The following question was submitted by a subscriber of the Grapplearts newsletter.
Q: What is your opinion on unarmed self defence situations involving two or more attackers against one.
A: Fighting multiple attackers is something that should be avoided at almost all costs. Doing it on the ground is even more dangerous, because it limits your ability to maneuver, use environmental weapons (ie club someone with a chair) and to disengage from the situation (ie run away). Fighting more than one person on the ground IS possible, but it is also very difficult, very tiring and very dangerous.
Everyone should try sparring two people simultaneously at some point in their martial arts career. Whether you spar them in a kickboxing or grappling context you will find out that sparring two people is at least FOUR times as difficult as sparring only one person. I’d suggest starting out by grappling two people at the same time: it is a painful sort of fun, but not nearly as painful as kickboxing two or more people simultaneously.
Generally I agree with the thought that in a self defense situation a person should try to stay on their feet and avoid going to the ground. Tthis is doubly true when faced with multiple attackers. The only exception I can think of is if you KNEW that by going to the ground you could take one of your attackers out very quickly using a jointlock. A flying armbar or jumping heelhook is always a risky proposition, but if you could break the joint and then get back to your feet right away the risk might be worth it.
In the vast majority of cases, however, if you do find yourself on the ground in a multiple attacker situation you should try your damnedest to get back to your feet (and then run). Is this easy to do? No! Is it always possible? No! The bottom line, however, is that people who are good at getting back to their feet tend to be good grapplers, and that it is grappling skill that allows you to get out of unfavorable grappling situations.