Understanding “Bar Fights” – Clint Overland and Erik Kondo


When people use the phrase “bar fight” to describe some type of a violent altercation that occurs at or around a bar, most people think they have a pretty good idea of what is being described. The problem is that, most likely, they are wrong.

A “bar” or drinking establishment is actually not a singular or uniform environment. The typical bar consists of multiple areas. Each of the areas have its own particular characteristics as well as those in common with the other areas.

A bar has at least six unique areas to consider. What transpires in each of these areas can be remarkably varied. Understanding how to deal with violence that occurs in a bar requires knowledge of the similarities and differences in altercations that transpire in each particular area.

The “average” bar has the following areas:

  1. Parking Lot and Street
  2. Restrooms
  3. Dance Floor
  4. Table Area
  5. Corners
  6. Outside Front Doorway

It is the characteristics of these areas that help determine what type of violence is most likely to occur in that area. Nothing is certain.  Both a seasoned Violence Professional and someone who occasionally visits a bar will benefit from the information that follows.

Parking lots and Restrooms are ambush spots. Look for groups of people hanging out for no apparent reason. Or single/duos standing around talking. Ambushes are predatory. They are preset and prearranged.  They usually only take place if there are no witnesses, unless it’s a killing, then it doesn’t matter all that much.

Restrooms are great for an ambush attack because everyone lets his/her guard down and focuses on what they are doing.  Think about what you are paying attention to when you go to the bathroom. There is no eye contact. You look straight ahead and bam your teeth are down your throat.

The Dance Floor offers an open area for people to move around. So you will see more monkey dance than predator attacks. A lot more kicking and big looping punches. Here it is about looking at who is possibly going to stop you before it goes too far. Or you are looking at who is paying attention. Dance floors are for Monkey Dancing.

Inside the Table Areas you will see straighter punching, nut shots, elbows and knee strikes. Also chances are there will be more weapons used because of access to beer bottles, chairs, and other improvised weapons. There is also more use of knives.

Corners are funny. A guy that backs himself into a corner is looking to protect his back and ready to fight HARD. See this in a lot of the old Tusk Hogs, they want their back guarded. They know what they are doing. A guy that is backed into a corner is even more dangerous. Most of the time, he is trying to escape and will do whatever it takes to get away. Run through, over or around you to get away. He is going to be desperate and a desperate man is dangerous.

Outside Front Door is play land. That’s where the stupid in people comes out. It shakes its Monkey dick at each other. No shirts, loudmouths and pack mentality is common place. This is also where you see the most chick fights. Get them out the door and they go and hide till they see the object of their anger walk out. BOOM here comes the crazy.

The Tells/Indicators/Pre-Assault Cues carry over to each area. It is about learning to read the whole picture instead of just one sentence. You begin to soft see everything with practice. Subtle shifts in body language and small movements. For example, the flaring of nostrils, the reddening of the skin, tight lips, you take it all in and process it in a millisecond.

The basic concept is soft seeing. People under stress get tunnel vision.  They focus on one or two things and that’s all. They miss the big picture. They need to step back and take the wider view. That sounds hard, but it is a simple discipline that allows you to see and feel everything at once.

You stop focusing on just one thing and allow your eyes and senses to focus on everything. For example, a slight foot shift for better positioning, a shoulder tilt for striking, eyes shifting over to the guy behind you. The way he moves his hands to show that he means no harm. All of these things are tells.

Does he look around and smile like “Hey Bro no problem here”.  Then bam, he punches you in the face or knees/kicks you in the balls. These are cues that must to be learned before it’s too late. Never trust that your size or skill are everything you need to survive. Take the time to learn everything you can about the way people move and respond to situations.

Your mind is an incredible processing machine. It can take in and correlate huge amounts of information in an instant. Getting your body to react is a whole other ball game. This is why either being the first to hit or getting out of range is so important. Most likely, your antagonist will give you signs that they are going to strike, and how they are going to strike, long before it actually happens.

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