Get Strong, Hit Hard & Toughen Up!

Pre-Attack Body Language In A Multiple Assailant Encounter

angry-manThis post is an installment in the Defend Yourself Against Multiple Attackers series.

Awareness and its role in multiple assailant encounter

Your ability to stay safe and survive a violent encounter has less to do with your fighting ability than your street smarts and your capacity to detect and anticipate problems before they happen.

Your brain is your primary weapon to avoid, defuse and respond to threatening situations.
That requires AWARENESS.

Awareness has three aspects:

1. Knowing what to look for that will indicate a threatening situation developing

2. Having the discipline to pay attention to what’s happening around you, and…

3. Matching the degree of your attention to your present circumstances

The best way to defend yourself in a multiple attacker street fight, or any violent incident, is to detect the clues and warning signs that exist prior to the incident.

If you are blindsided, ambushed or sucker punched, it doesn’t matter how technically skilled you are at self-defense, you’re in for a world of hurt.

I’m not saying you won’t survive a sudden, unexpected attack but the longer it takes you to realize what’s happening and decide what to do about it, the less influence you will have over the outcome of the incident.

People communicate predominantly with their bodies. Communication experts agree that the most accurate way to assess what a person is about to do is based on their body language. In self- defense, that’s an extremely important thing to know.

If you know what to look for and you pay attention, an attacker will project body signals that indicate that he’s about to turn violent.

Pre-Incident Indicators

Here are some pre-incident indicators that may precede a multiple assailant encounter unfolding:

  • a group of people watching or following you
  • if you cross the street to avoid a group, they may cross in response
  • members of the group will discuss something, nodding in agreement or glancing frequently in your direction
  • a members of the group may approach you and engage you in conversation while his buddies reposition themselves around you (bracketing)
  • one member of the group may confront or challenge you about some minor or irrational issue, “Hey buddy, what are YOU looking at?”
  • There may be a signal of some kind, out of context with the situation intended to initiate the attack.
  • Members of the group will alternate their gaze between looking at you, the other members of the group and perhaps around for potential witnesses.

You also need to be able to predict the “threshold of a violent outburst” from an individual or individuals within the group.

Pre-Assault Warning Signs

Here are some Pre-Assault Warning Signs to be aware of:

  • “blading” or angling the body by placing the non-dominant foot to the rear
  • looking around for witnesses
  • clenching or pumping his fists. (pumping is opening and closing the fists due to the change in blood circulation caused by stress)
  • shrugging the neck or shoulders to relieve tension in the shoulders
  • “grooming” or wiping the hands off on the clothing or hair (sweaty palms)
  • extremity tremble (most noticeable in the knees and fingers) caused by increased adrenaline in the blood
  • Dialogue cues in an effort to distract, challenge or threaten you and perhaps as a cue to the other members in the pack


In the next post, I’ll discuss how you can “mess with the minds” of your potential attackers and gain psychological control over the situation.

Return to the table of contents on this page.

About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

Join The Toughen Up Tribe! It’s fast, easy and free.

Sign up for the newsletter, and get a free copy of The Toughen Up Guide To Heavy Bag Training. Join fellow readers with an interest in self-defense and combative training methods today. Enter your email below:

Bad Behavior has blocked 385 access attempts in the last 7 days.