For actual pearls, I suggest looking over material by Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Suzette Elgin. You can find excerpts of several of her books online at www.adrr.com/aa/excerpts.html
For Randy and Emergency Medicine folk, see http://www.adrr.com/aa/new.htm
which includes a brilliant presentation of "The Aunt Grace Syndrome."
Elgin wrote an essay on "The Martial Art of Verbal Self-Defense" in "Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training." Here's an excerpt.
All the stuff we always thought was just random stuff coming at us actually has a very organized, identifiable pattern. Response?
-- Identify the attack via Satir Modes (Blaming, Placating, Distracting, or Computer)
-- Realize that what you feed will grow.
Alex, I think your bus experience was a brilliant example of Miller's Law -- Let's assume that it's True that the guy was going to knock out the bus driver. What situation would this be true of? What would be the result?
I first saw Elgin's books in the late 80's and I can say that they provided brilliant tools for dealing with an abusive fellow who suddenly became amazingly UNscary. It was like watching a balloon deflate. Tools per Elgin were:
-- Recognizing the attack: "Ah! He's using Blaming mode." Ah! He's switched to Distractor Mode!" and
-- Realizing how to NOT feed it, how to recognize my actual goal, and how to control the situation. Verbal Aikido.
For how NOT to do it, I suggest you rent "Tatie Danielle" a French "comedy" in which a truly horrible old woman (who does "not fit your image of an attacker. . . a frail elderly relative, or someone who is ill") who terrorizes her kindly family until she's done in by the irimi of a no-nonsense caretaker. Reminds me of Ellis Amdur's wonderful story in (I think) "Dueling With O'Sensei" in which, faced with a violent opponent they tenkan tenkan tenkan but the apartment manager slices through all that and does a very appropriate and very effective irimi. BLAM!!! Meet Mat.
This is not a trivial issue. Both Elgin and Gavin de Becker ("Gift of Fear") are very clear on this point: Verbal violence is the PRELUDE to physical violence. It may even serve as an "interview," a testing of the waters, to gauge just how successful actual physical violence might be, in muggings, in domestic violence, or as Hirigoyen puts it, in "Stalking the Soul."
Here's how to recognize it for what it is, and how to deal with it.
And, as O-Sensei said, "The Way of the Warrior is to stop trouble before it starts."