Operating in Establishments with No Hit Policies by Ari Bolden
While most doormen are aware that the nature of this job has changed considerably since the days of the "bouncer", some establishments actually have in place what they call no hit policies. The NHP, besides being an insult to our collective intelligence, means that the doormen are not to punch, kick, head butt, or otherwise strike a patron in the course of their duties.
Call me crazy, but striking a patron to get them out of the bar is somewhat silly and even in the days of the bouncer, I am sure it wasnt on the first choice list. Restrain, hold, tie up; these would be the first physical tools used in our profession. But somewhere down the line, employers got the idea that bouncers would smash a patron in the face in order to get them out of the bar.
The no hit policy was born.
Many NHP stipulate than any excessive physical force by a doorman will be dealt with by immediate termination of employment. This is great and I have no problem with such a policy.
But lets put the breaks on here for a bit.
As I have said in many of my articles and books, our operating environment is hugely grey (not black and white) and there are certain times when the no hit policy may sound good on paper but has no place in the real world. Lets examine when and when not to use striking techniques in our jobs.
When Not to Strike:
Asking a patron to leave: As a general rule, no doorman should lay hands on any patron unless a perceived threat has arisen. Simply using your verbal management skills should get the drunk moving along 90% of the time.
A patron being verbally abusive to you or staff: Hey, if you cant take a little (or a lot) of verbal abuse in this job, you are in the WRONG business. Emotionally upset patrons will yell and swear at you all the time. Theyll do everything they can to get under your skin. Make sure not to smash them in the face when they make you angry. Take it with a grain of salt.
Patron vs. patron fight: The importance of team work and back up in our business means stopping the fight, separating the parties involved and ejecting the aggressive person(s). The majority of our job is to intercede when patrons are fighting. We restrain and hold patrons that are fighting. Our first response is not hammering a guy in the face to stop him from fighting. We use holds, locks, joint manipulation, team work, pressure points, and verbal commands to make them stop.
When to Strike
Actively aggressive patrons towards doormen: If you have ejected someone (or not letting someone in) from the bar and you notice that they are showing signs of aggressive pre assaultive behavior, you may need to strike in order to protect your self. The strike depends on a few factors of course. You should verbally warn the person to stay back and not approach you. If you have a genuine feeling that they are going to act on their verbal or non verbal threats, it may be time for a pre emptive strike. I generally use three types of pre emptive strikes to keep someone away from me.
The first is the palm heel strike to the face (which is actually like a face push more than anything) with a quick verbal warning to stay back.
The second is the double hand chest push to keep the aggressive person at bay.
The last technique I use is the front push kick to the stomach in order to keep the bloke from advancing within punching range. I like this one because it has a longer reach than the arms and it can be regulated from a push to a strike, depending on your mood.
Actively aggressive patrons fighting doormen: When a person is actively fighting you and they are trying to knock your head off, self defense laws state that you can defend your self with no more force than is reasonably required to stop the assault. If you have fists hitting you in the face and you cannot "tie someone up", you can strike the other person to stop their attack.
Patrons wielding weapons: Since this level is considered lethal force, you are allowed by law to use whatever techniques that will stop that attack from continuing. This includes strikes. You may be forced to subdue the patron using high level lethal or maiming attacks.
(as the quote goes: Id rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6)
Other door staff being attacked by aggressive patrons: As I wrote in my book, The Doormans Credo, there is something called the unwritten rule of bouncing. That is, if you find that one of your brothers is being beaten by some asshole punter, you use whatever it takes to stop him from doing so. Like police officers, you attack one of us, expect to get hurt. We dont get paid enough to let people beat the crap out of us. We endure so much shit week in and week out that to go home to our families all busted up isnt worth it.
Now, before you get on your high horse and start lambasting me for being too old school, reread the situations in which I suggest hitting is acceptable. Ive been doing door work for over 16 years and I am one of the easiest going stewards out there. Friendly and patience to a fault. But if you open that special door, you better be prepared what awaits you on the other side.
If your management comes down on you for using a striking technique while executing your duties, ask them how they would have handled it? If they tell you that absolutely no situation will require striking, they are living in a fantasy land and are a danger to work for.