Watch out for the eye contact challenge. In a volatile environment, eye contact can be construed as a challenge to fight. If you are aware, you can spot the signs of an eye contact challenge avoid a conflict. In a bar or club, the gratuitous attacker will stalk the dance floor with his elbows pushed out waiting for a bump and he will probably be verbally aggressive to anyone that moves within a few feet of him, let alone those who make eye contact. If he's walking down the street, he will have an over-confident, arrogant bounce. If in a group, he will be loud and erratic in his movements. In either scenario, he will be looking for eye contact. To him, the first person to hold eye contact with him is looking for trouble.
During pre-fight posturing, he will splay his arms, and exhibit finger beckoning, eye bulging, head nodding, neck pecking, and dropping his eyebrows. He will usually "stance up" and, if attack is his intention, try to get up close and personal, normally nose to nose.
Try to avoid these types of people, but if you cannot, walk tall and hold yourself confidently. Even if you do not feel brave, act as if you are. Confident people are very rarely chosen as victims for attack. Whenever possible avoid eye contact where you sense aggression, but do not bow your head and look at the floor. This may be seen as a sign of weakness
If someone stares at you, do not hold eye contact. If you get caught off guard and your eyes lock, then smile, perhaps even nod politely, then break the eye contact and put as much distance as possible between yourself and the aggressor, as soon as possible. If this doesn't work and aggressive words follow, do not retaliate, just walk away. A verbal counter could act as a catalyst. If you do all this and he still approaches aggressively, be prepared to either talk or fight.
Most self-defense situations start with words. If the words become aggressive, start preparing yourself by assuming a ready stance, not an obvious stance but a small inconspicuous back stance at a 45-degree angle to the aggressor. Keep your hands inconspicuously between you and the aggressor: lightly fold them or assume a Jack Benny position with one arm folded across the midsection with the other elbow resting on the folded hand with its hand and fingers resting on the side of the face as if you were intently listening. If attacked be prepared to shove the attacker back, block, or counter-attack. Do not touch the assailant unless you are forced to, as it can trigger aggression and possibly a physical attack.
Do not permit a potential attacker to touch you at any time, even if he or she appears to be friendly. An experienced fighter will feign friendliness, even submission, to make an opening for an attack. Another common ploy is for an attacker to offer a handshake and then head-butt or knife you as soon as the grip is taken.
You will be afraid. Fear is the natural precursor to confrontation. Shaking legs, trembling voice, and goose bumps are all natural by-products of adrenal release.
Thompson, Geoff. [Online]. Available: http://www.geoffthompson.com