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Self Defense Tip: Do You Look Like Prey?

Whether it's the the thug on the street ready to assault you, or the schoolyard bully, they both have one thing in common. They can sense your fear.

How you walk, talk, or interact with them tells them very quickly whether you are prey or not. This will determine whether you are the one chosen to be attacked.

Thugs and bullies aren't looking for someone who is going to give them a hard time, or fight them. They are looking for the easy prey, the scared person that will allow the thug to do whatever they want to them.

Growing up as a short, scrawny guy in some rough neighborhoods, I had to learn how to walk, talk, and act in the street, so as not to get beat up. Interestingly, my wife jokes about how I still change my walk and talk when we visit some of the rougher neighborhoods, but its so natural to me that I can't even tell that I'm doing it.

Don't look like the prey:

The prey have a certain look and interact fearfully which is easy for the assailant to pick up.

When walking past thugs, bully or potential attacker:


  • Walk too fast (scurrying).

  • Keep your head down, and/or body sunken.

  • Stare at them nervously.

  • Shake or tremble.

  • Keep your eyes down and ignore them.

Here are some pointers on how NOT to look like prey:

When walking past thugs, bully or potential attacker:


  • Walk confidently (I tend to strut a bit).

  • Keep your head up.

  • Look him/her in the eye (if it's a group I'll look at the biggest guy first, then scan the others).

  • Smile.

  • Acknowledge them with an exciting "What's up guys?", or "How you doing?" (or similar greeting).

This does three things:

  1. It shows you are not scared (even if you really are).

  2. You acknowledged them and showed them respect.

  3. It allows you to keep an eye on them in a non-threatening way.

These tactics worked for me, and I have taught them for many years to people who got similar results.

For example, a lady came to me for training, she was getting mugged regularly in the city while walking home from work. I taught her these tactics and had her practice them regularly. One day a mugger came up to her and was about to grab her when she did what I taught her. Upon smiling and acknowledging him, he froze, mumbled something and took off. She was so excited, she called me that evening to tell me what happened.

Interestingly, oftentimes muggers don't want to feel like the "bad guy", so when you acknowledge them they are less apt to mug, or assault you.

Now I wish I could tell you that these tactics will work 100% of the time, but unfortunately we don't always know the assailant's true motive. If the above tactics don't work, run away to safety!

If you want to learn learn more self-defense tips and tactics get my book The Short Fight, on Amazon at

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Until next time, Stay Safe!

Lawrence Castanon,

Author, The Short Fight

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