THE YING & YANG OF DOOR WORK by John Johnston


As we should all know there are always two sides to every story? Door work has its good and bad sides, for me there were lots of positives, I had a great social life, met lots of celebrities, made some great friends, fantastic camaraderie and there was plenty of other fringe benefits. Then there is the other side of that coin. Unlike today, we were allowed to drink and drink we did. Lots of alcohol and a very smoky atmosphere 6 to 7 nights a week. I will let you draw your own conclusions.  It was not a good way to maintain a stable relationship let alone a marriage. Also you are expected to deal with other people when they are at their worst and there is another side to it all this and that is when you get on the wrong side of the law. If you work in the security industry sooner or later you will end up having an interaction with the police. I know I did on many occasions; fortunately most of them were favourable. For my part I can honestly say I had in the main a good reputation and respect from the police

As I said there are two sides to every story and this is my side of the story.

I’ve always been very aware of the law in regards to the job and was careful not to overstep the mark. On this particular night I had been away from the door for some particular time and had just returned to see if everything was OK. I was informed that there was no problems. I just happened to be standing by the main entrance when a young chap came in. As it was very late in the night we had put a stop on any further entrees, not only that, he appeared to be quite drunk anyway.  I politely explained the situation to him at which point he told me that he had a pass out. We had a policy of no pass outs, which I explained to him and if you were allowed a pass out we would have issued you with a ticket. “Can I see your ticket” this is when he starts getting animated and abusive. It’s time for him to leave; there is a slight struggle as I escort him out the door. He is now on the outside of the door, no harm done, not a problem. WRONG! The door flies open and he is charging at me ‘BUMP’ I have evaded him and given him a dig. It was only very light so I was able to gain control a bit more of a struggle and he is back outside. He walks away and out of sight but moments later he is back and the same thing happens again. Off he goes again and a quarter of an hour later he is back again only this time he is going crazy. He is throwing wild punches at me which I am evading. Again I give him a jab in order to gain control of him. Once more I eject him from the club, only this time I deliver a strong warning for him to go away and never come back. Sometime later the Police arrive and I am arrested. I spend a night in the cells and I’m later charged with malicious wounding. The Police tell me that the guy is in hospital, has a fractured skull, a broken nose and a fractured jaw. Yes I had been subjected to 3 wild attacks and each time I responded with a light jab in order to gain control. I couldn’t believe I’d hit the guy that hard and I believed I’d acted appropriately and proportionately. Eventually it goes to court and I plead not guilty. From the hospital report it was obvious the Police are telling lies to me. The report says “slight bruising to the temple, slight swelling to the nose and a small laceration to the inside of the mouth. The so called victim when questioned by my solicitor:               at what time did you leave your home?
Victim:                  Bout six o clock
Solicitor:               and had you been drinking on the night in question?
Victim:                  Oh Yeah
Solicitor:               at what time did you start drinking?
Victim:                  Bout six o Clock
Solicitor:               and what were you drinking?
Victim:                  Bitter mostly
Solicitor:               so if you were drinking Bitter mostly, what else was you drinking?
Victim:                  Just bitter mostly
Solicitor:               yes but if it was mostly bitter that you were drinking, that would indicate that you were
drinking something other than bitter, what was it Was it        wine or was it spirits?
Victim:                  Oh Yeah, barley wine, vodka and whisky.
Solicitor:               so you as an 18 year old was drinking large amounts of various alcoholic beverages from                               between six in the evening and one o Clock in the morning.

The guy was nodding and grinning. It was at this point that the head magistrate after conferring with his colleagues banged down with his gravel and pronounced ‘we do not need to hear any more, cased dismissed’.

There has been a lot of changes over the last 30 to 40 years. I’m not sure what sort of outcome would have been arrived at today, however this story does illustrate the many different sides of an incident

Anyway in the words of Homer Simpson “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, get a basket for each egg”

“Be afraid, be very afraid. Be careful when your spider sense is tingling”


There are times when working on the door when you can spot who is going to get thrown out later. You see punters as they come through the door and you just know that they will end up being ejected. My friend and colleague Joe and I used to have bets on the outcome of the people that we spotted. It would only count if one of the other guys ejected them. I was always pretty good at getting it right.

It’s a sense that would seem to manifest itself at tournaments. I would enter the main arena and be able to sense who I would end up fighting later that day.

I remember going to a competition in Ipswich, we arrived after an early start and a long drive. The last thing you feel like doing is having to start fighting but hey that’s what your there for. You get changed and you find yourself a space to start warming up. You greet old friends, catch up and you start looking around at the opposition making assessments. That’s when I spotted him. I turned to a team mate and said “I bet that’s the one that I get”, “rather you than me” he replies. Oh yeah why’s that? I hear you say. Well I will tell you why! The guy I have just spotted happens to be a 6ft 7inch brute of ebony muscle. He is a Frank Bruno look alike. He is warming up and his technique is very fast and strong He has an amazingly long reach with both arms and legs.

Anyway as the day progresses I manage to win through my pool and I’m due to meet the winners of the other pools. We are called to go to the area for the Semi’s. As we line up he’s on the opposite side and I’m drawn against him. Some days you just wished that you weren’t right all the time. He’s looking very formidable but what the hack I was having a good day myself. I’d had some good wins. You know some days you find that you are just in the zone. We are called up to take our bows and face off. Hajime (start)  was called and we began circling each other. We’re both being very cautious as nobody likes to get this far in a competition just to lose because of a stupid mistake. It’s about a minute into the bout and no score. He’s either just about to start an attack or just feigning. Without even thinking about it, a response is triggered. I drive forward with a really sharp Kizami (front hand jab). I must tell you that in those days of long ago competitions were Shobu Ippon, without mitts or even gum shields. I have hit him hard, right on the point of his jaw. It’s stopped him short and you could see that I had hurt him. Yame has been called and we go back to our marks. He’s looking at me with venom in his eyes and I’m thinking ‘sugar this looks bad’. The judges and the referees are conferring so either I am going to be disqualified or warned and I’m going to have to face his wrath. The referee comes back to his position and he looks very sternly at both of us, then his arm shoots straight up and I am awarded Ippon full point and I am the winner.

I can’t tell you how relieved I felt at that moment. I went on to lose in the final but my day was made up with that one result.

Just be very careful what you wish for

I attended a course and as soon as he walked through the door, I knew who my partner would be!!!

I attended a course and as soon as he walked through the door, I knew who my partner would be!!!

I LOVE THE SOUND OF BREAKING GLASS!! By John Johnston


The story that I am about to relate to you happened on a fairly quite midweek night. The sort of night that you wouldn’t normally get any trouble, however you should always expect the unexpected.
I was returning to reception from the first floor cabaret room having just watched the show band. As I came down the stairs and turned the corner it was obvious something was kicking off at the main doors. I was scanning around as to assess the situation when a uniformed copper backed into me at speed; he immediately ducked behind me and grabbed the back of my jacket. He was holding on extremely tight and making it very hard for me to move. I was twisting around looking at him and shouting “WTF do you think you are doing” or words to that effect. It was just as well that my head was turned because the next thing I knew a large and sharp object glanced the side of my head. I now realised what the Police Officer was about. He was using me as a shield. Unbeknown to myself, just previous a couple of young lads had been thrown out for some reason. They were pretty drunk and objected to being ejected. They were at the door arguing when a young copper who happened to be passing decided to stick his nose in. He  managed to make matters worse and one of the youths happened to smack him whilst he was trying to make an arrest. Somehow they managed to break the glass panel in the doors. “Ha” I hear you say “it should have been unbreakable glass”. We thought it was but technology wasn’t what it is today. You must remember this happened over 30 years ago. Anyway the two arseholes thought it would be good fun to start throwing lumps of glass around. It was at this point that I made my appearance. I seem to have a knack for good timing. As I mentioned my head was turned to the side when struck. I can only think that my afro helped save me from serious injury. ‘Yes an afro’!! Not only did I have hair once, I had a proper Michael Jackson going on!
To get back to the story. When the glass hit me I turned my attention to what was happening at the doors. What I saw was two youths trying to gather pieces of glass that they could use as projectiles. Self preservation kicked in and I smashed the policeman’s grip off me and ran at the youths. They immediately took off and split up going in different directions. Now to say I was a fast runner would be an understatement, at that time I had unbeaten school boy records in the 220 and the 100 yards. I’d played outside centre for Warwickshire Colts and on the wing for Coventry Welsh. So yes I could run and especially when chasing someone who had just thrown a lump of glass at me. Because they had gone in different directions, I could only go after the one. He was running around the car park and down the road towards the city centre. He was fast but I was faster and gaining. He kept glancing over his shoulder with a worried look on his face. I caught up with him and ran alongside him for a few paces. I placed my hand on his shoulder and as he was looking at me I steered him into a telegraph pole “Whollop” he didn’t see that coming. He’s flat on his back as I skidded to a holt; he seemed somewhat stunned as I pick him up and begin to frog march him back towards the club. I suddenly hear cheering and receive a round of applause from the bouncers of a rival club the other side of the road. I march him back to the club and hand him over to the Police where he is arrested and charged with assault and criminal damage.

The moral of this story is: “Don’t look at the finger that points to the moon or you will miss all that heavenly glory” or in other words “Don’t look over the shoulder when running or you will be seeing stars”

DANCING IN THE PARK by John Johnston


My personal study of Kata has become part and parcel of my daily routine.  Most mornings you can find me in the local park weather permitting. I could train indoors but I prefer to be outside. The park is usually empty early morning, the airs fresh, there is a feeling of openness and sounds are swallowed up. The Kata or Kata’s I will practice will depend on my personal agenda. The manner of my practice changes according to my needs. I will not bore you with a catalogue of the various aspects, what I would like to say is the Kata’s appear to take on a mood of their own, they feel so different to a Kata performed in a classroom setting. It’s like bedroom dancing, only with discipline.
I find I express myself more freely. There is an edginess, lots of intention and that feeling that my technique has effectiveness. The flow and timing feel different and breathing is more enhanced. That’s maybe because there are no outside influences. I still conform to the Kata, only I feel less restricted. I do not change the Kata; I let the Kata change me. It’s a good start to my day. I am often inspired and energised. When I have done dancing in the park. I know I have vanquished my greatest foe, “myself”.
That braves me to ask one further question, “ If martial arts really does make you a better person, how come we have so many arseholes doing it”?

ENOEDA SENSEI by John Johnston


“Enoeda Sensei”. You only have to hear the name and you immediately have your own visions and thoughts about a man who personifies Karate. An awesome, dominant, larger than life figure. There are a multitude of stories about Enoeda Sensei. These are just some of my own.

Back in the day, National Squad training would often be held at Long Ford Dojo in Coventry. They would often be presided with a general training session taken by Enoeda Sensei. The first two incidents occurred on the same training session. In those days Enoeda Sensei could be very hands on with students(pre P.C). A good friend of mine had the habit of sticking his tongue out whilst standing in stance during Kata. Sensei told him several times to put his tongue away. Well if you don’t listen you have to learn the hard way. Sensei must have gotten fed up with reminding him so as he was walking past, my friend had his tongue out, Sensei’s hand shot out and grabbed the offending article and gave it a brutal squeeze. My agonised friend went down on one knee whilst whimpering. Sensei shouted at him ” I tell you put tongue away” he then wiped his hand on the lads Gi and just carried on instructing. It was very hard not to laugh at something of that nature, no-body laughed. It was shortly after that incident, while still practicing Kata that Sensei stood in front of me and whilst he was making a correction to my posture, I must have averted my vision and looked down. ‘SLAM’ he hit me hard with the flat of his hand on my forehead. Next thing I know I’m siting on my backside looking up at him. He just walked away saying ” don’t look at floor”. Enoeda Sensei’s lesson’s are learnt the hard way.
A few years later when I had a club of my own, I took several students to an all grades course in Newark. Enoeda Sensei was taking the lesson. I remember it being a hard but good session. Many of my students had never trained under a Japanese Instructor before. They were awestruck. They were all discussing the training afterwards, telling me how impressed and pleased they were. One young lady was telling me that she thought it was brilliant but could not get the weasel breathing right. She asked if this was right and screwed her face up in the imitation of a rodent and started to snuffle through her wrinkled up nose. When I finally managed to contain my laughter, I told her to remember that Enoeda Sensei is Japanese. What he had actually said was ” with your breathing” not weasel breathing.

Fond memories on how the lesson we need to take away is to listen more carefully.

COCKTAILS IN COVENTRY by John Johnston


Those of you that have followed my blog may remember that I have mentioned about disarming people with knives. I have told you that it only ever happened to me on two occasions, one was by default as mentioned in a previous blog and on the other occasion by stealth.
Which happened like this:

I was standing at the reception of the nightclub chatting, perhaps I should mention here that anyone that has never read my blog that I was Head Doorman at a large Coventry Nightclub in the late 70s, anyway the girl on the desk receives an internal phone call, she tells me that there is trouble at the Cocktail Bar, yes that’s right, Cocktail Bar with a proper Cocktail Barman. There weren’t many of those about in Coventry in the 70s.
I leave the reception to investigate and as I am approaching the Bar I can see a guy with his back to me and two other people are backed into a corner. The geezer with his back to me is threatening the two other guys with a knife; every other person has left the area. The Barman is nowhere to be seen. I realise later that he is hiding under a shelf behind the bar, on assessing the situation I instantly hatch a cunning plan.
I approach the guy with the knife, careful to keep out of his line of vision. I grab his right wrist, that’s the hand that is holding the knife. I slammed the side of his head into the brass bar rail. This has the effect of stunning him and happily for me he drops the knife. The two cornered guys split. I’m left with the protagonist who’s having trouble standing unsupported. Without any hesitation he is on his way to the front door, by the time he’s outside he seems OK, only he’s got a large lump on the side of his head. He heads off down the road never to be seen again.
you may think that I should of taken more care of the guy as he could of had a concussion or worse, but this incident happened long before we had a health and safety culture and I feel that he was lucky that it happened in my club because if it had happened in any of the other clubs he would of gone out via the back doors and would of received (a severe talking to). As I may have said before, you have to make instant judgements and so once again this happened to be the right judgement looking back in hindsight. As we all know, hindsight and retrospect are an exact science.

STRANGLERS IN THE NIGHT, by John Johnston


Trouble in the nightclub business comes in many shapes and sizes. As Head Doorman, you should be looking for the best outcome for all involved. That’s not always possible; sometimes things go down the pan very rapidly indeed.

It has been a very busy Saturday night and there is a seven piece soul band as the main act. This is where the problem starts. I get an internal phone call at reception and I’m told that having finished their soul act, the band are drinking heavily. they’re in a locker room used by female bar staff. the band members have been messing about and being abusive to a couple of the girls. This room is in the back of the club, down a narrow dog legged corridor. It has no windows and is painted completely black as it is part of the roof space. I tell a couple of the lads to follow me; we make our way through the club  and up the back stairs. I have got Joe and Martin with me. Martin is a big lump of a bloke who I went to school with. He is a good man to have watching your back. Joe is a tall, thin Kung-Fu Instructor who is totally fearless. When we get to the locker room, we find the band members arguing amongst themselves. Three of them are very drunk and there are a couple of bottles of Southern Comfort being passed around. Two of the band members are trying to get the rest of them to come back to their own changing rooms and trying to calm things down, they were also trying to get them to behave but with no success.. We are all crammed into a small space with a lot of male testosterone at work. I manage to get four of the band members to cooperate and leave the locker room, that leaves three of them and three of us. They were very, very drunk, very argumentative and armed with two bottles of Southern Comfort. It doesn’t look good and suddenly gets worse when a knife appears from nowhere. Martin is standing in the doorway with me just in front of him. unfortunately Joe is in the back of the room. I tell Martin to go and get some help, as I push him out of the doorway I slammed the door closed and switched the light off. The room is in complete darkness. I’m crouching down listening to three drunks stumbling around. One of them backs up to me and I grab him around the throat. I have got a good grip on him and as he struggles he backs me to the wall. I have got a tight grip of him and I feel fairly safe and secure. Amongst many of the sounds I hear, I hear some thumps and it sounds like somebody is being hit and Joe is doing the hitting. suddenly the door flies open, the light goes on and Martin leaps into the room and grabs hold of an extremely confused drunk standing in the middle of the room alone. The guy I’m holding isn’t struggling anymore and the third is lying against the lockers holding his head. I look down to see a knife on the floor next to the guy I’m holding. He is completely still and blue which I thought was strange considering he was a black guy. He is making strange noises so I lye him in the recovery position. Meanwhile Joe is assisting Martin with the other guys which is a bit awkward with the shape and narrowness of the corridor. I collect the knife and bottles as the room is filling up, only this time with more bouncers. I later found out that Martin had told one of the barstaff to go and get help  and then he came back in on his own. It’s great to have a good team around you with people you can really trust and rely on.

Time to get things in order!

The guy I choked out is back on his feet along with the other band members and they are being escorted out of the building. There is a lot of protesting going on and a lot of name calling and general abusiveness, never the less they are leaving via the back stairs as we are telling them that if they do not behave we will be seizing their equipment and withholding payment. Nothing like a bit of incentive to ensure Peoples cooperation. It’s only when you look back at situations like that do you realise how lucky you are and having to make your judgement in an instant how easily things could go wrong. Was it a wise choice to switch off the light and stay in the room? The result speaks for itself but it could easily have been a different outcome.

There have only been tow occasions where I have had to disarm somebody with a knife, both times from behind, like on this occasion it happened by chance, on the other occasion I managed it by stealth, but that’s a story for another time.

Giveth life, take it away. This is my son I have got hold of

Giveth life, take it away. This is my son I have got hold of