How to Fight Multiple Opponents!

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: karate
1 Mar 2009


I told Tommy (a commenter) that I would do a post on how to fight multiple opponents at once! Briefly if you look at my post entitled, “Knife Attack! What do you do?” you will realize that my fighting style does not change much but I will go into specifics of what to consider when fighting more than one attacker.


I just saw this post from Karate das Menias entitled, “Lutando contra um ou mais oponentes” (you can translate (Portuguese to English)) from google, that in English is, “Fighting against one or more opponents” by Matthew Apsokard. I did really like the boxing youtube video that was reviewed in that post. Remember this is about one defender trying to fight against mutipal attackers. Review this video and I’ll add my 2 cents.




From what I can tell a boxer was able to fend off four attackers by using distance with well timed counter attacks! This is basically the approach I tell students to use if they get into a fight. The only difference when fighting more than one opponent is you will have to work harder at keeping the distance.


My youngest son was attacked by three guyslast year and it turned out ok for him. He ended up getting blindsided but was able to recover, counter punch and escape.


Now what I do not like about mass attack defense advice. I see a lot of blogs saying that you should try this in the school. I then see videos of one guy/gal defending from the middle – three or four attacker taking turns hitting them half-heartily. I used to watch fights like this during Batman and Robin. I was easily fooled back then but I am older and wiser now.


I think if a person just uses critical distance and initial movementalong with running half-circles to find a single attacker for an instant – that is all you need to do. When you fight more than one attacker – you will not be a stationary target in the middle of a group of thugs but rather a moving target attacking whenever you can single one thug out for a second!


Now there will be some brawlers that do not think they are in a fight unless that take a couple of good shots but I am not among them. I come from sport karate for most of my fighting experience. In that arena one has to be good at striking without getting hit. If you have mastered that (hitting without getting hit) all you have to do is work on your distance and initial movement!


So to practice mass attacks – it is more important to work on your individual sparring skills and if you were truly fighting a bunch at the same time – you would have to be hurting them.


Now you might be thinking – ok John but when have you ever been attacked by a bunch of guys? Iv’e been in about 4 or 5 mass attacks but as I never thought much about any differences between fighting individuals or groups – they were all the same to me.


One example was about 8 to 10 black belts at the San Diego Sport Arena went down to help out some fellow black belts getting into a beef with some boxers. By the time we got to the floor of the arena – there were about 50 bikers milling around – they were kind of like moving punching bags. I concentrated on distance and initial movement as always and in this case punching. I initially slipped on spilt beer everywhere and had to kick my flip-flops off.


Another fight I was coaxing some drunks out the door as they were talking smack. I tried to take care of our drunks even though they might be acting unreasonably. Well they mistook my kindness for weakness and yelled out in the bar – that if anyone was ‘man’ enough to meet them outside. I waived off several guys off and let them know I had this. At the door they started to attack. I just out punched them (2 against 1) and me and another guy that was itching to help – pushed them through the door and started pounding them. I called my friend off when the guys started crying – when they got about 20 feet away they were bad again. :)


Another time I called 8 guys out of the bar as there were some not old enough to come into the bar (they had brushed by me). I then told them they could not come back into the bar – 6 of them attacked me. I told them one at a time – fight like a man! That worked for a bit as the biggest guy would attack and I’d move back – letting their punch miss and reverse punch their face. I was able to knock out the three biggest guys and then was in a running fight. I’d attack whenever I had one guy near me but I was never able to stomp because the others were on me again. The fight ended as three of them were surrounding me – not willing to attack as they knew what would happen. The cops were impressed and signed up at the karate studio.


All in all I am speaking from experience fighting one or more attackers. You will find plenty of instructors that have never been in a fight. I’ve been in plenty of fights and know what works for me. I am not saying what others do would not work – but rather I don’t really know because I would never fight that way. I am not the kind of fighter to meet in the middle and slug it out… but rather one to figure out what it will take to win an altercation and execute.


So all in all I think the boxer in this video showed an excellent example of how to fight multiple attackers and this is basically what I would do in the same situation.


If you have enjoyed this post, Please consider subscribing to my RSS Feed.


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

One Response to “How to Fight Multiple Opponents!”

  1. Jon Law Says:

    The clip is a classic, and is a perfect documented REAL example of how to deal with multiple attackers. Great stuff.

    We do plenty of drills for multiple attackers and these are not like the Batman and Robin style drills you refer to. Great training for movement.