I thought folks here may be interested in this footage. It’s a 2 vs 2 MMA fight from Russia. While I’m not convinced of this format as an engaging spectator sport, this footage does illustrate an interesting point.
The fight begins with two couples squaring off such that there are effectively two one-on-one fights happening. Maybe that’s what the rules demand? Anyhow, at 1:22 there is a submission. The post of the cage is in the way, but it looks like a sangaku-jime / leg-triangle. The submitted person is then made to leave the ring, the fighters reset, and we then (from 2:00) we have a two-on-one situation.
The fight is over 2:05 with the team of two on the floor.
It does show that with solid evasive motion, solid punches, and not fixating on one person, that it is possible for one person to out-fight two. Certainly not easy, but possible. It’s only possible with striking though. If you engage with one person through grappling, then the other has as many free punches as they need. Your arms are tied up so you can’t strike the third-person, or defend yourself from their strikes, and the much-needed mobility disappears because you are tied to another human being.
While this is a sporting example, here is a widely circulated real-world example of strikes and mobility being used to deal with multiple enemies:
If you follow the link below you can see what can happen if you are locked onto one person when a third part gets unexpectedly involved.
In this graphic case, a person is repeatedly stabbed in Brazil when an armed third-party gets involved in a “street fight” that hits the ground (does not look like legitimate self-defence to me and it seems like both are consenting to the initial fight).
WARNING: This video is graphic and may be disturbing to watch. It is not suitable for under 18s.
What the above video does show is the ground is a very bad place to be when third-parties can get involved; especially armed third-parties. It also shows that what starts as one-on-one may not stay that way … so we should treat all situations as if third-parties could get involved.
Some thoughts on multiple enemies generally:
1. Always assume the presence of third parties and act accordingly.
2. Don’t ‘fight to win’, but ‘fight to flee’. The aim is not to win the fight, but to ensure we receive the minimal amount of injury.
3. Striking is the way to go, and good striking skills are a must to effectively deal with multiple enemies.
4. With multiple enemies, you need to divide your attention between them. Hit one and immediately switch and hit another. Don’t fixate on one person.
5. Keep moving at all times.
6. Avoid grappling, and especially ground fighting. The resulting lack of mobility makes you extremely vulnerable and drastically reduces your ability to escape.
7. If grappling is forced upon you, then grapple to free yourself from the grapple. Don’t try to grapple to a conclusion. If you end up on the floor, then get up as fast as possible. Don’t try to “win” on the ground. Grappling skills are needed to escape grappling.
8. Don’t think about dominating individuals, but about dominating the situation.
9. Practise delivering rapid strikes (including pre-emptive strikes) to multiple targets in a way that ensures sound tactical positioning and rapid flow.
10. Make live drills with multiple enemies – where the goal is effective escape – a regular part of practice. Such live drills will enforce the right selection of techniques and tactics and bring home the inescapable fact that one-on-one tactics don’t cut it in self-protection where more than one person is always a possibility.
For more information, please listen to this podcast: https://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/multiple-enemies-podcast
All the best,