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02-23-2001, 01:13 PM
"Watch not his flashing blade
Nothing can be seen there
His fists will reveal where he intends to cut"

I've recently discovered that there has been a considerable amount of scientific research into the subject of deception detection(i.e. microexpressions, body-language, non-verbal linguistic behaviour etc.). I'm wondering if anyone has come across specific information on how to interpret similar non-verbal cues to detect aggression that a potential attacker would exhibit. I am particularly interested to learn specific cues that would reveal the nature and initial movement of specific types of attacks.

I am sure it is obvious to some(if not most) that I am a beginner in this art. I understand that I will probably learn this skill instinctively once I develop a higher degree of sensitivity, however, I am compelled my analytical nature to inquire about it now. I apologize if this topic has already been discussed. If so, I would appreciate it if someone could direct me to it.


02-23-2001, 02:58 PM
I think you answered your own question. Yes, people believe it's possible, but it can take years to develop this ability.

An old saying relates to this:

"The eyes are the windows to a man's soul."

02-23-2001, 03:16 PM
BC wrote:
I think you answered your own question. Yes, people believe it's possible, but it can take years to develop this ability.

An old saying relates to this:

"The eyes are the windows to a man's soul."

... Unless you're nearsighted !

02-23-2001, 04:14 PM
Sure they are!

"Warning: Objects viewed through these eyes may be clearer than they appear."

02-24-2001, 11:25 AM
"I think you answered your own question. Yes, people believe it's possible, but it can take years to develop this ability."

..."it CAN take years"...
So you'll agree with me that there are ways one could develop this skill in less time than it would another? For instance, if I showed up to my aikido classes and put in a minimal effort, I would not have learned what I know up to this point. You only get out of it, what you put into it. Learning is an active process and I don't believe in waiting for things to just fall into my lap, or for things to be handed to me. Sure, the whole thing is a process, and the process is more important than the end result. But I get something out of searching for answers. And, like I said, I am a beginner, and I may be a bit naive and ignorant with respect to this subject of sensitivity and basically, understanding your attacker. But I'm not sure how much of it I can learn in the pleasant atmosphere of the dojo. I could be dead wrong about this, I realize. But I'd like to begin to prepare my mind now if there is a way. I figure, why wait? Sometimes, all that's necessary is knowing what to watch for, what to keep an eye out for. Why let these opportunities pass by, by not recognizing them. By the time my physical side of aikido has developed, I'd like to make sure that my mental and spiritual side have also developed equally. Am I making sense?
Thank you for your input gentleman(or...is it ladies?).

02-28-2001, 08:09 AM
During free-play and other practices, I always try to predict the next move of my partner. After a while you get to notice small things they do, like a small head movement or dropping one shoulder before they strike/avoid in a certain direction. From this you can go one to make further deductions if you get to know that person - for example one persons eyes glsze over if he is about to do an atemi-waza.
With people you don't know it can be very difficult. In a randori situation, this is whay you have a sort of feeling-out period of a few seconds.
In a real life situation you can sometimes tell what is about to happen by how you feel. Sometimes the air becomes thick if there is tension and things slow down as you go into overdrive.
My instuctor once walked into a bar with his partner and immediately felt something wrong even though no-one was shouting or anything, so he left. A couple of moments later, all hell broke loose.

02-28-2001, 09:31 AM
There are heaps of books on body language. One thing thats often concerned me is that some people say to stand with your head up and be assertive if you want to avoid aggression, whereas others (and in the military when you are held captive) you're often told to be subserviant in order to avoid aggression. I think it comes down to the psychology of the other person sometimes (i.e. if they feel threatened by you and they are prepared to kick your arse they will, otherwise they will back down).


02-28-2001, 09:41 AM
To answer your actual question;

Reading body-language is important in many sports e.g. squash. Where they often look at wrist movement, shoulders and balance.

I think the same applies to Aikido. Whenever I instruct bokken work I tell people to look at the head & shoulder area - it gives a good overall view, but also shows when people are moving in or turning. In the words of Musashi;
"See close things as if they are distant and distant things as if they close". i.e. don't focus too closely on any one aspect.

Also, being aware of their balance (their centre of gravity) is very useful to see where there body is about to move. The line of head, shoulders, ankles is very useful to see if someone is off-balance (possibly as they have just initiated an attack). Also people have their own peculiarities (I think esp. with kicks, poor kickers tend to do something stupid like drop their guard, raise on their toes, turn to one-side etc).

Most important is practise (already reiterated by previous posts), as you want to be able to respond to an attack without having to think "oh yes that means he is about to hit me", 'cos then it is too late - it has to be instinctive.

I think O'sensei was trying to make the point that weapons are far too fast to see the action and react quickly. You need to look at the body. I wouldn't concentrate on the hands during unarmed attacks (I think O'Sensei was just making a point), as other things tend to hit you and you loose the idea of extension.


[Edited by ian on February 28, 2001 at 09:44am]

02-28-2001, 08:18 PM
Hello everyone. Ian, Thanks for your input. Yes I understand that O'Sensei was basically making a point. The way I understand it, there is more useful information about an impending attack in the aggressor's body than there is in the weapon itself. I appreciate your comments about reading body language. I'll keep an eye out for it. However, these are all things I expect to pick up in the dojo during randori mostly I suppose. I actually had my first randori session not long ago, and it was much more constructive than I ever thought it could be. On several different levels, one of which was reading body language. What I was after in my original question however, was closer to what Sam mentioned about his instructor in the bar. He sensed the tension amongst the bar patrons. I was just wondering if anyone has come across any scientific research that explains this phenomenon. This particular instructor probably developed this ability over years of physical training, meditation, and mental conditioning. But maybe there's something in black and white that we can all study to help us along in this particular area. After all, there are some things that just can't be simulated in the dojo. One of them is real, honest, committed, aggressive intent. Negative energy. Am I right? It all comes down to awareness. I just want to teach myself what to be aware of.
(ps. Ian, have you studied any of these books on body language? If so, is/are there any that you would recommend for what I'm talking about here?)