The best bouncer stories are usually the ones that involve some complete jackass who thinks a few drinks are all that are required to become a competent lawyer. I swear the only people more comfortable with their understanding of the law than a drunk might be indignant teenagers. “You can’t do that! I know my rights! I’ll sue you!” Usually accompanied by a righteous friend with a iphone recording the whole thing. I think, sometimes, it’s the mating cry of the hyper-privileged suburban dirtbag. I could be wrong, I suppose. I know that in this case I earnestly wish for ignorance. I’m not gonna share the stories. Go buy a bouncer a drink some night, when he’s not working.

Use of force isn’t really a mystery. There’s a nice little overview at Police Chief Magazine. Or you check out this nice little PDF done up by the Vancouver Police Department, made to explain the whole process to the Braidwood Inquiry. Or you can be one of those people who get all up in arms about police brutality when you see a random video on youtube. Yes, the cops will hit people. Yes, security guards will hit people. Yes, bouncers can punch you, when you deserve it. And we even get a handy chart to tell us when it’s permissible to punch you. I’m betting some bouncer out there has it tattooed to his forearm, for on the spot argument solving. So let’s sum it up even more, because it’s handy info and everyone should really know it, if you have a smidge of interest in self defense or martial arts.

A subject (bad guy) can be:
1. Cooperative. “Yes sir, Mrs. Officer, I will leave this area and stop yelling at everyone. I still think you are a tool and a pig, though.”
2. Passive resistant. “Fuck you. I can yell all night. I don’t care if it’s a hospital intensive care ward. I’m not leaving.”
3. Active resistant. “GET YOUR FILTHY PIG HANDS OFF OF ME! HELP! I’M BEING OPRESSED BY THE MAN!!!”
4. Assaultive. “I’m gonna kick your ass. *insert many swear words and terrible phrases here.*”
5. Grievous bodily harm or death. “What? This bottle in my hand? No big deal, I’m just gonna bash your head in with it.”

With a cooperative subject, our use of force is all verbal.

With a passive resistant subject, it’s still verbal, but we start to use what’s called “soft” physical intervention. This is joint locks, pressure points, pain compliance. Basically, pain becomes a factor, but there is a minimal risk of injury. It’s worth noting at this point that the subject is assumed to be resisting a lawful command. Obedience and compliance is the goal here. Don’t like that? Don’t break the law. And especially don’t hang around and be a dick about it afterwards. If a cop tells you to go and you don’t? Expect pain. You’ve been given every opportunity to avoid it and haven’t, soooo…yeah.

With an active resistant subject, impact comes into play. Strikes to “primary targets” come into play. This means the body, the arms, the legs. Big bulky areas of the body that are hard to break, basically. As opposed to the head, or joints. Again…the assumption is resistance to a lawful command. Security guards are limited to unarmed responses, but at this level the police can use so-called “intermediate” weapons to enforce compliance. Pepper spray, tasers, and baton strikes. At this level an increased potential for actual injury is possible. Yeah, you can get hurt.

Assaultive behaviour. Responses here are basically restrained self-defense. It’s a little known fact that police are actually allowed to defend themselves from being struck or injured! Weird, eh? You learn something new every day…So yes, here we are going to hit the subject, and hard. The goal is to make them not be assaultive anymore. You swing at someone, expect to get knocked out.

And at the last level, lethal force is the response. The goal is to stop someone from dying or being seriously hurt by the subject.

So quick sample questions. Assume you are a cop:

A. Protestors sit, linking arms, and calling you names. Refusing to leave area. Can you pepper spray them?

B. Drunk guy refuses to leave area of bar. He’s riling up everyone around, screaming, has been tossing things around. You try to put an armlock on him and haul him off to the drunk tank, but he starts to fight back, struggling, and turtling up on the ground. Can you hit him with a baton?

C. A bunch of teenagers are told to go home, but as they walk away they start calling you every name under the sun, being very especially racist, homophobic and sexist. What’s the appropriate response?

Answer Key!
A. Hell no! Passive resistant. Lay in with wrist locks, or do a fun finger trick with their nose or ear.

B. Yup. Active resistant. Probably call an ambulance, too. Might have other substances in his system and need medical help.

C. Wave bye-bye to the little bastards and wonder why you didn’t become a fireman instead. They are being cooperative, even if they are being dicks about it.

That’s the simple overview…but consider even the most rudimentary BC security guard class spends eight hours class time on the above material, and about the same in physical practice time. I’ve done about a hundred hours in certificate courses on that material since 1990.

Another model I’ve used and taught was the Verbal and Physical Intervention levels used in BC hospitals, taught to me by Frank Evans at Saint Paul’s Hospital. It’s excellent for self-defense.

The verbal intervention section is based on five levels of intensity:
1. Calm. A normal conversation. “Hello! I’m here to pick up my order.”

2. Anxiety. An upset person. Confused, frustrated, exasperated, etc. “What do you mean it’s not here? I was told it was ready today. Did you get my name right?”

3. Anger. An angry person venting. Swearing, etc. “God damn it! This happens every time! I’ve just about had it with this crap!”

4. Aggression. The point at which anger becomes focussed on a person or thing. Threats or attacks to an object are done. “I’m going to kick your ass!”

5. Assault.

This model has some interesting methods to it, but the main thrust is to always aim to reduce the person down one level. Get the agressive person to anger, then anxiety, and then to calm. Physical intervention becomes an option presented to the subject at level 4, and if needed is applied there before level 5 occurs. Used in the hospital environment, it was noted that rational people will move up or down only one step at a time, but under the influence of head injuries or some drugs or mental disorders a person can jump levels rapidly.

It’s a great model, but really needs professional training in order to be useful.