One of the benefits of experience, and even age, is familiarity with the types of attacks, the real world situations in which they arise, and how to forestall, defend, and counter.

What information can be intuited by how a potential opponent stands? Are there other physical indicators?

  • How to predict the type of attack?
  • Watch a lot of youtube videos showing street fights. I've done that. You'll notice some common "tells" which indicate which of the two will win in most cases. – Steve Weigand Jun 4 at 2:03
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    @SteveWeigand I've witnessed many brawls, street fights and attacks first hand! Even been attacked about a dozen times in various contexts. Here I'm seeking practical advice people just starting out in the arts can use to forestall attacks, and be better prepared to defend. There was a huge difference between the first time I was attacked as an adult and the last, and the key was experience, calm and the calculating eye. – DukeZhou Jun 4 at 22:48
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    You got that right, DukeZhou. I avoided 99.9% of all possible fights by just being able to read the situation and the body language. By the time the fight breaks out, you'll probably lose. Because, unless you actually want to fight and can turn on that "desire" to fight, the other guy will overtake you instantly. It's true of most fights I've seen. The guy who's signaling that he doesn't want to fight and will not fight back is going to lose. But even then it's late. Better would be to see it before it's happening and then avoid it completely. Sometimes not possible. – Steve Weigand Jun 4 at 22:56
  • @SteveWeigand Part of the reason I thought this question might be useful is that there a big difference between watching a video and first-person point of view. But "If you see them hunch their shoulders and raise their guard with both hands, they're probably a boxer and are about to take you apart." is fairly easy to visualize. That may seem like a no-brainer to someone with experience, but it was news to me the first time I heard it. So much of the arts comes from oral tradition in the form of advice. The great thing about Stack is there's some degree of vetting. – DukeZhou Jun 4 at 23:56

Upright sideways stance outside of punching range, they might be going to attempt some kicks they learned in Taekwondo class. In a "front stance" or "walking stance", hands in front of them, they're more likely to punch. In your face, chest-to-chest, then they look around a bit, they might be preparing to come back around with a surprise haymaker.

  • This isn't quite true. There is a "tell" in street fights that will allow you to predict fairly accurately who will win before the fight has begun. For that, you have to watch many street fights on youtube and look for what's common. – Steve Weigand Jun 4 at 20:27
  • Interesting... what are the types of things to look for? But my answer was to what I think the question is about - what types of attacks might the guy try. Of course there are 246 variations, so I just threw out some obvious ones. – Amorphous Blob Jun 6 at 16:11
  • It's not about postures. Because, even the loser in most cases does use these kinds of stances. It's more about what he's telling you with his actions. If he is spending a lot of time doing everything but punching you, then that's a good indication he doesn't want to fight. He could be bad mouthing you, pushing you, standing up close to you, etc. That just means he's waiting for you to do something. What you do in response is very important. Backing away is a show of weakness, and he might attack now. There's a lot more to this. It's all psychology. – Steve Weigand Jun 6 at 16:25

The stance isn't a real predictor of attack. Street fights are more about psychological advantage than skill. Showmanship can also work in some cases. I have stopped attackers quickly because one, they did not expect me to fight, and second, because I stood in a particular karate stance. My experience also shows hitting first gives you a psychological advantage. Make sure you can follow it up :-)

I have also seen absolute fools who couldn't land a single punch but simply because they put up a 'strong front'... That was one of the stupidest fights I've seen. Anyway, it worked against their opponent.

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    I don't entirely disagree with what you're saying, but I also feel like this doesn't answer the main question, of how to intuit a move, unless you're suggesting that there is no way to tell. – Macaco Branco Jun 14 at 17:06
  • From a fencer's perspective, I want to "invite" the opponent to make the first move, because then I can parry and potentially gain definitive advantage to counterstrike without the possibility of "mutual death." But I take your point about striking first in proper context, although escalation is not necessarily ideal, where the fight could be avoided, or the attacker neutralized without escalation. But sometimes, one doesn't have a choice! (Some have called this "getting your retaliation in first";) – DukeZhou Jun 17 at 23:12
  • On a personal note though, I've always found it satisfying to see that look on a bully's face change from glee to fear when someone like yourself steps up—witnessed it firsthand many times. That's may not be my way the last couple decades, but I've had plenty of friends that have natural aptitude for inflicting violence through hard experience, and do not fear pain or shy from injury. – DukeZhou Jun 17 at 23:16

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