MMA against multiple opponents

MMA against multiple opponents? It works! It really does! Here’s the proof:


Strikeforce Nashville Brawl
envoyé par snakerattle79. – Découvrez les dernières vidéos de sport.

Obviously, I was only joking. :-)

Jake Shields, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Nick Diaz and bunch of others get into a brawl at the Strikeforce: Nashville event. It’s not really the image MMA wants to portray to the world but brawls like this happen at martial arts tournaments and fight nights all over the world. What else can you expect when people who like to fight and those who like to watch fights get together? Sooner or later, the excrement hits the rotating blades…

But back on track:

I’ve commented on mixed martial arts for self defense in the past and one of the key points is that MMA has some serious drawbacks when you go up against multiple opponents. This clip kind of proves exactly that. Now obviously MMA purists might argue that Miller:

  1. Wasn’t really trying to hurt anyone, it was all a promotional stunt.
  2. Didn’t know it would turn into a multiple opponent situation so he wasn’t prepared.
  3. There are no reliable techniques against multiple opponents.
  4. Some other excuse.

I’d answer with:

  1. Who knows? I don’t think it was a stunt though. I also doubt he enjoyed being manhandled by four, five people all at the same time.
  2. Well, that’s how real violence (as opposed to combat sports) works. You don’t get time to prepare.
  3. Maybe, maybe not. But training to go to the ground in such a situation is the worst thing you can do.
  4. Whatever. The footage speaks volumes.

Here’s what I saw in that brawl:

  • Miller gets pushed back and the brawl is on.
  • Immediately, four, five people start punching, pulling, pushing him to the floor. He’s clearly overwhelmed by the attacks.
  • After a few second, he’s on the floor trying to turtle up.
  • He gets kicked while he’s there and also receives a couple short shots to the back/kidneys.
  • He’s only able to get up after some of his attackers are pulled off. Until that time, he was helpless.

Now as much as I like MMA as a sport, you clearly see the drawbacks against multiple attackers. Here’s the thing: You can argue any point you like but Miller is not an amateur or crappy MMA fighter. He has a  good fight record and is a pretty good fighter. Also, he’s a professional. MMA is his job.

So here’s the real question: if a good, professional MMA fighter can’t make it work against multiple attackers, who can?

Before you start commenting, please also read Part Two of mixed martial arts for self defense. I explain my position clearly  there. Bullshit comments from people who don’t take the time to read everything and just want to vent on the parts they don’t like will be treated as such.

UPDATE: Here’s part TWO of MMA against multiple opponents.
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Comments

  1. Wim –

    That video is consistent with what I saw in my long-since-gone prison days. Several inmates jumping another inmate or staff in an area of the prison where there is no escape (and also no camera coverage). There’s a reason they do this: because it works! It’s also the reason that we put 3 – 5 officers on one inmate when we could.

    Other than training to deal with multiple attackers I’m not sure that there is a “best” martial art for this. Some might be better than others but only if you train against multiple attackers, or if you are good at improvising lessons on the spot while you are attacked.

    Perhaps what you said in your BB article is the best advice?

    “Train to understand the differences between the cage and the street and then adapt your skills accordingly.”

    • I agree Bob, there is no best system around. I see it as “it all sucks but which sucks the least?” :-) The reality of the matter is that once you go down against 3-5 guys, your chances of getting back up are pretty bad. MMA fighters might not like that fact because it goes against what they experience in training (when it’s a one-on-one situation) but ti’s still true IMHO.

      I can really argue when you quote me so I guess you’re right. :-)

  2. Wim –

    That video is consistent with what I saw in my long-since-gone prison days. Several inmates jumping another inmate or staff in an area of the prison where there is no escape (and also no camera coverage). There’s a reason they do this: because it works! It’s also the reason that we put 3 – 5 officers on one inmate when we could.

    Other than training to deal with multiple attackers I’m not sure that there is a “best” martial art for this. Some might be better than others but only if you train against multiple attackers, or if you are good at improvising lessons on the spot while you are attacked.

    Perhaps what you said in your BB article is the best advice?

    “Train to understand the differences between the cage and the street and then adapt your skills accordingly.”

    • I agree Bob, there is no best system around. I see it as “it all sucks but which sucks the least?” :-) The reality of the matter is that once you go down against 3-5 guys, your chances of getting back up are pretty bad. MMA fighters might not like that fact because it goes against what they experience in training (when it’s a one-on-one situation) but ti’s still true IMHO.

      I can really argue when you quote me so I guess you’re right. :-)

  3. Danny Young says:

    Hey Wim,

    I love MMA as a sport as well, but against multiple attackers, the last place to be is on the ground. One of the best examples of defending against several attackers is Guru Steven Plinck, Sera/Silat. I know there are other’s, but I can only speak to my personal experience. He never goes to the ground, but the attacker’s do!

    Personally, I was very disappointed by such a lack of Budo in this matter. I don’t believe it was a stunt, and it a disgrace for MMA on National Television.

    All the Best,

    Danny

    • I think guru Plinck is one hell of a teacher as well as a martial artist. Wouldn’t want to go up against the guy, alone of with friends. That’s why there’s long range weapons. :-)

      It is a disgrace but it happens all too often and not just in MMA. Muay Thai, boxing, you name it, they’ve all had riots/brawls breaking out. Stupid, but it’s a reality. Which is why I rarely go to events anymore.

  4. Danny Young says:

    Hey Wim,

    I love MMA as a sport as well, but against multiple attackers, the last place to be is on the ground. One of the best examples of defending against several attackers is Guru Steven Plinck, Sera/Silat. I know there are other’s, but I can only speak to my personal experience. He never goes to the ground, but the attacker’s do!

    Personally, I was very disappointed by such a lack of Budo in this matter. I don’t believe it was a stunt, and it a disgrace for MMA on National Television.

    All the Best,

    Danny

    • I think guru Plinck is one hell of a teacher as well as a martial artist. Wouldn’t want to go up against the guy, alone of with friends. That’s why there’s long range weapons. :-)

      It is a disgrace but it happens all too often and not just in MMA. Muay Thai, boxing, you name it, they’ve all had riots/brawls breaking out. Stupid, but it’s a reality. Which is why I rarely go to events anymore.

  5. I would say that MMA has more factors of use against multiple opponents than drawbacks. You are absolutely correct in saying that going to the floor is the wrong tactic against multiple opponents. It’s pretty suicidal.

    Some of the skills are not directly transferable from cage to multiple opponents but others are. So I suppose it depends on the fighter in question and his training.

    The answer would be to do some training against multiple opponents. That would soon stop the mma fighter going to ground straight away.

    Of course, other fighters prefer to stand up and train a lot for avoiding the take down and getting up when taken down. The skills of this type of fighter would transfer from cage to multiple opponents much better.

    • I disagree in part Jon. Yes, there are overlapping skills, for sure. I explicitly stated this in the past. The problem I see is that the differences are just as important, perhaps even more so.

      E.g.: If you train for years to instinctively sprawl when somebody shoots for your legs, I don’t think you’ll be able to turn off that reaction in the street. But sprawling leaves you very vulnerable against multiple attackers so it’s a bad choice in that context. Not so in the octagon.
      Also, weapons are not trained in MMA. Blocks and shielding against punching or kicking attacks is great in the cage but doesn’t work all that well against knives. Same thing here: if you see that circular motion from the guy’s arm coming in, chances are high you’ll instinctively block it because you’ve been doing it for so long and under adrenal stress in sparring/competing too. It becomes ingrained. Only afterwards will you notice you just got cut because you didn’t see the knife in his hand; and also never trained for it because knives don’t exist in the cage.
      That’s what I mean with the differences being equally important.
      You can obviously train against multiple attackers using MMA techniques but that will lessen your effectiveness in MMA competitions. Because you’ll start doing things differently and become less effective when it’s one-on-one. As in all sports, rules and regulations change the techniques. Which is why there’s such a huge debate over cameras being used in refereeing in soccer. They know it’ll change everything. :-)
      The opposite is also true: a total lack of rules also changes the equation. Note that I didn’t say one is better than the other, just different.

  6. I would say that MMA has more factors of use against multiple opponents than drawbacks. You are absolutely correct in saying that going to the floor is the wrong tactic against multiple opponents. It’s pretty suicidal.

    Some of the skills are not directly transferable from cage to multiple opponents but others are. So I suppose it depends on the fighter in question and his training.

    The answer would be to do some training against multiple opponents. That would soon stop the mma fighter going to ground straight away.

    Of course, other fighters prefer to stand up and train a lot for avoiding the take down and getting up when taken down. The skills of this type of fighter would transfer from cage to multiple opponents much better.

    • I disagree in part Jon. Yes, there are overlapping skills, for sure. I explicitly stated this in the past. The problem I see is that the differences are just as important, perhaps even more so.

      E.g.: If you train for years to instinctively sprawl when somebody shoots for your legs, I don’t think you’ll be able to turn off that reaction in the street. But sprawling leaves you very vulnerable against multiple attackers so it’s a bad choice in that context. Not so in the octagon.
      Also, weapons are not trained in MMA. Blocks and shielding against punching or kicking attacks is great in the cage but doesn’t work all that well against knives. Same thing here: if you see that circular motion from the guy’s arm coming in, chances are high you’ll instinctively block it because you’ve been doing it for so long and under adrenal stress in sparring/competing too. It becomes ingrained. Only afterwards will you notice you just got cut because you didn’t see the knife in his hand; and also never trained for it because knives don’t exist in the cage.
      That’s what I mean with the differences being equally important.
      You can obviously train against multiple attackers using MMA techniques but that will lessen your effectiveness in MMA competitions. Because you’ll start doing things differently and become less effective when it’s one-on-one. As in all sports, rules and regulations change the techniques. Which is why there’s such a huge debate over cameras being used in refereeing in soccer. They know it’ll change everything. :-)
      The opposite is also true: a total lack of rules also changes the equation. Note that I didn’t say one is better than the other, just different.

  7. I think the reason sport-MMA doesn’t have much of a game for a multiple-attacker scenario is that its not an issue for those types.

    The MMA folks have boiled down what works and what doesn’t for the model they’re working under: one vs one in a ring with whatever particular rules exist for that venue.*

    I think for MMA to come up with a vs multiple-attacker game, there just needs to be a viable venue where someone is faced with multiple attackers. If there is enough money involved, people is going to sign up. Then we’ll see MMA work to find the most efficient method to win in whatever scenario and rule-set is in place.

    Oh, based on the video. I think Miller was pulling a stunt. He obviously looks jovial in the beginning of the clip. I don’t think everyone/anyone else was in on it and they displayed a singular lack of humor in dealing with his shenanigans.*

    *I think I read it here, but am not sure: In most leagues, you can’t stomp on someone on the ground. In those leagues there is a ground game. In the leagues where you can stomp and kick someone on the ground, the person sent to the ground gets. TF. off. of. the. ground. as soon as possible.

    **You made me do math to submit this comment, Wim. Why? Why must you punish your loyal viewers so?***

    ***Just a FYI. Because the CAPTCHA question “What is 11 + 15 ?” is written in plain text, a spammer could write a script to scrape the question and answer it. This may be moot if all CAPTCHAs aren’t math questions.

    • Viro, I’ll answer in another blog post. Stay tuned.
      As for the Math Q: I was being flooded with spam comments. So I changed my anti-spam software and so far it works perfectly. Yes, it’s a bit of a burden on commentators but the alternative was no longer workable. If this solution starts to fail, I’ll look for another one.

      • No problem. I was being cheeky. I am, however, a product of the United States schooling system. So… if I can’t find a calculator to tell me the answer to ‘What is 3 + 10’ you may never see this response.

        Dammit, this calculator doesn’t have a ‘W’. What am I supposed to do now?

  8. I think the reason sport-MMA doesn’t have much of a game for a multiple-attacker scenario is that its not an issue for those types.

    The MMA folks have boiled down what works and what doesn’t for the model they’re working under: one vs one in a ring with whatever particular rules exist for that venue.*

    I think for MMA to come up with a vs multiple-attacker game, there just needs to be a viable venue where someone is faced with multiple attackers. If there is enough money involved, people is going to sign up. Then we’ll see MMA work to find the most efficient method to win in whatever scenario and rule-set is in place.

    Oh, based on the video. I think Miller was pulling a stunt. He obviously looks jovial in the beginning of the clip. I don’t think everyone/anyone else was in on it and they displayed a singular lack of humor in dealing with his shenanigans.*

    *I think I read it here, but am not sure: In most leagues, you can’t stomp on someone on the ground. In those leagues there is a ground game. In the leagues where you can stomp and kick someone on the ground, the person sent to the ground gets. TF. off. of. the. ground. as soon as possible.

    **You made me do math to submit this comment, Wim. Why? Why must you punish your loyal viewers so?***

    ***Just a FYI. Because the CAPTCHA question “What is 11 + 15 ?” is written in plain text, a spammer could write a script to scrape the question and answer it. This may be moot if all CAPTCHAs aren’t math questions.

    • Viro, I’ll answer in another blog post. Stay tuned.
      As for the Math Q: I was being flooded with spam comments. So I changed my anti-spam software and so far it works perfectly. Yes, it’s a bit of a burden on commentators but the alternative was no longer workable. If this solution starts to fail, I’ll look for another one.

      • No problem. I was being cheeky. I am, however, a product of the United States schooling system. So… if I can’t find a calculator to tell me the answer to ‘What is 3 + 10’ you may never see this response.

        Dammit, this calculator doesn’t have a ‘W’. What am I supposed to do now?

  9. HI Wim

    You raise some good points, as does Bob. The fact that the bloke was attacked in way that didn’t allow an exit skews the argument somewhat. One aspect of MMA that should be useful against multiple attackers is footwork and movement skills, but again that depends on the fighter in question.

    So to the sprawl point. Some fighters sprawl just to ‘sit’ on someone while others sprawl to get up again immediately, even using the act of getting up to load for a knee strike or punch.

    The weapon thing is an issue for sure, but covering and striking and keep on striking is one possible way of dealing with the attack, knife or not. It may not be the best or most appropriate but if it allows you an opportunity to attack that’s better than nothing. But I take your point about the differences.

    I suppose it’s important to train for knives and multiples. I don’t see that training for multiples will be detrimental to a persons MMA fighting. Machida still does his trad karate training, admittedly not exclusively, and that hasn’t stopped him becoming a champion.

    I’m sure training for mutliple attackers could actually enhance your one on one fighting, in terms of movement and explosive striking. I’ll be interested in your views.

    Jon Law

  10. HI Wim

    You raise some good points, as does Bob. The fact that the bloke was attacked in way that didn’t allow an exit skews the argument somewhat. One aspect of MMA that should be useful against multiple attackers is footwork and movement skills, but again that depends on the fighter in question.

    So to the sprawl point. Some fighters sprawl just to ‘sit’ on someone while others sprawl to get up again immediately, even using the act of getting up to load for a knee strike or punch.

    The weapon thing is an issue for sure, but covering and striking and keep on striking is one possible way of dealing with the attack, knife or not. It may not be the best or most appropriate but if it allows you an opportunity to attack that’s better than nothing. But I take your point about the differences.

    I suppose it’s important to train for knives and multiples. I don’t see that training for multiples will be detrimental to a persons MMA fighting. Machida still does his trad karate training, admittedly not exclusively, and that hasn’t stopped him becoming a champion.

    I’m sure training for mutliple attackers could actually enhance your one on one fighting, in terms of movement and explosive striking. I’ll be interested in your views.

    Jon Law

  11. “No problem. I was being cheeky. I am, however, a product of the United States schooling system. So… if I can’t find a calculator to tell me the answer to ‘What is 3 + 10′ you may never see this response.”

    At risk of derailing the thread, I concur! I have the same problem when posting at Martial Development — forced to hunt for my calculator due to being a stupid American.

    ;-)

  12. “No problem. I was being cheeky. I am, however, a product of the United States schooling system. So… if I can’t find a calculator to tell me the answer to ‘What is 3 + 10′ you may never see this response.”

    At risk of derailing the thread, I concur! I have the same problem when posting at Martial Development — forced to hunt for my calculator due to being a stupid American.

    ;-)

  13. Hey

    Interesting subject and comments.
    I like this articles, i think you give a verry realistic image of the differences between protecting yourself and mma.
    Und i agree with the most you say.

    However there are some things i don,t totally agree with fighting multiple opponents:

    I think gething attacked by multiple attackers is verry unhealthy.
    Regardless of your background or training (in mma or whatever kind of martial art).
    And the background of the attackers.
    The chances you geth punched, kicked or taken down are much bigger then in one on one.

    I think the best solution would be to geth away as quick as possible since the chances you geth hurt are verry, verry big.
    If this does,nt work (immediately) then at least try to keep moving away and make sure they can,t attack you al at the same time.

    check out this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jgptxyGjkc&feature=related

    this guy manages to geth away with a whole gang (of angry people) attacking him.

    However notice that the people atacking are noth verry trained fighters, they aren,t trying to kick or punch him effectively or take him down.
    So the reason he could fight them of was perhaps more because their lack of training, than his superior fighting style (for multiple attackers).

    As you mentioned before if you geth taken down you have a big problem.
    Und i think multiple attackers can take one person down verry fast (like we saw with Miller).

    Check out this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YIsWhbpV1I&feature=channel

    This seems like a team vs team mma competition.
    However as soon as its more than one on one it ends verry quickly (for the one).

    I think therefore there is no such thing as a system suitable for handling multiple opponents.
    You might handle yourself against multiple people who aren,t verry trained or motivated.
    Or you might scare them of (which is noth uncommon in self defense situations).

    However against multiple, well trained attackers (regardless of martial arts) who are verry determined to send you to the hospital.
    I think that if you don,t focus on gething away they will probably geth you there.
    Therefore i don,t think mma training or any other combat system in the world can prepare you for fighting of three or more wel trained people.

    again outstanding articles.

    • Pieter,

      If you go up against people who either train to fight as a team, have experience in that or both, you’re going down. It’s the single most underestimated piece of information missing in many systems that teach multiple opponent strategies. Those who don’t believe this, I invite them to go train with soldiers and cops: they are trained specifically to work in teams of two or more people. And they’re good at it.
      The same goes for criminals who work in a group: they not only prepare for their violence, they have plenty of experience in it too. so you’re behind the curve from the get go. IMHO, your goal is never to fight them but to get away at all cost. If that’s not possible, I’d try to make them pay dearly for coming at me. They’ll probably take me out but it’ll cost them if I can help it.

      That said, there are MANY examples of people defending themselves successfully against multiple opponents. But these rarely fall in the two categories mentioned above. So my take on it is that it’s not impossible to do, but your odds aren’t very good.

      Wim

  14. Hey

    Interesting subject and comments.
    I like this articles, i think you give a verry realistic image of the differences between protecting yourself and mma.
    Und i agree with the most you say.

    However there are some things i don,t totally agree with fighting multiple opponents:

    I think gething attacked by multiple attackers is verry unhealthy.
    Regardless of your background or training (in mma or whatever kind of martial art).
    And the background of the attackers.
    The chances you geth punched, kicked or taken down are much bigger then in one on one.

    I think the best solution would be to geth away as quick as possible since the chances you geth hurt are verry, verry big.
    If this does,nt work (immediately) then at least try to keep moving away and make sure they can,t attack you al at the same time.

    check out this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jgptxyGjkc&feature=related

    this guy manages to geth away with a whole gang (of angry people) attacking him.

    However notice that the people atacking are noth verry trained fighters, they aren,t trying to kick or punch him effectively or take him down.
    So the reason he could fight them of was perhaps more because their lack of training, than his superior fighting style (for multiple attackers).

    As you mentioned before if you geth taken down you have a big problem.
    Und i think multiple attackers can take one person down verry fast (like we saw with Miller).

    Check out this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YIsWhbpV1I&feature=channel

    This seems like a team vs team mma competition.
    However as soon as its more than one on one it ends verry quickly (for the one).

    I think therefore there is no such thing as a system suitable for handling multiple opponents.
    You might handle yourself against multiple people who aren,t verry trained or motivated.
    Or you might scare them of (which is noth uncommon in self defense situations).

    However against multiple, well trained attackers (regardless of martial arts) who are verry determined to send you to the hospital.
    I think that if you don,t focus on gething away they will probably geth you there.
    Therefore i don,t think mma training or any other combat system in the world can prepare you for fighting of three or more wel trained people.

    again outstanding articles.

    • Pieter,

      If you go up against people who either train to fight as a team, have experience in that or both, you’re going down. It’s the single most underestimated piece of information missing in many systems that teach multiple opponent strategies. Those who don’t believe this, I invite them to go train with soldiers and cops: they are trained specifically to work in teams of two or more people. And they’re good at it.
      The same goes for criminals who work in a group: they not only prepare for their violence, they have plenty of experience in it too. so you’re behind the curve from the get go. IMHO, your goal is never to fight them but to get away at all cost. If that’s not possible, I’d try to make them pay dearly for coming at me. They’ll probably take me out but it’ll cost them if I can help it.

      That said, there are MANY examples of people defending themselves successfully against multiple opponents. But these rarely fall in the two categories mentioned above. So my take on it is that it’s not impossible to do, but your odds aren’t very good.

      Wim

  15. how about mixing mma and krav maga????!!!! for self defence purposes only of course….

  16. Going to the ground against multiple attackers is suicide. A MMA fighter against your average person on the street, or someone with a little training, and the MMA fighter probably wins. MMA fighter vs a true street fighter or someone trained to end a fight fast, MMA fighter will most likely be beat down. MMA against multiple attackers, almost certainly will suffer serious injury. MMA is a true art, but it is a sport and often the training requires restraint due to the rules of the sport. You train to hold back certain techniques and you will respond to a real attack the way you train.

    We trained in techniques to end a threat quickly and often with deadly results. I am referring the advanced training received in the Marine Corps. The training very often was brutal fast and against multiple attackers. When multiple attackers and full force one on one training was being conducted protective gear was worn. The gear was worn because weapons were used as well as full force blows from multiple attckers, this helped to condition one to be able to respond when under actual attacks.

    Getting hit and hit hard really makes you aware of the stresses you face when attacked, so the Marine training was geared to end the fight now by whatever means necessary. If it was by use of a fatal technique then that was what was used and most caused a mechanical injury at least. There is a real difference in fighting for you life and fighting for show. This is why I think a true street fighter would have no problem with a MMA fighter, they have one goal in mind and that is to do whatever it takes. If you can’t do what it takes to end the threat you will lose and it may be your life that is lost. MMA nice sport but a true self defense I don’t know, only that individual can look in the mirror and answer that question. Can I do what it takes to survive? That is the true question no second chances or a rematch, or time to train for an opponent.

    • Good points Kerry, I pretty much agree with you. The only thing I’d add is this: Marines and civilians operate under very different conditions. Putting it bluntly, Marines kill enemy soldiers. Civilians aren’t allowed to kill people, they are allowed to defend themselves and others. this might mean taking the attacker’s life but that’s less common than people think. And we do have a legal system that frowns upon this, to put it mildly.
      I believe the training you do as a civilian should take this into account.
      BTW, you might enjoy this interview I did with Mark Mireles, regarding MMA as a self defense system.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      Wim

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