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Hitting Between The Eyes – By Jim West

Jim West
Jim West

In 1989, while stationed in Ft. Gulick Panama prior to the Panama Invasion “Operation Just cause”, I had several bar room brawls, mainly in the NCO Club. We had many visiting troops from the US crowding our space on Ft. Gulick. It is a small base and we had 100’s maybe 1,000’s of visiting soldier bivouacking in our home. This caused some overcrowding and the visiting troops were there for war.

They didn’t live there and were encroaching on our territory. When you put Green Berets, garrison troopers and infantry guy’s crammed into a small place, the testosterone gets a little high and nerves sometimes get on edge. I know mine did.

I was working out and doing fight training every day at the Ft. Gulick gym and our visitors were bogarting the heavy bags, ring, weights etc. and frankly pissing me off and making me very anxious. Between that and crowding the SF guys out of our drinking hole and acting like they owned everything, I figured it was only a matter of time before tensions lead to conflict and not with the Panamanians.

It started at the gym when I was doing some fight training with my students in the boxing ring, when a few hard looking visiting soldiers came by watched for a bit and then tried to intimidate me by telling us to give them the ring so they could work out. They basically tried bullying us out of our own house. In short I invited one of them into the ring and promptly knocked him out. This is what led to the real fight later that evening over beer and shots in the NCO Club.

It was about 7 p.m. when I arrived to the club and I preceded to the bar where I was standing and drinking my beer. About an hour and a half later, the same assholes bullies from the gym showed up. I noticed them long before they noticed me. Eventually the guy I knocked out recognized me and told his friends. Next thing I noticed was they were beginning to crowd the bar to both my left and to my right.

The guy to my right about 25 years old, 6″1″ 230 muscular started giving me a ration of shit. He started by saying things to me like “so, you’re the fighter”, “you’re the bad-ass” and on and on. Needless to say I was getting aggravated and realized it was just a matter of time before a fight went down. There were 5 of them. I started to size them up, size age, left hand or right handed, which of them was going to be the biggest threat.

It just so happen it was the 6’1” guy to my right. He was kind of the leader, the big dawg! He was not the one I had knocked out earlier; I guess he felt strength in numbers, when they found me drinking alone.

At the time I was wearing my Special Forces Ring… The guy to my right told me “when you leave here tonight we are going to kick your ass” In the true TRS and Fightfast tradition, I formulated my plan and was ready to get it on. I don’t know about you, but I do not like waiting.

I believe when you wait, negative anxiety builds up and can cause you to lose power, energy and metal focus. For me it’s like pulling the handle on a slot machine, when the cherries line up on the win line, you (I) need to fire in the hole and strike. When you feel it…just go with it.

While he was running his mouth, I was turning the ring upside down where the crown was located on the inside or palm side of my finger, upside-down. Remember he had already issued the threat. All threats should be taken seriously. If someone says they are going to kick your ass while drinking, I believe you should strike first!

I took a last drink from my beer at the same time stepping backwards with my right foot, creating distance for maximum leverage. As I sat my beer down onto the bar and as I was stepping back, I had already achieved a solid base, with balance and prepared to hit him with my 3 points of leverage.

I stepped back another 6 inches and pronated my open hand, palm facing out towards the asshole. As I stepped out, I hit him right between the eyes with the Special Forces ring and blood flew from his face as he reeled backwards.

This shocked his friends and others. (I thought this would have a physiological impact on his 4 friends.)

As he lurched backward and then put his hand over his face, I used angulation and placed him between me and the others. I immediately realized the others wanted no part of me now. They were just hot air at the end of the day. I hit the first guy behind the ear and dropped him; he really never had a chance. He should have hit me and not telegraphed his intentions.

Because this was our house I was allowed to finish my drink. I was walking to the door to leave and I had a beer in a can in my right hand holding it by the top i.e. my hand was covering the top of the beer can. I guess I was going to sneak it out.

Jim West and Joe Lewis
Jim West (far left) training with the legendary Joe Lewis

Oddly enough as I was leaving, a short Spanish guy/soldier blocked my exit by cutting me off. He had a girl on each arm and was wearing a gold chain around his neck. He asked me if I was Jim West. I said yes. He said I hear you used to work out with Joe Lewis and I said yes.

Then he said “Joe Lewis is old”.

Yep red flag radar was turned on again.

Then he grabbed his gold necklace held it up under my chin and said, “While Joe Lewis was getting old, I was earning gold”. I said wow; you know there is a lot to learn from old people.

He told me to go fuck myself and he said I ain’t shit just because I knocked the other guy out. I shrugged my shoulders and gave him a perplexed look and hit him directly on top of his head in the soft spot with the beer I was holding. I stepped back hit my base much like using a hammer fist to break a board with or chop wood.

This was very effective. It was actually funny as I hit him he went straight down and the beer can exploded and took off to the ceiling, falling back down and hitting him in the head twice. He was down for the count. At this point I left and went home before any more trouble came my way.

I guess it’s good to stay relaxed and learn how to hit hard without telegraphing and with minor subtle distractions.

© James Smokey West
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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73 thoughts on “Hitting Between The Eyes – By Jim West”

  1. @ Frank Migchell

    Frank, there are only two kinds of animals in the world and only two kinds of humans too.
    There are prey and there are predators.

    The drunk bully thinks he is a predator, you have to readjust the food chain and put him under you. I am 6,3 fairly solidly put together and I have never, not once lost a fight to a man of my size or larger, but I have lost significantly more than one to men smaller than me, men that one would think I would break in half. Don’t let size come into it. Strike first while shouting “don’t hit me like that”, hit him again and shout “I told you not to hit me like that” and then shout “don’t kill me” and a few “helps” work just fine, by the time the witnesses arrive they would have all heard the ‘fight’.

    He who hit’s first and hits hard usually wins. I was for a long time reluctant to hit the small guy first, it being a bully stunt, after half a dozen real beatings I came to understand that little men are warriors too and must be treated with respect and dropped fast. This is not a TV episode, it is an event that takes seconds and keep calling for help even if the target is dead, forensics don’t work to the minute, sit down when help arrives and act hurt, pysically and spiritually. You will be supported.

    Use your words while you beat him, the witnesses will hear the fight, and rush to help you, by then it’s all over and you won’t be charged with putting him in the hospital and you must put him in the hospital, you have to send a message. If he is a real threat, you can use the same method of letting him catch you alone, calling out, and killing the mongrel like the enemy he has become. Prey or predator, your choice. Always hit first and always make it a dropping shot, no punches in the mouth, go for the throat, take an eye or smash a knee, put it down with the first hit and use what time you have to keep it down.

    All the best. Win !

  2. Anyone that does not believe this story has never had the misfortune to share a military base with US troops, they fight with each other a lot, there is almost no professional discipline. The US forces rely on brute force and firepower to achieve objectives, a sledgehammer approach rather than a surgical incision so the right kind of men are the kind that are spoiling for a fight over who “owns” the rights to drink in a bar. I have never seen such a situation occur in an Australian ASCO, the canteen or wetmess that existed in my time in the services before they were privatised. Any conduct of the nature described in this very real story would have seen some serious disciplinary action. In this fine example of US military conduct, we read how Jim West incapacitated, possibly even brain damaged an expensive to train soldier. It does not matter if someone is special forces, infantry, artillery or in supply, no military operation can continue without them. I am an ex-Regular Army sniper, this means that I had to undergo some very specific training and I have a certain mental attitude that others don’t generally possess. It does not mean that I am superior, just because I can do what I do, it just means that every soldier serves where they can. Fighting within the ranks is frankly stupid, the man who picked the fight should be discharged without delay, he is certainly not fit for combat and as for special forces, well I suppose it was a minimal response, but it was a dangerous one. I would have chosen an arm lock and a little assistance from the MP’s that are never far from any military watering hole.
    It hurts to say this, but booze and men on the edge are not always a good combination, but I have never seen an aggressor not sat on by the entire bar until the MPs could drag the drunk fool away. Alcohol is a privilege, abuse it and lose it. No one owns a hole apart from the proprietor.

  3. I’m 5’7″ tall way 145 and I have problems with
    a lot of people that are much bigger than me, wen thay look at me thay laugh at me. I’m not big and thay think that I’m not going to stand up for myself this is why I’m here.

  4. Hello Bob, nice story, I have found picking the No:-1 out of the gang you are facing, is the best way of proving the others look up to him as “Their Leader”, and if he goes down, the others tend to think “Well, if he can beat him, we don’t stand a chance.” and they give up without even trying, It reminds me of something that happened to me, and I found this out in the early 60’s, when I was about 21 or 22 yrs old, I was cycling over to Bushbury, WOLVERHAMPTON, where my girlfriend lived, and I was in Amos Lane, Wednesfield, WOLVERHAMPTON, and there where about 7 young lads on the footpath, and as I rode past on my bike, an apple was thrown and hit me in the left side of my face, I slapped the brakes on, parked my bike against a lamp-post, got off, went to the tallest one and asked him “Who threw that apple?”, he said he didn’t know, so I gave him a BIG slap across his face, and told him to give it to the one that DID. Got back on my bike and carried on with no further trouble from them.

  5. You seem to keep cool and never show any kind of attitude or indicate that you get off on the thrill of a fight. You take the threats seriously and you shut down the assholes, but you still behave with civility by not stomping them into a pile of bloody parts or humiliating them. I am sure you could have hurt those guys, but instead you let it go with one or two hits.

    I can’t laugh at other people’s pain, but the way you knocked out that guy with your beer can is rather funny. You subtly humiliated him and then you walked away, which is almost like telling those watching that you are not afraid and feel no need to waste your time with a fool. I think that is how it should be. When people relish a fight and just keep hurting someone it makes them look just as bad, if not worse. You simply stop them and walk away avoiding further action.
    You fascinate me with your efficiency and capabilities, but I love the idea that you have self control. We should defend ourselves, we can even attack another person if necessary, but I think we should always try to be good guys and not become mean or sadistic.

  6. Been through similar situations many times, if possible always take the big dog out first it usually defanged the snake. However also found out the dangerous one is usually the quiet one calculating the situation. Always know your exits and your numbers inside. I was with B Co. 75th Rangers, king of the hand to hand pit and lead instructor under Colonel Shin in Korea on DMZ teaching 300 black belts for the co’s. Mr. West iS dead on. When in unknown or different bar it was common to give a bark arr ooh RAA and it would be answered giving a count of strength of friendlys there.

  7. Dear Sir,

    That scenario sound very familiar. I’m not going to expound, but allow me to say, “Been there … done that … more than once!”

    As a peace officer we had to be more “discreet” when confronted by bully-boys (they had to strike first), but once witnesses saw I was only “defending myself” taking them out was appropriate.

    When some schmuck became mouthy and threatening, I move close and whispered, “Shut the fuck up you pansy ass-hole, or you are going to the hospital and then in a month when they release you, you are going to jail.”

    Most got wide eyes and back off. A few had drank enough liquid courage to do something stupid …. when they got out of the hospital they went to jail.

    OM Knutson
    Peace Officer Retired
    Survival trainer and author

  8. There is always someone that thinks he is better than you. I take my hat off to you Jim thank you for your service.

  9. Some people are really really stupid and so ignorant to even romance a thought of tussling with you Jim even some that have knowledge of you working with Joe Lewis. No so smart then when they get their asses handed to them they get their tounque caught by a cat. All the best to you Jim.

  10. Wasn’t he supposed to fight the soldiers on the oher side? Hey, maybe they could persuade the Enemy to carry on this way.