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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 October 2001
An utterly superb and compelling book that, all the beatings aside , is a story about loss of innocence, salvation and then redemption.As a Coventrian myself I could visualise most of the places thompson talks about and the kind of people he was dealing with. I could not put this brilliant book down and read it in record time. I hear that Thompson has made a film script of this book .When I read it I kept thinking to myself What a great movie it would make . Even non violent people will be enthralled by thompsons story , and made glad that they are not inclined to fighting . A total gem and classic
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on 22 October 2004
This book will not teach you how to fight. It won't teach you how to be hard. Its quite clearly an autobiography of a man who was both good at fighting and very very hard! But thats it. Its not a text book.
The book itself is a valuable insight into one of the now most respected and experienced teachers in the martial arts circle.
To understand why Geoff Thompson is so good at what he teaches, you have to read this book to know where he got his wealth of experience from.
Always the first to admit violence is ugly and savage, Thompson takes us on a rollercoaster ride of street fighting, door work, night club characters, and a host of degenerate pond life that most of us couldn't be paid enough to deal with.
From his early childhood nightmares, through his teens and into adulthood, his is a story that, with hindsight probably wouldn't have gone any other way.
Thompson writes in a matter of fact, but humourous way, that never makes violence acceptable, but does help take the sting out of some of the more raw descriptions of brutal knock outs and the injuries caused. He makes the Door seem at the same time a fairytale world, and a hell that has to be faced.
Thompsons description of the fights themselves are not overly detailed and give the impression of interactions that start out at 10 feet and end up at 18 inches in the space of a heartbeat.
Unlike some other authors, he never speaks about his victories as knotches on his belt, prefering to be honest and tell the reader that if he hadn't done what he had done, he would be the one lying on the floor with blood gushing out of his chipped teeth! And that is where I find the book differs most from its contemporaries, he justifies himself to the reader. You may not agree with his reasonings, but he is honest in his justifcations.
That is the only bad thing I have to say about the book. The fact that the front cover compares him to two notorious fighters, who, to be honest reveled in the actual violence and serious pain they dished out. I would not put this book in that catagory of people at all. His is just the story of a hard man that chose a job he came to love, and ultimately hated through violent encounter and savage aftermath.
Apart from this tiny blip, it's a fantastic read, and should put most of us off ever wanting to fight for the rest of our lives.
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on 15 September 2000
An incredable book that takes you on a journey of a boy who was once so afraid of his own shadow to a man who frightened him-self after seeing this monster stareing back at him through the mirror honesty. The adrenaling will pump through your body as your'e standing on the doors with the infamous Mr Thompson. Every page will have you flinching at the sounds of broken bones; laughing at the humour the child within us loves to feed on and crying at the pain he endured. I would say most of the people that choose to read this book, have at one time or another, experianced some kind of a Geoff Thompson experiance. It might be from his school days that gets your'e own blood rushing around the memory bank. It could be the heart rendering pain of a love you once held so close to your soul but whatever you feel, rest assured Mr Thompson felt every single one of them too. This outstanding man came through his like a warrior with a heart made of iron but which was engulfed by a soul of a gentlman. I had never heard of this man before I read "WATCH MY BACK" but I feel like he's a brother to me now. I and I'm sure you too, will have total, 100% respect for this man once you have read the book. If dreams can come true then this book is living proof.
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on 17 April 2006
To be honest when i bought the book i had no idea who Geoff Thompson was at all and shortly after reading Watch My Back i've added several of his books to my collection. Being a doorman myself i found a lot of familiarity with some of the stories he describes and the feelings that come along with it. I have read many books on so called "hardmen" who put themselves on "sugar pedestals", as geoff puts it, who never in their entire book talk with as much honesty of fear unless it is of their opponent's! i must have read and re-read Watch My Back about 8 or 9 times so far! once you pick it up you will not want to put it down. it is not often i find a book i can't put down but this has got to be the best i've come across yet. i would advise EVERYBODY wether working as a doorman or a regular clubber to have a read it's brilliant.
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on 18 November 2001
This is a very special and personal book indeed. In terms of a story it does get a little repetitive and drone, but as an insight it is unbelievalbly powerful. Geoffs views on life, his emotional problems and solutions spoke to me on a level I never expected. I could relate to what he was saying and as I read I became all the more wiser. This book has changed me and in the way I think and deal with situations. It has taught me the importance of mental fortification, and the power of the mind. Through his story I have realised that what we do physically is only an echo of what we do mentally.
I am a better person for reading this book. Stronger, more confindent, and better equipt for what life throws at me.
Thanks Geoff!
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on 14 June 2003
This book is long overdue with all the sanitisation of fighting and techniques that get thrown at us in films.As a practioner of a kicking art I fully realise that what will work and what wont. Instructors today should be telling their students what is tradition and what is sport and what is practical if they are going to take their hard earned money. this book should be a standard read to any responsible student as it cuts to the chase. Having worked the door a few times I can tell you that when a group of aggressive and alcohol filled mouth pieces get in your face and promise to be back with weapons that night, you will feel all the emotions run through your system that are recounted numerous times in this book, however it takes a man with exceptional control to do what the author has done so many times, and the advice he gives on controling your fear or as he puts it adrenaline, could one day save your life. The older guy in the car minding his own business could easily be you or me. If you want to see pure evil you dont have to read history books about nazis sixty years ago, just go outside your door on a saturday night in some of our cities. The stories are brutal and real but they are the truth and thats what matters. This book will tell us about the world our children will be facing so face the truth and give them a chance.
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on 9 December 2016
This book is possibly one of the best things I've read (I come from a post-grad degree background before anyone assumes people into books about violence do not read)... if you have any interest in self-defense, avoiding fights or learning more about the street-fighter mentality, this book is pure gold.

I'm currently training in a weapons based martial arts system and my grand master and instructors recommend this book (they know the author personally, so they know he is writing from experience and not from fantasy land) - the book is probably as useful as the techniques I've learning to be honest. It's a good sotry to read, but as you read it you learn a lot about the mentality and reality of what a doorman's life is like, as well as how and why street-thugs and bullies act like they do.

It delivers a riveting tale of redemption, from a guy who liked violence for the sake of it through to somone who wants to make the world a better place. It also explains the tough reality of the consequences of violence too - I've met plenty of people who reckon they would "smash and kill" anyone who steps to them, but back down when they are in a confrontation. This book explains so much about the fighter, and the bully, mentality, that it is given me a whole new viewpoint on the importance of street awareness - as well as why bouncers act the way they do when there has been a disagreement (I never used to understand why doormen were still aggressive after seeing people calm down in a pub disagrement, now I completely understand why and what they are thinking).

I'm not tough by a long shot, nor am I a fighter, but this book has been an entertaining, and informative (at some times horribly informative) realistic story of how nasty things can get, and why violence is rarely a good solution.

Invaluable to anyone seeking to be knowledgeable on conflict resolution, avoidance and the realities of fighting.
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on 18 August 2001
As a doorman of six years I can thank this book for giving me the courage to start working the doors and for giving me the mental strength to cope with the situations I faced. This book tells it like it is with no punches pulled (pun intended). In todays world of "regesterd door supervisor" most of whome have no clue as to what it takes to work the door Geoff shows how the door should be worked. This book should be required reading for anyone who is thinking of becoming a doorman. Details of pre-emptive strikes may seem controversial and to the uninformed bystanter over the top. They are however the only things that works in the real world. Geoff also gives insight into fear control and what those feelings actually are (adrenaline). This is undoubtibly the best book I have ever read (I have had a copy for eight years and have read it over fifty times) and I would like to thank Geoff for changing my life.
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on 13 September 2001
This is a great insight into fighting. Real, proper fighting, that is. The kind that involves watching out for guns, bottles, knives and broken bones and checking the CCTV cameras are pointing the other way. It's amazing to know what could be going through the mind of the nightclub bouncer you see looking so hard.
After a while though, I couldn't help but be a little de-sensitised to it all. Perhaps that's not the author's fault. What should have been checked, though, was the grammar, spelling and facts. Petty as it may sound, it's just plain annoying to have The Monkees' 'Daydream Believer' referred to as "The Monkeys 'Cheer up sleepy Jean'", or have quotes attributed to Oscar Wilde when they're obviously not his.
Things like that lose it a star. Very good and very readable, though.
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on 10 July 2007
A mammoth feast of witty realism immersed in the hard and gritty sub culture of the night club door.

A full on account from Geoffs early days through training and into the confrontational arena. Geoff metamorphisised himself from an insecure soul into a pure slag of conflict which ultimately made him the interesting and wholesome, adversity etched individual he is today.

As a Doorman of ten years myself,i can relate a lot to this book, the fears, the excitement, the endless merry-go-round of violence and fun, the need to look into yourself and evolve. I have spoke to Geoff on a personal level and i can honestly say that the guy is nothing but integral and refreshingly genuine.

A first rate book by a first rate author...Superb.
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