Being attacked by more than one person will be one of the most difficult challenges that anyone can face. From my days as a police officer, I recall hundreds of situations when I arrived first on the scene to be greeted by an angry mob that were ready to kick my teeth in, trust me it isn't nice
If you are a cop, security officer, paramedic, soldier, doorman or work in any type of situation where you can face violence then you will almost certainly have to face more than one attacker at some point.
For the general public, the risk of being attacked by a group, I feel is the same as being attacked by a single person. Either way, it is scary to have a gang of men or woman trying to physically hurt you.
In this guide, I will give you a range of tactical consideration that you can and should use when being confronted by a group. In addition, I will also tell you what NOT to do.
Now I will say this straight away. The odds of surviving a determined attack by a group are low. The best chance for survival will always be avoidance and escape. However as we all know, there are times when this is not possible, nor would you be able to outrun the attackers anyway. As such you need to grasp every chance to survive and today we will provide you with the most comprehensive guide on the web today.
Inside you will find videos, fight breakdowns and techniques that will help you. I have also included some buttons in the post which will allow you to download a PDF of this monster sized article for reading offline. We also have some quick navigation links for you as well.
Welcome to The Self Defence Experts guide to surviving a group attack.
The Leader is Not The One Who Talks The Most
Common self-defence training will tell you that the leader of a group is the one doing the talking to you.
I also hear people say that if you hit that leader hard the others will go away. Well in my experience this is wrong!
The one doing the talking/ aggressive behaviours is rarely the leader, in fact he is the one trying to prove his skills to the others and where possible he is buckling for leadership himself.
So any strategy where you would look to attack the one doing the talking is wrong.
In addittion you need to consider the view that the person doing the talking is actually a distraction in what is a well versed and practised scenario for the group. This distraction mentality will be a serious problem for you. let me explain why.
The Human Field Of Vision
The human eye is developed so we can see directly in front of us. We have little ability to see anything that is not right in front of our eyes which is why we can turn our heads.
If you focus on the person doing the talking you will almost always not be able to see people to your side or to the rear.
So let us take a scenario from start to finish to show you options:
In this scenario you have been approached as you are walking back from the pub, you have had a few pints but are not heavily intoxicated.
A group of 6 males are standing on the corner of the street when they see you and block the path.
As usual someone starts to talk:
"Hey mate, have you got the time?" - The question is to see if you have a expensive phone or watch.
Without thinking you say "yes and get out your smart phone"
The male then says "That's a nice phone mate, can I have a look"
You realise that this is a bad idea but as there are 5 lads and it is just a phone you give in and let them.
After a few seconds you ask for it back and tell them you have got to get home, to which the male says:
"Alright mate, fuck off then"
You ask for the phone back again to which they say no.
and at this time the male says:
"Give us your fucking wallet"
You say no at first and then the male punches you in the face.
Shocked you don't notice the largest and nastiest male in the group to the side who says "fuck this" and punches you with such force you hit the deck and are barely conscious when you start to feel kicks to your body and feel the heavy thud of a boot smashing down on your head.
Alternative Situation (How I would deal with this)
If we look at the same situation (not the CCTV one)
As the male stood in front of the path and asked for the time I would say:
"Sorry Don't know mate".
Now this forces one of two things.
a) They will abandon their plan
b) They will escalate it. Now I don't know about you but I would rather skip the boring attempts by criminals to try and set me up
So here is the next phase:
"What do you mean you don't know, get your fucking phone out and look"
If you can go around the male (this should be happening in seconds by the way) and talk whilst in motion.
However even if you are blocking the path say:
"I can't the screen is smashed"
This again forces them down another route, they have to decide if you are lying and if so they need to take a step to finding out.
At this stage they will try and engage you in dialogue be it passive or aggressive. So think about the 8 mechanisms above and use that.
Destroy their moral justification by making yourself human, say to them "Do you mind, I have to get home to the wife and kids" Even if you don't have any.
2. Euphemistic language:
Do not let them turn this act into anything like 'business'. Ask them directly "Are you going to try and attack me?" or "are you going to try and rob me". This will really catch them off guard.
Make them aware just how serious this is. Tell them "lads you do realise that people get years in prison for robbery don't you". As this is a group, in my experience there will be people in this group that deeply fear going to prison. That type of comment is designed to pick the less aggressive/ involved members.
4.Displacement of responsibility:
This is a tough one but during a conversation you might hear them say how bad their life is, remind them about going to school or college, or getting a job. If you are smart you can use a story like "I know how hard it is for people like us, I grew up with no money, I got a course at college and started work as an apprentice". You are not trying to annoy them, you want them to see you as an equal, even if you are from a totally different background, they don't know that!
5.Diffusion of responsibility:
This is a great technique. I will make sure you focus on individuals. If you hear one of them named use their name in conversation. I like to look at one (not the one doing the talking and say "I know you from somewhere don't I".
Make them accountable.
6.Distorting of the consequences
For this I would have a plan which makes it clear that they will go to jail for this crime and not see their girlfriends or family for a long time.
7. Distorting information surrounding the victim by denying victim status
For this you need to be strong, don't be a victim, yes you will be scared but these idiots attacking you are human.
8. Blaming of the Victim:
Remind them you have done nothing. Tell them you are just trying to walk home.
I wasn't sure if I would put this in here, because in essence there is no true script you can use because every situation is different. Yet, I included it because I get asked a lot about how you can talk to aggressive people, and can you really talk your way out of a situation.
So to help people this is a few lines I might use if things went a certain way. Please take it for what it is. Just a creative example.
"What time is it mate?"
me"Don't know mate"
"Well get your fucking phone out and look"
me "It's got no charge left mate"
Males block the path. I assess each one and look for the ring leader, usually the strongest physically or the best fighter.
I pick out the one I think is the ring leader:
Me "I know you don't I?" (gets them thinking about identification)
"You don't know me mate"
me"Yeah I do, it'll come to me"
Them "Show us your phone mate"
Me "why? are you trying to rob me or something?"
Them "Give us your fucking phone"
me "Alright mate, listen I'm just trying to get home to the wife and kids, you can have my phone and my wallet, no worries, here you go"
OK, so it is very unlikely that any attack will go down exactly like this but you get the idea.
Should You Fight Back If Being Robbed?
I get asked this one all the time.
In truth it is totally up to you but here are some things I would give up easily in any attack.
Pretty much everything except my wife and kids then!
The thing is every group is different, every attack is different. Not all are robberies, some are just gangs wanting to beat someone for the fun of it. This is really serious stuff and people do get killed!
So YOU have to judge what you should do! But here is the things I advise.
Never walk anywhere with the attacker
Be verbally firm, tell them they can have your wallets etc but you are not going anywhere.
Never be tied up
Never get into a car with them
What If They Pull A Knife
There is a belief that people pull out knives at every opportunity. Yes, there are a lot of bad people out there. However if they pull a knife and you cannot escape then you need to remind them of the facts.
You are human (remember the wife and kids thing)
They can have all your valuables
Tell Them to calm down
Remind them of the consequences
The Consequences Speech
I get asked a lot about the consequences speech (whenever I mention it that its) and I could spend a day talking about it. In truth, you can use it for any situation you just have to decide when is the right time.
It goes a little like this:
"listen, calm down and you can have my wallet and phone but we aren't walking down that alleyway with you, you've pulled that knife out mate and you could really hurt us. We have 2 kids at home that need their parents. Please put the knife away before you really hurt one of us and you end up getting locked up for years"
About this time I would throw down my wallet and phone to the floor.
But if You Remind Them About Jail They Might Kill You
OK I get why people would say this but please consider the situation. You have a group robbing you and one guy has a knife out.
The one with the knife might not care but I am certain that the others do not want to go to jail!
I would only use the jail warning if I felt the situation was right. Criminals aren't always stupid (well some are). They understand how DNA works, how people inform on each other if they might go to jail. A careful reminder of the legal consequences can work wonders if placed properly at the right time!
There is a misconception that everyone that pulls a knife out on you wants to kill you, most just want the cash which you are going to give them, reminding them about jail is useful when they want more than you are prepared to give
ASBO Group Attack
Although people robbing you might use knives, some people just want to fight you and hurt you because that makes their Saturday night complete. I like to refer to these as ASBO youths.
Don't get me wrong, these guys are like packs of wolves. Scum of the earth who just want to cause trouble 24/7. They can't be bothered to pull a knife they just want to kick your head in, literally.
Assuming we have tried to talk our way out of the situation here is the meat of this post, how to fight back and survive.
How To Fight A Group
First off, let us be clear. You are never going to beat a large group, this isn't the movies!
If you have 5 black belts in different martial arts you might as well call yourself a white belt because anytime you apply one technique against just one of your attackers you will end up being exposed to a very real attack from the back or side.
Although we are not in a ring I can think of no better phrase that describes what you need to learn.
The art of ring craft comes from boxing but essentially it describes how a person will tactically perform in a combative situation.
It is a core skill that you need to work on and we are going to help you with that.
The first objective is to try and line up your opponent in a funnel.
The objective of funnelling is to try and line up your opponents so in essence they are in a line (or thereabouts)
Once in your funnel the group become far easier to deal with because you are not surrounded and you have then turned this situation into a multiple one on one situation and not a group attack.
How To Set Up A Funnel
Your footwork is key to being able to set up a funnel. In the shots below from my free
In our example a single male faces an aggressive group.
The group are taking it in turns to confront the male
However when cornered the male spins and strikes during the spin.
After the strike he backs up and keeps the males in a funnel:
The male lines up the group almost in a one on one situation and he never gets surrounded.
The male dispatches all the attackers (a rare case) however this has only been possible due to his movement and footwork
Watch the full fight and the breakdown below:
Back Against A Wall
In the above case the male was against a wall so he spun out and attacked the males, with more attackers this is a lot harder, however you must avoid being surrounded and placed flat on the wall where you are square on and have no power.
Here is how to get out of it:
The key to getting out of the wall is to either move either by going through the attacker blocking your route or using footwork to come around and behind
Once you are away from the wall you are free to either escape or try and funnel again.
What To DO When Surrounded
Any time you are surrounded by a group this is the worst situation to find yourself in. Defence Lab are the pioneers of dealing with this type of situation.
From here you need to have a 360 cover in place and you need to make sure you dont take a heavy blow from behind.
To get out of this situation you will need to attack one of the opponents, if you can choose the smallest and weakest and hit them hard but aim to move behind them and then once behind you can push them into the attackers and look to escape
What Not To Do
There are 2 things that you must never do when in a gang
1. Don’t Lower Your Head
Whenever you lower your head you can't see what is going on. Your neck is exposed and you have no power.
In this situation you are easily pulled off balance and this will end up with you being on the floor.
Once on the floor this leads to mistake number 2
2. Staying In The Foetal Position
If you stay in the foetal position you are vulnerable, plain and simple. This is not where you should be and we go into this position to feel safe.
We turn and bring up our knees often like we do when we are ill and this safety blanket is an illusion.
Ok so that is what not to do but how are we going to survive this situation?
Group Attack Survival
There are 4 basic rules of survival for group attacks where you are surrounded.
1. Constant Movement
2. Smash Anything That Grabs You (Do not allow anyone to grip you)
3. Cover your head at all times (Defence lab shapes are a must have tool)
4. If you go down get up fast!
5. Everything you hit, make sure you hit it hard!
1. Constant Movement
The principle of constant movement is what Mike Tyson based his defence around. If he threw a punch he moved his head afterwards. This windshield wiper body mechanics made Tyson hard to hit. Check out the video
A moving target is harder to hit, so move like your life depends on this
2. Smash Anything That Grabs You
If a person grabs you in a street fight it isn’t an issue if you are a grappler or know skills to throw the attacker down to the floor. I love it when someone grabs me.
However in a group fight you cannot allow anyone to take a grip. Why? Because they will stop your constant movement and pull you to the floor.
The result is simple. Smash anything that grabs you or tries to grab you. A man grabs you smash their forearm with yours. Whatever it takes get those hands off you!
Check out the Defence Lab boys in action with lots of examples of this.
3. Cover Your Head At All Times
The simple truth is that you just do not know where the next strike is coming from so even if you are striking you need to think about the cover of your head on a 360 degree basis.
Work on this in training, have people attack you with gloves on from the back and side and see how your guards shape up
4. If You Go Down Get Up Fast
This is a really simple one if you go down, get your ass up quick. Whilst I do always say that people use this ‘never go to the ground’ saying as a rule when going to the ground often makes sense.
In a group attack you need to get up because you cannot win a ground fight there!
So get your backside up, but there is a right and wrong way to get up.
5. Everything You Hit, Make Sure You Hit It Hard!
I can't tell you enough how irritated I get when I see people hitting pads like they are playing patty cake.
There are 2 great reasons why hitting with power works so well. Firstly it might take the opponent out of the game and secondly, it sends a serious message to anyone involved that you hit hard. There is nothing quite like seeing your mate knocked spark out on the floor to make you think about your own safety.
One of the best ways I have ever seen in creating power strikes with forearms and hammer fists is The Approach By Eddie Quinn. This system is ideal for blending into your multiple opponent situations and takes hours not years to learn. Please check out Defence Lab and Approach instructor Mikey Wright in this exclusive video showing how to hit hard!
How To Get Off The Floor Safely
1. Attack The legs Of the Opponent
Depending on how you end up on the floor use your legs to protect you against anyone in the kicking range. In this example I have landed on the floor and the first attacker is ready to strike, I need to stop this at all costs so I use my shin as a barrier. This can give me the ability to create space and also I use it as a ‘hook’ to help me up.
2. Grab the Leg
I literally sit up and grab the leg, whilst my hands are doing the work I can cover my head by pushing it into the side of the opponent. (we cover how to get up in a second), however here I have gone from attacked to
How To Get Up When The Attacker Is Above You
If I land on the floor and an attacker is right by my head I grab the leg closest to me and turn.
When The Attacker Is About To Kick You In The Head
The principle is the same here, I do not want the big right foot to come and kick me so I hook my foot on the back of his knee.
The shin in this case acts as a barrier that gives me some space and allows me a small barrier of protection.
However most importantly the shin and foot act as a sensory mechanism that allows me to feel the target leg (the leg I need to attack)
Once I have the leg I am ready for the next step.
Climbing Up Off The Ground
How you get up can mean the difference between survival or taking a knockout shot.
Bar far the best method is to climb up and keep yourself close to an attacker.
Once you grab the leg you need to drive into the attacker and make that leg part of your body.
From there you need to get to one knee and start to drive your weight into the attacker whilst standing up. This may be harder than it seems if you have taken a few shots and are very dazed
Next climb up their body with your heads and driving with the legs and you are back to a position where you can fight.
And if you know what you are doing you might be able to turn the tables and take them down.
So there you have it, our guide to surviving a situation where you are attacked by multiple opponents.
It is clear that this type of situation is not easy to deal with and if you face this there is a good chance you will be seriously injured.
However, if you start to train for these events then there is a good chance you might be able to survive and get home to your loved ones.
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