off body language to their advantage. Most people read and give off body language subconsciously, the purpose off this chapter is to teach people to consciously read and give off body language.
Clothing and Dress Sense:
Clothes can reveal a lot about personalities and people. As a general rule people wearing mostly white are subconsciously perceived as being good and honest. People wearing bright colours are perceived as being good-humoured and extrovert. People wearing mostly dark and black colours are perceived as being sinister and introverted. Facial expressions: Most people read and interpret facial expressions subconsciously but more importantly one should also practice consciously reading facial expressions. Learn to tell if a smile is really a smile or if it is a smirk, if a frown is due to sadness or anger, if eyebrows are raised in anticipation or disgust etc.
The way people walk can reveal a lot of things, including their personality and the way and style they use to fight.
1) A person who uses their upper body a lot while walking (chest out and shoulders swinging) are generally aggressive in combat, preferring to be offensive rather than defensive. They use mainly upper body strength in the arms, usually punching.
2) A person who walks with short, fast strides, mainly using the legs tends not to be as aggressive or forceful in manner. They tend to rely on speed and agility in combat situations, using a lot of fast footwork.
3) A person who walks awkwardly with their back slightly hunched tends to be unsure of themselves in combat situations. Their awkwardness can sometimes result in attacks from unexpected angles. Because they appear to pose no threat, this can result in overconfidence on the part of their opponent. Some martial arts mimic this awkwardness to be deceptive.
Sizes and Shapes:
(i) Some people below average height can be aggressive, constantly thinking they have something to prove because of their size. Most smaller people have had fighting experience either by trying to prove themselves, or because they were bullied.
(ii) People above average height are not usually as aggressive as they seem. Due to their size and intimidating appearance they rarely have to use their fighting skills.
(iii) Overweight people can strike very hard due to large body mass. They can also absorb some strikes easily due to increased protection to vital organs.
(iv) Muscularly built people tend to be more offensive than defensive and are confident in their abilities. The bigger the muscles and the less body fat they have, minimises the pain factor of blunt natural weapons, for example, punches to the chest. Instead their muscles are more susceptible to sharp natural weapons, for example, mid-knuckle strikes to the pectoral (chest) muscles. They are prone to receiving ‘dead’ muscles, especially soon after they lift weights.
These simple examples should be used as the basis for your body-language reading practice. Study and note your own observations. Also practice using these examples to study the reactions of others.
Be aware of your surroundings as well as the human element. Naturally, short cuts through dark, potentially dangerous areas should be avoided. When in any building or public area always check for exits in the case of a fire, attackers or numerous other situations. Be aware before entering shops or banks etc. People have walked in on robberies only to be greeted by bullets. Be aware of potential weapons surrounding you (see chapter 3: Using your environment).
People in everyday life need to be more aware, but not paranoid. Paranoia causes the person subconsciously to give off body language to others who will sense their fear. At the opposite extreme one should not always appear overly aggressive, as some attackers like a challenge. In everyday life, constantly use drills to develop your awareness. The following are two examples:
Observation When in a public place, look at everybody and analyse how they look and act. Note the people who seem likely to be attackers and those who seem likely to be victims. It is important however, not to be noticed staring at people during this drill as this could invite trouble.
Memorisation While waiting for a person or at a bus stop etc., glance briefly at a car or person and then look away. If looking at a car, try to remember the make, model, colour and registration number. If looking at a person, try to remember what they wore, colours, what they looked like and how they seemed through their body language. With practice it will only take a second or two of glancing to remember all the details. As well as being aware of people around you and your environment it is also necessary to be aware of yourself. When walking always try to keep your hands free and out of your pockets. If carrying something, for example, a sports bag, then carry it in your weaker hand so that your stronger hand is always ready to use. Sometimes when people seem aware, attackers use a form of verbal, mental checking before attacking. For example, it is common for an attacker to ask a potential victim for a cigarette lighter before attacking. This can have several effects on the victim(s).
(i) The brain, thinking of a reply, stalls and stops thinking of defence for a split second.
(ii) The mouth is open, talking and is therefore vulnerable to being struck.
(iii) The victim’s hands may be trapped in their pockets looking for their lighter, leaving them unable to block the attack. (See chapter 4 for examples of situations and how to counter them) By keeping your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed, much more is observed. In strange environments avoid talking nervously and instead observe. Awareness may prevent attacks, so therefore it must be developed and worked on along with physical fighting techniques. “Prevention is better than cure”.
This is an extract taken from the ebook, ‘How to Survive All Violent Attacks!’
By Robert Devane