Monday, July 20, 2009

Fighting more than one, Know your circle

When I was in the university teaching martial arts about 10 years ago. One of the big focuses and concerns was how to fight more than one person at a time. Realistically if you are a bigger guy like myself, no one is going to fight you unless they feel they have the advantage. A weapon, friends or both. So in my experience with self defense I have rarely been in a one one one fight situation. There is always at least one friend hanging out in the background.

The first and most important step is a tactic that I take from ninjitsu which is awareness of your surroundings. You have to know how many exits you have, how many exits you can create, what could be utilized to your advantage. Of course when you are in the middle of a fight it is too late to analyze these things. So it should be a habit that anywhere you go you are "counting" your environment. In most cases you will find you can see a potential situation developing before it escalates and your already gone.

If you are really in a life or death situation then your biggest concern should be survival. So it is important to train your movement aside from combat. Running, rolling, climbing etc. You could have the most deadly punch in the world but if you can't get from A to B it's worthless. Aside from basic mobility it is also important to learn how to stack the deck in your favor. For example if you put a table between you and your opponent you have given your self a shield from his attacks but placed yourself in perfect kicking position. Also attack at opportune times. If you are surrounded by a group don't look at the person you strike first, it will give you away. Use anything from salt shakers do gravel to stun your opponent so that you are guarenteed a clean strike. Don't waste energy doing attacks that won't land.

Also it is important to realize that you have the advantage because you have the element of surprise. (Unless you are fighting against a tactical strike team which is organized and coordinated with their attack.) But ordinary groups attack one or two at a time. This is why it is always most important to practice footwork and spacing. Especially using the footwork from Bagua or Aikido which is circular stepping. The understanding of your art and how it uses the circle is what will make you successful. Bagua weaves between the opponents much like a thread moves through material, Hapkido can manipulate and clutter opponents into each other with various locks, Taekwondo places the the opponents outside of the circle and the fighter's back can easily become his front with a turn of the head, Muay Thai can allow you to take more blows than most if you have undergone the right training, Judo is extremely powerful if the take downs are done on the edges or corners of objects.

Once you understand the circle of your art it becomes much easier to manipulate your environment in any situation. Naturally this is something that should be practiced on your own first with a few friends or even alone. The hardest part is learning how to flow from one movement to the next, one direction to the next without any awkward stumbling or pauses. If you do the right move with the wrong amount of space then you're in big trouble. You must practice every possibility. Then after your body has learned the system of your style you can relax and just flow.

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