Sensei Howard Quick on the reality check he was given when working as a bouncer.
As a young bouncer, Sensei Howard Quick and his fellow security staff became the target of four brawlers’ Friday night fun — but the expectation of back-up was the biggest problem.
I was working as part of a regular security team inside a nightclub venue when we were called by the girl at the desk: “There’s trouble in the tavern; Glenn’s been attacked.” Glenn was a crowd controller who generally stayed within the tavern/gaming lounge area of the facility, occasionally helping us out in the nightclub. Glenn looked like a blonde Brendan Fraser; he always had a smile on his face and was a really easy-going, polite, friendly guy — but he seemed to be a magnet for troublemakers.
We ran into the tavern to find Glenn had been headbutted and appeared to have a broken nose. The attackers — four of them, from memory — were just on their way out the door. There were two plain-clothes police detectives in the gaming lounge at the time of the incident who said, “We’ve called a car…do whatever you have to do to stop those guys.”
We took off out into the car park and confronted Glenn’s attackers, immediately
sparking an altercation. One of the guys launched a couple of punches at me, which I deflected before sweeping out his leg. I then rolled him straight onto his stomach and went into what we call a ‘step-over shoulder lock’.
This is a particularly good jujutsu hold for this situation as you can keep standing and maintain the lock with just your legs and weight transfer, leaving both of your hands free. While I was standing with the guy locked up on the ground at my feet, one of the other assailants tried to ‘bulldog’ me (charge at me), so I leaned to the side and deflected him. This resulted in the lock being intensified, so his mate on the ground let out a squeal. I remember saying to the guy in the lock, “You can thank your mate for that.”
The guy who charged at me was then met with a right hook from one of our other guys, and he went down with a nasty cut on his forehead. He just crawled over to the kerb and sat there, defeated, covered in his own blood (head cuts bleed an incredible amount).
So…l was still standing there with the one guy locked up, face down on the ground, and the bloodied older guy, probably 40-ish (I was about 25 at the time), was just sitting on the kerb looking dejected. I saw another guy being held by one of our team, and one other, the smallest, youngest looking of Glenn’s attackers was also being held but was yelling, ‘We’ll come back and get you arseholes’ or something to that effect.
The next thing that happened surprised me — the older, bald-headed guy, still sitting on the curb bleeding, said “No, we came here to take these guys on…and they were better than us…we’re done. They beat us fair and square.” I just looked at him thinking ‘What?’ It seems we were their Friday night entertainment. I had a bit of respect for the guy for his honesty, but it was extremely unusual to hear something like that.
On this occasion it was over quickly but the police took their time. When they finally arrived, I was not impressed. They were from a different station to the Werribee detectives who called them, and we had a very good relationship with the Werribee police — they knew we weren’t ‘thugs’. (On a different occasion one of them actually said to me, “We usually take our time getting here when you guys call us, because we know you will have it all sorted by the time we get there, and we won’t have to do anything”.)
But these four or five officers immediately went into a huddle, occasionally looking across at us like they were trying to figure out what to do. As I’d been holding this guy at my feet for about 20 minutes by then, I started to get a bit annoyed. I asked a couple of times, “Can you PLEASE come over here and cuff this guy?”
Eventually one of the officers came over, but after watching her fumble with the handcuffs for a couple of minutes, I grabbed the cuffs off her and did it myself. After taking all of our details — and never once asking us to explain what had happened — the ‘senior’ officer proceeded to tell us how we would “most likely be charged with assault” (We found out later the two detectives had explained to the officers what had taken place).
We were all disappointed at the way the police went about handling the situation. At no stage was a report done and we were never given the opportunity to explain what had led to them being called. So I assume the offenders were never charged as they should have been. In my experience this was commonplace within the crowd control industry — the attitude was like, ‘You’re a bouncer, being assaulted is just part of your job.’ It wasn’t really considered assault to hit a bouncer — but maybe things have changed in the last 20 years?
Looking back on that particular event, I believe we handled the situation very well. The guys I worked with at the time were all decent people who always acted in a completely professional manner — there were no thugs or egomaniacs looking to prove how tough they were. They were tough men and didn’t need to prove it, but I always knew that someone had my back.
Before any of these incidents I always felt a little apprehensive, but I was there to do a job and there were others relying on me to back them up, too, so it became ‘business as usual’. Once it starts, everything just happens so quickly that you have to rely on your training as well as a bit of gut instinct.
I don’t ever remember really thinking in such situations (at the time), but afterwards I could usually picture the whole event like it was a scene from a movie or a short video clip. I never seemed to feel the adrenaline dump either; perhaps because you go in with the attitude that it’s why you’re there to begin with — ‘This is the job I’ve chosen to do…so I just do it’.
My martial arts training affected everything I did when I was working as a crowd controller, from awareness of a situation and my surroundings to the no-nonsense response when violence occurred, and on to effecting a satisfactory result (in the aforementioned case, locking the guy up face-down on the ground).
One of the main things I stress to my jujutsu students is awareness; be aware of your surroundings and be aware of the people around you. Try not to put yourself in a situation where you have to resort to using your physical skills; that should always be a last resort — especially as you never know how the law may treat it.
Read more on self-defence here.