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Subtle Signs of Attack

Since To-Shin Do is a realistic approach to street and field violence, we have to take into consideration a lot more than sport martial artists do. In a competitive ring, you know why the other guy is there. He and you have agreed to a contest of fighting skills. All you need to do is be a better or craftier fighter.

On the street, things get more complex. You may first have to decide whether a fight is going to happen. Then you have to go to work to end it as quickly as possible. Then you have to get out of there immediately.

Some police friends and I had a discussion as to the warning signs that happen right before something is going to happen. Here is a summation of our findings. Again, no need for this in a contest; you know why the other guy is there. But on the street, these become important preparations. See how many you can identify with.

Assault is not imminent, but possible

If you end up confronted by a person who presents these signs, awareness and self protection strategies should go on alert. Distance should be created. Your body language should be assertive but not threatening. And OK, realistically, you should be prepared to let the person vent verbally.

  • Head, neck, and shoulders go back (person making themselves look bigger)
  • Face is red, twitching, jerking
  • Lips are pushed forward bearing teeth (you see the same things in dogs before attack)
  • Breathing is fast and shallow (oxygenating the body preparing for fight, flight, hyper vigilance)
  • Beads of sweat appear on the face or neck
  • Thousand mile glare
  • Exaggerated movements
  • Finger pointing and head pecking
  • Totally ignores you
  • Gives you excessive attention during normal conversation; direct uninterrupted eye contact
  • Goes from totally un-cooperative to totally cooperative (normal people do not go from hot to cold; they de-escalate over time)
  • Directs anger towards other inanimate items such as tables, chairs, or walls

Assault is imminent, so here it comes
On the other hand, in the following group of signs, you have about one or two seconds to act before your assailant attacks. If talking your way out is not going to work, then I would rely on a first strike approach and continue with a compound attack until your aggressor is no longer a risk.

  • Face goes from red to white (during a physical confrontation, blood will leave the surface of the body and go to the big muscles and internal organs needed for survival)
  • Lips tighten over teeth
  • Breathing is fast and deep
  • Change of stance, their body blades and shoulder drops
  • Hands close into fists (may see whites of knuckles because hands are so tight)
  • Bobbing up and down or rocking back and forth on feet (this is the bodies way to hide or mask the initial movement of a first strike)
  • Target glance (adversary looks where he is going to hit, or where he is going to run or escape)
  • Pulling head and chin down (body wants to protect the airway, this action does so to a degree)
  • Eyebrows brought forward into a frown( again the body wants to naturally protect the visual system, this action does so to a degree)
  • Stops all movements and freezes in place
  • Dropping center or lowering body (no different that a cat or dog getting ready to pounce)
  • Shedding clothes (very common, your attacker will take off his hat, coat, shirt, or bag just prior to the assault)
  • One-syllable replies (from full sentences to one-syllable replies as reptile brain takes over)
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