Verbal Judo Self Defense Tips Against Bullying

Everybody deals with verbal warfare, young or old words are often our main tool throughout the day. The following I touch on several encounters and circumstances that are very masculine based. That does not mean it does not also apply to women as well. As they can fill any role as either victim or aggressor in any of these following circumstances. Be safe, respectful, choose your words wisely and don’t lose your cool.

Know your Place


Humble words and increase preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance. Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat.
-Sun Tzu

The way you portray yourself and the words you speak during a tense encounter can be the critical difference between being able to walk away from a potential enemy or having to fight your way through him. There is the chance you may be able to deescalate the tense situation with your words. Or you just may piss him off, if you are not careful.

We should look at this one terrible incident that happened to the actress Nicole deFresne on January 27, 2005.

Nicole was out with her fiancé Jeffrey Sparks and her two friends returning to the lower East side in New York around 3a.m.

The 19year old Rudy Fleming came up and pistol whipped Jeffrey Sparks in the eye with his gun and yanked away a purse. What could have been a simple property crime quickly escalated as it turned deadly as when Nicole went to confront the teen. She became furious with Rudy, started shoving the teen and snapped saying, “What are you going to do? Shoot us?”

A terrible mistake as she dies shortly after in her fiancés arms. This terrible tragedy is a wise to study for what not to do when confronted by an armed aggressor. It is often said by experts that robbery is most often about power rather than trying to eat or anything else.

Alfonso Lenhardt of the National Crime Prevention Council said, “It’s a tragedy, but in this case it sounds like the suspect felt he wasn’t getting the respect he was due. When a gun is in the hands of a desperate person with a low self-esteem, they’re going to react that way.”



Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose.
-Sun Tzu

Respect is usually what it comes down to, especially for those with little personalities; respect is paramount for gang members. Even wannabe gang members or street punks are dangerous if you go out mouthing off to them.

If you find yourself in a similar situation as Nicole you may want to hold your tongue before spewing your righteous opinions until you reach a safer environment. Having to be right despite the dangers presented to you, insulting the aggressor frequently will ensure the situation will escalate out of control.

If you find yourself in an error about anything, admit it! Lying and creating excuses only escalate the situation as your too stubborn to acknowledge you are wrong, while honesty and apologizing can do wonders in deescalating the situation. You really do not want to embarrass or insult them in public, we don’t like it, and the aggressive person definitely will not tolerate it. Giving someone a face saving out affords him the opportunity to back down gracefully while not losing his initiative. Emotions rage when you are cornered.

Even if you are right, it may be beneficial to pretend otherwise to get out alive. Do not allow your ego to overcome your common sense. Giving your wallet to a thug, car to a carjacker, or an apology to a goon hurts a lot less than taking a bullet or a blade to the face.

Apologies, Bullying and Name Calling


You are not just fighting one opponent. You are fighting the unknown.
–Masaaki Hatsumi

Let’s say you are at the bar and you are walking out of the bathroom and you accidentally stumble into a guy by the door and spill his beer. He clearly is pissed off now, challenges your masculinity and then takes a swing at you. Let’s say you happen to evade that swing and you say something along the lines of: Whoops, sorry buddy I did not see you there, let me buy you another drink.

What would have happened if you just fought back right away? Is it really worth risking your life and those you are at the bar with over a drink? You can often tell if someone is wrong by the way he or she reacts. Anyone who is unwilling to admit their own wrong doings usually always takes the argument into a personal level. Usually instead of debating the merits of the situation at hand they change tactics and the insults start to fly. At that point it is no longer about his drink; it is now about dominance, control and saving face. This is where violence usually follows.

If you are in error its best to just admit it and move on. It’s definitely tough on the ego but sure beats a trip to the hospital or the morgue. You will probably find you are verbally attacked even after apologizing. Very rarely it will go like this

You: “I am so sorry man that was my mistake, I was wrong it won’t happen again.”

verbal self defense tactics

Thug: “Why thank you, It is so rare these days that someone is willing to admit when they have done wrong, You are a real good stand-up guy! Have a great evening.”

Ya right, its more inclined to happen something like this.

You: “I am so sorry man that was my mistake.”

Thug: “Damn right it is!”

You: “Yes it was, sorry” as you start to walk back to your table as you hear

Thug: “F$%&ing pussy!”

Yeah it sucks, it definitely takes a blow to your ego and you may not look like a bad ass but your goal is achieved – there won’t be any fight unless he follows you, then at least the courts will be on your side. You may get a few more verbal jabs throughout the night, probably questioning your sexuality or masculinity but whatever they say the bullying has no weight. Don’t make that first strike but keep your awareness very active when you are out and about, and on very high alert after an encounter. Only a fool will put all his focus on his friends and drink after such an encounter, absolutely enjoy yourself but keep your awareness up, maybe save a few drinks till you return home.

If someone is out to provoke you, and giving you little jabs throughout the night trying to get an emotional rise from you. Chances are he’s eager for a fight. One in which you are already outnumbered, overpowered, and who knows what else is stacked in the other guys favor. He may even have a weapon palmed and ready just waiting for you to come and get up into his face. You will not see how he has stacked the deck against you until he forces you to see it.

Be the bigger man and walk away. After all the more bad ass you truly are the less you should feel the need to prove it. If you made a mistake, apologize and move on.

Don’t get hung up by name calling, it means absolutely nothing unless you give power to the words you received. Words can be sent out like spells designed to hit you and knock you off balance until the physical attack can commence. You should aim to acquire a state that these words have no effect on you. Having your masculinity questioned is meant to knock your off of your mental equilibrium, its meant to make you mad, take you out of control of yourself and ultimately make you vulnerable.

This may also be used to coerce you into making the first swing, making you the problem in the eyes of the law. Now he has the right to tee off on you with you as he is now defending himself from your aggression. It is important to acknowledge these traps as the insults start to fly from the bullying.

Understanding that these insults are not truths, but rather just a way to get at your nerves. Words may not physically knock you back it is important to realize that the intense emotional response you receive may be harder to ignore than those wounds caused by weapons. What I mean by that is that it’s not uncommon for it to be documented that a solider to try to stand up after a gun fight to find that his legs have blown off.

Having calm, reasoned responses will help you win in a fight. Being enraged may make you a bit faster and stronger but your judgment and technique will go to hell. Against a competent opponent your rage will end you pretty quickly.

Verbal Judo: Self Defense Techniques


There is a time and place for use of weapons.
-Sun Tzu

While sticks and stones may break your bones words can kill you. Using words cleverly to your advantage in a tense situation may stall your attacker long enough for help to come or the attacker changes his mind. Vocal deception may be your only weapon to save you in an unexpected aggressive situation.

Using your Words for Confusion

Calling out to your make believe friends may be a deterrent to your aggressor as there is always safety in numbers and if he believes you may have friends nearby may deter or force the aggressor to not stick around for too long.

You may also be able to create an opening for a counterattack if you can cause your bully to make a mental twitch. This twitch which is brought by dissonance of what the aggressor expects and what you actually say or do. Some examples of this is simple asking something unexpected like

  • What time is it?
  • Is your aunts name Sarah?
  • What was Ganhi’s batting average?
  • Do you still hang out with Chris?


During the opponents momentary confusion you will have your opening to attack. Being explosive is crucial at this time as he is captured with thought or communication, he will be caught off guard for about half a second as he switches gears from communicating to fighting. Giving you your opening to strike and escape. Cognitive Dissonance is more powerful than what most people realize.



Let’s say you have already passed the interview stage of the incident and the aggressor has made the decision that you are an easy target. However you may still be able to rethink his decision to smash you. It is still in negotiations until someone gets hit. The words you choose are critical.

Yelling “Don’t F&#K with me!” is so old and overly done that really means nothing. The thug has most certainly heard it before and it will do little to stave off his attack.

If you snarl something along the lines of “I will rape you when I am done with you!” will definitely change the picture. Though it can play terribly for you in court if someone hears you saying something along those lines. If you got the physicality and demeanor to make it convincing he may back off. Your intention is to make him realize he has messed with the wrong guy. Make it clear you are not to be messed with, by breaking what is expected you will seize the tactical high ground.

Now it has to be said, if you are going to make an extreme threat like that you better not lose that fight. A threat of male rape after a fight could very well allow the jury to see that killing you afterwards was an act of justified blind fear. Choose your words wisely, sometimes a solution for one problem creates a larger issue down the road.

Repeating your words


Always chase the enemy into bad footholds, obstacles at the side, and so on, using the virtues of the place to establish predominant positions from which to fight. You must research and train diligently in this.
-Miyamoto Musashi

It is very important that you take the appropriate action that your message is heard, especially when emotions are boiling over. Just because you said it once before does not mean they heard it or that your message was absorbed.  Repeating your massage nonstop is far less efficient then restating your message in a variety of different ways.

The reasoning behind multi layering your communication is to try and penetrate through the pulsing adrenaline.  While your facing someone on the street they may hear you talking, but his brain won’t always be processing what you say. For example calling out

“I don’t want to fight! I don’t want to Fight!” Over and over will not do as it may just be registered and may just simply be registered noise.

Rather it is much better to go along the lines of

“I don’t want to fight!”

 “That guy just called the cops!”

“I am out of here”

“This will violate my parole”

“We don’t want to do this!”

These are all better and have a much better chance at registering with your aggressor than simply repeating your statement. I can’t stress enough how critical it is to ensure your message is heard while emotions are running rampant. Just because what you said did not work the first time does not mean it won’t work the fifth time. Change tactics and try again, try your best to diffuse the situation.


So to sum this article, don’t provoke your aggressor unless you want the situation to escalate. Offer face saving ways for your opponent to exit the situation. Apologize when you have made a mistake and don’t allow name calling to effect your equilibrium. When its too late to fully avoid the conflict use your words to confuse to create openings for attack and escape. Carefully choose your threats and vary your words and angles of approach to properly breakthrough with communication.

See Also


Further Reading and References

Verbal Judo Self Defense Tips Against Bullying (WORDS AS WEAPONS)
Article Name
Verbal Judo Self Defense Tips Against Bullying (WORDS AS WEAPONS)
Tips and Tactics on verbal self defense. Use verbal Judo to protect yourself bullying, know your place, use your words as weapons.

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