On Multiple Attackers
From the reader mailbag:
I do have some questions for you regarding BJJ. First let me state that I have tremendous respect for the art and the training methods employed, and the people that I have known that train in the system have been remarkable fighters. Judging from some of your video postings you seem to be an excellent practitioner as well. But I have doubts about the system concerning responses to multiple attackers, and dealing with an attack from a weapon-specifically a blade.
It seems that going to the ground in a multiple attacker situation would be opening up to just being kicked on the ground. And how are blade weapons dealt with in the system as a whole? Perhaps there are techniques for them, but they aren’t focused on??
Ahh, multiple attackers. Our old shadowy friends. First of all, I know of very few arts that effectively deal with multiple attackers. Aikido prides itself on it’s 3 person randori’s, however, I still feel it’s a timing and movement exercise rather than an attack. Of course, learning how to get off the line, pivot quickly, and weave yourself between your attackers are keys to dealing with a group situation, and Aikido instills this. But it’s still not real resistance, and a street attack will not look like a Gozo Shioda demonstration. Trust me. Ponder Sensei Florian Tan’s words after his first high intensity randori experience, even after many years of training:
I attended an Aikido seminar taught by Larry Reynosa Sensei.
One of the exercises we did was a tenkan practice against three attackers.
Under Reynosa Sensei’s guidance, I prepared myself for the exercise.
A quick “hajime” and in the next moment I found myself on my back.
A backward roll got me back on my feet, just enough to be knocked off again.
This continued for about fifteen seconds. Getting up and instantly being forcefully knocked off my feet again.
I had never experienced an exercise with this kind of intensity.
After the seminar and on my way home, I realized how shocked and disoriented I felt.
The best multiple attack strategies I have ever encounted were by Paul Vunak in his video Mass Attack, and were shown to me again by Mr. Harris when I queried him about multiple attacker strategies. I don’t feel you need to study any art for this unlikely scenario, just take a couple private lessons, buy the Mass Attack video and get some friends to drill with. Simple. But what are the chances of you getting jumped by multiple attackers? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu doesn’t cover it but I’m unconcerned. BJJ has such a powerful delivery system with it’s resistant training method that once you’re good at sparring, then all it takes is a few strategic tweaks and some new tools to adapt to the multiple attacker situation. Since you’re familiar with the intensity of an altercation, you can remain calm under genuine duress. And that is not a skill learned overnight.
In regards to a blade, again, I find most arts lacking. Wristlock off a knife stab? Good luck with that. Possible but far more difficult than any martial arts class would have you believe. The Aikido defenses against a blade I have found to be mediocre and imparting a false sense of security. Seibukan Jujutsu is better, but a far cry from the sophistication of Escrima or Kali Illustrisimo. Study a blade art if you’re truly concerned about it, and check out the video “Surviving Edged Weapons”. A general taijutsu art with a smattering of weapons is inadequate if the threat is genuine and probable.
Rickson and Royler Gracie do a spectacular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu demo here, which includes a club and knife in the self defense portion.
Personally though, I feel that worrying about multiple attackers and blades is generally unwarranted. If you don’t pick fights, and run when they find you, the likelihood of being stabbed or jumped is low. And scenarios of this or that possibly happening, some day, are just not going to happen, although they’re potent daydreams.