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Nak

Musings on fighting multiple people

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I just got back from my shift as  a bouncer at a local club last night/this morning (2000-0330 GMT. This shift caused a significant disruption to this month's challenge but I'll post about that in my challenge thread for people to shame my weakness after I've slept) and I got into a bit of an altercation without any backup due to circumstances and it looked pretty dire. Luckily things were resolved relatively easily. But this got me musing about fighting multiple attackers. When I say fight I mean specifically street fighting, which will generally be in self-defense unless you're either a sexy Brad Pitt who makes explosive soap. The following are my thoughts; I can't speak for their originality but I think I make some sound conclusions and I'd like to hear the thoughts of people with a wide range of different disciplines and experiences.

 

Just a note I'll be using two dichotomous shorthand terms: being "hot" (which is where you're in a high stress/adrenaline situation where your training becomes of limited use due to either panic, freezing up, uncertainty or just the sheer pumping of the adrenal gland) and being "cold" (the total opposite. In a controlled environment which you will have certainly had time to prepare for. This is where your training is useful in a conflict situation.). 

 

So fighting two people is like fighting anyone on the street: you should think about the worst thing that could reasonably happen and you should act based on that. This logic works well for me because it reminds me to remember that people get their heads stamped on and get paralysed in street fights or even just hit their head too hard crashing to the ground and get disabled. In street fighting, as people interested in the sociology of violence might be interested in, adding an informal group element to violence tends to lead to an equally informal "cumulative radicalisation" element where people act more violently than they would have done in the same situation independently. This is how we get people getting attacked and kicked to death by gangs of "hooligans" like you see in the papers (this might be a very British joke, sorry). The basic point I'm trying to here is one we should all know about street fighting and especially attempting to fighting multiple people: don't do it you numpty. No matter how good you are it's something you can only do with luck and it's better to not be in that situation. That said there are occasions where you might not be able to escape a violent attack from a group of two or more, in which case you should think about whether you want to risk getting kicked to death and fight as if your life depends on it (because it realistically might). There is therefore some relevance in thinking about the plausibility and method involved with fighting two or more attackers. Also  on a website called NerdFitness I can't be the only person who fantasised about being a badass secret agent or ancient warrior capable of dispatching many opponents.

 

So it seems to me that the old adage of "the best defense is a good offense" applies here, because if you rely on counters you run the risk of two attackers attacking at once in a combination of ways you're both not prepared for and wouldn't be able to even if you were because you were "hot". By this logic the aim is to stop your attackers attacking you in the quickest way possible and avoid being attacked at the same time. For that reason I think the best approach is to use strikes rather than grappling and locks because these latter two things require too much focus on a single opponent while you run the risk of getting walloped in the back of the head. I also think throwing would take slightly longer and even only being fractionally is not insignificant in such a fast paced event. However, even with this, if you want to win a fight against multiple people with strikes you have to put them down hard and fast. This is because you can only fight them one at a time whereas they can gang up on you. This leaves you with time for one, or two strikes on them if you're fast, to put the first person down to engage with the second. So you're basically relying on perfect power, speed and precision. Not only do you need to be able to land a better hit than Led Zeppelin IV (one for the oldies) but you also need to be able to do this while you're "hot". If you can do this you're Bruce Lee meets Hannibal Lectern or just a real life super hero. But we can make the situation a little less impossible through two ways. The first is by controlling your distance between yourself and the two attackers; by being significantly closer to one than the other you have more time to engage with the first opponent and put him down. The second is through the use of positioning, where you will place attacker B inbetween yourself and attacker B, preventing an immediate attack.

 

Both of these things can be accomplished by controlling footwork and moving yourself around the attackers with clever and fast footwork. This, however relies on you having the time to make those crucial spatial alterations as well as the clearheadedness while "hot" to manouvre in that way. It doesn't seem theoretically impossible but it does seem extremely difficult and down to chance again.

 

In terms of changing the distance between yourself and your opponents this can also be done by pushing one attacker further away from yourself, giving you time to close in on the other opponent and engage. I would personally use a teep for this, which is a fast and effective Thai variation of a pushkick, although most martial arts have a push kick or at least attack in some form.  Another Thai move I could use is a clinch, in order to maneuver one attacker between myself and another attacker; again this is only what I would use as a Thai boxer, most martial arts will have a way to gain leverage over an opponent and move them in a desired way.

 

There's no real point to any of this. I was just thinking about the plausibility of making the odds more favourable in a fight against more than one people. If none of this makes sense I'm sorry I've had a smoke of a "funny cigarette" since work to help me sleep.

If it does make sense I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.

 

Nak out

 

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Never been in this situation, following just to see if a discussion happens.

 

The only reference to this type of fighting that I've got is from a book series, Malazan Book of the Fallen (READ IT)

 

One of the main chars is essentially, ultimate badass trained assasin "Khal" I believe. I'm remembering in one part of the book, he's up against about 4-6 folks, not his "order" but still trained folks. He quotes from his "training" which actually kind of makes sense. something along the lines of "It takes training to fight in concert with others effectively. Therefore if you find yourself outnumbered, and can't escape, end it...quickly. Always be on the attack so the others are always reacting." Obviously he does a better job. While he does win, i.e. others are dead, he does get the shit beat out of him in the process.

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Hey Nak -

 

Funny you brought this up since it's something we were working on in class Tuesday night (though in this case, the defender was unarmed while the attackers were armed). But I think you hit on a couple of the big points: keep one attacker between you and the other attacker, and neutralize one attacker as quickly as possible. (Also, in the case of armed attackers, grabbing a weapon as quickly as you can is a big plus).

 

As far as "hot" and "cold," a big part of training is to keep you calm in situations so you can tend more towards cold than hot, no?

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On 30/11/2017 at 4:43 PM, Talanoth said:

As far as "hot" and "cold," a big part of training is to keep you calm in situations so you can tend more towards cold than hot, no?

 

I thought about this but even when sparring heavy or in a competition fight, even though you're probably coming up against a more effective fighter than you would in a street fight, the situation is still something that you have time to prepare and get pumped for. Speaking from experience as someone who grew up with something to prove and with quite an aggressive mindset (thankfully I'm older and wiser now; if not by much) street violence escalates rapidly in my experience. A conversation can escalate into a confrontation which can escalate into a brawl and then something more serious without you being able to respond. All that surprise and the additional uncertainty is hard to deal with and I don't know of any way of training to really prepare you for that (other than going out looking for trouble which I wouldn't recommend if you don't want to get your head caved in).

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I have never been in a street fight or bar brawl situation. Aikido does train for multiple attackers, both armed and unarmed. Some of the things you suggest are exactly what my instructor taught us to do.

 

On 11/28/2017 at 11:16 PM, Nak said:

The first is by controlling your distance between yourself and the two attackers; by being significantly closer to one than the other you have more time to engage with the first opponent and put him down. The second is through the use of positioning, where you will place attacker B inbetween yourself and attacker B, preventing an immediate attack.

 

The number one thing to do (as I was trained) is to spin and drop the closest attacker behind you. Then you use that person as a shield. You go for the person behind you - not the nearest one facing you. Why is hard to explain in words but easy to see with an overhead video. The key is that all the attackers are moving towards you. If you move three feet towards the closest one in front, you close the distance to that person while all the rest move three feet closer to you. By spinning and taking out the person behind you, you move further away from the people facing you. They have extra distance to cover before they can close. This assumes your attackers are in a ring around you.

 

The strategy is different if you are facing a line of attackers. In that case, move toward one end at an angle so they all have to move extra to get you.

 

As much as possible, try to unbalance attackers rather than engaging. Any activity that takes more than one beat is too slow. You may have excellent reasons to want to hurt them, but that can wait. Dropping person A in front of person B, then dropping person C is the way to keep from being overwhelmed. It is quite hard for someone to hit or grab you if you keep moving. You can use a grab to fling that person into the next by spinning. Tripping and shoving are faster than hitting. Changing direction and ducking help a lot. If you are really lucky you can duck & weave and have two of your attackers hit each other. I've seen this happen several times in dojo situations.

 

Ultimately your goal has to be to get out of the area. If you are being attacked by a group of people you can't count on dealing with all of them. Disorganizing them enough to get away is the live-to-fight-another-day strategy.

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Following - interesting topic.  I've not been in a street fight, and the only person I know that really has (or that at least talked about it) was an instructor of mine that grew up in some rough areas around Detroit.  Basically what I got from him was 'control your space and watch your sides/back', as well as "it helped that I was 6'2, 200 lbs of lean muscle and happy to fight'. I can sort of manage one of those (I'm short).

 

One thing I'm interested in is the hot vs. cold, and can you train to remain if not cold, more warm or lukewarm than adrenaline hot.  As a bouncer, and someone who presumably trains for this, do you have further thoughts about hot/cold or at least situational awareness/management?

 

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On 01/12/2017 at 11:48 PM, Mistr said:

As much as possible, try to unbalance attackers rather than engaging. Any activity that takes more than one beat is too slow. You may have excellent reasons to want to hurt them, but that can wait. Dropping person A in front of person B, then dropping person C is the way to keep from being overwhelmed. It is quite hard for someone to hit or grab you if you keep moving. You can use a grab to fling that person into the next by spinning. Tripping and shoving are faster than hitting. Changing direction and ducking help a lot. If you are really lucky you can duck & weave and have two of your attackers hit each other. I've seen this happen several times in dojo situations.

 

I agree with a lot of what you're saying but for me as a Thai boxer some of this is problematic. My method of combat is entirely "engaging", which you warn against. We have sweeps which would certainly put people off balance but I find them too dependent on an opponent's footing to be reliable in a situation with multiple attackers. Additionally we have a clinch which is certainly a reliable way to "grab to fling" but it's also a good way to get someone close enough to stab you without being able to see the blade coming. If I'm going to drop someone the only way I know how is a push/shove and hope they lose their footing (which can happen with a good surprise teep against someone who isn't standing with good weight distribution) or good ol' fashion hitting them until they go down.

 

On 01/12/2017 at 11:48 PM, Mistr said:

Ultimately your goal has to be to get out of the area. If you are being attacked by a group of people you can't count on dealing with all of them. Disorganizing them enough to get away is the live-to-fight-another-day strategy.

 

I tried to drive this point home but thanks for pointing it out again; this really can't be said enough.

Street fighting is dangerous but fighting multiple people is absolute insanity.

 

19 hours ago, ChrisWithaStick said:

One thing I'm interested in is the hot vs. cold, and can you train to remain if not cold, more warm or lukewarm than adrenaline hot.  As a bouncer, and someone who presumably trains for this, do you have further thoughts about hot/cold or at least situational awareness/management?

 

I don't train for this. As pointed out above I'm a Thai Boxer and I train entirely for that, although I would at some point maybe look at some actual self defense systems. This is why I'm very interested in hearing what other people have to say on the subject and bring in their expertise. 

 

In terms of keeping "cold" I manage it at work because I'm prepared for those situations, it's kind of something you just switch on when you walk in: "I'm ready to scrap tonight if I have to." I've luckily never been attacked by multiple people at work and only once in my life. At this point I was totally untrained but luckily my friend (who, shortly after this, got me into Thai) was with me and was a quality fighter and between us we managed fine. It wasn't pretty and no I did not stay "cold".

I heard that the Krav Maga people have methods of "stress training" to help deal with this but I'm quite unclear on what exactly it involves.

 

As for situational awareness it's something you just get used to by looking around and trying to spot signs of something kicking off. I honestly couldn't give any additional advice than just getting into the habit of paying attention to your surroundings.

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