A few months ago I wrote this article for Bleeding Edge Magazine and thought I'd now share it with you all.
Before I start this article I want to emphasise a point.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are faced with a group or gang of aggressive individuals, then you are already in a very bad position.
I would go one step further and suggest you need to look back and ask yourself, what it was that you did wrong, what opportunities that you missed and what warning signs did you fail to notice, that has lead you to this position.
The first and most vital part of good self protection is to avoid confrontation wherever possible. This rule is even more important when we begin to consider the scenarios of facing multiple assailants.
Faced with overwhelming odds and being completely outnumbered means you are already on the back foot and now having to make the best of a bad situation.
With that in mind, it’s important for me to highlight that there are no magic pills, no silver bullets and no Jason Bourne techniques that are guaranteed to get you out of this situation unscathed.
What I aim to do with this article, is offer you some insight into how groups typically operate, drawn from my own experience and that of my close peers who have all been in situations where we’ve faced large numbers of violent individuals.
Ok, here is a gross generalisation, but one which does apply to lots of groups.
For simplicity I’ve offered the proportions for each type of group member assuming a total of 10 in the gang
Leaders – 1 or 2
Most gangs will have one or two key players who are the ones who are prepared to instigate the violence and commence the proceedings. Like most organistations, these individuals are the leaders of the group and are often perceived to be the more capable fighters, the stronger and the most experienced members of the pack. They are the leaders because the followers in the group look up to them, often through a fear of their abilities or reputation.
Followers – 3 or 4
After the key leaders of the group you will then find a good percentage of followers who will jump in and fight once it has been kicked off. These individuals will often not have the courage or ability to start proceedings but are prepared to wade in as soon as it commences.
Back Markers 4 or 5
Often you will find a similar percentage in the group who will only jump in to the melee when they think it is safe to do so.
In doing so they know they can be part of the gang but without having to have the risk of leading the fight or exposing themselves to any dangers.
Back Markers are also known to avoid the conflict altogether, but will make all the right noises and appear to be involved, when in fact they simply don’t want anything to do with the fight.
As I said, this is a gross generalisation, and will not apply to all groups in such a clinical way. However, knowing these assumptions, this helps to dictate some standard responses that we can apply to help offer us better chances of success.
So, here are some of my own strategies for dealing with aggressive groups.
Don’t Be There
To reiterate the point of avoidance, my first suggestion is simply for you not to be there in the first place.
Whether this means totally avoiding a location or a situation that you know may occur, or running away at the first opportunity. By not putting yourself in front of this group, it’s fair to say that you have the best chance of not being hurt as a result.
The key with running away is making the decision to do this early and not leaving it to the last minute.
What often gets us into trouble is our ego or our lack of concise decision making to Act Now rather than later. Telling ourselves it will be ok rather than not taking any chances, we often let situations progress for far too long, due to our inaction and indecision.
If you want an analogy for facing life’s problems and not just gangs of chav hoodies, this is it….. take action Now – not later.
As I discussed with my Fence Concepts book and DVD, using an aggressive Fence is a great strategy against groups and gangs.
If you have not been able to avoid the confrontation, then getting aggressive can buy you those vital few seconds to make your escape.
This is what I call Psychological Barriers.
Becoming aggressive works on many fronts, and is a great tool for shocking your attackers into a momentary Freeze state. The fact that your response is not the usual response this group would get from their potential prey, it interrupts their normal operational procedure and causes confusion and shock.
I have also made a point of calling the members of the group Individuals, and this is an important factor. Most, and I say most with a hint of generalisation again, members of a group will take aggressive behaviour, threats and psychological attacks on an individual level. Even when they rationalise your behaviour and remind themselves that they are part of a group who will easily defeat any individual, for a moment they take your aggression personally and that creates doubt and fear within them.
This is your chance to escape and revert back to plan A, which is to run away.
Your next strategy should be to start creating physical barriers between you and then.
Personally I would like a 10 mile bus ride as the physical barrier between myself and any violent group, but assuming you’re not able to do that, the next best thing is to use your environment.
Having a good awareness of your surroundings, ideally should have prevented you from being in the situation in the first place, but at least will have given you some appreciation for what objects are around that you can use as a barrier.
Consider using parked cars, walls, fences, bins, trees, as physical barriers that you can position between you and the group.
At this stage, before we consider the worst case scenarios of having to get physical, we want to make sure we aren’t penned in and cornered, so be careful when using objects as a barrier that you don’t inadvertently block your own escape route.
Physical Barriers alone may not do the job so this should still be used along with an Aggressive Fence, with lots of posturing and ballooning.
If you’re not able to find objects within your environment to act as a barrier then another option is for you to use one of the gang as a human shield or human barrier.
In my Multiple Assailants DVD I show some options for doing this, but it basically boils down to either grabbing one of the group and working some good vertical grappling clinch to position them in front of you, whilst still being extremely aggressive and demonstrative towards each of the group, or, it means knocking out one of the group and getting yourself on the opposite side of their unconscious heap on the floor.
By taking this physical action you start to change the dynamic of the group.
The fact that you’ve knocked out or are in control of one of their group means you are now prepared to fight, something that probably doesn’t normally happen when they attack their prey.
If you choose wisely, you will have probably also beaten one of the group whom they all look up to and are probably afraid of, which now puts doubt in their minds.
In addition, if they now have to step over their friend to get to you, this will create a fight or flight state as it will take a big effort for one of the followers to step forward and instigate the physical.
In addition to all of that, you have also slightly evened up the odds as they are now a man down.
Mentioned briefly above, your final option is to use your pre-emptive strikes to take out the biggest threat.
My instructor Geoff Thompson talks about the Red Letter Strategy. This is where you attack the one that is the biggest threat, just as the first utility bill you pay, is the one most likely to cut off your supply.
So this is where you need good peripheral vision and good all round awareness, something which will be a struggle as you will most definitely be full of adrenalin and fighting tunnel vision amongst many other negatives.
In my dvd I show lots of options for scenario and pad drills that will help develop the skills for these types of situation.
The primary strategy here though is to hit each target once and then move on to the next, regardless of the result of your strike. If you get too focused on one individual, it will give the rest of the group the opportunity to swarm you and overwhelm you.
So the general rule is to hit anything and everything that moves.
Fight to Escape
The final strategy is more of a basic rule that needs to be followed.
This rule is something I teach everyone when I deliver personal security training courses, and that is, never fight to win or fight to perform a citizens arrest. Fight to escape.
The purpose of all of the aforementioned strategies is to create an opportunity to escape and revert back to your plan A of Not Being There.
A Final Thought
As I said at the start of this article.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are faced with an angry mob, you need to ask yourself what did you do wrong or what did you miss that has resulted in you being there.
The strategies I have listed are not comprehensive by any means, nor are they a guarantee of success.
You are outnumbered, you are outgunned and you are in a world of trouble.
Regardless of the strategy you choose, one of the main things that will get you through an event such as this is massive determination, massive aggression and massive intention.
Do not stop and do not go to the floor and the moment you get an opportunity to escape, you take it.
My Multiple Assailants DVD contains lots more information on dealing with multiple assailants, including lots of training drills and scenario drills that can improve your skills and chances. Most importantly, they can also be a lot of fun.
Thank you for reading
Stay Safe and Have Fun
Multiple Assailants DVD - Buy It HERE