Nine Street Fighting Tactics For A Multiple Attacker Fight
This post is an installment in the Defend Yourself Against Multiple Attackers series.
Street Fighting Tactic #1 – Constant Unpredictable Movement
A moving target is harder to hit, corner or gang up on. Using constant movement and unpredictable shifting to avoid and reposition yourself in relation to your attackers makes it harder for them to set up on you.
In a street fight, especially one against multiple assailants, if you stand still you’ll be a sitting duck. Make the bastards work for it! Keep your distance from them, Constantly reposition yourself. Get them tripping over and banging into each other in their effort to get at you.
Street Fighting Tactic #2 – Shielding
You can’t fight a group of people at the same time. However, you can fight one person at a time within a group and then move on to your next “victim.” The ability to do that is called shielding.
Shielding involves selecting one of the members of the group and putting that person between you and the other assailants. Its not as hard as it sounds and if you practice it enough, you can get very good at it.
The idea is to stay on the far side of one person, doing your best to neutralize him with solid, well-placed attacks. If that person goes down, or someone gains a position on you that makes him a greater threat then cue off of that person and make him your shield.
Its not possible to lay out and explain exactly how to do this. It’d be like trying to write an article about how a football player should run through an opposing team and score a touch down.
The best way to learn this is by practicing two- on-one, three-on-one and even four-on-one sparring drills with boxing gloves and protective equipment.
Street Fighting Tactic #3 – Deflection and Redirection
It’s HIGHLY unlikely that you will be attacked by a group of people who have trained together on how to coordinate their actions against a single victim.
That being said, it IS possible for you to train yourself to fight in such a way as to turn their numbers against them.
By effectively deflecting and redirecting members of the group, you can send them hurdling into each other or into environmental objects such as walls, vehicles or a flight of stairs.
Deflecting involves sidestepping the attacker’s momentum and then pulling or shoving him, off balance into a fixed object. Redirection is similar and involves turning the attacker towards an object or another member of the group and yanking or shoving him in that direction.
The key is to create as much chaos as possible while maintaining balance, stability and control yourself. The more you can pull and shove your attackers off balance and in directions that they don’t want to go, the more difficulty they’ll have defeating you.
Street Fighting Tactic #4 – Busting Out
Busting out is a tactic used when you find yourself surrounded or cornered by your attackers. Under stress, you will experience tunnel vision. Your peripheral vision will collapse and you will only be able to contend with attacks coming at you from the front. Having aggressors beside or behind you is a very bad thing. You want to avoid that at all costs.
Busting out involves blasting toward one of the members of the pack, or towards a space between two of them, and breaking out from a surrounded or concerned position. Usually its best to pick someone you perceive as a “weak link” or a more reluctant participant.
You can either drop that person, bash him out of your way or… if you look and sound aggressive enough he’ll jump aside out of self-preservation and let you pass. Now re-establish your shielding efforts and try to contend with the group one person at a time.
Street Fighting Tactic #5 – Control Your Environment
In any fight, you need to control your environment; not let it control you. Controlling you environment involves using your terrain, surroundings and even lighting to your best advantage.
Examples include: Maintaining an escape route in case an opportunity presents itself to flee.
If you are near a flight of stairs or an incline, take the high ground. This gives you a superior position to strike from and limits how many people can attack you. There is also the potential of knocking you’re an assailant down the incline towards other pack members.
If you can move from a dark to a well-lit area before you engage your attackers you will be able to see and defend yourself against their attacks. (Have you ever tried to spar in a dark room? If not try it some time.)
If you are confronted on slippery ground and can move to a place where your footing would be better then do so. Its true that the footing would be better for your attackers too, but because rapid movement is a significant part of your strategy you are better off. You also don’t want an increased risk of falling or being taken to the ground.
Use barriers such as vehicles between you and your attackers to limit their access to you. This can also slow them down and increase your lead if you decide to make a run for it.
Use obstacles to slam your attackers against, over or into. Doors, corners, wall etc. can all make devastating “environmental weapons” when you combine a hurling body with a hard object that doesn’t move.
Keep you eyes peel as well for “weapons of opportunity.” A board, a bar, bottle or brick might quickly turn the tables in your favor if you can get your hands on one.
Street Fighting Tactic #6 – Don’t waste energy in an unsuccessful escape attempt
Your decision to run from your aggressors must be a strategic one. Turning to flee at the wrong time exposes your back to the assailant making you a more vulnerable target and less capable of defending yourself.
If you deplete your energy trying to run away and you are unsuccessful, your ability to continue fight will be compromised. You have to escape strategically.
War Story: Several years ago a friend of mine was confronted by several attackers; a street gang who had randomly swarmed a vehicle, dragged the occupants out and the street and began beating them. My friend, an off duty police officer stopped and attempted to come to their aid.
One of the gang members pulled a knife and threatened him with it. My friend, without thinking, spun around and tried to run away. It seemed like a logical thing to do at the time.
His assailant slashed and severed his Achilles tendon! He then followed up by stabbing my friend twice in the abdomen. Fortunately the assailants were scared off before their could finish their handy work.
My friend survived the attack but is unable to return to full duties.
What’s my point? In retrospect turning to run away may not have been his best option. As difficult and dangerous as this situation was, a more strategic response may have made him less vulnerable and prevented his serious injuries.
Street Fighting Strategy #7 – Prioritize and alternate your attack
In a gunfight involving multiple threats, your survival depends on prioritizing and alternating your shots on the basis of immediate danger.
Although the entire situation is life threatening, you have to deal with the most threatening target first and place subsequent rounds into the NEW most threatening target. If you have to, return to your original threat, and if he’s still coming at you, finish the job.
Hopefully this is making sense to you. In this analogy, picking one of the threats and emptying your gun into him while the other threats continue to converge on you, will get you killed. You’ll end up being over taken or injured by the other threats if you focus exclusively on one of them.
An unarmed street fight is the same. Unlike a one-on-one confrontation, you do not have the luxury of directing your attention at a single attacker and “finishing him off” before contending with the others. If you do you will be overwhelmed or blind-sided by his buddies.
Lash out at the most threatening or most available assailant. If you can drop him with single attack that’s great. If not, but you’ve been able to daze him or knock him down, immediately direct your attention to “the next most threatening” assailant who might be gaining distance or position on you. Clobber him hard enough to interrupt his aggression and then if your original attacker is still aggressive, alternate your attention back to him with a subsequent attack.
Street Fighting Tactic #8 – Protect your loved ones
The presence of someone who needs your protection dramatically complicates the challenges of a multiple assailant confrontation. You can’t just bail out of there leaving your spouse, child or friend alone to deal with the situation.
You need to protect that “vulnerable person” at all costs. If an assailant gets a hold of a loved one they have gained a psychological and strategic advantage over the situation and your response options.
If a member of the pack advances toward your loved one, make it you top priority to ensure that he doesn’t get there.
If you are serious about self-defense, you’ll want to discuss such things with people who you are most likely to be out and about with. Instruct them to stay behind you… using YOU in as shield, and discuss their escape options that might present themselves.
Street Fighting Tactic #9 – Priority Targets
Being able to hit hard is only part of a self- defense solution. Where you direct that hit also has a significant impact on the results that you will produce. The same punch, delivered to different parts of a person’s body, will have very different effects.
A punch to the arm can be a nuisance, to the jaw can result in a knock out, to the throat can be lethal. Same punch, different targets.
In the case of a multiple attacker street fight you don’t have the luxury to “spar” with your assailants. The longer it takes you to neutralize your attackers, the higher the likelihood of being overpowered and beaten.
It would be safe to say that most criminal street attacks would be considered life-and-death encounters. If that’s the case, you have the moral right and the lawful authority to deliver any level of force to protect yourself or someone else from death or a serious injury.
You need to be able to inflict as much damage as quickly and efficiently as possible. In cases such as that, I recommend the “FOUR N’s” of shot placement.
The “FOUR N’s'” are the anatomical targets most likely to give you the best bang for your buck in an effort to neutralize or injure an attacker. They are:
1. The Nose 2. The Neck 3. The Nuts 4. The kNee’s
A powerful strike to the nose is likely to break it and produce profuse bleeding. A busted nose will cause the eyes to swell, tear, and because if that will impair vision.
Normally minor bleeding is not an objective in a street fight. It usually looks worse than it is. It also complicates the fight by increasing the danger of contracting some nasty disease and makes an opponent slippery and hard to hold on to.
However, in a multiple assailant situation, the sign of blood gushing from the face of one of their buddies may have a significant psychological impact on the remaining members of the pack and my terminate the encounter.
The neck is the “holy grail” of street fighting targets. Hit effectively, it can result in a knockout or fatal injury. A solid blow to the windpipe can cause intense pain, panic, gagging, hemorrhaging and suffocation. It the most deadly target on the human body.
A solid strike to the never clusters along the side of the neck will send a flood of neural input to the brain, overwhelming it and causing a mental stun that will leave the assailant unconscious or dazed for several seconds. (which is along time in a street fight)
A strike to the back of the neck can injure the spine and cause significant pain, injury and incapacitation.
As crude as I may sound, I’m referring to the testicles obviously. A solid shot to the groin is a staple of self-defense impact strategy. Even moderate impact to this vulnerable target can leave your attacker writhing in pain and intensely worried about his future involvement in the evolution of the species.
A solid strike into the groin with your knee or shinbone can take the fight out of the fighter quickly and efficiently.
Although technically not an “N-word,” its close enough. The knee joint is an excellent target for a stomping or kicking attack. A solid, well- placed blow to the side of the knee joint can dislocate it, tear the soft tissue and cause your attacker to collapse.
As a fringe benefit to the intense pain and putting him on his ass, a solid knee stop it will also prevent him from chasing after you when you initiate a strategic escape effort.
Note: You’ll notice that unlike many self defense instructors, I don’t recommend the eyes as a primary target. Why is that?
First of all, because vision is a primary survival sense, people will instinctively flinch and protect themselves from anything coming at their eyes.
Secondly, under the stress of a street fight, motor skill deterioration makes it extremely difficult to fire out a quick jab with your fingers and hit a moving target as small as an eyeball.
In the next post, I’ll describe various self-defense training drills to prepare yourself for a multiple assailant encounter.
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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.