Body Signs and Gestures of Pending Assault

Body Signs and Gestures of Pending Assault

There will, unfortunately, always be victims of personal assault, but with your understanding of the body signs and gestures of an impending attack, you need not be one of them.

Gestures… When an individual displays gestures that appear to be senseless, such as lighting a cigarette and then immediately crushing it out, or looking at their watch or cell phone so briefly they could not have even seen anything, or repeatedly scratching their nose, nervously yawning or stretching, breathing so loud that you can hear it, frustration is growing and action is being contemplated. Usually this is an attack on whoever is closest to them.

Voice… When the volume of the voice grows and grows, and the pitch of the voice becomes higher and higher, emotions are building up. This is a signal that there is potential for a possible attack that may be only a split second away.

Distance… When the distance between you and another individual becomes closer and more compressed as the conversation goes on, this is a clear signal that emotions are building, and so is the potential for an attack.

“Inflating”… When a person tries to loom over you, trying to be bigger or taller than they are, they are getting ready for the tactical advantage of “striking down” their victim.  This can start as verbal inflation of their status and escalate to actual physical “inflating” by puffing out their chest or standing on their toes. It may look comical but this is a very serious sign that emotions are growing and an attack could be pending.

Verbal to Physical… When the sentences being spoken become shorter and a person begins to physically emphasize their words by striking a wall, door, furniture, or their fist, emotions are growing. As the sentences diminish to single words such as “no,” “go,” or “stop,” this could be the moment when they start to physically emphasize their words by striking you.

Hands… When a person is agitated and they start using their hands to emphasize what they are saying, be very cautious when the hands move in front of your face. There is a very fine line between waving fingers and a clenched fist.

Eyes… When the eyes of a person are constantly locked and staring directly into your eyes, the only thing they are thinking about at that precise moment is you. You are the only reason for whatever is good or bad and you will be the one that receives all physical action from the pending emotional outburst.

When you consider each of these things individually, they do not seem to be anything of great importance. Too many times we dismiss them as inconsequential acts because the other person “is upset.” It’s important to realize that each of these acts show an increase in emotions and therefore an increase in the possibility of a personal attack.

Dr. Robert Rail is a retired police officer, international instructor and author, specializing in self-defense and understanding body language when you cannot understand the language being spoken. He has taught classes for the United Nations, NATO, and individuals at university, federal, state, and corporate levels around the world. He currently teaches for Blue Shield Tactical specializing in body language courses, and is also the author of “The Unspoken Dialogue.” You can see his upcoming training at

(Photo courtesy Blue Shield YouTube)


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