‘Sizing Up a Stranger’
20 Physicality Cues as to the Abilities of the Unknown Aggressor
The following is an article I posted on my website that covers aspects of this book installment, and which is being inserted as an illustrative example of reading an antagonist’s body language, in this case high walking or “prancing” and heel walking. View this video, digest the analysis, and then move on to the main body of this article.
‘I’m From New York’
A Case Study in High Walking
Okay, I cannot stand these two white trash dudes, although big boy can fight. I also cannot stand the black trash dude who calls them, what?
What I appreciated about this was the fact that a third party broke it up verbally via a call to honor, something that does not happen in Baltimore, where there is no honor, and the man that goes down gets stomped by the bystanders.
At 34-38 seconds into the video observe the walk of the yo-hatted one. When you see a man that walks like this, springing up off his heels on the balls of his feet, which I call “high walking,” know one thing, he cannot hit. He will not carry a KO punch.
If you re-watch the stemming at the end three times that is officially sadistic.
It is not difficult to avoid conflict with idiots such as NYC Yo-Hat.
The following are ways that fight coaches such as myself use to assess those we train, and those against whom our fighters are matched.
Size is a big deal. Size matters. Ask your girl when she’s drunk enough to be honest. A larger man has more raw potential to harm you, and, is easier to harm, than a smaller man. Fights between men of largely varying sizes, or between giant men are there for “train wreck” situations. Generally, size matters more in grappling than in striking, is an advantage in dealing with blunt weapons, is a disadvantage with bladed weapon and firearms, and is a big advantage when dealing with groups and animal attacks.
Fitness, meaning lean muscle mass and a low BMI are an advantage in combat.
Height, alone is not an advantage in combat, but a variable that must be accounted for. The fighter is either taller, the same height, or shorter than you. Most fighters have one of these size ranges that favors them in an opponent. I, for instance, specialize in boxing big men, and could not keep a smaller guy off of me to save my life. You must know the advantages and disadvantages of height which follow.
Hands that are thick and heavily boned are essential for fighting. When a very tall man does not possess hands that are robust in equal measure to his height, he is at a disadvantage, for he is prone to punch the skull.
The Jaw, is the button for knocking out someone with a punch. A taller man has a more exposed chin and jaw line and has reduced access to the chin of shorter men. A tall man with a prominent lantern-shaped jaw is easily KO’d.
Long arms are the chief advantage of the tall man, for striking, defending and grappling. Therefore the tall man who crouches low is aware of his advantages and disadvantages and is not to be taken lightly. Also, the short man with long arms is to be feared as much as your Aunt May’s pet chimp who eats her Xanax.
“Prancing” or “high-walking” as discussed I the sample video above, is the habit of pushing up with the calves while walking. This, done by a tall man takes away advantages and compounds the disadvantages of being tall.
“Heel walking,” with the shoulders carried over the hips and a “rooted” ground connection (to borrow a term from Japanese martial arts) is usually the sign of a man who will transfer more of his weight forward and be able to hit harder, all else equal.
“Cat walking” is something that, as a trainer, I want to see in a man. What I mean by “cat walking is a gait that carefully distributes weight without forethought, which is to say “a foot that feels the ground.” This is the guy that, when he steps on a nail, pulls his foot back before the nail runs up into his foot, where the heel walker will get totally impaled and the high-stepper will have the nail halfway in his foot.
High Shoulders are a sign that a person will not be able to transfer energy from the feet through the shoulders to a punch.Perpetually flexed trap muscles, resulting in a normally shrugged shoulder act as a punch break. This man will not punch at his weight.
Sloped shoulders or rounded shoulders are usually the sign of the relaxed man or the experienced boxer. This person should hit above his weight, with normal shoulder posture indicating a person who should punch at his won weight.
Large heads take better punches.
Thick heads take better punches. You can gauge the relative thickness of a head based upon how much space there is between the eyes.
Thick necks absorb better punches. We should reiterate here that the lantern shaped large jaw acts as a lever to put more tilt on the brain, apply more rotation to the brain, and put more angular stress on the neck.
Vision is a factor in combat. People with glasses are susceptible to eye damage from their glasses, from disorientation and distraction due to the fate of their glasses, and also reduced vision acuity with glasses removed. This depends to some degree upon the prescription. A missing, bandaged or damaged eye is an impairment where striking and defending is concerned, as the person will have impaired depth perception. However, experienced fighters, even those who can only see shadows, are still dangerous.
Thick boned individuals are much more difficult to injure and tend toward greater weight and strength. Certain groups, such as Polish and Samoan men tend toward the freakish end of the spectrum. This is politically incorrect to say but very relevant.
Long muscles which come closer than normal to the joint (look at calves and biceps) demonstrate greater strength than would otherwise be indicated by the muscle’s size. They also indicate greater potential for the development of muscle mass, better muscular endurance in static strain grappling situations, and less susceptibility to injury. Men with these types of muscles are also slower.
Short muscles mean long tendons and higher a susceptibility to injury, but greater speed.
Muscle mass indicates greater strength (triangulate the factors above to predict injury or speed) and also results in reduced stamina. Muscle guys gas—everyone knows that. The reason for this is that the bulky type of strength muscle fiber runs off of a limited supply of glycogen stored in the muscle, while the less massive endurance muscle fibers run off of fatty acid pulled from anywhere in the body.
A physically relaxed state is the sign of an effective combatant in and out of the ring and on and off the battlefield. If a person’s body is physically relaxed even when they are known through their words or facial expressions to be agitated, then they should do well under combat conditions. If a person becomes more relaxed under stress then you have a psychologically conditioned person. If the person becomes less relaxed and tenses up under stress they will tire easily and tend towards hesitation and indecision during combat.
Now comes the important part. Evaluate yourself according to the 20 points above.
Training and observing and being a fighter amounts to solving a jigsaw puzzle with 40 or more pieces with 20 pieces belonging to each the combatants. For this reason, training fighters often falls more into the field of art than science due to the subjective nature of the interaction and the variety of relevant factors.
Next up: Behavioral Cues
Editor’s Note: James has graciously offered to answer any questions readers may have about survival or to dissect and analyze your real life survival stories. Please send your questions, comments and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org