Defensive grooming gestures are great defensive techniques for when you aren’t sure what’s going on or for when you are sure but don’t want to escalate a situation by making more overt moves. Rob Pincus demonstrates these defensive grooming gestures.

Possible Scenarios

Imagine you’re walking down the street and see a couple of kids coming toward you and gesturing to each other, or looking at you nervously, and you aren’t sure what they’re doing. Maybe they’re just making fun of you, but maybe they’re targeting you for a knock-out punch attack, or worse, a more serious crime.

You may not be ready to put your hands up in a defensive posture, or yell at them, or cross the street. If you’re just worried or suspicious, that’s ok. Healthy awareness of what’s going on around you is the first step to preventing an attack. That awareness of possibly suspicious activity should prime your defensive system and put your defensive measures into play.

Defensive Grooming Gestures

If you’re not ready to go all out in unarmed self-defense mode, a defensive grooming gesture may be an appropriate action. As you get close to the person(s), you can reach your arm up and do any of the following: scratch your head, run your fingers through your hair, rub your nose, stroke your chin, or scratch your forehead. What you are doing is preparing your hand and arm to be in a position to defend your head if someone throws a strike.

Deterrent Effect

You may also be deterring that strike, because a person loading up their arm to throw a big punch to your head may realize he can’t easily knock you out with one punch because you have your hand up

These grooming actions are subtle, natural, and very easy to do.