Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not Getting Pushed in Subways

Regarding that poor Queens guy who was pushed onto the subway tracks....

There were a rash of these in the 1980's, so I trained myself to be conscious of my center of gravity while on subway platforms, and to lean ever-so-slightly away from the track at all times, even when I'm not close to the edge. I still do this.

Studying judo as a kid, I learned that you can't move another body very far via brute strength (consider how tough it is to move a corpse). You can only disrupt someone's center of gravity, so they move themselves as they flail to recover balance. So small balance adjustments can yield large defensive benefits.

I'm not saying that by planting feet and leaning imperceptibly away from tracks you'll become utterly impervious. But, as any martial artist will attest, this small move makes you much, much harder to push. Surprisingly so. Furthermore, in so doing you send a signal which others unconsciously pick up on: You seem less pushable (as, indeed, you are.)

Another example of an unconscious signal: if you're walking in a busy area and someone's aggressively walking straight toward you, and there's no way for you to easily/safely get out of the way, slow down a little. The other person will be unconsciously compelled to walk around you (please wield this trick only for defensive purposes!).

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