The KEY signs of ATTACK are not what you may think. People often say you can tell when the attack is coming by the way someone stands. But is that true? In this article we look at the REAL Pre Attack Indicators of an impending attack.

Take these seriously points seriously as there are many myths in what to look for. Most of the commonly cited Pre-Attack Indicators are simply unrealistic in a high stress situation. Make sure you watch the video above for a visual review of what you should be looking out for to stay safe.

Why Bother Identifying Pre Attack Indicators?

Well if can see the potential of violence, then you should take action in advance of someone attacking you. Of course, having a good reactionary gap is key, but you also need to know when to act. This is a key consideration for professionals (e.g. Law Enforcement and Security Operators) that have to manage potentially violent individuals.



One of the most effective ways to avoid becoming a victim is to spot an attack before it happens. Whether you’re being confronted in a street or place of work, paying attention to the body language of those around you is a powerful tool. Having some understanding of an aggressors body language takes away the advantage of surprise.

Body Language Myths of Pre Attack Indicators

It’s often suggested that you should try to look for common behaviours such as Rapid Blinking, Quick Shallow Breathing, and Slowed Responses in a discussion, argument or confrontation. Frankly these factors are simple unrealistic to pay attention, when there’s so many other things going on around you.

That said, there are some simpler pre attack indicators that warn of impeding attack. These are as follows:

  1. Angle of the Body

Now this is a very easy behaviour to see. The manner in which a person stands, gives some indication of whether they are ready to try a punch. Be aware of the aggressor’s preparation to load up a strike. Look compare his position to yours. Is he trying to blindside you?

Now these are obvious signs. Some self defence training may even advise that you pay attention to a clench fist. In my view, if you are looking at the clench fist, then you are more likely to get punched in the face. Basically, you’re looking down. Remember the fist travels faster than the shoulders, so you will be slower to react watching his fist.

This Pre-Attack Indicator is very basic and over simplifies the process of understand attack behaviour. Of course, combined with a good reactionary gap, you are less likely to be surprised by a sudden attack. What might be better is the following:

  1. Getting Ready for Action

If your aggressor is clearing their hands during the confrontation, then it is highly likely an attack is impending. Simple acts of putting things away, dropping bags, even zipping up pockets are strong indications of a person getting ready for action.

So, look out for this at the start of the confrontation. That said, I discuss in the video above whether taking off your t-shirt is a bluff or a real indicator of violent action (make sure you watch). Regardless, identifying this pre attack indicator will give you some indication of the individual’s willingness to use violence.

  1. Constant Fidgeting or Movement

Sometimes the aggressor may exhibit signs of agitation and fidgeting. They may even attempt to improve their position they get ready to strike. In other words, put themselves in an advantageous position in which you will be slow to react.

You could look for swaying, clenching of the jaw, and erratic movements. If a person goes from being calm and standing in one place to suddenly pacing and fidgeting then be aware that they may be considering an attack. Although I do discuss the danger of a calm aggressor in the video above.

  1. Target Scanning

Aggressors who are contemplating attacks will scan their target. With that in mind, this has to be a key indicator that should not be ignored. If someone is looking at your chin then be concerned! Every Law Enforcement Officer is aware of the danger of a suspect is looking at their weapons. You should adopt the same mentality.

A Bad Guy will test to see how vulnerable you are to gauge the risks they face when attacking you. Perhaps to see if they can catch you off guard. Lookout for scanning behaviour. An attacker will not only scan for your physical vulnerabilities but also your belongings. They may even look around to make sure it’s safe to proceed.

We’ve identified and analysed this behaviour many times in our YouTube videos. I repeat the point again in the video above to highlight why aggressors look away. If you find someone continuing to look toward you and scanning the area surrounding you, remove yourself from the situation.

Pre Attack Indicators

Being aware of your surroundings and knowing how to spot red flag body language is a critical way to stay safe whether you’re alone or in a crowd. So, spotting pre-attack behaviour could save your life. Bare in mind that you must watch for clusters of behaviour. Check out the video above and I will explain more.

Thank you for reading.


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