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Non-verbal communication in self-defense

Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication in self-defense.

Your communication that matters is the non-verbal one so don’t spend too many words because you don’t need it.

Your only communication must be to conceal your true intention and to distract your opponent or draw attention around when possible.

You only have a second, you understand correctly, when someone comes out of the shadows and approaches with a pretext, you have about a second to understand his real intentions and the only telltale clue if they are bad intentions is reading body language.

This interpretation is fundamental because according to the reading it allows you to put yourself in good time in a defensive and psychological state suitable for the context, going on red alert and bringing all your defenses to the highest level.

Everyone knows that we don’t just communicate with what we say, try to think about the first cinema, or photography or when you watch videos at volume off.

Of course, understanding is facilitated by the mimic emphasis of the actors, but also and it will have happened to you at the discussion of two foreigners whose language we do not know, you can almost always understand what is happening between them, while not understanding the letter of the speech, if they argue, if they joke, if there is tension, etc.

But how do you do that?.

Even if you don’t understand all the communicative message, some aspects will certainly seem clear to us and in particular:

  • the relationship between the two,
  • the emotions of the two people,
  • some traits of their character,
  • the actions that are being carried out and those that are about to take place,
  • Etc.

All this information is received through an “analog channel” that is universally known as Non-Verbal Communication (C.N.V.) or simply Body Language.

Non-verbal communication

Body language has been extensively studied in many fields of human sciences and beyond and is a very fascinating science and that can be useful in various areas of social life and not only for personal defense.

It’s something very fascinating because it reveals to you aspects that can also go in contrast to what people say by revealing different intentions to appearances.

From those who have tried to study the mysterious rules that make us fall in love with certain branches of criminology, everyone has tried to reveal the gesture imperceptible but uncontrollable, able to make us understand the secret intentions of the other.

Yes, because there is one point on which everyone agrees: the body tells the truth.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Unlike the word that is easily used to tell lies, some elements of body language are very difficult to intentionally falsify and hide.

Now maybe someone will take out the question but why is the study of body language so important for those who want to learn self-defense?

Don’t ask that question.

The so-called street assaults (but also attacks in the family or in less random contexts do not escape the rule) take place according to a precise ritual that sees the aggressor inexorably reduce the psychological and physical distance between himself and his victim, to the point of being able to hit her.

The victim is attacked very often for the inability to quickly manage the aspects of physical distance (one of the crucial elements of body language), gaze, deterrent attitude and, not least, the ability to predict that the other would really attack.

This last point is really crucial in self-defense, it hits you what you don’t expect.

Non-verbal communication

As has been said, many times an attack occurs after a cover-up approach:

The usual excuse to ask for the time or a road sign, then turns into a nightmare destined to mark our existence.

At other times, however, a trivial quarrel, which according to our way of seeing had to “limit itself to words and a few insults”, turns into a ferocious beating.

From these examples it is all too clear the importance of understanding the true intentionsof those in front of us, known or unknown, and acting accordingly, that is, playing in advance and bringing your psychological state to the level of survival.

It means you have to hit to hurt, to kill, and it’s not that obvious.

What is non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication


Nonverbal communication is everything you communicate without words beyond words.

You can also use words but it is the body language that gives it strength and reveals its true intention and credibility.

Men, more than animals, have a vast repertoire of “messages” that, unlike the spoken language, have a “universal” meaning that often goes beyond cultures despite some differences.

Think of smiling or shaking your head to say no, to saying goodbye, to applause, for example.

Non-verbal communication is very powerful!

Some of the most significant elements of body language and non-verbal communication are:

Facial expression

Si deals with the primary communication method.

The natural expressions of joy, anger, stress,pain, fear and many other emotions are easily distinguishable and interpretable by any attentive observer but they are also relatively easy to conceal expressions.

Let us think, for example, of a smile, which may show sympathy, but can be intentionally “false”.

Actors, politicians and professional manipulators in general, are a clear example of how it is possible to make this communicative aspect at will.

Non-verbal communication


Like facial expressions, it is a powerful means of communication capable of revealing intentions and character of the person.

The gaze takes on a particular importance because, unlike facial mimicry it is extremely difficult to consciously alter.

A fixed look, rather than a mobile and elusive one, can make us understand much of the intentions of the other but, even more, there are some details such as the dilation of the pupil, which are absolutely uncontrollable on the part of anyone.

It is no small detail: some states of fear or emotional tension, for example, result in an obvious dilation of the pupil that should not go unnoticed by an attentive observer.

In addition, the gaze is more difficult to conceal.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport


the way of gesticulcular is a characteristic that all cultures have and enclose a meaning.

Gesture is used to reinforce and emphasize what you’re saying.

In addition, a rigid gesture, rather than spontaneous and casual, tells you a lot about the character and possibly the intentions of those in front of us.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Posture and way of walking

Standing with folded arms, rather than dangling, having a well-erected station rather than curve, are all telltale elements of our character and weaknesses.

The way of walking can reveal decision or indecision and, again, these are unconscionable and, therefore, difficult to conceal.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Prosemics (interpersonal distance)

When we argue with someone, the distance we maintain is revealing of our degree of disposition towards each other:

if we feel affection and sympathy we tend to cross the threshold of the fairy forty centimeters, our gestures become more open, with hands reaching the other.

On the contrary, if those in front of us are disliked and we feel hostility or indifference, the physical distance unknowingly tends to increase, gestures and mimicry become more rigid, with more “closed” postures, such as folded arms or hands in pockets, etc.


La prosodica (Rhythm and tone of voice)

Often we need to be more careful about how we say something rather than what we are told.

A tone of voice too high or too low, a fast and excited rhythm instead of calm, an incespice in speech, a flicker, a stutter, etc. they are all elements that tell us a lot about the emotional state of the other.


Clothing, hairstyles and tattoos

Everyone knows that the way of dressing is also a language.

So it is quite difficult to have doubts about the character of someone who appears shaved, with the classic studded black bomber jacket, a motorcycle chain with a shoulder strap, and with a swastika tattooed on his forehead.

Obviously someone who shows up like this wants to tell you “I’m bad, I’m dangerous, I have these political ideas, etc.”, but it is also true that these elements are easily manipulated.

Not for nothing is it said that “the dress is not the monk”.

It is typical that several robberies/violence against women/etc. are committed by well-dressed individuals who want nothing more than to camouflage themselves among ordinary people and appear for what they are not.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

The usefulness of knowing how to interpret body language is because the body language, that part of us that can not lie.

Although some of these aspects can mask them, the set of all gestures gives you the correct answer.

As mentioned, if you search in bookstores and on the internet you will find many books and studies on the subject, and almost all of them are about the most remarkable feature of this form of communication:

The ability to leak the true intentions of the other (or the other), to reveal who lies and understand and know the real intentions.

There are thousands of books that want to reveal how to recognize the hidden clues to make us understand if the girl in front of us is really there, or just wait for us to declare ourselves to make a scorching fool, yes this is the most sought after topic.

This is especially true for us boys, because women are quite adept at understanding these “hidden signals” from us boys on the fly.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Now these studies are often used to help law enforcement some tool to understand whether the thug or the suspect who wanders on the street has bad intentions or not.

In short, body language is of particular interest to use it as a kind of portable “truth machine” because when the stranger comes out of the shadows and approaches to ask you the time,
you have about a second to figure out if
his watch has stopped or we have to run away or hit him to knock him out.

A misinterpretation or a second of extra indecision, can cost you very dearly.

Knowing how to read body language, in these cases, is really the only chance to be able to assume a defensive profile in time or, in extreme cases, to seek salvation with escape or a preemptive strike.

In short, knowing how to read the body language is one of the most important elements to thwart the ritual of attack of the aggressor that, it should be remembered, is almost always devious and deceptive.

As in romantic relationships, as well as in police interrogations, there is a particular element that is used to understand if the other is sincere: the degree of coherence between intentions, that is, the sentences declared verbally, and the non-verbal attitude, defined in terms of facial mimicry, look, posture, distance, behavior, etc…

For example, if the usual girl declares you eternal love and then prefers to go on holiday with friends, maybe it is appropriate to think about it, before compromising you with the fateful “yes”…

Going back to the example before, if a stranger approaches under any pretext, he can reveal his true intentions through the way he uses the physical distance: if he has to ask us the time he can do so by stopping at a proper distance or continuing to approach while we look at the clock.

In the latter case there is a clear contradiction between action and stated purpose (unless the guy is deaf) that must immediately alert us.

In short, a correct reading of body language and therefore of non-verbal communication could give us that precious second more in order to organize any defensive tactic.

So let’s see each of these aspects how they can be used to prevent an attack.


Facial expression

Facial mimicry can be concealed, but not entirely.

and someone comes up smiling, whatever they tell you, do a quick check of the details.

Everyone knows those people who “smile only with their mouth”, a look at the look can reveal fixity , while the features themselves can betray tension, nervous ticks, pallor, sweating, all elements that can be linked to the irrepressible action of adrenaline



Adrenaline, the fear hormone, spares no one, neither you and your attacker.

A moment before we hit, we will observe in him unequivocal changes in eye mimicry and, moreover, if he can hit us it means that it is so close that we can certainly see them.

Under the influence of adrenaline, our would-be executioner will experience the so-called tunnel effect, which is the loss of peripheral vision.

It is a physiological and therefore uncontrollable phenomenon that determines the feeling of seeing the target (i.e. you!) as through a telescope.

The loss of the peripheral view is accompanied by a sensitive dilation of the pupil (to let in more light) and the need to frantically move the look left and right to check that the scene is free of witnesses or policemen.

When you notice these signals in the face of a stranger or during a fight, it means that in a moment you will be hit.




When fighting or discussing mimicry can become more hectic, generally emphasizing the rhythm of words.

When the usual ugly snort approaches under the pretext of asking for the time, instead, the mimic can appear moderate, even soothing, but watch out for the attempt to get too close!!

In one case or another pay attention to sudden slowdowns in gestures, accompanied by any stiffening in the shoulder area:

can be a prelude to loading a shot.



When discussing peacefully, even if in an animated way, one stands frontally with respect to the other and every part of the body is visible, hands and face in particular.

Be wary of anyone who presents themselves with angled or unres easy postures.

On the one hand, an angled posture can be used to hide a hand holding a weapon.

Sometimes showing up with one hand in your pocket or hidden behind a leg serves to hide a knife.

On the other hand, an angled posture is useful to offer less target to your reaction, as well as it can be functional to strike a blow ( in thiscase, usually, thestrongest blow will come from the arm or leg further back than you ) or pounce on you.


Prosemics (interpersonal distance)

Those who want to hit us must get closer.

This always applies, even if our attacker has a firearm.

A gun even a few meters away becomes very difficult to use on a moving target and in stressful conditions.

Those who want to discuss peacefully usually stop some distance from us and, if they are not our friend, hardly intentionally seek contact.

Those who have bad intentions, on the other hand, try to approach at a “shooting distance”, whatever means chosen to harm.

Watch out for the“contradictions” between verbal content and behavior. If you’re arguing with someone and that says “I don’t want to fight” check that in the meantime you’re not trying to get close. It is a signal that indicates a different intention.


La prosodica (Rhythm and tone of voice)

In moments before an attack, sudden slowdowns, speech interruptions or sudden changes in tone are very often observed.

The guy we’re arguing with, for example, can suddenly become mute or respond to monosyllables.


It seems that it is impossible to strike a blow by continuing to speak normally.

Either we talk or we lie, so…

If he’s decided to hit you, he’s more likely to do it when he stops talking.


So how can you imagine your non-verbal communication and your attacker’s non-verbal communication can express to him a communication that makes him give up and can reveal his real intentions to you in advance.

Non-verbal communication is a very important study for a personal defense practitioner!

Defects and limitations of body language interpretation

If it is true that body language is able to give us revealing clues about the real intentions of the other, it is also true that only clues are involved, not evidence, but in the field of self-defense you should not be interested but immediately put yourself on the side of reason and if you read danger immediately implement all the strategies to preserve yourself, fregatene of the judgment / prejudice / rudeness / rudeness of those in front of you or what they may think if you are wrong.

If a stranger stops you on the street and asks you for the time, you can not pounce on him and tear him to pieces, spray him all the can of pepper spray in the face just because you saw on his face the shadow of a nervous tic and interpreted it as the warning sign of an attack… that is not what I am talking about.

The ambiguity of body language and non-verbal communication

The body language maintains a character of remarkable ambiguity, as many men know perhaps just after approaching a girl seemingly “well disposed” and felt sent to that country at the first advance.

When you interpret body language, the misunderstanding is always around the corner because you are not capable, you are not used to doing it and it is complex as a study even if it is a topic that you have to delve into and it can serve you in a thousand contexts but always be careful not to build unfounded prejudice on people.

To minimize misunderstandings, therefore, the most immediate suggestion is to train yourself to see the contradictions between behavior and manifest intentions.

Analyze yourself/or why you do it too!! Start with you.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

The classic example in street fights between men where there are those who say they do not want to fight, that they do not want trouble and, while doing so, approach and throw a punch, here, this approach represents a cornerstone of self-defense that you too must learn to use and read

I mean, if he just wants to talk, he doesn’t want to fight because CA. Or does it have to get closer like this? Can’t you talk about it at a distance?

You get it right, he doesn’t want to talk!!

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Of course, while the question marks come as raindrops in a thunderstorm and you’re caught by these Hamlet doubts you have to be good or in the case of good men to pick up and nonchalantly keep the acceptable safe distance and leave or convince the other not to approach each other, and to take each opposite direction.

Use your body language to defend yourself

The usefulness of knowing the techniques of body language is not only for prevention, but also to defend yourself actively, where you will have to use deterrent and de-escalation techniques in practice to defend yourself but without a fight!

It’s a psychological approach that is important to know and use because I understand that the ego can lead you to smash someone’s head, and that you’re right but the best choice is always the one that puts you safe.

The knowledge of nonverbal communication is based on all the techniques of deterrence and de-escalation that we have often talked about on the blog because your chances of deterring an attacker, depend very little on what you say at that time.

Much depends, however, on how we say it and what we don’t say.

Everything is decided based on your ability to get the attacker a message like “I respect you, I don’t want to fight, but I’m ready to react and win at all costs”.

It is a hidden message consisting essentially of 4 elements:

The use of body language is at the service of your assertive communication, the kind of communication that is used to resolve most conflicts, a communication that does not express aggression or fear, but at the same time communicates to the other that you are not willing to succumb or be dominated.

Without having the pretension to write in an article all non-verbal deterrent techniques, however, I want to provide you with a list of useful elements on how to behave in a situation of danger, starting with behaviors not to do and to avoid:

  • In front of a potentially dangerous subject, avoid postural mistakes that might cost you dearly, such as being with folded arms, with your hands in your pockets or dangling along your hips. I will not tire you but to repeat it but the body is slow to react from a standstill and in case of sudden attack it is difficult to defend yourself if you do not have at least one suitable setup, in your opinion because the boxer is always moving and swinging continuously?. That’s disguising but not standing still but at the same time avoiding angled poses or guard positions like boxer, karate or whatever. The guard must be hidden. Aggressive defensive poses only challenge each other and make the fight inevitable. Don’t think of dissuading the other with fear: if that is attacking trouble with you, it means that he is sure of his strength, otherwise he would not waste time breaking the boxes challenging you.


  • Avoid gesticulating too much or getting stuck. You always have to have something in between you and the other. Use your arms to gesticulate calmly, but always keep them in front of you. This will not provoke the other but at the same time will protect you from a sudden attack. Keeping your arms stiff forward, as if you want to push back, doesn’t do much, because an attacker could grab them and pull you to unbalance you or hit you with your free hand. You don’t have to get caught.


  • In every way, the attacker closes the distance and gets on top of you. It’s normal for that quarreling to get closer to screaming at your face. Never allow it, respond calmly but move, move, move, as if you are walking on hot coals, you can’t stop. Get away with what little you need to stay out of his hands and beyond. This is even more important and absolutely vital if you are facing more than one person. In this case, it’s all too easy to find yourself surrounded before you know it.


  • Avoid raising your voice or altering your usual tone. If the other is shouting, let him vent and remember that more than words, at that moment your attitude counts, as you have read until now.


  • Don’t stare at each other as if you want to challenge him. A hard, fixed look in the eye represents an irresistible provocation. Often many quarrels start only from this way of looking figurative if there is already a discussion/problem around. Try to keep a look and a facial mimic as relaxed as possible. Among other things, a mobile and alert look allows you a better perception of the field, allowing you to detect in time any encirclement by non-involved third parties or accomplices. Never stand with your eyes fixed or in one direction. Do not look on the ground and avoid lowering your eyes as you are faced, as this gesture is interpreted as a sure sign of fear and surrender.


After saying what’s best to avoid, here’s a list of “do” behaviors:

  • Use a non-angled posture but technically fit to defend against a sudden attack. The boxing and karate-like guards, with closed fists as mentioned, do not serve, because they fuel the escalation and make the fight inevitable. Street guard poses are not what you teach in the gym. Always remember that. If you are in a fighter guard position it means that you are now in the combat phase, there is no more niete to do you have to “kill”.
  • Once you understand the tricks of a position to dissuade, remember to always move, always keep your posture and gaze oriented towards the aggressor, hands and arms with naturalness always in front of you. Avoid any immobility, otherwise your opponent will have the ability and time to study a sudden attack. You have to make yourself unpredictable.
  • Do not remain rigid, keep a natural gesture, move your hands as if to emphasize what you say, but always keep your hands in front of you at the height of your face or just below and always at a certain distance from you (no less than thirty cm). This will discourage the other from getting too close, unless he wants to get a few fingers in his eyes with your new nails just made by the beautician.
  • Watch out for details: While you’re controlling the attacker’s movements, keep your toes both pointing towards him. A pose with your feet apart (dancer type, so to speak), as well as being poorly indicated in combat (weight too shifted on heels and poor ability to discharge force forward) indicates to the other the direction in which you are going to escape. Just look for a moment where he points his foot more apart! Pay attention to that. Having the tips of the feet that converge on the “target”, as well as being technically suitable for the preparation of an attack (especially if the weight of your body is shifted on the forefoot and the knees are not rigid, slightly raised heels), is a detail that does not escape a street fighter and makes it immediately clear that “you are not the suitable prey”.
  • Use a tone of voice and a rhythm as calm and regular as possible. It’s not important what you say, but how you say it. It is important to avoid a tone of voice too high (although it is important that everyone present hears you, in order to attract attention and create discomfort to your attacker) or fast, which could create additional stress, but it is also important to avoid slowing down too much. This applies to you as well as to each other. Always remember that if you get misled words, one attack becomes very likely if the other suddenly stops talking. When it comes to mending, it just seems like our brains can’t do two things together. Maybe you women succeed 🙂 !!Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport
  • If you can maintain a relaxed facial expression and posture, help yourself with breathing and positive thinking. Thinking things like “now attacks me” not only doesn’t help you, but it’s going to make the situation worse by putting you in a position to really take them.
  • Use your gaze intelligently. Look at each other without staring at him, and above all never get distracted by what’s going on around him and his movements and looks. Very often they are not alone and the decisive sequence of events could take place behind you. Look the aggressor in the face, but he remains mobile with his body and eyes. If the other is close enough, watch out for signs like pallor, trembling, sweating. All warning signs of an imminent attack. As already mentioned, an unmistakable signal is the sudden dilation of the pupil that precedes the blow by a moment. If you catch a signal like that, don’t think about it, act at that instant.
  • Last appearance but the first one for importance. Watch out for the distance. Always move as if you’re in a hurry, as if you don’t have time to devote to this uncomfortable interlocutor. Always remember that if he wants to hit you you must approach then do not bring him closer. Use the disguised movement with your courteous attitude to keep each other at a distance. If possible choose side moves and avoid going back too much, unless it is essential. Try to do it naturally and without nervousness. It’s definitely a difficult task and if that one tries to come at you anyway, at that point maybe you’ll want to attack first or run away, if you have the chance.
  • If you see that the situation is critical take an object right away or if you have a pepper spray, a kubotan to hit, screw with it, you are in first place.

A good knowledge of body language is a fundamental element for a woman and for the street fighter as a security agent, bodyguard, bouncer and law enforcement.

No one’s going to jump on you by pre-declaring their intentions.

Street attacks happen when you least expect it and as you understand it happens mainly because you do not expect it.

Consider that the aggressor works most of the time by concealing to the last his intentions, or, even when he does not conceal a good nothing, we remedy one black eye because the other, perhaps what until five minutes before was a “friend”, we did not think was a real threat, that he did “seriously”.

Never underestimate the signals and situations.

The key to not ending up beaten, injured or worse is precisely in the knowledge and correct reading of body language.

Some signs, as we have seen before, are unequivocal and not unsoundable in any way.

Non-verbal communication in self-defense Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Once again a spirit of observation and coldness, they are a key factor, superior even to technical skills, but the development of technical skills and the awareness of having them helps you in building that communication and attention that give a reading to an attacker to give up or change prey (a sad truth).

It is therefore also important to acquire skills that go beyond the technical aspect but the fusion of the two things gives you some chances that may be important in some contexts where the sick psychology of an attacker does not stop and your technical preparation and personal defense tools such as kubotan,pepper spray, etc. can make a difference.

This developed capability can save you in many contexts, not just self-defense.

Stay Tuned!

Remember non-verbal communication, non-verbal communication, non-verbal communication, non-verbal communication, non-verbal communication if you got it right is what counts!

Stay Tuned!

Street Fight Mentality

Con una passione per la difesa personale e gli sport da combattimento, mi distinguo come praticante e fervente cultore e ricercatore sulle metodologie di allenamento e strategie di combattimento. La mia esperienza abbraccia un vasto panorama di discipline: dal dinamismo del Boxing alla precisione del Muay Thai, dalla tecnica del Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all'energia del Grappling, dal Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) all'intensità del Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Non solo insegno, ma vivo la filosofia di queste arti, affinando costantemente metodi e programmi di allenamento che trascendono il convenzionale. La mia essenza si riflette nell'autodifesa: Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Dirty Boxing, Silat, l'efficacia del Jeet Kune Do & Kali, l'arte della scherma con coltelli e bastoni, e la tattica delle armi da fuoco. Incarno la filosofia "Street Fight Mentality", un approccio senza fronzoli, diretto e strategico, unito a un "State Of Love And Trust" che bilancia l'intensità con la serenità. Oltre al tatami, la mia curiosità e competenza si spingono verso orizzonti diversi: un blogger professionista con la penna sempre pronta, un bassista dal groove inconfondibile e un artigiano del coltello, dove ogni lama è un racconto di tradizione e innovazione. Questa sinfonia di abilità non solo definisce la mia identità professionale, ma dipinge il ritratto di un individuo che nella diversità trova la sua unica e inconfondibile voce e visione. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! Andrea


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