The Gracies and Multiple Attackers

One of my biggest disagreements with the great ground system of Gracie Jiu-jitsu are some of their statements on martial arts in general like the impossibility of someone defeating mulitple attackers. Despite this impossibility claim, we've all heard stories or witnessed events to the contrary. What are your feelings on an individual and multiple attackers?

On the theme of this thread here is a brief story of judo legend Kimura's fight against 4 attackers. My favorite part is the quote: "Ever since I was in junior high, I have been called Master Groin Squeezer...". That just doesn't sound right. Enjoy:

From Kimura's book "My Judo" on Who said you can't beat multiple attackers?:
I was standing at the end of a line of 60 or 70 people waiting for a train at the Mukae-Machi station (near Kumamoto city, Kumamoto prefecture, Japan), and was reading a paperback. Suddenly, 4 MP men passed through the line nearby me forcibly. When I turned my eyes to them, I found them shouting, "Jap, Jap" repeatedly. One of them grabbed the Japanese man at the front of the line by the collar, pulled the Japanese man toward him. He then made a ring with the pointing finger and the thumb, and struck the nose of the Japanese man with the flipped pointing finger with full force. The man covered his nose with his hands, and stooped down from the pain. The MP men did this to everyone on the line one by one including women. When someone did not stoop down, they delivered another strike. My turn was approaching. While I was wondering about what to do, my turn came. One of the MP men extended his arm trying to grab my lapel. I struck his hand with full force. Their facial expression changed suddenly. The four MP men surrounded me and took me to the middle of Nagaroku Bridge nearby the station. This was not an ordinary fight to me. I had to win this fight to defend the honor of judo. One of them suddenly threw a right straight at my face. I blocked the punch with my left arm, and kicked him in the groin with full force. He crumbled on the spot. When I turned back my head, another huge MP extended his arms and attacked me trying to grab me from behind. I then hit his right arm hard with knife hand, and then threw him into the river by Seoi-nage. The other two were watching this scene in amazement, but charged at me one by one. I delivered a head butt into the face of the third man. He was knocked out. I disposed of the last man by squeezing his balls with full force. Ever since I was in junior high, I have been called Master Groin Squeezer, and had absolute confidence in this technique.

I had asked all the audience to keep it quiet since I would be in a big trouble if the news got to MP supervisors. But somebody must have leaked the news. I started to regret what I did. But my concern turned out to be unnecessary. When I got to the MP head quarter, Capt. Shepard said, "Thank you for punishing the rogue MP's. They are the worst ones in our unit. They have sexually assaulted women, ate and drank without paying, threatened people with a pistol. We were about to be forced to punish them. They are all so depressed after you beat them up. I am truly thankful to you. I heard that you are the greatest judo master in Japan. I have a request to you. Could you teach us judo, once or twice a week. Of course, we will pay you. I myself am anxious to learn judo." It was a big surprise to me. After this, I taught judo to them once a week for 1 hour. Captain Shepard earned 1st degree black belt one year later.

Here's another multiple attacker judo story i found:

Professor Yamashita Goes to Washington
Aikido Journal, 25:2, 1998


"Yamashita’s skill was not solely theoretical, either. He was a member of the Kodokan teams that wrestled the Tokyo police jujutsu club in 1883 and 1884, and in 1946, the British judo pioneer E.J. Harrison, who studied judo at the Kodokan around 1905, told the following stories of Professor Yamashita’s practical fighting skills in the Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin:

It chanced that some years before I joined the Kodokwan Yamashita and a friend were assaulted by seventeen coolies in a Tokyo meat-shop – a sort of popular restaurant. Although some of the coolies were armed with knives the gang were dispersed in a twinkling, three of them with broken arms and all with bruised and battered faces. [EN2] As fast as one of the two experts artistically ‘downed’ his man the other would pick the victim up like an empty sack and dump him unceremoniously in the street. The only evidence of the conflict on the side of the two experts took the form of skinned knuckles where the latter had come in contact with the coolies’ teeth. On another occasion Yamashita fell foul of a coolie in the upper room of a restaurant and promptly threw him downstairs. The coolie returned to the fray with fourteen comrades, but Yamashita calmly sat at the head of the stairs and as fast as the coolies came up in single file, owing to the narrowness of the passage, he simple choked them in detail and hurled them back down again. In the excitement of the moment he was rather rougher than was strictly necessary, and so broke one man’s neck. The rest fled in terror, carrying off their dead and wounded. Yamashita was arrested, but as he was easily able to prove that he had been one man against fifteen he was, of course, acquitted. Nevertheless, the Kodokwan temporarily suspended him for his conduct, which was deemed unduly violent."

Kimura was not your average martial artist. Did you read the part about him training with the boxer? Great stuff to post as well if you can find it.

Take 4 guys and unknowingly pick on the greatest Judoka ever and anything can happen. Take any 4 people on this forum, and well, they will pound any one man to death, as long as they have intent to do so. (not that any of us have that intent). It comes down to how serious your attackers are, if you want to survive more than they want to hurt you, then you have a shot.

There are just too many variables. Can you run? Can you find something to use as a weapon? Were you aware that you were being targeted? I think if you stay mobile and can run, you always have a decent chance. Unless your slow and out of condition.

Back to BJJ, I think the point that they used to make, was that if you can't beat 1 person because you lack ground skills, how can you ever think you can fight 2 people?

One way to look at it is to imagine if you had to fight with only one arm -- it doesn't mean you can't fight, or that you may not win (especially against folks that are not skilled) but it is too much of a disadvantage to succeed against other skilled (competant) fighters. So it quite proper for the Gracies to say that no one can beat competant multiple attackers just as it is to say no one can beat a competant fighter with one of their arms tied behind their back.

Fight summary:

Judo Kick, followed by Seoi Nage, Judo Headbutt, and finally Judoka Steals Peaches!!!

Kimura's shit would never work on me.  At a young age I was told of the Muay Thai practice of shin hardening.  Every night instead of rolling a bottle on my shins I punch myself in the balls. My balls of steel laugh at Kimura the Master Groin Squeezer





LMAO at Augespitch and RodneyPooldrack!!

bsktrap - I see your point, but the problem is that when you say "pick any 4 guys on this forum" - the martial artists on this forum don't represent the untrained guy on the street.

Don't you think that - Matt Thorton or Rodney King (to use an example of guys everyone know) could likely take on 2 random people on the street? Not that they would want to, not that it would be easy, but if you were a betting man...

"Don't you think that - Matt Thorton or Rodney King (to use an example of guys everyone know) could likely take on 2 random people on the street? Not that they would want to, not that it would be easy, but if you were a betting man... "

Yes, Matt's taller than any 2 people combined, and Rodney hits insanely hard. People like them, or any 2 competent martial artists have a decent chance. Just like the Kimura story, you never know who you're messing with. A couple of guys that just want to mess with someone might be taken back that the person is willing to fight them off, and that alone can make it possible to escape.

I think it changes when the attackers hate you or have an evil intent. Not like a couple of frat boys out drinking and trying to get into trouble, more like 4 guys that are looking for you and want to seriously hurt you. The MP's in kimura's story were just messing with people, they weren't out looking to take down a great fighter. If they knew who he was and went looking to give him a beating and were prepared for him to fight back, well, I wouldn't give Kimura or any person in that situation much of a chance. Unless their goal was to escape rather than fight.

What are your feelings on an individual and multiple attackers?

It's pretty simple..

You do whatever it takes.

and vs. multiple oppoents the goal often changes. vs. one, your goal may be "beat the crap out of this guy."

vs. multiples winning = surviving or keeping all your teeth inside your skull..

run forrest run!

I saw a beautiful example of one boxer taking on multiple opponents. I box at a gym in Trenton, every once in a while we get eggheads who want to come down and try the boxers, but once last year a few guys came down with some really bad intentions, some stuff happened around their neighborhood and they were looking for one of our guys. I won't get dramatic or brutally graphic but let's say the boxer walked away barely scratched and the other two staggered away with busted teeth, swollen eyes, bloody noses and mouths, etc. These guys were really trying to hurt him too. I think he could have taken another guy on to be honest (3 total). It's a wake up call to see something like that and then spar with the guy afterward and be able to hang with him or even put it on him a little, a real confidence builder as to what skill you have if you are ever accosted. I'm actually going to go watch that guy fight tonight in a tourney!

I've seen the aftermath of a two on one against another boxer as well, the boxer was unharmed, his opponents took a nap.

I wouldn't want to be on the ground either to be honest. However, when I was in high school I was taking karate and I did a little randori with a judoka who said he would take it light, etc. I don't doubt that he was trying to honor his word but when he threw me with an osoto gari my head missed the mat and bounced off the wood floor. I was seriously dazed, barely conscious actually. I think a judoka (or a greco wrestler) could easily kill someone with a good throw. That being said, multiple opponents could dwindle to a single opponent in little time against one of those guys.

I agree with everyone who says that it all depends on the intentions of your attackers. If they are bad enough, you probably won't have a chance. I do, however, think that you will automatically respond to whatever degree necessary if you do have a chance (before control of the situation goes 100% to them) so the odds will be evened in your favor.

And, yes, running is always the smart thing.

that's because the yamashita and kimura stories are just that, stories. get real. he choked 14 guys single file as they came up a flight of stairs?


I would be interested to hear Matt's or Luis' opinions on this.

i would hope they would say those stories are good fiction.

on a side note guys, i took out 16 guys last night in a fight. it's cool because it was a narrow hallway and they all had to come at me single file.

as a judoka, I can say that we CRUSH the peaches, not steal them.

Thanl you. =)

I think it is very possible, even likely that those stories are true

One of my reasons for saying this is - have you ever rolled around on the ground or boxed with someone who knew NOTHING about martial arts? It is like you are Neo in the Matrix or something. Look around at the out of shape people in your office and school. I honestly think that after a struggle and hard fight I could take out 2-3 of my extremely out of shape friends and I am a martial arts hobbiest and out of shape (relatively) myself. Now, imagine a legend like Kimura who trained 9 hours a day in judo, karate, boxing, strength and conditioning training and meditation. You don't think he could take out 4 skinny untrained out of shape army cadets?

bsktrap - I don't think them wanting to beat you up or them "hating you and having evil intent" makes a big difference in you being able to prevail. We all know that just because you are getting dominated in a sparring match and getting angrier and angrier at your opponent - this doesn't help you or change the tide of the match. You don't turn into the Incredible Hulk or something just because you hate the person your fighting. If anything you come at the person more (and more wildly) which usually means you are opening yourself up to get choked out/knocked out.

FatBuddha, I may have to respectfully disagree with you on the intent issue. I think if 3 drunk frat guys are trying to save face the odds are much more in your favor than with three guys who want to end your life. The reason I say that is because with those intentions usually come weapons, premeditation and planned control of the situation from beginning to end.

"planned control of the situation from beginning to end."

Very dangerous to be on the defensive end of "planned strategy" by multiple opponents to end your life. I have a hard enough time with ONE guy who has a planned strategy and is able to execute it even partially!

Although this provides a polarity in regard to the 'random drunk guys at the bar', preparation shouldn't be an issue if you always train for the worst. That way you can dial it down according to the situation. Would be a pain to be faced with something you're never prepared for. Where is my ninja suit and smoke bombs?


Renzo once said something to the effect that when it comes multiple attackers."I have my brothers"

Ron Kosakowski who has a 6th degree BB in KunTao on top of being certified under Inosanto and Larry Hartsell.Asked Royce about multi-man situations and Royce pretty changed the subject.