It was a quite Saturday night at Foxies, a pub in the heart of the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg. I was on the call box, speaking to a friend on the phone. Suddenly a group of men and woman entered the lower end bar of the pub. I could see them from the corner of my eye, rowdy, loud, and screaming profanities at other patrons. Some patrons got up and left, others tried not to make any eye contact with them. My eyes fixed on one individual of the group. Staring back at me, he first hurled some profanities my way, then threw a beer bottle at me. I dodged it, put the phone down, and walked up to the group.
“Its time for all of you to leave”
“Who the fuck are you?” a person from the group screamed.
“I am the security here, and I am telling you, it’s time to leave”
By that time the word went out to the other doorman spread throughout the pub, and within a minute, they were all there. Facing off with the group of troublemakers, and realizing we were serious, they got up, and we all exited the main doors.
Once we were in the courtyard, it was clear, this group, who I now knew were a biker gang, weren’t going to go quietly. The head guy stepped forward, pointed at me and said, “Me and you, asshole, if I win, we stay, if I lose we go.”
The first thought that popped into my head, “Has this guy been watching way to many movies?”
Outnumbered, I realized that this was likely the only way we were going to clear this lot out of the pub. So I said, “Lets do it.” I took my bomber jacket off, and standing in the courtyard we sized each other up. He stepped forward hard, throwing a lead jab to my face. I ducked, came up, and placed a 1-2 combination straight on his chin. He buckled, and then he dived straight in for my legs. I tried in vane to uppercut him while he came in, but I missed. And there we were on the ground. Back then, I knew pretty much nothing about jiu-jitsu. So I used the only weapons I did know — defending myself, and in what only barely represented a guard — I grabbed the back of his head and began to elbow him in the face.
I was winning, and he and everyone else knew it too. I then felt two massive shock waves enter my head. As I struggle to gain focus, I realized a woman and another man from the group were now kicking me in the head. As it turned out later, the doorman I thought would have my back, didn’t. One guy in particular, the guy who always wore camo pants (one of the reasons I hate those things), and who always told everyone his fight war stories, had fled the scene.
I got up immediately, and went on a surgical rampage. Scanning the environment, I hit anything and everything that moved. I didn’t do it like a crazy man, but rather like a sniper. Riding the storm of incoming attackers (Crazy Monkey Defense I love you), I put my head down, went into a hunchback stance, and proceeded to execute diving board jabs and crosses with absolute precision.
What were some of the lessons that night? Here are five of the big takeaways:
1.Environment in a fight can change, and can change quickly: You have to be adaptable to survive. This means, the ability to instantly recognize when a strategy isn’t working, and change it. For me, the ground, where I was initially winning, had now become the worst possible place to be. The goal, get up quickly, protect myself, and initiate counter measures. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people lose fights, in and out of the ring, by
using a strategy that clearly isn’t working, but then still trying to force it too. You need to know when to give up, and change direction.
2.Tell Yourself To Survive: As I was being kicked on the floor, I remember distinctly telling myself, “I am not fucking going out like this,” “get up, get up, get up.” Self-talk can be helpful in a fight, especially when you losing physically. Giving yourself a Braveheart speech in a shit storm, can galvanize your resolve.
3. Its Tank Time: What saved me more than anything that night once I was able to stand up, was a combination of strong defense, locking down into a hunchback stance and keeping safe. I made sure I didn’t swing for the rafters. The four Drivers, that I still teach to this day, were paramount, especially when you are out gunned, out numbered, and trying your best to survive (Drivers = Active Defense, Tight Economical Structure, Balance, Adaptive Conditioning, in other words remember to breath).
4. Sniper Striking: When you are losing in a fight, there is a tendency to want to fight out of desperation. The result, you lose focus, get consumed by your sympathetic nervous system (the fight/flight/freeze response) and end up losing technical form. All it takes is a rogue punch to catch you in this mayhem and the fights over. When you dealing with more than one opponent, that risk is even greater, you simply cannot be everywhere at once.
Moving out of my tank position, I focused on riding the incoming storm primarily with my defense, I then focused on my breath, and picked opponents off strategically as I saw them. I did pretty much nothing else but dive board jab and cross that night. I have always been a fan of punching that is both offensive and defensive at the same time — the Dive Board — really saved my ass that night.
5. You Only Have Your Own Back: Like it or not, when it comes to interpersonal violence, you may end up alone. Anyone who is a big mouth about fighting, flag it, flag them. I have learned after several years fighting outside the doors of nightclubs, the biggest mouths, on both sides of the divide, bouncers, and patron’s alike, are exactly that — all talk. When the shit goes down, they are often the first people to run for the hills. Trust only
yourself in a fight.
Louise, who is now my wife, saw it all go down. She saw lots of situations like this. I am surprised she still married me. After that fight, I had a broken nose, two cracked ribs, but I was able to walk away. A combination of fight experience, and an amazing self-preservation delivery system, the Crazy Monkey Defense System saved my ass that night. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. Everything I used that night wasn’t fancy, no reality based self defense hyperbole, just good old fashioned fundamentals. In all the years I fought, that’s what saved me time and time again.