The human body naturally produces a fight or flight response when in the presence of danger. It’s an overlooked but key instinct of everyone. This being said, as a piece of advice from a martial artist to someone else, I would actually advise most people to pursue the “flight” response above anything else. People often look surprised when I tell them this, and they have this kind of reaction because they think that anyone who does self defense or martial arts is always going to be up for a fight. That’s actually not a good characteristic of a well-trained self-defense expert. Most people trained in the field recognize that the reason for picking up self-defense skills is to defend oneself and one’s being. If one can easily get out of a situation without having to throw a few kicks or moves, then most people would gladly do so. Wise martial artists don’t fight until it’s the last alternative. That being said, I want to advise everyone on a few tips that can make it easier to activate a flight response. This means that you are able to spot a dangerous individual and leave the person’s vicinity before it’s too late. You don’t know what these kind of people have: guns, knives, friends, etc. It is also important to note that just because a person shows these signs it doesn’t signify that he/she is aggressive and not only physically responding to another event (like an exam or upcoming meeting). But if you are worried that a particular person might be out to get you, you want to at least refer to a few physical signals to be sure. Here are three signs to look out for if you suspect something just isn’t right with a person close to you:
-The face: if you suspect someone is potentially out to get you or harm you, first look to the face. A person with the motive of fighting or harming you will already have adrenaline in their system. This person already has the plan to fight you, so naturally the body will react to that brain signal by producing adrenaline to prepare the person for conflict. That being said, there are signs in the face of adrenaline (note, even nervous situations or risky moves can produce adrenaline as a neuro-signal response in the body. If the person is producing adrenaline for no plain reason, you want to also make note that maybe this person has a concealed weapon or other thoughts of malice). Adrenaline affects the face several ways. Here’s what to look out for:
- large or dilated eyes…long periods without blinking
- sweat on the brow or neck
- abnormally opened mouth; adrenaline runs on oxygen, glucose, and brain response, so the person might open their mouth for better air
- facial twitches or muscle twitching
-The breath: When someone is anticipating something risky (or plain out nervous), you should be wary of the chest when they breathe. Normally men and women have different breathing patterns with the torso muscles, but when under the same conditions and nerves, both sexes tend to breathe shallow and quickly. It should be a very visible sign. The person should be obviously breathing quick shallow breaths using the chest muscles. Look for quick rises and falls in the chest. Also, when this happens, often the shoulder muscles involuntarily shrink up or stiffen as a natural nervous response. If the shoulders are hunched or higher up than usual, something may not be quite right.
-The hands, arms, and legs: When someone is getting ready to strike, attack, or pull out a weapon, there are body language signs to how the hands, arms, or legs are positioned. Their body naturally gets ready and stiffens up to prepare for whatever event he/she is planning. You want to look for several things in the arms or hands:
- balled up hands….or hands clenched like a fist
- hands at the waistband or unusually close or hanging by the waist. I’ve heard before that one police officer talked of how hands at the waist could represent a dangerous fellow. That’s usually where people conceal weapons, knives, guns, anything.
- pacing of the legs or unusual rapid back and forth movement in one area. This is usually quick movement, sometimes in circles or in linear patterns.
Stay safe, and have a happy Thanksgiving break
-The Martial Artist