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Is Jiu Jitsu An Effective Self-Defense Against Multiple Attackers?
Ideas on the old criticism…
One criticism of Jiu Jitsu is it does not adequately prepare someone against multiple attackers. Let’s take a few minutes to explore this.
First, in any martial arts you are at a tremendous disadvantage when facing multiple opponents. I am a child of the 80s. Basically every other movie made in the 80s preached the idea if you had heart, scrappiness or muscles then you would be qualified to take out a drug cartel, squad of ninjas or team of terrorist. It would be nice if that was the reality however, it is extremely difficult to fight multiple people at the same time. I know there are videos on YouTube of one person fighting a group of assailants. However, I would argue those are the equivalent of a unicorn. More often than not fighting multiple people in any martial art will be a bad time.
So how is Jiu Jitsu useful in fighting multiple people? One benefit is the ability to keep calm in stressful situations. In Jiu Jitsu, one of the earliest skills learned is the ability to be clear headed in intense situations. If your opponent is attempting to strangle, arm lock, knee on throat or whatever, if you panic that ends all technique. You must analyze the position and calmly execute the steps necessary to escape. This ability translates well into self-defense situations against multiple opponents. You have the ability to be calm and level headed when others may be out of control. The ability to clearly and calmly evaluate the situations will pay dividends.
Wrestling take downs are some of the best techniques for your standing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game. Some of toughest wrestlers and take downs artists in the world at the Russians. Rustam Chsiev is one of those toughest ADCC Vets in the world with a take down game that is a force to be wreckoned with.
But beyond being calm, what is the application of Jiu Jitsu to fighting multiple attackers. Jiu Jitsu black belt and former Navy Seal Jocko Willink states, “Obviously, I am a fan of jiu-jitsu. No. 1: It's very practical, like I said, for self-defense. And again, the goal of jiu-jitsu in self-defense isn't to take someone down to the ground — the goal in jiu-jitsu for self-defense is actually to be able to defend yourself on the ground, get up, and get away from an attacker. That's what the goal is….So it's a lose-lose situation to get in a confrontation on the street. If you can break contact and get away, break contact and get away. That's what you should learn self-defense for. Obviously, if someone is doing something that they're attacking someone in your family and you have to step in to defend yourself, well, that's why you continue training all the time — because that might happen, and you have to be prepared for that. Optimally, you get out of there: You break contact, you get away. If you have to stand and fight, you train yourself so that you're able to do it.” Jiu Jitsu will help you escape against multiple opponents. If someone grabs you, you will be well equipped to break the grip and run away. If someone puts you in a front head lock, you will be well equipped to escape and run away.
However, if you are unable to run away, Jiu Jitsu will also help you. If I find myself fighting Hans Gruber and his team of terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza, I will not pull guard. I will seek to escape. However, if I can’t escape, I’ll use my Jiu Jitsu to sprawl and avoid their take downs. I will trip and throw my opponents. Even beyond that, a lot of submissions can be executed against a standing opponent; especially a relatively untrained standing opponent. I will be executing a standing rear naked choke or guillotine or Kimura. And if I do find myself on the ground, I will use my Jiu Jitsu to get out of inferior positions and to stand up quicker than someone who does not train Jiu Jitsu. And if I absolutely have to go for a submission from the ground, I would probably heel hook them as quickly as possible and then stand back up.
The reality is the strategy that it would take to employ your Jiu Jitsu in fighting multiple opponents would look very different than a typical roll on open mat. In any martial art you are at a huge disadvantage against multiple attackers. However, Jiu Jitsu will keep you calm. When everyone else is losing their head this is an invaluable skill. Beyond that, Jiu Jitsu will help facilitate the most effective strategy of running away. If someone grabs you then you can Jiu Jitsu to break their grip or hold and escape. If further engagement is required, you can use Jiu Jitsu to escape an inferior position, keep the fight standing and leverage various other strategies necessary to facilitate your escape. If the fight does go to the ground, Jiu Jitsu gives the ability to escape and stand back up quicker than any other martial art.
Wrestling is a skill that all Brazilian Jiu Jitsu martial artists should explore. Not only will your take down game greatly increase for jiu jitsu, but you'll also see how wrestling concepts can integrate into your jiu jitsu skills to make you an even better grappler. Check out Rustem's DVD / On Demand series called Russian Hacks to quickly integrate some Russian Wrestling Hacks into your game.