I am a 24 year old bouncer at a local club. I work with 7 other bouncers. I am rather a buff looking guy but I’m only 5’10. I am currently studying Kempo. I was just rewarded a purple belt last Monday. At the club, I have realized that I intimidate some people but not everyone. I don’t attempt to intimate anyone, I just do my job and try to tell you what you cannot or kick you out if told to by my boss. Sometimes, thugs come into the club “repping” their gang or acting ignorant and if I attempt to tell them something, most of them do it. Saturday night, one guy (blood gang) had been drinking quite a few beers and kept setting his beer on the pool table. I calmly told him the first time not to do it and he jerked the beer out of my hand when I went to take the beer off of the table. I let that situation go and continued doing my job. This time I saw him do it again, he stepped up to me (he was a tab bit taller). I believe his intention was to challenge me. So I told him that he had to leave the club. He told me that he’s not going anywhere. So, I grabbed him by the arm and told him that he had to leave. He pulled away and then his other arm began to swing as he was attempting to throw a punch. And I believe the alcohol in his system slowed down his body because I saw the punch coming and by that time I duck the punch and punched him in the rib with my left fist. I think I was supposed to get in trouble because I wasn’t supposed to punch him but I was forgiven by my boss. I am so nervous about really fighting someone because I don’t believe they would be that sluggish with swinging. When I go to the dojo, my sensei teaches me moves, but I don’t really get to see a REAL punch in the dojo. Me and my sensei never sparred. I am my sensei’s only student right now. As a purple belt, am I supposed to have been sparring and how can I know for sure that I will be able to see a punch coming?
1. Don’t ever touch someone or get in range to touch someone, to talk to them. If you are touching them, assume it is on, and you are either in the process of locking them with a joint manipulation or have broken something in their body anatomically, or are in the process of putting him to the ground or out, with the help of the other bouncers on your team.
2. Logically, that also means you should never allow someone in range to touch or hit you. Always put your hand out to hold them back and prevent them from moving forward. This is the non-aggressive, defense you use when talking and you don’t want people to get close enough to attack you pre-emptively without you seeing it. If they are really trying to charge forward and body rush you, force your hand under their chin/jaw and make it go left or right. This tends to make people unbalanced and unable to attack effectively.
3. If you want to see punches, have someone throw punches at you, and you just stand there and observe. Best used when the person attacking has 100% control and can stop his punch 1 centimeter from the target (your face, body, neck, etc). This allows you to “see” the speed and flow of hand strikes, so your brain can more quickly recognize and react. Second step, would of course be to move your body to block. I favor a segmented training, however, where a person first focuses on their observation skills without the distraction of controlling their body. Then moving to controlling their body now that they can recognize what a strike looks like.
4. Body evasion such as stepping out of the center line of a person’s attacking force, or going into grappling distance, will effectively negate an enemy’s hand strikes.
5. Next time you see them on Saturday, make sure you have a team of bouncers ready to arm lock both the leader’s hands and arms, then just drag him out using either carrying force or more subtle joint locks. This can be done with 1 person, if he is good, or 2 or 3 bouncers working together on one person, while others body block the gang guy’s friends until gang leader is out the door and barred from entry. If he tries anything to get in, that’s when it is time to call the police .Then if things get violent, you can go all out and you have a record with the police to attest to your actions.
That’s how a proper strategy is developed: to foresee all circumstances and plan for the worst, not the best scenario.
Personally, I don’t need to see a punch coming to be safe. All I have to do is to stay out of range or get too close to the target. Or pre-empt violence by escalating or de-escalating the emotions of the persons involved. It is very easy, once you know what to look for, to understand what can set people off or what can calm them down. For example, in your story alone you’ve mentioned 4 things that were precursors to someone getting violent. 1. You touched his beer. 2. You were telling him what to do and thus it started getting personal. 3. You touched his arm. 4. Alcohol ingested.
Those 4 things when added up, spells out “high potential for anti-social expressions of violence”. It doesn’t matter whether you are right or he is right, since from his perspective those 4 things are “triggers”. All I have to do is to figure out how many triggers are present and I’ll be able to see who will or will not blow up. Then you just observe his body language and his body will not lie once he gets to a certain point emotionally. EDIT: Most people require an excuse to use violence. Even if they take a day or two to come up with one and come back tomorrow with a gun or knife against you, they had to have that excuse first. Remove the excuse and you remove the fuel for their use of violence. Dealing with serial killers and other higher caliber enemies, is something best reserved for battle and war strategy. What is most likely to kill or injure a doorman or security guard is something a lot lower level in terms of threat potential. That is what they need to train to deal with.
P.S. http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com has a good primer on these issues relating to interpersonal contact and behavior.
I thought this was an interesting look at the job from both an insider’s perspective as well as someone who only thinks of bouncing as a fighter’s role. The best bouncer is actually a good warrior and a greater diplomat.