Bouncers - or "Doormen" or "Floor Men" as they're sometimes referred to - have the unenviable job of keeping the peace in clubs the world over. Underpaid, under-appreciated and over-worked they nonetheless show up every night to face a fresh crop of bad-guys. As in any other job that deals with the public, you'll encounter a broad spectrum of bouncer personalities - from the well-dressed, soft-spoken type who moves like a ghost, to the type who makes the Hulk look like an underachiever and likes nothing better than to curb-stomp you out of existence. The nature of the club they work in determines the type of bouncer needed - and usually found - there: a high-end club needs a diplomat, while a strip-club that caters to bikers might need someone a bit more physically intimidating. In some clubs there is a distinct difference between a bouncer and a doorman: the doorman is stationed at the main entrance and provides access control to the club. They check IDs to determine age, perform pass/fail checks on clothing and, especially these days, may use a metal detector to discover hidden weapons. They serve as the gatekeepers, turning away obviously intoxicated or banned customers and may also collect cover charges in their spare time. A Bouncer Bouncers, on the other hand, are usually the gorillas that lope around the club floor looking for trouble-makers and constantly monitoring the crowd. He has traditionally been a large guy, muscular and scary-looking to persuade evil-doers to remain well-behaved. Their job is to remove anyone disrupting the smooth and legal operation of the club. With changing times though comes changing perceptions of the roles that bouncers and doormen play. Certainly there will always be clubs that need to follow the "bigger is better" philosophy, but the trend now seems to be the employment of smarter security. Today's litigious society demands a bouncer that knows the local laws pertaining to public intoxication, alcohol service and most importantly what they can and cannot do while performing their job. They need to be current on negligence and liability laws as well as familiar with the concept of "force continuum". NOT a Bouncer Having worked as a bouncer in various clubs over the years I've picked up a few things that might be useful for a martial artist to consider in their quest to become a little more street-wise. Note that these are personal experiences, not Scripture, and what worked for me might not work for you. But if these tips get you to at least think about possible scenarios my job will have been done. 1. Always Expect The Unexpected We all have times when our awareness lags, when we're physically tired or preoccupied with some personal problem. Most of the time we can indulge ourselves and let our focus slip, but bouncers don't have that luxury - not in an environment where a few seconds of not paying attention can mean having a bottle broken over your head, or worse. Now I'm not saying that you can't go to a club as a patron and have a good time, but I AM saying that as a martial artist you need to keep some level of awareness of your environment, some bit of observational skill kept intact. Of course, if you're a drinker that ability will fade rapidly. Be aware of your mental and physical state at all times - run self-diagnostics, know when you've had too much. Beer muscles do NO ONE any good. 2. Perception is Everything When I was working the floor I always had a few people come up to me and say "You're the bouncer, aren't you? You look like you know some shit". It isn't as if I walked around with a Day-Glo Pink T-shirt with "SECURITY" printed on both sides, nor am I physically imposing (6', 200 pounds). But how I carry myself says volumes. Not a good idea in some clubs ... There is a certain way of walking, a certain way of holding your head, a focused look in the eyes that tells people you shouldn't be messed with. You usually develop these mannerisms as a result of years spent training in martial arts; they're hard to acquire if you just practice them in front of a mirror. How you are perceived can actually avert a fight. If you walk tall they won't bother you at all. 3. Don't Be Honorable Honor is a term that is often cited in martial arts trainingwhen discussing such concepts as Bushido. Tales of legendary fighters being honorable, of pursuing justice and of always fighting fair are in no short supply, but in a serious club confrontation you can't afford to be honorable. Your opponent certainly won't be. They'll use every trick in the book and some that you never heard of. Their sister will kick you in the groin from behind when you have Big Brother in a choke hold; they'll sucker-punch you, push your face into a mirror and come at you 5-on-1. They'll pull a gun on you after you turn your back. Keep it simple. Use the continuum-of-force principle: give back to them what they give to you. Only use as much force as is necessary, but don't be afraid to crank it up to the next level when you have to. 4. Know Your Local Laws Ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially when you consider some of the nasty things that can happen to you when you defend yourself. It's one thing to play the macho card and say that you'll go psycho on anyone who attacks you, but you have to consider the consequences not only to yourself but to friends and family. The law is one thing; how it is enforced can be something quite different. Know the prevailing attitudes of the local police, know how the judges act in court and stay current on local crime news - that will give you some idea of the current legal climate in your area. If you choose to carry a weapon, know the laws covering it. Train with it constantly. Know when you can legally use it and when you cannot. 5. You Are Where You Are This last bit of advice might seem like a no-brainer, but it is sometimes surprising how often it is ignored. Where you choose to hang out determines in large part the threat-level you have to deal with.If you like to go to strip-clubs in the bad part of town you should realize that you're more likely to encounter problems than if you go to Mickey's Pub down on the corner. Weigh the benefits as well as the risks. So many times I've heard the running commentary after a club incident: "I came out just to have a good time and THIS had to happen!" Well, yeah - you're a skinny, pale accountant who thought it would be fun to hang out at that notorious biker bar where that guy got shot last week. You are your environment - you are where you are.