Why Bouncers Make the Best Self Defense Instructors

How much experience do you think your kid's strip mall karate instructor has going toe-to-toe with a guy swinging a baseball bat?

Go into a martial arts school and you will see pictures of the master meditating, stretching, doing forms and winning medals.

However, should you one day leave the school and be attacked, the only thing in the world important to you will be your ability to fight like a street fighter. Being a good street fighter is what it takes to survive street attacks.

So, who is really qualified to teach you to fight like a street fighter? A martial artist who has never been in a fight in his life or someone who has gone out of his way to get a job that basically consists of him getting involved in fights that other people start?

I would say that the best instructors are either bouncers, some police or some military guys, but the most qualified to teach self defense to civilians are the bouncers. Here are a few examples why:

Bouncers have the same (lack of) equipment as civilians

Attack a cop or soldier with a knife or gun and he will do his best to shoot you.

Attack a bouncer with a weapon and he will be in exactly the same situation you would be in on the street. Sure, some bouncers carry lead gloves, retractable batons or pepper spray, but most don’t and even those weapons are things that any civilian could obtain and carry.

What a bouncer does when faced with armed and / or multiple attackers will also work for you because the circumstances are the same.

Bouncers are constantly fighting

Street fights and attacks are over so fast that, if someone is attacked and another person calls the police immediately, they can’t possibly arrive before the fight is over.

Bouncers are right in the middle of the fight from beginning to end.

True, some bouncers work for years in high-class discos and never have to do anything to get their hands dirty, but a good trainer would have experience in a place like I work in.

Last week I was in three serious fights in one night.  Ask your strip-mall karate master if he was in three fights in his entire life.

Bouncers have to rely on themselves

There are no SWAT teams or quick reaction forces for bouncers to call when they are outnumbered or in trouble.

A bouncer can never back down from a fight.

If a bouncer gets hurt, he has to ignore the pain and do the best he can to keep fighting.

There is no referee to stop the match if he cannot defend himself.

These are exactly the same conditions you will have to deal with if someone were to try to mug or rape you in the real world.

Bouncers haven’t been there and seen that, they’ve been everywhere and seen everything

Most bouncers have had martial arts or sport fighting training, but most bouncers don’t train in sports or arts anymore.

The best ones have taken what they have learned in the gym, tested it on the street and combined it with the rough and tumble street fighting techniques that they have seen work, time and time again.

The harsh reality of barroom brawling is the proving ground that I used to test my concepts of street fighting based self defense.

Bouncers are masters of the mental aspects of self defense

Situational awareness, fear management, killer instinct, pain tolerance . . . The mental aspects of self defense are the most important by far and exactly these aspects are missing from the repertoire of 99.9 % of the strip mall martial arts masters or self-proclaimed self defense instructors out there, whereas 99.9 % of the real bouncers out there have mastered all of these areas.

Some bouncers are fat, others skinny, many smoke, but they are still capable of constantly surviving every violent encounter they might face. How can that be?

Well, without the mental edge, a bouncer has a very short career.

That’s it for today, until next time, go out there and be awesome!

PS: If you want to benefit from what I learned during my ten-plus years of experience as a bouncer, you’ll find my most effective techniques in this four-video set: Self Defense Street Fighting.

Far from getting you injured or killed by having you follow rules or a code of honor, these videos will teach you how to head butt, eye gouge, bite and tear the flesh of anyone foolish enough to attack you on the street, be sure to check it out!


  • PermanentGuest

    Reply Reply April 13, 2015

    I’ll have to question the premise of the article. Determining the better self-defense instructor has to do more with the type of art and the confidence they instill in you vs whether they are a bouncer or not.

    I’m assuming this article is premised off the work of Geoff Thompson. What makes his instruction effective is that he mentally places his students in a position they would find themselves on in the street. This isn’t the case of every bouncer.

    Similarly, not every dojo instructor is a weakling who only looks to promote students for money. Some of these individuals have studied the art of fighting their whole lives down to every intricate detail. If they can teach their students the same, then that’s huge.

    My advice is to take an art which will allow you to go 100% while staying on your feet. regardless of who teaches it.

    • Bob

      Reply Reply April 13, 2015

      I’m not at all saying that bouncers are the best martial arts instructors, I’m saying that bouncers are more qualified to prepare someone for a STREET SELF DEFENSE situation than someone who may never have been in a fight in his life.

      The premise of this article is that there’s a huge difference between the safe enviornment of a dojo and the raw, searing fear of a street attack, or even just the threat of an attack. Most students don’t know how serious a street attack is until they’re in one because their instructor hasn’t experienced the situation, either.

      There’s also a huge difference between an organized sparring match and the kind of sucker punch attack that most martial arts schools don’t prepare their students to anticipate, which means someone trained by an instructor with zero street experience may be unconsious before he even knows he’s in a fight.

      Here’s an example from when I was training security guys in Germany: One of my students was a state Thai boxing champion and had his own school. We were practicing traffic stops and, when he asked me to step out of the car, I “stabbed” him three times with a rubber knife I had hidden under my leg on the driver’s seat before he even knew I had a weapon or was attacking him.

      Now, I knew better than to have gotten into the ring with him, but that’s not the point. He may be a better martial artist than me, but he didn’t have enough street experience to put any of it to use.

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