WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT?
You can induce stress by training 52 Blocks in multiple-attack scenarios. But although I often witness this sort of training, I see little success even with advanced 52 Blocks students. The so-called two on one type of sparring often turns into what looks like a bad joke, where the student runs from the attackers while desperately throwing some half-hearted kicks that wouldn’t stop a child, until she finally ends up sandwiched between the attackers or pinned against the wall or floor. When exploring the possibilities of prevailing against multiple opponents, you will most likely find it is an exercise in futility. One punch or kick will not do enough damage to stop several people intent on hurting you. Fighting two or more attackers simultaneously is nearly impossible. We don’t realize how quickly events happen, how fast an assailant can close the distance, and how little time we have available to react and do our techniques with precision and focus. If you end up on the ground, it is nearly impossible to fight more than one assailant at a time. Experiencing defeat in training puts things in perspective and allows you to focus on what you truly can do.
When fighting multiple attackers, train for:
1. Position. Fighting multiple opponents coming from different directions is extremely difficult. Establishing a superior 52 Blocks position is of utmost importance. If possible, place your closest opponent as a shield between yourself and the others. If in a room or other enclosed area, be aware of the door’s location and try to position yourself near it to facilitate escape.
2. Timing. At no point should you allow all of your opponents to smother you at the same time. The trick is to isolate the attackers so that you only have to fight one at time. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. Try to determine which attacker you can eliminate most easily. Is it the one who is closest to you? The strongest? The one with a weapon? Keep your escape routes in mind.
3. Target. When you have made the decision to fight, enter the confrontation with all the determination and strength you can muster. You may benefit from initiating the fight. Making the first move allows you to take charge. Be aware of your footing. Is the ground slippery or muddy? Are you standing in two feet of snow? In general, avoid high or fancy kicks. It is better to kick low to the knees, thighs or groin.
When choosing which attacker to fight first, if possible, consider your opponents’ strengths and prior experiences, as well as the level of the threat. Taking out the strongest opponent first may seem like a good strategy because it leaves you with the wirnpier one, who may decide not to fight at all when his buddy is hurt. Also consider taking out the easiest opponent first. Who is the smallest? If a weapon is involved, is it better to focus on the opponent with the weapon or on his helper(s)? The one with the weapon may seem like the greatest threat and should therefore be eliminated first. Or can you take advantage of the one without the weapon by using him as a shield against the others? Think about these issues beforehand and role-play different scenarios in the training hall. There is no single correct answer to these questions; however, experimentation might give you a good idea of what to do.
Let’s summarize the multiple-opponent concepts and then look at some exercises that you can explore with your instructor and other students.