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All Things Manly: How to Win a Bar Fight

Gentlemen! Time for another edition of “All Things Manly”. So you go out with a couple buddies down to your favorite watering hole to have a couple beers and watch the game. Everything is going great and you’re having a good time. But then everything starts to unravel when some drunk asshole starts mouthing off. It doesn’t really matter what it’s over. We’ve all heard and seen it happen. Next thing you know, you’re in the middle of a situation that you didn’t sign up for but are certainly going to have to remedy. So today we’re going to talk about how to win a bar fight. Men, I’ve found myself in my fair share of these situations but have come out on the winning side every time. I’ve beaten people’s heads and knocked their teeth out. On one occasion, I hit a guy so hard his contacts popped out of his eyes. On another, I smashed a man’s head on the floor and thought that I had killed him. The guy was still unconscious when the paramedics packed him out the door. I felt kind of bad, but the bar tenders gave me free beer for a couple weeks and I wasn’t about to argue with their generosity. In order to win, it’s going to take good observation skills, quick thinking, and even quicker responses. So put down your beer and let’s get after it.

Step 1: Be aware of your surroundings. When you walk into a bar (especially a new one), make sure you locate the exit doors. This can be helpful when trying to get out of a fix. Also, take note of any bouncers and how many there are on the floor. These guys can be your saving grace or your worst enemy. Are they hanging out in the corner hitting on a girl, or are they scanning the room with their head on a swivel? Take a second to look at the floor. Is it wet? How is your traction? How will his traction be? Watch the bartenders for a moment. Some of them will be caught up in making drinks and only look up long enough to serve a drink or take your card. A good bartender will have his eyes up on the crowd and surveying the bar room.

Step 2: Walk away. The easiest way to win a bar fight is to stop it before it starts. If you’re like me, then you’re not getting any younger. Punches hurt. Plus, I have to think about my job, my girlfriend, her kids etc… There is a lot more for me to lose now than when I was in my 20’s. Personally, I’m not fighting anymore unless I am absolutely 100% forced to do so. Seriously, swallow your pride and get out of there. Also, what people tend to forget in these situations is that you can get seriously hurt. You don’t know if he has a weapon. Plus, you can seriously hurt him as well. But on second thought, thanks to Mr. Obama, everybody should have healthcare. So go ahead and blast him.

Step 3: Assess the attacker. This is the step right before he starts coming at you. You should be assessing him from the beginning really. It’s usually the guy who’s loud as hell and bumping into people. Hitting on other guy’s girlfriends or wives right in front of everybody. You know exactly who I’m talking about. That’s almost always going to be the one who starts it. Is he by his self? If not, how many friends are with him? I can tell you from experience that not all of them will join in if he gets into a fight. I don’t care how badass they look. If there are five of them, at least two or three won’t get involved. But still, if you’re outnumbered, see step #2. Keep an eye on them if it comes to fighting time. Where are they? Have they come around behind you? To your flank? How drunk is he? Are his words slurring? Are his movements sluggish? These can be indicators of how fast (or slow) his reaction time will be. If he is mouthing off, don’t feed into it because it can escalate quickly. Stay cool and calm. More than likely, a good bartender will see him and wave for the bouncers to get him out of there. Also, remember that a typical bar fight is only going to last five to seven seconds and hardly ever more than ten.

Step 4: Attack.  Typically when a guy is trying to start a fight with you, he’s going to be right on top and in your face. Screaming and trying to swell up like the barnyard rooster. If it has come to this and the bouncers haven’t stepped in, then it’s time to act. I once had to step in and knock a guy out to defend a much smaller guy because there were no bouncers and the bartenders were all women. If I hadn’t been there, I’m not sure what would’ve happened. So, now you’ve realized there is no way out and you’ve got to throw down. Listen carefully. Make the first move. Don’t wait on him to do it for you. Remember, you didn’t want to be in this situation in the first place. His actions have forced your reactions. Plus, you don’t want to sustain damage and then try to start throwing. It sets you at a disadvantage from the start. Also remember that the longer you wait to make a move, the longer he has to get ready for it. Most of these guys will be in your face running their mouth like I said earlier. This is a great time to act. While his jaws are flapping, a quick head butt to the nose will make his eyes water so that he can’t see and it’ll get the blood flowing. Or if he’s jamming his finger into your chest, simply grab it and bend it backwards until it breaks. If you suspect him of trying the head butt, just drop your forehead and he’ll smash his nose into the top of your head. In either case, he’ll start backing up and you’ll have some distance between you. When throwing punches, remember to connect with the knuckle on your pointer finger and middle finger. The knuckles on your ring finger and pinky finger can break easily. There is a general rule of thumb regarding your target. Always aim for soft tissue. Don’t land a punch on the bone. It will cause minimal damage to him and can very easily break your hand. There are three main spots to land a punch. One is the temple. If you’re quick, he won’t even see it coming from the side and it’ll be lights out. The second is the nose. Crush the nose like I stated before regarding the head butt and he’ll lose his sight. The third spot can be the chin. Not a direct hit but more of an uppercut to lift the head. Remember that any quick snap of the head will momentarily stop blood flow to the brain and he will drop like a sack of potatoes. Now, if you’re really quick, you can also throw combinations. One can be to head butt to blind him, then sweep across with your weak elbow to strike the temple or eye. Go ahead and practice this. Head butt, then follow with the weak elbow. Remember to step with the weak foot as well for a good follow through. Now, after you’ve thrown the elbow and stepped through, look where your dominant hand is. You’re natural movement should be to pull it back. And guess what? It should be cocked and ready to strike. Follow through with your dominant hand and place another shot on his nose or chin. That’s a quick 1,2,3 combo. By that time the bouncers should be there.  And he’ll be on the floor and having a bad day.

*If you’ve been unlucky enough to find yourself a victim of this attack (I told you to strike first, dummy) then there are a few things you can do. If it’s a shot to the temple or chin and you’re not lying on the floor, then drop your levels by bending your knees and essentially perform a football tackle. Having a wrestling past, I always felt very comfortable fighting on the floor. You’ll want to be on the ground when trying to regain your faculties. Just make sure you’re on top. If you find yourself on the bottom, there are ways to reverse your situation. But for the sake of space, I’ll leave that out. Keep your ear to his stomach and start climbing your way towards his head. It’ll be hard for him to land a decent punch when you’re that close. A couple shots to the top of your noggin is probably all you’ll get. If the bouncers haven’t gotten there yet, go ahead and pop up and start dropping hammers on his face. But make sure you don’t raise your head until your knees have passed his waist on your climb towards his head. If not, you’ve created space for him to strike. If you’re unlucky enough to have your nose crushed, then you’ll be blinded by tears and blood. Follow the actions I just mentioned, but make absolutely sure you don’t create space after his initial hit. You’ll want to pull back and hold your nose, but that’s the worst thing you can do because you’ve given him space to attack with any shot he wants. Plus if your hands are over your face and you’re blind, you’ll have no way to defend yourself.

Step 5: Tie up loose ends. I typically would then apologize to the bartenders and bouncers for the entire melee. Also, ask if everyone else is okay. Sometimes bystanders can get injured as well. It’s just a polite gesture. Also, look around for broken glass and make sure nobody gets cut. You may even have to call the ambulance for the other guy like I once did. As I mentioned earlier, I was in a bar fight years ago in which I thought I had actually killed a man. My girlfriend (at the time) witnessed the whole thing. She was actually pretty traumatized over watching the speed and violence in which it happened. I remember how she didn’t look at me the same for a few days. I’m generally a pretty laid back guy, but this was a part of me she had never seen before. Remember guys, there are going to be people who have never seen a violent fight or blood everywhere and it can be a traumatic experience for them. If a loved one (especially a girlfriend/wife) happens to witness it, take time to talk it over with her afterwards and assure her you’re okay. You can still be a gentleman about it. In my case, she actually told me she felt safer with me knowing what I was capable of doing.

Men, the best bet is to walk away. An even better idea is to not visit bars that are known for fights. But if you find yourself with no other options, think and act quickly. Sometimes our hand is forced and we have to do things we don’t want to do. Remember that you’re not the asshole here. You didn’t start it, but you better be ready to finish it. So if you have to fight, go at it hard. Kick his ass and leave him bloodied on the floor. With any luck, you won’t have to. But if you do, I hope this sheds some light on how to handle a situation that most of us don’t want to be involved with, yet at some point we’ve all found ourselves in. Go forth and be manly.

Paul Craft
Paul was born, raised in the historic town of Fincastle, Va (just outside of Roanoke). He lives on a registered “Century Farm” that has been in his family since 1906 in a house that was built in the 1790s. His farm has over 300 hundred head of cattle, 6 donkeys, 17 chickens and various other animals along with his dogs, Mike, Buster, and Loki. Paul is married and has three step-children. Paul graduated from Emory and Henry College in 2004 with a degree in Geography and an emphasis in environmental studies. Paul works as a Mental Health Counselor and is currently working towards his Masters Degree in Counseling through Liberty University and will soon be a Christian Counselor.

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