Communicating silently is a valuable skill for any survivalist, whether you’re in a tense environment facing off against armed thugs, or you’re simply trying to conceal your location from passersby. Hand signals are an excellent way of accomplishing this goal, but you’ll need to memorize these signals ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll end up gesticulating wildly without getting any message across.

The following infographic shows one set of hand signals used by some SWAT teams and law enforcement agencies. It’s important to note that there’s no universally-accepted standard for these hand signals, and the signals may vary from one organization to the next. However, this guide should give you a good baseline of knowledge about some of the more commonly-used close combat hand signals.

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Close combat hand signals 1 Close combat hand signals 2v2

Of course, these signals could have completely different meanings, as seen in this hilarious parody version that has been making the rounds on the Internet for years. You never know when you might need to instruct your buddies to “aim for the ass”.

Seriously though, if you ever think you may find yourself in an armed standoff or home-defense scenario, consider studying these signals with your friends and family members. Hopefully you’ll never have to remember how to signal “six enemies, cover this area”, but it could prove valuable if that day ever comes.

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