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How To Defend Against Multiple Attackers

We have all seen martial arts movies that depict a very skilled and reserved man or woman, that can seamlessly defend and win against attackers upwards of five at a time!

Is that true?

Can that be done?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

The reason it’s nearly impossible to win against that many attackers is simply because there are too many arms and legs to keep track of. Our minds aren’t capable of multi-tasking to that extent, especially with multiple arms and legs being thrown at you with only seconds to react.

Now, can you defend yourself enough to create an opportunity to escape?


Let’s talk about the methods and tactics taught in our Jiu Jitsu program that are required for you to be able to accomplish that result. The top three are distance management, situational awareness and opportunistic attack.


Always having an arm’s length distance from you and the attacker will ensure his moves can be clearly seen without any surprises. Commonly in street fight videos, it shows two people getting face to face and mouthing off to each other. Usually, these types of people get too close to their opponent due to ego. They feel they are resistant to all damage and like to get up close and personal to prove their impenetrability. Suddenly, one of them gets punched by their opponent and ends up slamming his head on the pavement. These punches happen because it ends up in your peripherals, where your eyes can’t see it until it’s too late to react. Having your arms stretched out as far as they can go will remove this weakness and allow you to see everything.


Paying attention to everything that is going on around you is vital. Using distance management and adding in the awareness of your environment, you will be able to avoid being surrounded and pinned. For example, if there were three attackers, you will want to maneuver yourself to a point where all three attackers are in front of you. A great strategy to help with this is to find an object that can be put between you and the attackers (ie: chair, table or boxes), creating a temporary blockade. Creating a temporary distraction (ie: splashing water at the opponent) is another strategy. Lastly, avoid being backed against a wall which will eliminate your opportunity for a safe escape. Let’s not forget that at the end of the day, we use these tactics to find the opportunity to escape rather than going into combat; A philosophy taught in Jiu Jitsu and martial arts. It happens extremely often in fights where two people get face to face, leaving their backs exposed. This allows the chance for the opponent’s friend to hit from behind. This is why situational awareness is very crucial.


Although the main focus should be finding that opportunity to escape rather than ending up in combat, we need to still be prepared for a time when that may not be the case such as a one-on-one situation where you are left without options. In a case like this, your primary goal is to engage and take them to the ground with the target position being mount, a common position learnt in Jiu Jitsu. Mount allows you to have a strong pin on the opponent’s chest, making it extremely difficult for them to get up.

You will also be in perfect reach for you to strike, meanwhile removing the opponent’s ability to return strikes due to too much distance for their reach. Lastly, the opponents’ patterns when you are on mount, are very predictable especially if they also have trained in Jiu Jitsu. If you are well trained in Jiu Jitsu, your opponent will almost feel like handling a child, making it an easier win for yourself. Once you have your opponent in a solid pin, the focus shifts to holding it out for law enforcement to arrive so they can take the situation from there.


You can now clearly see why we bring these three tactics together; distance management, situational awareness and opportunistic attack. Being in a position where there is more than one attacker is too much to bother with, which is why we use these steps in order to create that opportunity for evasion. This video (linked here) will help give you a visual understanding of these methods as well as properly show you how to takedown your opponent and get into mount.


Remember, Martial Arts like Jiu Jitsu, is used for self-defense. It is always better to try to communicate in order to de-escalate the situation and only use your Jiu Jitsu training as the final option towards a more merciful outcome.



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