Your attacker reads your body language long before you even know you may be a victim. What they get from you helps them determine whether you are a suitable victim. Therefore, you should always present confident but non-aggressive posture and behavior.
- Eyes. Potential attackers often "test" you through eye contact. If you show submissiveness by looking down or to the side as you move around in public, what psychologists call a "downcast demeanor," you will pass the victim test. Keeping your eyes forward and scanning is a sign of attention and intent. If you brood, stare at the sidewalk, search through a purse or bag, read a map, etc., you will be distracted and more likely to be attacked. Exaggerated or furtive eye movements or sweeping side-to-side head movements imply fear, preoccupation, or being off guard and make you a potential victim.
- Head. Keep your chin tucked in so the head is not tilting backward and keep the neck relatively straight and upright. Royalty and successful warriors returning to their home cities are often described as entering with "head held high." This erect head position indicates confidence and power.
- Shoulders. Keep your shoulders lowered slightly in a natural posture, not raised, not slouched, and not hunched. Often, we raise our shoulders to indicate surprise, uncertainty, or disinterest. Tension in the shoulders will also cause them to appear raised. All these attributes display unreadiness, which translates into vulnerability. When holding the head in the proper position, the shoulders will find their natural, lowered position.
Children are taught to sit up straight. Slouching or slumping is associated with lower status or position in life, which is why we call a lazy person a slouch. A slumping or hunched posture is associated with low energy, poor body coordination, and low self-esteem. Holding your shoulders lowered, but upright presents an image of confident ability.
- Hands. Keep your hands about two inches in front of the upper thighs, fingers toward the thighs. Keeping your hands free and in front of your body conveys readiness. Keeping your hands and arms close to your body helps prevent large gestures that may be misinterpreted as insults. Avoid crossing your arms or shoving your hands into your pockets as these may be considered threatening behavior and they also limit your readiness to defend yourself.
- Abdomen. Keep the lower abdomen flexed slightly but keep the spine straight. Height is a natural deterrent to aggressors. Standing with a straight posture makes you appear taller. Flexed abdominal muscles create a sensation and attitude of readiness. Like a spring, a slight tension, as opposed to total relaxation, prepares you for action.
- Legs. Keep your legs straight without being locked at the knees. Too much tension in the muscles around the knees constricts blood circulation, which may cause you to become light-headed or even faint. Slightly bent knees allow you to move quickly or jump without unnecessary movement.
- Feet. Keep your lead foot about a half step in front of the other foot, both with toes pointed outward slightly. Consciously stand still rather than shifting your weight from one foot to the other. Shifting your weight may be interpreted as uncertainty, a sign of vulnerability. Once you are under attack, then foot movements become an asset.
- Tight clothing. You will not be able to kick effectively while wearing tight pants or a tight dress. Also, a tight jacket or coat will severely limit your movements and punching power.
- Neckties or scarves. It is easy to hang a prisoner who already has a noose around his neck. Do not wrap a scarf around your neck if you are in a threatening situation. Only in the movies will you see a person whip the end of a scarf around her neck and then turn a walk away from a threatening person. In real life, you would find your head being jerked backward by the attacker grabbing and jerking the scarf.
Police officers are not stupid, they do not wear wrap-around ties; they wear clip-on ties (dorky officers may wear a clip-on bow tie). For dress occasions or business wear, clips-on ties look fashionably bad, so you must judge what is more important in certain situations, fashion, or protection. If you are concerned for your safety and still want to look good in a tie, put on your tie in its normal way, have a friend cut it in half behind your neck, hem the ends, and sew Velcro to the ends. Then the tie may be worn normally but it will rip away if grabbed.
- Jewelry. Jewelry not only attracts muggers but may also hamper your efforts in defending yourself against them. Necklaces or chains around the neck and pierced ears, nose, etc., make excellent weapons for your attacker to use against you. Rings may help you since they may enhance the effect of your punches.
- Hampered arms. It is difficult to defend yourself when your arms are holding packages or a child. When your arms are hampered, be more aware of your surroundings.