In the world of the movies, it seems easy for a reasonably skilled individual to deal with multiple attackers or opponents at the same time. This assumes that every one of the would-be foes patiently takes their turn to fight you. This also assumes you are in peak physical condition, with unlimited stamina. Both of these assumptions, most of the time, are simply not true. You might find yourself surrounded and drunk because you made the wrong comment in a bar. In such a case your balance, depth perception, and timing will most likely be compromised. Additionally, one or two of your assailants may try to grab and hold you while the others take turns beating you to within an inch of your life.
The reality of situations in which there are multiple attackers is that you cannot fight forever, they will not fight fair, and they may have weapons.
The other scenario is that you just happened to find yourself in a situation where one person hit someone and, due to the confined nature of the space and the overcrowding, a brawl breaks out. In these wild scenarios, you were not specifically the target, but may nonetheless find yourself fighting or defending against multiple attackers.
No matter the catalyst, your best practice is to avoid such situations.
The strategies below are not addressing the elements of ground fighting or weapons. As, in order to add these into the discussion, you must first understand the unique implications of those elements in depth. If these elements are present in a multi-attacker scenario, just know; Fight Hard, Fight Fast, and Do Not Stop!
First off, as we often mention, avoidance is key. If you do not find yourself in multiple attacker situations, you have done well. (Or rather, you have done what most people do; not find themselves in multiple attacker situations.) While there are many factors to consider that lead to these dangerous situations, here are a few thoughts on how to avoid them:
- Make good life choices.
- Practice good awareness.
- Do not piss people off in crowded scenarios.
- Don’t go to places you feel unsafe (bars or nightclubs you know to be dangerous).
- Don’t join or associate with gangs.
- Learn good verbal/physical diffusion skills.
- Recognize when things are going sideways and leave early.
The Basic Multiple Attacker Strategy for Krav Maga:
Your goal in multiple attacker situations should always be to create space, find your opening, and run. In a basic scenario, your would-be attackers are less aggressive, perhaps not overly enthusiastic or they simply do not know what they are doing. While these situations are not great, they are easier to deal with than a full-on swarm. When in doubt, follow this strategy:
- Avoid it altogether– First and foremost, do everything you can to avoid these scenarios. This includes practicing proper avoidance and generally acting in a manner that does not create violent enemies or put you in places where such situations are likely. Additionally, do your best to diffuse the situation verbally (you might be surprised how often this might work).
- Run – Just Run! Really, it’s just that easy. Of course, if you do not have decent cardio you may have a problem. Truly though, running and getting to safety is your best bet.
- Do not get cornered – If you are delayed in running, or your did not realize what was going on until there are multiple aggressive opponents, do not allow yourself to be pushed into a corner, or a wall, or any other place where your back is against something. Try to keep yourself moving so you can always turn and run.
- Identify your exits – If you were cornered, or you are not moving yet, make sure you identify the easiest places to run to, or which of the attackers will be the easiest to deal with first. Keep these options available so that when you do have to fight you can do it with a plan.
- Keep your attackers aligned – If you are able to, by your own movement or theirs, keep your opponents as close to a single file line as you can. If they have to fight over each other it will make it harder for them to get at you in a meaningful way.
- Strike first, cover, and move fast– When all else has failed, strike first! Strike with whatever means you deem appropriate and go for the closest target available. Cover and strike, as you need to find your exit.
- Run – If you did not run before, now should be the time to run. You created your exit while disrupting your opponents, so now is the time to move, and move fast.
Understand that these basic multiple attacker situations can, at any point, get bad fast, in which case jump to the advance strategy below.
The Advanced Multiple Attacker Strategy for Krav Maga:
In this scenario, the attackers are aggressive, malicious, and are definitely not taking turns. When these situations occur it will seem like a flurry of punches, kicks, or who-knows-what-that-thing-was. These situations are a mix of fighting and running while being as effective as possible. The goal is to eliminate as many of the threats as possible, so that they cannot or do not want to continue attacking. How do you deal with this scenario? Here’s a strategy:
- Avoid it altogether– This has not changed. Except, if you are in this situation you probably screwed up.
- Run – The moment you can. RUN. Do whatever it takes to get to this point.
- Identify your exits – If you did not already, or at any point are able to, find your exits. These are what you should be working towards the entire exhausting time you are fighting.
- Get control of one person and do damage – Try to grab hold of a person in a meaningful way, then do damage that will stop them from fighting; knees to the groin or head, eye gouges, head buts. All while you keep moving.
- Switch opponents –The moment another attacker gets close switch to them (we use the “monkey bar” method) and start doing damage as per the above point.
- Run and assess – The moment you can, create space and run. You must assess, as they may still be coming, but at least you have space now.
- Continue to fight if needed– If they are still coming then apply 4 and 5 repetitively until they are not a threat or you have found your safe exit.
- Use weapons of opportunity – If, at any point, you are able to use weapons of opportunity, do so! Whatever you can use, use. These scenarios are not the time to be thinking about laws; many-on-one is a matter of survival.
*Topics under any principle category (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time. So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.