Group fights are chaotic, dangerous, and escalate quickly (source)

The Digging Deeper Series: Musings of a humble old yellow belt. PART 5 – Group Fighting Audio by Jonathan Fader

Hello UTKM Blog Readers!

Welcome to the final installment of the “The Digging Deeper Series: Musings of a humble old yellow belt.”  Firstly, I would like to offer my thanks to you for reading this series, throughout which I hope I offered some points of reflection that resonated with you.  Urban Tactics Krav Maga (UTKM) has provided me with a unique experience, as not many training communities that I have been involved with in the past have encouraged so much introspection with respect to training and development.  We often hear that skill-based milestones or stumbling blocks are more often a mental challenge rather than physical, so I’m starting to really appreciate the need to keep pushing my perspective on self-defence concepts in order to keep up with the physician training.  Similar to Parts 1-4, my preference is to include a quick circle back to the preceding content for the sake of helping the reader link the overall ideas.  So, for one last mental kick in the groin, remember that the purpose of the series was to put pen to paper and further explore topics related to my development and training as a novice Kravist.  The topics we covered over the last five weeks were:

  1. Ethics and UTKM; 
  2. Krav Maga and the Law (Use of Force); 
  3. Sparring and Krav Maga (Purpose and Lessons Learned); 
  4. Sports Fighting vs. Self-Defence; 
  5. Basic Group Fighting (Strategy and Mindset)

The list above seems soooooo formal and too much like my old desk jockey ways, so let’s recap with a little more of my easy going style:

  1. Ethics and UTKM: I’m morally ok with kicking you in the nuts if you attack me;
  2. Krav Maga and The Law: I will be responsible to the criminal code while kicking you in the nuts;
  3. Sparring and Krav Maga: I’ve done lots of kicking people in the nuts in sparring, so the gap between theory and practice is closer than you expect;
  4. Sport Fighting vs Self-Defence: Kicking you in the nuts is to eliminate your threat to me; Sport Fighting: Back and forth kicking in the nuts… just plain weird, but if my systems fail and we’re going back and forth, I will go for your “face nuts” (eyes), as I’m not interested in fighting spastic human puppies with something to prove.
  5. Basic Group Fighting: …hmmm… need to think on this. 

Phew… okay, I’m back to my film trucker self, so let’s get on with today’s topic of group fighting.  

I have never been caught in the centre of a group fight (or caused one for that matter), but I have been in multiple situations where a bar-based-brouhaha has started and I managed to find the door quickly.  Back in the day (yes, I’m old enough to say that), I planted trees to put myself through university.  Not only did I manage to cover my tuition and living expenses but I also ensured that my children were guaranteed a source of toilet paper.  In fact, every time my daughter, a fellow novice Kravist, grabs a roll of TP, I’ll just start saying “you’re welcome.”  Anyway, my tree planting adventures took me to many small, remote towns in Northern Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.  It was some of the hardest, yet most rewarding, work that I’ve done, but the experience was also ripe with plenty of opportunity for stupid; given that our work hard/play hard mentality was paired up with pockets full of cash and plenty of alcohol.  If a dust up happened, regardless of the town, it was always centred around the same causes; overstaying our welcome at the local bar and a silly exchange of words.  My collection of planting friends and I would always just get up and quickly get out the door once the bullshit started.  

In terms of group fighting, we have previously discussed in our training sessions that despite the sudden ignition of a dangerous situation it really does not matter too much how it started, as you now have to immediately manage your safety. You could be the instigator, the by-stander, or experienced a lapse in judgement and went down the wrong alley in a foreign city, all resulting in now being confronted by multiple attackers.  The UTKM blog has good piece on the tactics Group Fighting post from January 20/20 which highlights some basic tactics: 

i) Avoid – Defuse quickly or Dodge the situation entirely

ii) Run – Bail out ASAP

iii) Don’t get cornered – Keep moving and don’t be backed into a corner or wall, 

iv) Identify your exits – Find the way out, or the easiest target, make a plan.

v) Keep your attackers aligned – Get them in single file; they can’t surround you and have to fight over each other.

vi) Strike first, cover – Closest target before the are on you, strike, cover, move.

vii) Run and assess – You finally created an exit, use it, move fast!

Looking at the list… alllllllrighty then… I got this coach!  But here is the cold, hard truth about this strategy as it relates to my current abilities as a yellow belt: The odds are not in my favour! I’m a novice and I should not be here, so why on Earth would I ever let myself get into that situation or even let my self-defence systems lapse so badly that I would be in a group fight?  Well, because shit happens, plain and simple.  At UTKM we have three common assumptions regarding any situation facing an attacker: a) They have weapons; b) They have friends; c) Your technique fails.(most relevant to my skill level)   

When I first started training at UTKM, I used to believe that this statement only applied to my ability in the use of force.  The reality is that I actually need to apply this assumption to all our self-defence tools: Critical Thinking, Situational Awareness, the Mental Awareness Colour Code, the Four Stages of Self-Defence and finally the Use of Force.  By building this assumption into all my self-defence tools, I have now added a meta-level of critique towards my overall capabilities and the responsibility to include ongoing training time for my cognitive self-defence tools.  By accepting the possibility of total breakdown of all techniques, I believe that all my skills will better solidify, as I know the limits of pieces and the limits of the overall picture (ever watch the Chernobyl series??).  

Once again, it’s the non-combative techniques that are the key skills for me to walk in peace.  By digging a little deeper (see what I did there?… lol… sorry, Dad joke), I now see everything as a continuum of integrated self-defence techniques that continuously balances depth of thought with the depth of physical movement.  At one end (I’m just at the bar minding my business) critical thinking and situational awareness are dominant, while at the other end (Joe just started a bar fight beside me) your ability to enforce your will has the greater depth, as the time to process is over (Remember Top Gun!!!).  I don’t want to fight and I don’t want to deploy the use of force, however I want to walk in peace and be at peace.  Better to rely on a spectrum of skills than believing one skill will cover every situation.  Overall it’s better, in a potential group fighting scenario it is certainly better, to think with my mind vs thinking with my nuts.

See… told ya that I would find a way to bring nut kicking into the final piece of the list.  

So there you have it: “The Digging Deeper Series: Musings of a humble old yellow belt.” Now to start with a little more learning and reading on the topic of BJJ, as my goal is to be a little bit better than a live sparring dummy.  More on that later!

Come train, learn, and exercise some humorous humility as it keeps us old dogs youthful.


Written by: Ted E. – UTKM Yellow Belt

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