this to an Adversary’s perception that you pose no obstacle in reaching their goals. Perception is everything!
Read your Adversary. They are reading you. How do they perceive you? How do they perceive the circumstances?
The clues to people’s real intentions:
* Verbal content is 7-10% of true intent. People lie and are deceptive to varying degrees. We all do this every day. How many times has someone asked you; “How are you doing?” Your answer is usually; “Fine.” But is it? Almost everyone is dealing with something that is challenging in their personal lives yet we tell people all the time we are doing well.
* Voice: Listen to the pace, pitch, tone and modulation. This will reveal 33-40% of true intent. Example: a person who is very excited will often speak in a rushed manner.
* Non-verbal body language: Body motion, posture, distance, body movements, stance and hand placement will reveal 50-60% of true intent. Example: people who are nervous tend to be fidgety. Body language is something we do unconsciously and something we process unconsciously.
If body language is the primary source of the message we send out to other people’s perception, and that perception will affect their behavior, we should consciously shape our body language in order to send the appropriate message. This applies to aggression because of some of the natural, hard-wired body language we automatically and unconsciously rely on in threatening situations.
The second type of aggression is predatory. Predatory aggression is exhibited between members of different species. There is little or no emotional arousal, and little emotional display. Typically, the animal assumes a “stalking” posture. In humans, it is often how the hunter will stalk prey. The hunter’s functional posture, stalking, is used in order to be in position for an instant transition to an explosive and lethal attack.
The effectiveness of this type of aggression as it relates to personal safety is poor. It is not appropriate to stalk, hunt down and kill others. Example: a potential Adversary approaches. You get into a crouched position and begin to circle him slowly, from a distance. If the goal is to present a professional and confident presence with the intent of escape, is this type of behavior likely to calm the situation or escalate it?
Finally, there is pseudo-predatory aggression. This aggression has evolved in humans to suit those situations in which neither purely affective nor purely predatory behavior were appropriate. It is aimed at achieving dominance with as little risk as possible, utilizing behavioral and performance traits from predatory rather than affective, although affective aspects can be part of the confrontation.
The effectiveness of this type of aggression as it relates to personal safety and attack management is very good. This type of aggression does not assume a fighting stance. It assumes a semi-stalking posture. This will elicit efficiency of movement, no arousal, no display, and minimal communication with the potential Adversary.
Example: a potential Adversary approaches. You assume a Ready Stance, which consists of:
* Your feet are shoulder width apart.
* Your strong side is ½ step back.
* Knees are slightly bent.
* Hands are above the waist.
* You maintain two-arm lengths distance from the Adversary.
* Your body is at a 45-degree angle to the Adversary.
* You are positioned to Adversary’s side or rear, no matter where they move.
* You look directly at the Adversary and communicate very little, except to advise them you do not want any trouble, and to leave you alone.
If the goal is to present a professional and confident presence with the intent of escape, is this type of behavior likely to calm the situation or escalate it? What message are you sending to the potential Adversary?
To find this position, stand up. Take a half-step back with your strong side. Your body and brain should intuitively know which side that is. Keep your hands above your waist in a natural position. Now bend your knees slightly. In a high stress situation with an Adversary, you would assume this position and keep at least two- arm lengths away from them. You say very little while maintaining eye contact. If they move, you also move - keeping the distance.
If you look like a sumo wrestler at this point you are crouched way too low.
Keeping two-arm lengths away ensures the Adversary will be unable to hit or kick you. The arms above the waist allow for a quick counter response against the Adversary if needed. Maintaining eye contact is a sign of strength. Whatever does come out of your mouth should be measured, direct and natural. This position and demeanor exudes confidence.
You are encouraged to practice this stance until it becomes natural, as it is not a natural movement. However, elements of it are instinctive and genetic. These elements need to be harnessed and directed in a manner that allows us to take advantage of what we are already hard-wired with to survive threat.
© 2008 Terry Hipp
Terry Hipp is a career veteran of the Criminal Justice System. He serves as the CEO and Sr. Director of Training & Education at Assault Prevention LLC. For more than 25 years, Assault Prevention has helped individuals, groups, and organizations proactively plan for successful mitigation of unexpected violence and emergencies-and as a result, bring about a sense of control to their daily lives. He may be contacted at: AssaultPrevention.ORG