Neil Mick wrote:
Laugh at their attempt. Worked for me in a pub, once.
Actually, you need to match your response to the actegory of the aggression taking place.
Much violent behavior comes under the heading of "affective" violent behavior. It is the typical aggression between members of the same species. It is characterized by high emotional content and a lot of "dsiplay". This type of encounter can be handled by the strategies being mentioned above.
But another type of agressive behavior is the "predatory" type of aggression. All this "conflict resolution" stuff doesn't work on this type of agressive individual. Predatory violence is characterized by very low emotional content, virtually no display. The predator is looking for prey. The only form of conflict resolution is to not be prey. Much of the standard "giving in to get your way" conflict resolution technique is inappropriate with an individual of this type. They see it as indicating weakness and you just look better as a victim to them.
The good news is that most of the "intimidation" stuff you are talking about is a form of display. It is part of the "affective" aggressive bahavior pattern. If you don't mind not being the Alpha Dog, you can usually use the standard conflict resolution techniques on someone like this.
True predators are quite interesting. Unlike regular people who get fairly agitated when they decide to attack, thereby giving off quite few pre-attack indicators, the predator actually gets calmer when he decides to attack.Their heart beats can actually slow down and they have no emotional content to what they do (except what they choose to put on as an act). They are extremely dangerous.
Peyton Quinn has several books about self defense which deal extensively with real world violent interactions I highly recommend his work. He worked as a bouncer in a couple of Atlantic City biker bars and has survived a couple of knife attacks himself. Quite an interesting fellow. Did Aikido with Toyoda Sensei years ago along with an eclectic mix of other arts.
I remember talking to him about his background and he said he laughed when he heard folks say that Aikido didn't work... "it's amazing how well iriminage works when you bounce the guy's head off the bar." A bit "earthy" for many Aikido folks but if you are interested in real world self defense he has quite a lot to offer, especially on the topiv of threat recognition.