Steve Rowe talks to well respected Doorman and Shi Kon Martial Artist Dennis Jones. This interview was done in March 2005.
Dennis visited the centre and bought a videotape with a collection of violent confrontations taken from his huge archive of footage from 25 years of door work on some of the most violent night clubs in the Medway area to help the students understand how violence starts and how to avoid and deal with it. Whilst he was here I asked him to talk about how bullies single out their targets.
SR Dennis, we’ve just watched a videotape made up from over 100 confrontations that you’ve filmed – and I understand that’s just a snippet from your archives – the thing that strikes me is how violence seems to start from something stupid or trivial….
DJ You’re not kidding! You could be walking down the street and someone could pick on you just because he doesn’t like the jacket you’re wearing. For you, that’s not acceptable within the bounds of civilised society, but for the person causing the problem, it’s a legitimate reason!
Some people just want to start trouble, they go through life in pubs, nightclubs and so on using “angles” to the way they talk, they want to “hook” onto somebody, measure that person and then do something to them to make themselves feel good, look good (to their mind) and satisfy this weird craving.
SR Can you give a specific example?
DJ Oh yeah… For instance I can remember there was a guy in the club where Iwas working and he was in the toilets grooming himself in the mirror and acting strangely. I slid into one of the cubicles to find out what he was up to. He was saying out loud to himself in the mirror:“Look how good I am… Look how ******* good I am, I’m gorgeous!” what he was doing was not so much saying it for himself, but to see if anyone else was going to hook onto it.
People avoided eye contact with him and didn’t say anything. He was getting off on the fact that he was scaring everyone who came in, as they walked past, he was saying “Oi! Look at me I’m ******* gorgeous! Who wouldn’t fancy me!” Some of the guys walking past were big but I could see they were still scared. One hesitated and didn’t say anything, so he put it straight on him saying “Don’t you think I’m *******good looking then? Are you saying I’m ******* ugly?”
When the guy answered hesitantly “Erm no…. I…” he walked straight over to him and started because he knew he’d hooked his victim. The poor guy stammered “No no… you’re not ugly…” and that was my cue. I came out, grabbed him by the throat inadvertently sticking my finger in his eye and said “You’re too ******* good looking for this place – you’d better go” – and slung him out, catching him on the doorpost on the way out! I ended up having to eject him in quite a violent way to prevent him from picking the fight he wanted with a weaker person
He ended up standing outside shouting “Why did you throw me out…. I was only saying that I was good looking!”
SR What a strange guy!
DJ Exactly! Most people just can’t get their heads around the trivia.
SR What advice can you give people who want to avoid idiots like that?
DJ Actually you’ve just said it…. Avoid them! People tend to go out in groups and if you don’t get isolated you shouldn’t become a target for these predators. You probably stand a good chance of having a good night out. Avoid eye contact, keep out of their range and if you identify one these people, leave the premises! Fights often start because someone thinks that they aren’t going to put up with this sort of behaviour and it plays into their hands.
SR Watching the tape, it’s amazing how many of these people having been ejected by the doormen – and often, physically sat on and then ejected, still come back for violence! It seems that a lot of them are high on drink and drugs, as a Doorman how do you recognise the first signs of violence?
DJ There’s an old Zen saying, “You fear first and then know you’ve feared afterwards”. My gut instinct tells me – I feel it straight in the pit of my stomach. I can stand on the door and instinctively pick people out, you may have a nightclub with a thousand people in it, but you’ve only got maybe 20 violent people in there, I’ll be able to pick them out.
Then you’ve got about another 20 on the periphery of being violent that are just waiting for a situation and the term that we’d use for that from the old days is “snipers”, they play the game with respect and manners until they see that you’re down, wrong footed or hurt and then they’ll stick a glass into the back of your head, your face, or put the boot in. And yet half an hour previous to that they’d have sat down with you, bought you a drink and told you that you’re the greatest person in the world! They are the worst people… and in life the worst people to have as friends – certainly in that environment.
SR It seems to me that the first taste of this sort of bullying for most people occurs at school and seems to stick with people for the rest of their lives.
DJ That’s right! In fact let me relate my own experience on the subject. As a kid I was bullied. I’m half Chinese and when I came to the Medway Towns I really suffered at school. I didn’t have much and when my Aunt from Singapore gave me a really good pen I loved it. At school the bully took the pen out of my pocket and wrote something on a piece of paper with it and then put the pen in his pocket.
I asked him to give it back to me. “What pen” he said. I pleaded with him to give it back, told him it was special to me, that my Aunt had given it to me, I tried to appeal to his better nature, of course he just didn’t have one! “I haven’t got your ******* pen” he said. I asked him for it back again and he said: “Are you calling me a ******* liar?”
Now this is interesting Steve, see how he and the guy we spoke about earlier twist the situation to justify themselves, to make it look like the victim’s in the wrong? I didn’t realise it at the time of course but this is a typical bully strategy. I didn’t do anything about it and that hurt me. That pen is probably why I took up Karate and started work on the doors. You know how if you cut yourself as a child, you may get a small scar? As you grow, the scar grows with you – and believe you me, this one grew and festered.
Well…. Guess what… 22 years later when I was working on the doors, he came into my club. I went over to him and said “you stole my ******* pen!” And I paid him back. He probably didn’t remember it or me but I needed justice.
A couple of years later, he lost a hand in a motorcycle accident and it might be a terrible thing to say but this is how deeply it affected me – I couldn’t feel any compassion for him because he shouldn’t have stolen my pen! Years later, he died of a drugs overdose and when one of the other doormen showed me the article in the newspaper… guess what…. I felt no remorse. I screwed up the paper, threw it into the bin and said……. “he shouldn’t have stolen my ******* pen!
I know that sounds terrible but I want to make the point that how we react to these people and this type of situation can really affect us so deeply.
I despise bullies. They made my life a misery when I was young and so many people suffer such terrible unnecessary indignity during what should be the happiest days of their life that these people shouldn’t get an opportunity make others suffer and end up being victims for the rest of their life.
SR Agreed. This is why Martial Arts training for all ages is so important.
DJ Yeah, but the right kind of Martial Arts training Steve, this is why I want to give the readers a reality check. I want them to think about these columns and make sure they put some of the forthcoming ideas and strategies into their situation and self defence training.