Eight Multiple Attacker Training Methods
This post is an installment in the Defend Yourself Against Multiple Attackers series. If you prefer to read the series in order please click on the link in this paragraph.
Training Method #1 – Get yourself into fighting shape
Many self-defense authorities suggest that you don’t need to be in good physical condition to perform effectively in a street fight.
They argue that because these types of situations are over in seconds, that there is no need to be in shape. I call bullshit!
I’m not saying that you are helpless if you’re not in tip top shape. What I am saying is the better shape you are in, the better you perform.
A multiple attacker situation, or any street fight for that matter, is an “athletic event.” It’s a physical competition between you and your opponents. A multiple attacker fight requires strength, endurance and a wide array of physical, mental and athletic qualities.
Besides, who in their right mind would blow off the health and fitness benefits of ongoing self- defense and combative training? Its one of the best forms of fitness there is.
My research has also shown that being in good physical condition reduces the likelihood of being confronted by multiple attackers in the first place. Human predators usually rule out fit, athletic, confident people as targets. Remember they are looking for someone incapable of fighting back… not someone who will kick their ass.
Fitness builds confidence and you’ll need as much of it as you can muster if you’re going to challenge or defy multiple attackers. This will be crucial if you intend to gain psychological control over a multiple attacker encounter.
Fit people are more resilient to the bumps, bruises and impact of a real world street fight.
Remember too that resolving a multiple attacker situation is not limited exclusively to fighting. Your best multiple attacker strategy might be to escape or create a window of opportunity to escape. No sense bolting fifty yards and then stopping because you’re too exhausted to continue!
If you’re going to successfully outrun multiple attackers you’d better be in good condition.
Training Method #2 – Develop superior hitting skills
Many of the multiple attacker strategies contained in this report are based on your ability to hit hard and effectively. That doesn’t happen by accident.
You can’t just tell someone to throw a solid punch or kick. You can’t just read in a book telling you that you’re “supposed to” knock out your assailant and then be able to do it.
If you lack the ability to hit explosively you’re going to find the probability to drop, injure or destroy a violent attacker easier said than done.
Training Method #3 – Training all three street fighting ranges
I will go into greater detail about street fighting ranges in subsequent posts. For now, I’ll provide you with an overview and some things to consider.
A street fight, especially one involving multiple attackers, is not a sparring match. Its not pretty. Its violent, chaotic, and unpredictable. You could be pushed, pulled, grabbed, knocked down, gouged and even bitten. You have to prepared for anything.
To perform effectively you in a multiple attacker scenario requires proficiency in each of the three basic ranges. Here’s what they are:
Free-Standing Range: This occurs when you square off with an opponent. Neither of you are grabbing or holding onto each other. Examples would be a boxing or kickboxing type of exchange where you are able to throw strikes and kicks directly at your opponent.
Clinch Range: This range describes a grabbing, pushing, holding range but you are still on your feet. It could involve grabbing a hold of you, your clothing or even your hair while delivering strikes, kicks, head butts or trying to take you to the ground. Usually a clinch is an effort to take a fight to the ground.
A common multiple attacker strategy invovles one of the assailants restraining you while his buddies beat on you.
Ground Range: The ground range describes a fight that has you, or both you and your opponent, on the ground. I mentioned earlier in this report that you should try to avoid being taken to the floor if you can help it, especially in a multiple attacker situation.
Grappling and wrestling on the ground is highly ineffective when you have multiple attackers stomping and kicking you from above.
That doesn’t mean that its not going to happen. If it does, you’re going to have to deal with it and either finish the fight quickly or get back up again.
The actual definition of a “range” is not limited to the distance between you and you opponent. It could more accurately be defined as circumstances that change the dynamics of the fight and the way you deliver your combative techniques.
For example, you can deliver strikes in all three ranges but the way you actually perform them will be different when you are standing, clutching and grabbing or on the floor.
Training Method #3 – Multiple Target Impact Training
Impact training is the practice of hitting training equipment like heavy bags, focus pads, Thai pads and partners with boxing gloves.
If you are training for a multiple attacker street fight; a real world, no rules self-defense encounter, you need to be able to deliver powerful strikes and kicks from various positions to multiple targets.
Many people limit their impact training only to a single target directly in front of them. They square off to the heavy bag or the pad holder and deliver their strikes directly to the front.
If they do multiple attacker training at all, often they’ll stand in the middle of a few targets and then fire off strikes and kicks in various directions. Think for a minute about what I’m telling you about multiple attacker street fights…
Do you want to wade into the center of a pack of assailants like a Bruce Lee movie and conduct your business from there?
No… you want to use movement, shielding and busting out tactics to AVOID ending up as the “monkey in the middle.”
A more realistic multiple attacker drill is to put the targets at different positions and work them from the “outside” trying to keep one piece of equipment (and/or the person holding it) between you and the other targets.
Be creative and invent your own multiple attacker drills. For example, get a heavy bag and a partner wearing focus pads. Have the pad holder stand behind the heavy bag and shift around it.
You shift in response, striking and kicking the bag, always keeping yourself on the opposite side of the bag as your training partner.
Every once in a while, have the pad holder move around the bag and in between it and you. When that happens, immediately direct your “aggression” into the focus pads and adopt a new position that places the pad holder between you and the heavy bag.
Training Method #5 – Multiple Attacker Sparring Drills
If you already know how to spar, try sparring with more than one training partner at a time to simulate a multiple attacker situation. Although sparring is nothing like a real street fight, it will give you a taste of the dynamics involved when you have to take on multiple attackers coming at you at the same time.
You’ll quickly find out the common mistake of “the monkey in the middle” strategy when your training partners start pounding on you from all directions.
Multiple attacker sparring drills teach you how to constantly reposition yourself on the “far side” of one person while keeping him between you and the other fighters.
If one of the other fighters manages to sneak in and achieve a more threatening position, quickly make him your new shield and position yourself in relation to him.
I recommend that you start with two-on-one drills and work your way up to dealing with more and more opponents. I have done four-on-one drills and in addition to a lot of learning taking place, they’re a lot of fun.
Once you master your positioning skills, you’ll find that too many “bad guys” makes THEIR job of attacking you more difficult. They’ll be tripping all over each other.
Note: The “sparring” I’m talking about here should be light-contact, medium-speed training. Keep the intensity of your training low. You are working more on your positioning and movement skills at this point, not your defensive skills or the ability to take a punch. Use protective equipment such as boxing gloves, a mouth guard, groin protection etc. and keep it light and non- competitive.
Training Method #6 – Take Down Avoidance
Telling someone not to be taken to the ground in a street fight is easier said than done. Despite your best efforts, it can and probably will happen. You’ll just have to deal with it.
I wrote earlier about the dangers of being on the ground in a street fight. The danger is dramatically multiplied if multiple assailants are involved. You need to do everything possible to stay on your feet. If you get knocked or taken to the ground, get up at your first opportunity.
Here are some drills that will develop your take down avoidance skills:
The pivot drill involves repositioning yourself in relation to an advancing opponent to avoid being tackled or tripped.
Have your training partner shoot in on you from various directions; front, side, rear. (“shooting” is a term used to describe your opponent lunging towards you in an effort to control your lower body and take you to the ground)
Stand stationary and have your training partner walking in a circle around you. Don’t move your body but follow him with your head and eyes.
At some point, your partner will move suddenly toward you. Immediately pivot into a position that “squares you off” toward him and stabilize yourself in his direction.
All your partner has to do is lunge toward you and then stop just out of range. The key is to develop the response of quickly squaring off to an advancing threat.
This can also be done with focus pads. Have your training partner circle around you and then at some point stop, step in and offer the pad. Your objective is to efficiently adopt a position that will allow you to blast out a striking combination into the pads.
Charge Avoidance Drill:
A variation of the above drills is to have you partner circle you and when he advances at you from various angles, have him continue forward and right past you as you side step out of his way.
It’s a lot like bull fighting… avoid his path and allow him to continue right past rather than bowling you over.
A sprawl is a technique used to counter an attempt to shoot in and control your legs or waste and bring you to the ground.
It involves throwing your hips and legs back, away from your attacker and using the weight of your body against the attacker’s back to force him down and away from you, while preventing him from gaining control of your hips… (which he needs to do, to take you to the floor)
The sprawl is an essential tactic to avoid a wrestler’s or a grappler’s takedown attempt. It is an extremely important street fighting tactic to master.
Most people practice sprawling in response to an attack only from the front; or when you’re “squared off” and facing your opponent.
However, if you want to be able to contend with multiple attackers and unexpected attacks, you need to combine your avoidance, pivoting and sprawling skills.
Do this by once again having your partner(s) circle you. Watch them but don’t adjust your body position until they launch their attack by shooting in at your legs or waste. Quickly pivot towards them, so that your are positioning yourself in their direction and execute your sprawl to counter the takedown attempt.
Note: I recommend that these drills be done slowly at first in a padded training environment. The “attacks” by your training partner should be limited to simulated movements to create a stimulus for you to respond to. Do not make the mistake of going too hard or fast. Isolate the skills that you are training and keep it simple and safe.
Training Method #7 – Ground Escape Tactics
There is a difference between “ground fighting” and “ground escape tactics.” For self-defense and street fighting I recommend becoming as proficient as possible at the ground escape game.
The details of ground escape are beyond the focus of this report. Suffice it to say that ground escape involves avoiding being taken to the ground with techniques that I’ve outlined above.
Learn how to escape protect yourself, escape and fight from the basic positions that you might find yourself in on the ground. The mount, the guard, side mount, rear mount. Learn escape from submission holds, grabs and headlocks.
Learn how to “stand up in base,” which is a technique that involves getting back up to your feet in a protected position to avoid being hit, kicked or stomped in the process. (my apologies for not going into detail in this regard, but the details would fill a manual of its own).
Training Methods #8 – Mental Rehearsal
Sport psychologists have confirmed that mental rehearsal or visualization can be as effective in developing athletic skills as physical practice. I do however feel that mental rehearsal is a supplement to your physical training not a replacement for it.
Get yourself into a relaxed state and imagine various scenarios that you might have to contend with in a self-defense situation.
Keep an eye on reality TV shows or do an Internet search for street fight video clips and watch them to get a sense of the chaos and dynamics of street fights.
How would you respond if you found yourself as the target of such an encounter? Use the knowledge and observation that you’ve gained from this report, your practice sessions and perhaps other classes and seminars you taken and mentally play out what you’d realistically do to defend yourself.
Remember, your brain doesn’t work well under stress. If you are unsure of what you should do in a given situation the probability of mistakes in a crisis dramatically increases.
The more you “what-if?” a situation, and mentally problem solve it in advance, the more prepared you’ll be to perform effectively if you ever find yourself in a violent encounter.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series about defending yourself against multiple attackers. Hopefully I’ve convinced you by now that a multiple attacker street fight is NOT a no-win situation.
You are neither helpless nor defenseless in successfully contending with or escaping from one.
A multiple assailant encounter is as likely to happen to you as a one-on-one confrontation. If you want to be able to defend yourself, you need to acknowledge that probability and prepare for it.
Multiple assailant situations ARE survivable and if you train smart, understand the physical and psychological dynamics that you must contend with and educate yourself in realistic strategies and tactics to deal with them you can slant the odds of success in your favor.
If you have any questions or concerns about this series, please feel free to comment or contact me by email at Randy@ToughenUp.com .
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About Randy LaHaie
I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.