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Martial Arts Training - Body Language

There are both conscious and subconscious forms of body language. These ‘signals’ or

displays demonstrate a person’s intent before anything happens. Many danger signals can be conveyed as body language, such as:

  • Blading the body: Meaning the slight turning of the body so as to reduce the available target area in the centre mass. This is part of the body’s natural defence mechanism, and could be a sign that the body is preparing for the fight or flight response, or is reacting to a perceived threat (real or imagined).

  • Foot posture: In order to accommodate the blading of the body and the need for balance, the feet take a wider and deeper stance. The legs bend to lower the centre of gravity and increase balance. This may be a very slight movement or reaction, so be attentive to changes in posture.

  • Hand posture: The hand posture of a subject is extremely important as many injuries are directed by the hands. The crossing of the arms hides the hands and can also represent defensiveness. Watch the hands for clues of other emotions such as balling into fists as a reaction to anger.

  • Tense muscles: Tenseness in the neck and head area may indicate that the subject is preparing for physical activity. When seen in other muscle groups such as the quadriceps or hamstrings this may be an indicator that the subject is ready to spring or jump.

  • Skin tone: When the heart rate increases, the colour of the skin changes and becomes quite blushed and may be an indicator of physical activity or possible violence.

  • Breathing: The breath rate will rise with the heart rate and may indicate that the subject is preparing for a physical act of violence.

  • Gross extremity movement: The stress of anticipation of physical combat may cause anxiety which may be released by pacing, fidgeting, wringing the hands, stretching, or bouncing.

These are all signs the someone may be preparing for physical activity whether it is a fight, or flight response. One or more of these signals may be present at any time. Do not fail to recognise this system of body language, and never ignore your gut feeling of any of these signals. To do so may compromise your safety.

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