Most violent types tend to stick to the same patterns of behavior when victimizing someone. They will approach everyone in the same way, use the same words and phrases, and adopt the same body language, all of which goes to make up a pattern of attack that they know, from experience, works very well for them.
The success of that pattern of behavior is also dependent on the victim being drawn into the aggressor’s reality, so that the victim ends up being controlled like a puppet, reacting in just the same predictable ways in which the aggressor wants them to, which usually means they become intimidated and scared, victims of their aggressor’s will.
By exerting situational control from the get-go, you are effectively disrupting that well-worn pattern of behavior. Just by stepping back into some kind of fence position and saying to your aggressor, “Wow, hold on a minute. Don’t come any closer,” you are throwing a wrench in the works and messing up your aggressor’s plan of attack. They now have to re-think their strategy, which is often just too much trouble and they will go find someone else who maybe won’t disrupt their plan as much.
Disrupt your aggressor’s pattern as quickly as possible and don’t allow yourself to get locked into his reality.
I teach people to use their peripheral vision when they are using the fence. I find if you look straight into your aggressor’s eyes it is too easy to get locked into their reality. Intimidation sets in quickly and before you know it, you’ve lost your situational awareness and he’s controlling you instead of the other way around.
So when fencing, get used to looking out of the corner of your eye, rather than directly at your aggressor. This will help you stay calm and detached. You will also pick up movement quicker since the brain interprets peripheral vision signals faster than focused vision signals. By taking control of the situation in the way that you have, you can much more effectively employ a verbal de-escalation strategy or a pre-emptive striking strategy, things you wouldn’t be able to do if you were locked into your aggressor’s reality and they had control of the situation.