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Old December 22, 2005, 04:20 PM   #1
Capt. Charlie
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Body language in threat assessment

The old saying goes, "Know thine enemy", but how do you know a potential attacker's intentions? We can, after a fashion, get inside his head by studying his body language, which can accurately reveal his immediate intentions.

A person that folds his arms during a conversation, for example, is saying that he's not comfortable and you've put him on the defensive.

The face of a person planning an imminent physical attack will turn pale white, not red. Red faced, vocal people rarely resort to an actual physical attack.

So how many of you "read" people through body language, and what "language" do you look for in assessing a possible threat?
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Old December 22, 2005, 04:44 PM   #2
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A person that folds his arms during a conversation, for example, is saying that he's not comfortable and you've put him on the defensive.
I must be "weird" because I do this all the time when I'm not defensive or uncomfortable. I just don't know what to do with my hands (I used to "talk" with my hands when I was younger but I was "taught" that this wasn't right to do and not to do it ).

To get back on the thread: I look for "tensing up". I've also seen this when some jerk is going to do the shoulder butting thing in a crowd.

Thanks for the white face, not red, clue. I didn't know that.

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Old December 22, 2005, 04:59 PM   #3
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I used to "talk" with my hands when I was younger but I was "taught" that this wasn't right to do and not to do it
Whoever taught you that obviously wasn't Italian, Wayne .

I guess I should clarify. Arm folding doesn't necessarily denote being uncomfortable by itself. It, along with other indicators, can suggest it though when it's in response to a particular question or statement.

When you say "tensing up", what exactly are you observing? What body movements suggest tensing up? Not grilling you here; just trying to bring out that specific body language .
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Old December 22, 2005, 05:34 PM   #4
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You asked a question thats hard to give a verbal answer to. How do you describe a sense (6th). Its like trying to describe a color to a blind person other than black its almost impossible to do. I beleive that you either have it (6th sense) or you don't . Its something that is born in you plus something that you grow in yourself as you get older .If you don't have that initial seed to begin with i don't think you will have much luck at it. I beleive its part of evolution. The ones that can adapt will survive the one that can't don't Putting into words what sets off the alarm bells with one person but not another is very difficult to do. I can't give you a answer but I can give you a threat assessment of someone in just a few second after seeing them.
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Old December 22, 2005, 05:52 PM   #5
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Not everyone acts the same, but some things I have noticed and look out

for: trying to stand back while constantly looking around, rapid breathing for

no apparent reason, sweating for no apparent reason, can't really explain it

in words, but a posture or attitude that's not appropriate to the suroundings.
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Old December 22, 2005, 05:54 PM   #6
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You asked a question thats hard to give a verbal answer to. How do you describe a sense (6th). Its like trying to describe a color to a blind person other than black its almost impossible to do. I beleive that you either have it (6th sense) or you don't .
Ah, but is it really a 6th sense? Or is it a subconscious response to a person's subtle and unconsciously given signals? Something that can be studied and enhanced?

Animals do it all the time. A dog doesn't voluntarily put his hackles up when angry or frightened; he probably isn't even aware of it, but onlookers, both human and other dog, are. It could even be the reason that a bobcat can take out a rattlesnake without getting bitten. Reflexes are simply the subconscious acting faster than the conscious mind.

The study of body language is the subject of serious study in the US Secret Service. It's their primary tool in protecting our fearless leader while in public, and it can be a great tool for us as well.
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Old December 22, 2005, 05:56 PM   #7
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The ones to worry about are the people who exhibit no signs at all. That being said I usually watch the neck and fists for signs of tension.
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Old December 22, 2005, 06:06 PM   #8
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From what i read about what the secret service looks for is a difference in body language and facial expressions in the crowd. which means if the majority is clapping and cheering the president but that one fellow is staring daggers at him and not smiling or clapping then its not to hard to tell where his emotions lie. But thats not the same as making a judgement of one person by themselves to decide if their a threat or not.and you don't have the group to use as a referance to gauge their demeanor.
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Old December 22, 2005, 06:12 PM   #9
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The old saying goes, "Know thine enemy", but how do you know a potential attacker's intentions?
If the subject is also knowledgeable in kinesics, the best method is to rely on intuition. One thing is clear, a person's body language is determined by race, ethnicity, upbringing and education. If subject's immediate circumstances are added into the mold, then the possibilities might be endless. The study of an individual's body language with regard to a particular situation is best acomplished when all the factors are determined. But even then, if subject is also knowledgeable in kinesics and is trying to avoid detection, someone might as well throw all inferences out the window.

Kinesics can certainly explain the motives or predict the actions of an individual. If read correctly, it is a means to determine true intentions. For example, a person expressing verbally an affirmation while moving the head sideways might indicate a lack of honesty in the expressed words. Unless, for example, that person is a native from a certain region in India belonging to a certain socio-economic status. An American, on the other hand, will express affirmation by nodding or moving his head up and down.

Some body movements are clearly identified, nevertheless. A person pointing a gun at you with eyes like this and a face like this can be identified by anyone as not having good intentions. The long stares, head slightly tilted to the side and close proximity of two lovers are usually classified "instinctively" by most. But immediate circumstamces and deception can alter the judgement made. Fortunately, most people are not good liars. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately, depending on the circumstances) most people are not quick to recognize deception. Even if they have thoroughly studied the subject. Most people don't spend the time to analyze continously all factors all the time. They rather depend on "what is known". What is usually acquired culturally. And so they react or fail to react accordingly.

Confusing, isn't it?
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Old December 22, 2005, 06:15 PM   #10
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As far as the (6th) sense is concern how many of you have been preoccupied with something and then suddenly look up because you're being watched. If you every went to arrest someone in a public place you know that direct eye contact will give your intentions away and then you have a foot chase on your hands i Know this for a fact because i had to chase down a five foot rocket ship in detroit because my partner was staring at him as we drove up and got caught at it. He took off like a bullet. And he didn't know us from adam.
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Old December 22, 2005, 06:21 PM   #11
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I rely on intuition (which I lovingly call 'The Voice') every single minute of my life. There is always a constant. It never lies.
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Old December 22, 2005, 06:21 PM   #12
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I agree with you that people don't notice the deception but alot of them notice it but dismiss it as (it can't be happening to me ) they loss precious seconds in the decision process for fight or flight then its too late a lot of time to avoid a confrontion..
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Old December 22, 2005, 06:29 PM   #13
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Right, rapier144. They quickly dismiss what their gut-feeling is screaming inside. Truth is, an intuitive response can be trained to occur at will. I believe that we all have "it". It's just that people are not able to recognize it. And in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it's better that they don't. Meaning, some knowledge was never intended for mass consumption.
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Old December 22, 2005, 07:22 PM   #14
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Capt.

Well (hard to explain) but their body becomes somewhat ridgid. You can see the muscles contract, either getting ready for the hit or to begin hitting.

Wayne
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Old December 22, 2005, 07:54 PM   #15
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The study of body language is the subject of serious study in the US Secret Service. It's their primary tool in protecting our fearless leader while in public, and it can be a great tool for us as well.

I wonder, is there a training manual or textbook available that they use? What are their sources for studying this and learning it to use in the field?


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Old December 22, 2005, 08:17 PM   #16
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One that I was taught to watch for is a "target glance." Someone getting ready to commit assault will often take his gaze from the chosen victim in order to glance quickly off to one side & then the other -- looking for witnesses, checking distances, etc -- just before committing to act.

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Old December 22, 2005, 09:02 PM   #17
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Alot of what the secret service learned about body language came from watching tapes of when reagan was shot. They really dropped the ball on that one. When they reviewed the tapes they saw how distinctly different the shooter was acting from the crowd around him.
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Old December 22, 2005, 09:31 PM   #18
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Target glance, blading of the body, taking off a hat or coat, assuming some type of martial art stance, position of hands, overall demeanor of subject, breathing rate, other subtle body language....

Too name a few.

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Old December 22, 2005, 09:31 PM   #19
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Well, for one thing, he was the only one pointing a gun.

I bet they studied that aspect from numerous angles...


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Old December 22, 2005, 09:41 PM   #20
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But did they see the gun before it went off or after.
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Old December 22, 2005, 09:47 PM   #21
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Hey, what difference does it make? The president didn't die *pshuh!* so no harm, no foul, right?






P.S. I wonder how different things might be today if Brady had not caught a bullet.


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Old December 22, 2005, 10:05 PM   #22
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Quote:
I wonder, is there a training manual or textbook available that they use? What are their sources for studying this and learning it to use in the field?
Do a Google on "body language" and "self defense". I got almost 78,000 hits, including a good article by Massad Ayoob at this site.

http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/ayoob87.html

Quote:
From what i read about what the secret service looks for is a difference in body language and facial expressions in the crowd. which means if the majority is clapping and cheering the president but that one fellow is staring daggers at him and not smiling or clapping then its not to hard to tell where his emotions lie.
Yes, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. The study goes much deeper than that.

I don't discount a real "6th sense". It's a very real, if poorly understood, phenomenon. Hell, there may even be a 7th & 8th sense . But I hold that separate from body language interpretation, even if on the subconscious level.

The beauty of it is that it's a two-edged sword; it can be used in self defense and you can also use your own body language to prevent attack. (see Ayoob's article).
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Old December 22, 2005, 10:17 PM   #23
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O i fully believe predators can identify other predators. I always believed that there are two different types of predators those that hunt prey and those that hunt other predators. And when the weaker of the two indentifies the alpha predator they give it a wide berth. They don't want to bite off more than the can chew.
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Old December 22, 2005, 10:25 PM   #24
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Body Language

During my last CCW renewal course the instructor showed a film which was very interesting. It got into all sorts of things to watch for in other's body language as well as pointers on how to try to keep a tense situation from escalating, body language "signals" you can send
The NRA probably has these for sale or to borrow. Check with one of their instructors or maybe local Law Enforcement.

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Old December 23, 2005, 12:02 AM   #25
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During my last CCW renewal course the instructor showed a film which was very interesting. It got into all sorts of things to watch for in other's body language as well as pointers on how to try to keep a tense situation from escalating, body language "signals" you can send
That, along with verbal judo, is a powerful tool. Whenever a red flag goes up on any of my officers for too many uses of force, they're sent to school for verbal judo. Works very well! Officers employing it have reduced their uses of force by as much as 50%!

http://www.verbaljudo.com/
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