Body language plays an important role in self-defense. You might be walking down the street minding your own business, and unknown to you, a criminal could have you marked as his next target. Most of the time when learning self-defense, our energy is spent on individual techniques, but the way that you move your body plays a large role in how you are able to execute these techniques. When practicing self defense techniques like joint locks, kicks or punches, it’s easy to overlook how we are maneuvering our body.

Whether in a dojo or on the street, how we use our bodies can have a big effect on attackers. The psychology related to our body language is also important. There has been much written on the topic of body usage, by masters of the martial arts and researchers. You can learn a lot from checking out this information.

Gichin Funakoshi, the man who founded Shotokan Karate had much to say about the topic of body usage. This concept is very important to properly understand the fundamentals of self defense. The standing and moving stances are 2 examples of basic ideas where understanding of body usage is paramount. Let’s take a look at how your natural stance plays a part in training and on the street.

Psychologically, your natural stance can be used to project authority and power. There are several steps to use your natural stance for all it’s worth.

Keep Your Eyes Forward

Attackers may test you by making eye contact. If you appear submissive, you increase your chances of getting mugged. Another way you can make yourself a target is by appearing distracted. Looking at a map, or trying to find something in your bag are a couple examples of distracted behavior. The last thing that attackers will look at is your eye and head movement. Constantly moving your eyes signals fear and being off your guard.

Keep Your Chin Tucked

The main focus on this part is to keep your head up and neck straight. Your head is quite heavy, and can be used as a self-defense weapon in the right situation. Looking into the Alexander Technique can be a great way to learn how to move your body in the most natural way possible.

Keep Your Shoulders Lowered Slightly

There are several ways that our shoulders can get the attention of attackers. Tense, shrugged and hunched shoulders can all make us seem more vulnerable. Keeping your shoulders upright but lowered projects an image of confidence.

Keep Your Lower Abdominals Slightly Flexed

Having your lower abdominals flexed helps prevent your lower back from arching, this straightens out your back and helps you appear taller. There have been many studies that show that the taller a person is, the less likely they are to be attacked.

Yet another thing flexed abdominals do is making you more ready to respond to a threat. Slightly tense abs is better than totally relaxed ones when it comes to taking decisive action.

Have Your Legs Straight But Don’t Lock Your Knees Out

Keeping your legs straight, but not locked out, helps you avoid tension while at the same time making you better prepared to take action if necessary.

Keep Toes Pointed Slightly Outward With Your Feet at About Shoulder Width

Making sure you stay balanced is the most crucial aspect of foot placement. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart is the optimal position for balance. You achieve even better balance by having your toes pointed outward.

Attackers also take shifting your body weight around as a sign of uncertainty. Standing still is the best choice for self-defense.

Fingers Pointed Towards Your Thighs and Fists A Few Inches In Front Of Your Upper Thigh

Having your hands free and in front of your body shows you are ready to deal with a strike if you need too. Gichin Funakoshi said you should remain calm in your stance, and ready to deal with any situation. By adhering to the best practices of body usage, we can avoid potentially threatening situations in our daily lives.