By Damian Ross of The Self Defense Company
“There I was, in the middle of my fist Black Belt test at the tender age of 22 ready to begin the Random Assault Drill. They were circling me, attackers with knives, bats, clubs and guns, but I was ready. I had been training for years. The panel of sensei watched me, Ross, Cestari, Blandino, Betts, they were all there and I was ready. One by one they attacked and I dispatched them neatly and swiftly. The knife was taken away with ease; the bat was mere child’s play. They were dealt with as fast as they came with no problem- I AM INVINCABLE!!!”
Flash forward to my real life. While visiting a friend at college we went for a typical night out. Well, one thing lead to another, as these things often do: who touched whose girlfriend, or who spilt whose beer, it really didn’t matter. Before I knew it I saw my buddy got sucker punched and he was out on his feet. I immediately tried to make my way to him as fast to as I could offer some retribution but before I knew it I was hit on the back of the head with something hard. When I turned in the direction of the attack I found myself face to face with two or three very pissed off frat boys.
The rest is hard to recall, a lot of pushing, shoving and occasionally hitting someone that wasn’t me and being it by someone or something that wasn’t. It wasn’t pretty, it was frustrating. There was no time to be scared, adrenaline coursed through me. After a short time (which felt like forever) a little voice popped in my head and told me: You’re boxed in here and you need to get out side.
When we finally pushed out the door, the entire fraternity house (about 60 men) seemed to converge on us. Garbage cans and beer bottles were hurled at us from the second floor and all I wanted to do was make sure my friends were OK. Finally after what seemed like an eternity (which was only about 10 minutes) we made it out of there. Banged up, cut and bruised, but alive. I was in pretty good shape and you could say I gave more than I received but this was crazy. These were college kids, future accountants, lawyers, executives and doctors using bottles, pool cues, garbage cans and whatever weren’t nailed down to beat us as best as they could. They were just as bad and just as dangerous as any criminal you would meet.
Where did all my training go? What happened to all the nice throws and take downs? Why was it so hard to get a good shot off? I know my martial arts training helped me survive, but it didn’t “feel” like I practiced.” I felt a little misled but rather than blame my training, I looked for a real solution and a plausible answer.
Unfortunately this as not an exclusive event and I have had the same results. The one question came to mind: What am I doing wrong in my martial arts training?
One of the deadliest problems with martial arts and self defense is the magic pill notion that you will be able to protect you and your loved ones against multiple vicious attacks regardless of who and how many. And you’ll be able to do this without a scratch or even a blemish. This is something we all want to believe. Who doesn’t want to know with 100% certainty that you will be able to fight and protect your loved ones from harm? You spend countless dollars and countless hours training, watching videos going to seminars hoping to come back with the answer.
The experts don’t help simply because they don’t know and or they don’t care. They can have the bet intention, but because they are former military, police, special ops that doesn’t mean they have ever even been in a fight or were taught the right and most realistic way to defend themselves. They learned from martial artists who are in the same boat, just best guessing what you can do.
So what about dealing with multiple assailants? First, you must always assume they are there. Whether you’re in an alley way, bar or on patrol, you are at a severe disadvantage if your assailant chooses the time and the place of the assault. If you’re a law enforcement officer you’re in their neighborhood or home. Many a domestic argument was broken up by the cop doing his job, only to be attacked by the beaten wife in the process. So you must always assume the worst tactically and train accordingly.
You must know, standing and fighting more than one person puts you at a severe disadvantage. Keep in mind of a couple of key points, if you can escape, great. Put as much distance between you and them as possible. You simply fight what’s in front of you and keep moving forward. When you train, practice to take ground. This will keep your primary target off balance and moving targets are always harder to hit. Always take ground.
If you train the right type of close combat techniques, weapons won’t matter, always attack. Getting hit, stabbed or shot when you’re attacking is a whole lot different that getting hit, stabbed or shot, while you’re being killed. You will be injured, the goal is to minimize your injury and maximize theirs. You will get hurt, toughen up and get over it.
Some simple rules to remember:
Always assume there is more than one assailant
Treat every attacker as an armed attacker
Resolve to the fact that you will feel pain and sustain injury
Always keep moving and taking ground, this will keep you attackers off balance, create openings for escape and make you more difficult to hit.
You can only “fight” one person at a time: deal with what’s in front of you
Attack first when ever possible
Weapons increase your effectiveness
There is no “magic pill”, anyone who tells you that you can stand and fight multiple assailants. Yes we still practice the Random Assault Drill, but the purpose is stressed that his is not so you can stand and fight, but it’s to disorient you and make you tired so that we can recreate some of the frustration of a real fight. The drill teaches you not to think, but to react and move. This is the core of real self defense.
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