I need to intimidate them because I am at my tipping point now. I can no longer stand their bullying day in and day out.

Which martial art is the best to learn to intimidate the school bullies?

  • 1
    Simple answer: any martial art. Even better than intimidating is projecting strength and physical confidence, and every martial art will give you strength and confidence. Bullies choose targets they perceive to be weak. It's admirable that you look to solve this with fists as opposed to weapons. Better never to fight, but if it's unavoidable, the best outcomes are when neither party is seriously injured. I even had friendships in youth that started out with fights. In my experience, the quality the teacher is more important than this or that art. Find a good one. Excellent question.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 29, 2021 at 2:39

7 Answers 7


This is a common reason people get into martial arts. You're probably going to hear a lot of people tell you that's not a good use of martial arts, out of some general sense of "violence is wrong" paternalism.

What I will say, instead, is that not everyone's bullying situation is the same. One person might punch a bully in the nose and be left alone from then on. For me, I fought back against someone trying to beat me, and after "winning" the fight, he tried to come after me with a knife, and later, sent his cousins after me to shoot me. I ended up running from a gang for a couple of years, and learning ways to make sure absolutely no one knew where I lived. So maybe I would have been better off taking that beating, who knows?

So no one online can give a simple and useful answer. And of the things someone can tell or show you online, it won't be enough to necessarily help your situation (without, say, months of practice probably), even if martial arts are the answer.

We also live in a very different era: bullies follow you online, and harass you constantly. Fighting back might put you in jail or have hyper-violent police beat or shoot you, depending on where you live, how you look, and how the police respond to things.

What are your best options? Well, if you have a functional set of parents/guardians who will help you, let them know what's going on. If you don't, look for any teen support counselor who might be able to help you, whether that's at the school, outside of the school (local city services), a phone hotline or a website.

Beyond that, for obvious reasons, no one can recommend what form of self defense would be good for you, legal, or best in your situation. Any useful self defense training would require a few weeks time at least and intelligent consideration of what the rules are around self defense where you are at.

Please seek people who can help you and consider your choices carefully. I ended up spending a few years hoping they wouldn't find out where I lived and shooting my family to death, so I can't say "Go out there and bust heads" is ever the best answer, even when you're the one in the right.

  • Great advice! I am very sorry you had to go through that nightmare. Hopefully our experiences, and this community will help improve our future.
    – mjeshtri
    Jan 6, 2017 at 16:30

Which martial arts is the best to learn to intimidate the school bullies?

None of them. You might get a better return on your time if you take some acting classes instead.

Intimidation has nothing to do with the martial arts in general, martial arts simply gives you the skills to be able to deliver on your intimidating behavior.

But therein lies the problem: you want to stand up for yourself, and you want to be able to back it up in case of violence. But the reality is that you need a decent amount of training in your chosen martial art to be able to carry this off - without that background anything that you say or do will simply be posturing and bravado and is likely to inflame the situation. This will simply give the bullies more reasons to ridicule you. Good acting skills will help because you will not learn enough martial arts quickly to avoid being a danger to yourself and others.

In fact martial arts are not going to solve this problem in the short term - it may get you into more trouble if you decide to enter a situation with an inflated sense of capability. Martial arts can solve this in the long term because it will help you build your self esteem in a positive and productive way, it may even help turn you into a new and better person.

Ideally you need to walk away from situations, keep your mouth shut and don't react. Avoid troublesome locations. Seek some counseling from university staff. Bullies only do it when you either provoke them or give them a reaction that they're seeking. Look to why the bullying is happening, then eliminate that cause.

TLDR: no matter what the circumstances, premeditated intimidation is unlikely to ever be a good answer - whether you have martial arts skills or not.

  • 2
    Look to why the bullying is happening, then eliminate that cause. --- Things started like this, my room-mate continuously disturbed my sleeping and study. I lost patience and called the dorm security. They deescalated the situation and I preferred to change the room. Coz, the nuisancers were four of them and I was alone, and I thought it would be better to change my room for my study. Now, they start to target me in the class. They are doing organized bullying while I ask any question. There is also some problems with my personality. I often ask questions whose answers are too obvious.
    – user7783
    Dec 22, 2016 at 23:42
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    That sounds like a problem to bring to the attention of the professors or administration. If it's happening blatantly in class, it shouldn't be hard to get an authority to address. Furthermore, while there are times that physical violence is the only way to solve a problem, harassing you in a school class is not one of those situations, and is more likely to result with you being the one in bigger trouble.
    – Larry
    Dec 23, 2016 at 17:42
  • "Look to why the bullying is happening, then eliminate that cause". Good lord, @slugster. Bullying happens because bullies are sphinctoids who jump on people who are a bit different and whom they feel they can intimidate and keep beneath them. There is no reasoning with them, no asking them "How would that make YOU feel?". And obviously "intimidation" is just meant to be "How can I make them think twice about bullying me?" Apr 29, 2021 at 16:47

Some martial arts are good at helping you survive an actual physical confrontation. (Though their efficacy varies wildly by the particular style, school, and instructor, as well as the time and effort the student puts in.)

Many martial arts can also be good at simply improving your confidence and physical presence in such a way that you won't have the appearance of an easy victim. But lots of physical activities that are not martial arts can also accomplish this.

No martial arts are especially good at "intimidating" people, which I think would imply scaring them away without actually employing it, in a similar manner to flashing a weapon (which I also do not recommend). That's not really how martial arts work, and also human psychology is not very amenable to this -- bullies, especially if there are several of them, may just escalate or gang up on you if they think you might be competent.

I think a better strategy in general (up to the point where a dangerous physical confrontation is actually in progress, at which point you MUST fight back) is to not let yourself be isolated -- find other kids who are being bullied, and stick together. Bring this to the attention of the teachers and administration. If you don't get a good response from the school authorities, remind them of their legal liabilities if it comes to light that they know bullying is occurring in their facility and they are not taking adequate action to address it.

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    I like the idea of sticking together! Realistically might be much more difficult though.
    – mjeshtri
    Jan 6, 2017 at 16:34
  • @mjeshtri sticking together is a great tactic, but not always possible, so the physical strength and confidence conferred by any martial art is always good advice. Bullies, like animals in nature, choose victims they perceive as easy targets.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 29, 2021 at 2:46
  • "Intimidate" was not the best choice of word on the poster's part, but MA can and do improve self-confidence and make one look like less of an obvious target. Unfortunately for bullying situations, it's a slow-ish process. @user7783, user6519's answer is pretty good, but if you are still inclined to look into martial arts, stop by multiple schools and observe adult classes. I've done taekwondo for years, but there is a LOT of TKD which is unrealistic, class-sparring-oriented with light contact and no punching to face, no real penalty of getting hit hard if you make a mistake. Apr 29, 2021 at 16:54
  • From my experience sticking together is almost literally impossible, though very ideal if achieved. Most people to not have that foresight to do so.
    – user11733
    Aug 8, 2021 at 7:33

Martial arts are not the answer

Martial arts isn't about intimidation, so MA isn't going to help in this area, I think. However, it can be good for self-defense, but that takes time - and I'm guessing you don't have the time that MA requires to be proficient.

So my advice would be to first learn what your resources are. They are your parents, the administrators, and the police. And don't discount your friends, either.

The pen is mightier than the sword answer…

I assume your parents know what is going on, and they've tried to talk to the school. I also assume the administrators have used menial means to intervene, like "Stop that, or else!". And I assume you've read your "anti-bullying pamphlet" which has advice and resources for you. I assume these, because in all states, schools are required to spell out what their bullying policies are, and all students, parents, and administrators are required to know those policies. (If you are not in the USA, I can no longer make these assumptions, but the rest of the advice may still be helpful).

If someone touches you in an inappropriate way, they've broken the law. Your parents are now responsible for your safety outside the school; the administration is responsible for your safety inside the school.

First steps

If you have spoken to your parents, and administration, and nothing was done, or nothing has changed, then you have the right to march into your local precinct, and file charges of assault and battery against the perpetrators. This is what your parents and administrators are supposed to be doing, and if this wasn't done, someone wasn't doing their job, so you'll have to do it for them.


The police are sometimes just as inefficient as parents and administration, and will occasionally refer you back to the administration. If you find yourself in front of a sympathetic and proactive officer, things may look up for you. Otherwise, any hint of going back to the school to fix things is not going to get you anywhere, you've already done that - that's why you're here.

Child services

Next up is to open a child services case against the administration and perpetrators. Yes, you read that right: you are making a claim of child abuse. For the perpetrators, it's physical, and for the administration, it's neglect. Both are serious accusations. In this case, several agencies might be interested in knowing what is going on. State law - all states - require an agent to interview the claim, like any 911 call no matter how frivolous the case may seem. Sometimes, things are not always as they seem. And anyway, this is how you intimidate "the system". The state agency here has many names depending on the state, DYFS is common (Division of Youth and Family Services), or CPS (Child Protection Services). This is the agency who takes kids away from abusive parents. They are a feared organization - more so than the IRS - but they can be a good resource for you.

First to want interest in your case is the Office Of Licensing. You call them directly, and tell them you just filed an abuse claim against the administration. Follow their instructions and let their process begin. This department exists in various names in each state, but usually falls under the jurisdiction of the Department Of Human Services, which every state has. They are responsible, among many things, for ensuring each school is following its own standards which allow them a license to be a school, and one of those standards is handling bullying. Your administration does not want to tangle with this group.

Next is the Office Of Civil Affairs, or something similar depending on your state. This group handles your state's constitutionally guaranteed civil rights, and typically gets involved in cases like this with students with disabilities. If you have an IEP or are 504'ed, or are in counseling or therapy, or if your parents or teachers THINK you might have a mental, emotional, social, or academic disability, then you meet the federal government's standard for being "disabled".

If you are thus "disabled", next on the list is ADA (www.ada.gov). The frderal Americans with Disabilities Act is dedicated to helping people legally navigate an infrastructure that does not support people with disabilities.


Now, the legal definition of "abuse" is this, an example from NJ:


Abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional harm or risk of harm to a child under the age of 18 caused by a parent or other person who acts as a caregiver for the child.


Neglect occurs when a parent or caregiver fails to provide proper supervision for a child or adequate food, clothing, shelter, education or medical care although financially able or assisted to do so. Source

Check out the standards needed to successfully adjudicate an abuse case, directly from the NJ judiciary. You'll be surprised that ignoring bullying, and bullying itself, can easily be classified as "abuse"

Lawyer up.

Next up is a lawyer. If your parents are also at wit's end, they should call a lawyer. Your lawyer will make all kinds of threats - including at the bully's parents. They can be sued for anything - including legal fees. If you can't afford a lawyer, go to your state's attorney general's office, and seek help for those who can't afford a lawyer. You can also get help from the ACLU, if you are disabled. If your parents or grandparents are members of AARP, they have access to legal teams, and might refer you to someone who can help you free of charge.

You say you are at your "tipping point". This is a red flag statement. It's actually a threat, and if you say these words to an administrator, they are required by law to notify authorities. These and other phrases are what we administrators are taught to look for when students approach them. The last thing anyone wants is a suicide or a school shooting.

Know your rights. You have many, and you have many remedial options. You do not have to suffer in silence. You also don't have to fight with a "sword". You can fight with the "pen". This is fighting with a pen.

  • 1
    While utterly unrelated to martial arts, this is actually good advice… Jan 5, 2017 at 14:50
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    Thanks. Agreed, not very martial artish. I don't think martial arts will help the OP anyway, since it will take time - probably more time than the urgency suggested in "witt's end".
    – user6519
    Jan 6, 2017 at 15:23
  • I strongly disagree because becoming strong and fierce, and projecting physical confidence, will often lead bullies to leave one alone. But you're right about Martial Arts not normally being about intimidation. Here, the strategy and benefit are not presenting a weak target.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 29, 2021 at 2:36

Starting with martial arts will probably give the wrong self confidence and more like into the position to get injured.

Why are they bulling you anyway and not other specific people? Are there any guys they are avoiding? Try to find out why they are avoiding the other guys.

Most of the times why bullies and other muggers are choosing a specific type of people is because of their appearance, they appear as victims, their bodylanguage, how they speak how they respond etc. Take some self defense classes instead of traditional MA, Krav-Maga or similar to understand the root of the problem.

Traditional MA will do the same but the process takes far longer and this is not what you are wanting right?

Another way would be to find out similarities you may have with each one of tjose guys, sports, hobbies, interests etc. and simply ask the guy fo a favour to do for you in that topic, in a moment when he is seperated from the others. That can start a changing process...

In any case a physical action will cause a physical reaction, and most probably a law reaction too. Take this solution as a last resort!

Good luck...

  • "Starting with martial arts will probably give the wrong self confidence and more like into the position to get injured." Very nicely stated. Accroding to the Dunning Kruger Effect.
    – user11733
    Aug 8, 2021 at 7:42

You want to intimidate "them"? How much are they? Don't think you'd be able to handle more than one opponent unless you train for years in sparring and practice that kind of situation.

Martial arts take time to develop, you won't be able to use them to do any harm for the first few years.

Still, you might want to start martial arts to release your anger in a controlled environment. It's fun and relaxing. Plus you'll learn to defend yourself, slowly but well. Do it for you, not for someone else (or to beat up someone else).

For your actual problem, learn how to throw a solid punch and get one of them by surprise if that's what you want. But this scenario asks for retaliation and you don't want to have to fight of 2-3-4-5 guys, you'll get beaten up pretty bad.

Getting in Martial arts will make you friends. In my case, my dojan (I practice Taekwondo) is pretty much my second family. You could find people that would help you there. (Not to beat people up, but to help you with other means).

Good luck :)

  • Fighting 3-4+ opponents with a martial arts background is pretty much impossible for an average martial arts practitioner IMHO, but it wouldn't take years of training to beat up 3 untrained / undertrained opponents.
    – user11733
    Aug 8, 2021 at 7:41

This is the same as asking someone what type of gun shoots better. It all depends on you, your strength, your current level of instinct for shooting, etc. I've personally studied shaolin kung fu and tai chi. Different students decided to progress in different styles because of how comfortably it fit them. A lot of people over 5'9 seemed to like Crane and Mantis style because their techniques made perfect use of having longer arms and legs. Then a lot of people between 5'6-5'9 who were a little more muscular tended to like tiger style and other southern shaolin styles because they focus on being within inches of your opponent. Some people who are that same height but a lot skinnier sometimes gravitated towards snake style because there's a lot of deceptive moves to throw the opponent off and it focuses more on precise strikes to vital areas, so it's not a matter of being big and strong. Just 2lbs of force in the right place can break a bone of kill someone, we can easily deliver 6-8lbs of pressure with a jab. So it's all about your body.

Another thing is the level of grit you have within you. You can study a martial art for 2-3 years and be top of your class. If you've never had a real fist fight in your life, and you get into a fight with someone the same age as you who's had to fight literally for EVERYTHING they've ever gotten, you may not come out of that situation looking too well. While if that person who's grown up fighting their entire life took just 3 or 4 martial arts classes, they would be able to relate to what they're learning a lot better in terms of real life application because they're already intuitively in tune with that. They already have a "combat mechanism" developed between their reflexes and intuition. If you don't have "combat mechanism" brewing within you, you're going to lose miserably against someone who does until you attain enough real life survival experiences of your own to cultivate it.

One problem with a lot of "westernized" translations of a lot of martial arts styles is the fact they turn it into a "safe family fun activity on tuesdays and thursdays from 7-9". So when you're sparing, it's for "sport". You develop a hbit of not hitting as hard, you develop and instinct for halting action if you see you're about to do something that will injure your sparring partner. So you basically train in "self defense" in a way that prevents your from hurting people. In a real life situation this can harm you, that .02 miliseconds you stop yourself from doing serious damage can be the window of opportunity that they seize to do harm to you.

All in all don't study a martial art to learn how to "intimidate" someone, study it to learn how to not be intimidated by bullies and to know how to defend yourself if you need to. Intimidating others is never the way to go ESPECIALLY if you're not willing to react to their response should they welcome your intimidation. I don't know your situation so I don't know if these are just typical assholes picking on somebody out of boredom, or if these are people who truly hate your guts for some reason and are dying to a reason to finally come at you full force like they've been wanting to all along. If that's the case, intimidating them won't make them back down, it will make them blood thirsty. If you're being bullied by them it will be seen as a sign of disrespect as well because you're "stepping out of place", so you have to be ready to deal with them.

Ultimately you want to do enough to let them know you're not going to tolerate them anymore while showing enough mercy to let them know you clearly COULD do something to them if you wanted to..... but you don't... so you're not... but you will if they keep on. They can usually see how wrong they were when you make them think about it like that. But if you go all out and stomp the crap out of them in front of everybody and continue kicking them while they're down, they'll seek revenge and will go to whatever extreme they need to go to in order to make sure they come out on top. So decide wisely.

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