Bar Fighting Workshop: 4 Lessons Learned

bar fighting workshop group photo

Did you know 1 in 4 assaults in Sydney happen at places with bars? We ran a Bar Fighting Workshop, here's what we covered.

Where are you most likely to be assaulted? According to the Bureau of Statistics it’s a licensed premises. Truly (not) shocking that 34% of all assaults on men and 25% of ALL assaults happen at bars and clubs and other licenced premises, and that’s just what is reported to police.

Two days before the workshop was held, this article appeared on the ABC. A West Australian man died in Bali after being hit on the head with a bar stool at a bar. The attacker was found guilty and given a prison sentence, but prison sentences don’t resurrect the deceased. Tragedies like this one are why we train as we do.

What’s different about bar fighting? Bar fights are nasty. Coward punches. Glassing attacks. Intoxication. Multiple attackers. Crowds. There are so many variables that need to be accounted for and trained for.

We are big advocates for taking opportunities on-location, in low-light, in regular clothing. Why? Because a false sense that the security of training only in a gym in your active wear is one of the reasons your self-defence training may fail when you need it most. So we were thrilled to run this workshop, and by the turnout.
In regular training, we are taught to defend attacks with common objects like pool cues, bats, bottles. We are taught reflexive defences from punches and kicks from all angles. We drill multiple attacker scenarios.
The difference last night was that aspects we are taught in class were all brought together as most relevant because they are most common in this particular situation, to this particular type of location, to cement in our minds the relevance of what some of us already know, and others were introduced to for the first time.
Here is some of what we covered:
  • Situational awareness and pre-fight tactics and positioning
  • Defending strikes from all angles: coward punches from the side and front
  • Defending an attack while you are seated
  • Defending from bottle and glassing attacks
  • Intervening while a potential attacker is seated and harassing a third party we are protecting
  • Multiple attacker scenarios
  • And much more.
bar fighting workshop upper cut

There are specific tactics related to being in a crowded area, especially when surrounded by others who are likely intoxicated with dangerous objects within reach or in-hand, and in the company of people we may feel obligated to protect, that are important to take into account.

1. Don’t chase unicorns

While de-escalation is always our first port of call, we shouldn’t ‘chase unicorns’ – they don’t exist. If an aggressor is resisting de-escalation, we note they are becoming increasingly agitated, and our personal sense of safety is threatened, pre-emptive strikes for self-defence may be necessary.

2. Stay in the pocket

In an active fight situation, stay in the pocket of the fight. Persistent retreating may involve others who are not involved, but who are also inebriated and may not react kindly to the apparent ‘aggravation’.

3. Keep moving

You are easier to attack if you are static. When untrained, the intuition is to remain in the location we have managed to mount a defence in. However, the longer we remain still, the more of a target we become. It’s harder to hit a moving target.

4. Be prepared to leave

Don’t ever become invested in a place. Use your situational awareness and trust your intuition. If you start to feel like something is wrong, it probably is. If you witness an altercation, or note a group that is aggressive to others, don’t wait for them to become aggressive to you. The absolute best self-defence tactic is avoiding a physical confrontation. Leave if you must.

Some of the techniques we learned are taught only behind closed doors, so we can’t really share them here. We run workshops monthly, make sure you sign up to be notified about the next one.


Follow us on Instagram to see a wrap-up reel of the event. We’ll be posting more over the course of the next few weeks. There are a lot of cool shots from the workshop.