Surviving Multiple Attackers By Mr. Jon Funk

There rages a debate in the Martial Arts community whether or not any system of fighting can deal successfully with multiple attackers. By and large the grappling only crowd say no and the stand up self defense advocates say yes.

A real fight is a lot like "herding chaos," it is not an exact science; therefore, there can never be a definitive answer as to how to survive a multiple attack. The grappling groups concede that their approach has little chance of succeeding against more than one attacker. On the other hand, the "street" oriented stand up groups say they train to take down more than one opponent with their methods. Just for the record I support the stand up self defense folk's assertion that with a little strategy a multiple attack can be survived.

I have heard the argument that 95% of all fights end up in a grappling environment. I think a better way to express it is that 95% of all "incompetent" fights will end up in a wrestling situation. I do not subscribe to the theory that all fights need to end up in a grappling situation. In fact, I teach skills to avoid going to the ground as well as neutralizing the grappler if one is taken down.

Many people live their entire lives without ever having to experience a "street fight". Even in high school most people only hear about such events. This is not the case for me. I must have had a turbulent past life and, charismatically speaking, I must be paying for it. Among the "street" incidents I have experienced I have dealt with a multiple attack by four opponents.

I was having a drink (which I no longer indulge in) with a friend to discuss an upcoming cable television project we were working on. We were sitting at a table in a local pub minding our own business and along came a drunk and bumped our table. I could have avoided the whole incident by not saying anything, however, I asked him to be careful not to bump our table again.

He took offence to my request and in fact, he took it upon himself to try to push me and my chair over onto the floor. Before he could accomplish this act of up-ending me and my chair I quickly stood up and pushed him back out of harms way. He stumbled back a few steps and one of his friends sucker punched me in the side of the face. It didn't hurt, however, I now had to deal with two foes.

The two, became four almost immediately and it was at this point I decided to enact a strategy to deal with the escalating situation. I ran out the door of the pub. The gaggle of four attackers followed me outside and as I moved down the sidewalk the biggest, most aggressive of the bunch moved toward me.

At this point, my strategy was to try to take out the leader and then move on and keep stringing them out so I could deal with them one at a time. As the first attacker came in range he seemed to hesitate. It was as if he understood that I had maneuvered him to be alone. Without his buddies he didn't seem to have enough confidence to take me on right away.

If my counter to his first attack didn't drop him I was prepared to move off again and set up on the leader again. My approach was to hit and run never letting them gang up on me. Would this strategy have worked? As it turned out I didn't have to find out and I will never really know if my tactics would have been successful. I was however, fully prepared to see it through. Perhaps it was my willingness to hurt him that the lead attacker sensed and this caused a reluctance on his part to initiate the first strike.

With this hesitation to begin the fight I saw a chance to employ a different kind of strategy. I asked him if he was willing to have me have him and all his friends arrested, charges with assault, and spend the night in jail. I suggested since my partner was observing the situation that he would help me accomplish my threat.

Since the would be first attacker was still not sure about taking me on alone he listened to my offer of their legal demise. I took the opportunity to point out that it was his friends that had begun this fight. He reflected, and said, "I think I can get my friends to back off'. He turned around and went back to talk to his buddies.

I stayed where I was and waited for their reaction. If they came after me again I wou]d go back to the same tactics had set up previously. They did, however, decide to back off and this defused the situation.

The moral of this story is that if you are facing a number of attackers and you can not flee completely, try to take them out one at a time by separating them. This means no grappling, but rather resorting to a hit and run strategy. You may also have a chance as I did. to reason the situation down so violence is not necessary.

Sifu Jon Funk is a revered veteran. A contributing columnist to several main stream martial arts magazines, Mr. Funk has also been  featured on their covers . Among other things he is the promoter of Vancouver, BC Canada's famous Tiger Balm International, and a Canadian based Praying Mantis Kung Fu instructor. His history of training includes grappling. ~ DW