How to defend against 10 bikers with knives, bats, chains and guns?

“There I was, in the middle of my first black belt tryout at the tender age of 22, ready to start the random assault drill. I was surrounded by attackers with knives, bats, clubs and guns, but I was ready. I had I’ve been training for years. The sensei panel was watching me, Ross, Cestari, Blandino, Betts, they were all there and I was ready. One by one they attacked and I dispatched them clean and fast. The knife was easily removed; the bat was a game of mothers and sons. They were treated as quickly as they arrived without any problems. I AM INVINCIBLE!!!”

Flash forward to my real life. While visiting a friend in college, we went out at night. Well, one thing leads to another, as it often does: who touched whose girlfriend or who spilled whose beer, it didn’t really matter. Before I knew it, I saw that my friend got punched and was on his feet. I immediately tried to get to him as fast as I could to offer some retribution, but before I knew it he hit me in the back of the head with something hard. As I turned in the direction of the attack I came face to face with two or three very pissed off frat boys.

The rest is hard to remember, a lot of pushing, shoving and occasionally hitting someone that wasn’t me and being it for someone or something that wasn’t. It wasn’t pretty, it was frustrating. There was no time to freak out, adrenaline rushing through me. After a short while (which felt like an eternity) a little voice popped into my head and said, You’re locked in here and you need to get out.

When we finally pushed open the door, the entire fraternity house (about 60 men) seemed to converge on us. Trash cans and beer bottles were thrown at us from the second floor and all I wanted to do was make sure my friends were okay. Finally, after what seemed like forever (which was only about 10 minutes), we made it out of there. Beaten, cut and bruised, but alive. I was in great shape and you could say I gave more than I received, but this was crazy. They were college kids, future accountants, lawyers, executives, and doctors using bottles, pool cues, trash cans, and everything else that wasn’t nailed down to beat us to the best of their ability. They were just as bad and as dangerous as any criminal you could meet.

Where did all my training go? What happened to all the good throws and takedowns? Why was it so difficult to make a good shot? I know my martial arts training helped me survive, but I didn’t ‘feel’ like practicing. I felt a bit cheated, but instead of blaming my training, I searched for a real solution and a plausible answer.

Unfortunately this is not an exclusive event and I have had the same results. The only 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’s notion that it will be able to protect you and your loved ones against multiple vicious attacks, regardless of who and how many. And you will 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 they will be able to fight back and protect their loved ones from harm? You spend countless dollars and countless hours training, watching videos, going to seminars hoping to come back with the answer.

Experts don’t help simply because they don’t know or don’t care. They may intend to gamble, but because they are ex-military, police, special ops, that doesn’t mean they’ve ever been in a fight or been taught the correct and most realistic way to defend themselves. They learned from martial artists who are in the same boat, just guessing what you can do.

So what about dealing with multiple assailants? First, you must always assume that they are there. Whether you’re in an alley, a bar, or on patrol, you’re at a serious disadvantage if your assailant chooses the time and place of the assault. If you are a law enforcement officer, you are in their neighborhood or at their home. Many domestic discussions were interrupted by the policeman doing his job, only to be attacked by the beaten wife in the process. So you should always assume the worst tactically and train accordingly.

You should know that standing up and fighting with more than one person puts you at a huge disadvantage. Keep in mind a couple of key points, if you can escape, great. Put as much distance as possible between you and them. You just fight what’s in front of you and keep moving forward. When you train, practice to take ground. This will keep your main target off balance and moving targets will always be harder to hit. Always take ground.

If you train the right kind of melee techniques, weapons won’t matter, always attack. Being hit, stabbed, or shot while attacking is very different from being hit, stabbed, or shot while being killed. You will get injured, the goal is to minimize your injury and maximize theirs. You’ll get hurt, you’ll toughen up and you’ll get over it.

Some simple rules to remember:

Always assume there is more than one aggressor
Treat every attacker as an armed attacker
Resolve the fact that you will feel pain and suffer injuries.
Always keep moving and gaining ground, this will keep your attackers off balance, create openings to escape, and make it harder to hit.
You can only “fight” one person at a time – deal with what’s in front of you.
Strike first when possible
Weapons increase your effectiveness.

There is no such thing as a “magic pill”, anyone who tells you that you can stand up and fight off multiple attackers. Yes, we still practice the Random Assault Drill, but it is emphasized that its purpose is not so you can stand up and fight, but to disorient and tire you out so we can recreate some of the frustration of a real fight. Exercise teaches you not to think, but to react and move. This is the core of real self defense.

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