The Ultimate Body Language Guide

Defensive Body Language Guide

When someone is threatened in some way, they will take on a defensive body posture.

Covering vital organs and points of vulnerability

In physical defense, the defensive person tends tend to cover those parts of the body that could be damaged by an attack.

The chin is held down, covering the neck. The groin is protected with knees together, crossed legs or covering with hands. The arms may be held across the chest or face.

Fending off

Arms may be held out to fend off attacker, possibly straight out or curved to deflect incoming attacks.

Using a barrier

Any physical object may be used as a barrier to shield off the attacker. It can be anything, from a small object like a pen or a large object like a table.

Barriers can also protect the other person and if I am powerful, I may use a simple barrier to make you feel less defensive. It also means I control the barrier.

Becoming small

One method of defense is to reduce the size of the target, maybe by huddling up or kneeling slightly.


Another instinctive response is to tense the muscles, making them tight and hard in order to withstand a physical attack.

Seeking Escape

Flicking the eyes from side to side shows that the person is looking for a way out.

Pre-empting attack

Giving in

Pre-empting the attack, the defensive person may reduce the submissive body language, avoiding looking at the other person, keeping the head declined and possibly crouching into a lower body position.

Interested in learning everything there is to know about body language? Check out this complete body language guide.


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