Survival Gear

Self Defense: Defending yourself from multiple attackers

The world has gone crazy! Turn on the evening news and you will be bombarded with stories of innocent people being attacked, robbed, and killed on a daily basis. Now throw in an emergency situation or natural disaster, and the lunatics of the world will be swarming the streets like roaches looking for innocent victims to target.

Fighting Multiple Attackers

One of the biggest dangers that you’ll face in an urban survival situation is an attack from multiple people. Anyone who’s serious about survival needs to be able to defend themselves and their loved ones from all types of violent attacks. While having a firearm can certainly level the playing field, and is something I think everyone should be trained to use, there are certain times and situations where you might be without one.

So what can you do when attacked by multiple people?

Facing an attack from one crazed lunatic can be a serious, even life-threatening situation; throw in a couple more psychopaths, and chaos doesn’t even begin to describe what you’re going to face.

Sadly, in today’s world this scenario has become an increasingly real possibility. Even an innocent trip to the local grocery store can quickly go bad if not prepared to face the very real threats that are out there. When confronted with this type of attack, there are a couple of things you need to do.

Access the situation:

Do you have an escape route? This isn’t about looking cool, and it’s not time to be Mr. Tough Guy.
Survival does not mean fighting; if you have an escape route take it now.

Can you talk your way out of the situation? Talking your way out of an attack is more art than science, and takes a considerable amount of street smarts to pull off. But there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind.

  • Telling a group that’s ready to attack to F off does nothing to defuse the situation. That may sound like common sense, but during a stressful situation people tend to either panic, or let their ego takeover and they overreact.
  • Remember you are probably dealing with people who are borderline insane and have nothing to lose. Stay calm & don’t show any fear. These types of people can smell fear, the moment they see it you’ve already lost the battle.
  • Apologize. Sometimes these morons are just trying to look cool in front of the group. Apologizing will allow them to look like the big tough guy, without having to pound in your skull.

If you must fight, then here are some tips that may help.

If you have no other options, and your life is in jeopardy, then you need to know how to protect yourself. The following actions should only be taken if your life is in immediate danger.

Watch the group’s body language – Watching the group’s body language will give you a clue to when they’re ready to attack. The following actions may be signs that they are getting ready to attack.

  • Watch for the assailant to do something like removing a hat or shirt.
  • Your attacker may start to make erratic movements such as rubbing his nose, pushing his hair back or clenching his teeth.
  • Watch the group’s eyes; they may start to glance at each other for cues on when to attack.
  • Watch the attackers fists; often times they will instinctively tighten them right before they’re ready to attack you.

Weapons – If you’re not carrying one, quickly scan your surroundings. Beer bottles, tree branches, garbage cans, bricks, and even the pen in your pocket can be used as improvised weapons during an emergency situation.

Psychology – Fighting a group does not always mean having to fight the whole group. In fact, your goal is to fight as few of them as possible. Instead of defeating each of their bodies, you must instead destroy their minds.

  • Your first strike must be spectacular, and very visible to the group.
  • The more visible the injury is the greater physiological effect it will have on the rest of the group.
  • The first few seconds of the fight are critical; if you can psychologically defeat the group now, many of them will scatter without ever throwing a punch.

Identify the leader – Who is the strongest link?  This person is your main threat, and must be taken out first. Taking out the leader can destroy the group’s willingness to fight, and is the first step to surviving an attack.  Remember, you want to create a strong visible injury that will make the group rethink its attack.

Where to Attack – In a life or death situation, there are no rules.  Take out their eyes, break their kneecaps, jab them in the throat; do anything you can to win the battle. Your goal is to immobilize the attackers by any means available.

Everyday Carry Pocket Weapons

48 Comments on Self Defense: Defending yourself from multiple attackers

  1. Mike/

    Good advice. Taking out that leader is certainly a game-changer in many situations.

    • Sandra

      Question ? If in that situation there is always a loud one do you take him (or her out first) or the quiet one ? How do you know which is the head of the group so to speak

      • Enter your name...

        The quiet one

        • Tadhg

          Not necessarily the loud one is usually the leader proving how tough he is.

          • me and me

            Lol its all for the bants and i am bored

      • anonymous

        Depends if they are looking at the quiet one waiting her/him to nod but it is Italy the long obnoxious one who is the protaginist in the dispute

    • ricky

      what if the said person has a gun and the other guy needs to stay alive and has no means to run

  2. Sam

    I agree love the advice on creating a devastating injury to the leader

    • Mike

      Figure 4 armbar if you can get the on the ground and mount them. The noise alone will make someone cringe.

  3. James

    I have first hand knowledge of this working, I was attacked by a group of people once luckily I busted the main aggressors nose which caused the other 3 to take off running.

  4. hikerbob

    Thank you for pointing out that it is always best to try to get out of the fight, way to many people let their ego’s get the best of them.

  5. Lance

    How about a big kick to the sackaronis!!!

  6. MartialMaster

    Great tips on body language everyone of these signs is what I teach my students to look for

  7. Gunslinging Redneck

    No offense but why not mention a gun?

    • Arden

      I would think the obvious reason is that not everyone will have a firearm in their possesion at all times. Also, if you have managed to legally obtain your firearms then you had to take a safety class at some point in time. One thing they teach when training certified officers for firearms carry for duty is that if your subject is within 21 feet of you, you can not accurately use your firearm. A man with a knife can close 21 feet before a man with a holstered gun can draw, aim and fire. If you are wearing a concealed firearm then it takes even longer on the draw. If you are armed in this type of situation your best bet is to follow standard armed security responses and keep backing away, make sure you have a 21 foot, or more, gap between you and the closest subject and only use it as a last resort. By all means attempt to difuse the situation first.

      I know there is never a text book scenario in real life, use your best judgement but always treat lethal force as a last resort.

      • craisydazy

        this is inaccurate. in many states you can legally obtain a firearm without taking a class on safety. in GA and in TN i know for sure that you can.

      • Trent

        Shoot the first two before reassessing. Conserve your ammo. Be aware of your surroundings. Double tap!!!

  8. Robert

    No question that having and knowing how to use a gun is an important part of self defense, but it’s only part of the equation.

    The article was meant for those that might be caught in this situation without a gun or other traditional weapons. It’s also important to remember that in a close quarters attack situation you may not be able to unholster your firearm quick enough to use it; knowing how to defend yourself without a firearm is just as important as knowing how to use a firearm.

    Far to many gun owners ignore the other aspects of self defense.

    • David

      I personally do not get caught in situations without a firearm.
      “Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks.” Good advice from Thomas Jefferson

      • Tony

        Exactly! I take my firearm everywhere I go period. Thomas Jefferson even carried two concealed pistols while in the capitol. And look where we are today.

    • Tony

      I totally Agree!!! I have a CPL went through the class and work with my firearm daily, weather its dry fire practice or just practicing clearing a jam and reloading. You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times and be able to assess the threat and be able to defend yourself or a loved one hand to hand… if fleeing is not an option. Always stay calm, cool and collected and you’ll win the fight.


    Robert is correct being a legally armed and properly trained citizen is your best bet in this situation, unless of course you are Chuck Norris.

  10. Self Defense Knives

    Awesome Tips, its really hard to fight even 2 bodies (especially if they think like convicts). but aiming to attack their minds highly increase your chance of survival other than focusing on bodies.

    Another great self defense post

  11. Goodwin

    This is all accurate, if you happen to run into a textbook scenario. In my line of work Ive dealt with fighting people en masse and there is usually no order, leader, or time for discussion. It usually becomes a flurry of thrown projectiles, fists, and feet. As far as emergency situations go, the worst I was involved in was Katrina. First as a citizen and then returned to work armed security after. Count on the worst. There will be NO order. Best advice: Be invisible. Beyond that? Legal possession/carry of firearms and training.
    Keep in mind that you are outnumbered. They know they outnumber you. A “spectacular and visible first strike” is not going to intimidate any but the most timid group of attackers.

  12. Fawn

    any advice/weapon(other than gun) for a med frame 125 lb 5’6″ female?

    • David

      There is no substitute for a qualified person with a firearm. My advice is get a handgun, learn it inside and out and practice, practice, practice. The goblins who run the streets today are not the types who will allow you to “talk your way out” of any situation. They are merciless. You must be also.

    • shikira

      I wear a pair of laced black boots – bit like DR Martins and make me walk more confidently, so if you don’t have a pair then do get some as it toughens up even a pretty woman.

  13. Very accurate almost text book if I say so myself, but Robert is right to I don’t leave home unless I’m armed with something but if I had a side arm I would have evened the odds with that it’s like this double tap the leader and the rest of the street punks would be very shaken and either die with him or run. But that would only happen if the world turned on it’s ear anyway.

  14. Goodwin

    Well, Fawn, I believe a handgun is your best bet. But if youre either unwilling or unable to carry a gun that just depends on what youre most comfortable with. Id recommend a knife or striker that cant be easily taken from your hand. A good example of this would be a “cats-eye” striker. These are usually made of metal and shaped like a cats head. The first two fingers of the hand go through the “eyes” and would be pretty tough to take from somebody’s hand. My personal favorite and one of my everyday carry knives is called the Hideaway knife. Its available from and its a great tool. Its a small knife, around 2″ (so legal) that fits around the first two fingers of the hand. This allows you to use your knife hand for carrying keys, lights, or mace as well as striking. All while having a knife immediately available. They are also extremely concealable with tons of very sneaky concealment options. Check out the website. These are custom made knives so Id recommend checking the section of the site that lists knives that were never paid for(measure your fingers according to websites directions). The knife I bought usually costs $169 but I got it for $69. The knife was only 1/32″ larger than my measurement. Sorry for the long-winded answer, but there you go! Stay safe!

  15. james

    the mindset is the most important and lethal weapon human beings have at their disposal. we are taught from youth to adult to avoid violence at any cost but when the day comes and either your life or the life of someone you hold dear is on the line you had better have done some mental prep work for what lies ahead. even the best weapon in the hands of an ill prepared person is no defense. and when i say ill prepared i mean mentally and physically because if the mind is sharp and you do not possese the knowledge to wield whatever weapon at hand you will be just as dead.

  16. Sabo

    I just wanted to share a personal experience I had in 2009. While on my 3rd tour in Afghanistan my platoon conducted what we called a Humanitarian Aid drop (food, rice& beans some warm clothes)in one of the poorest villages in our sector. While this was going on we got mobbed like we always do kids and the village elders. While I was overseeing the distribution of food some of the older men became very unruly and a fight broke out. My dumb ass jumped in the middle of the mess and broke it up. When it was all said and done what I got from the whole thing was the older man was upset he got less food than he and his family should have and others received more. So in turn he attacked one of my Soldiers who was about 6ft 3in and about 250, armed with a M-4, body armor, helmet ect. This old man was about 5ft 7in and was lucky to weigh 140(I picked him up and restrained him with ease.) the whole point I am getting at is if people are desperate enough they WILL DO ANYTHING TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILY. Even attack a well armed, better trained and much larger person. In retrospect I would do the same if my family was staving to. I hope it never comes to that, bet your ass I am ready for it.

  17. aliaspogi_2


  18. krazyduck

    Good short article on the basics, but you forgot to mention the effectiveness of taking a hostage, preferably the leader. If your able to put your finger to the anyones eye and voice the threat, very few people would continue.

  19. JohnnyPaka

    Mahalo for the info, most people dont think about these types of situations
    until its to late.

  20. karateman221

    2 on 1 fighting is really all about circles & lining them up, keep yourself mobile and position them so that ur only fighting them one at a time

  21. Hunter123

    My uncle was attacked by 4 guys and took them down thanks to you. One in the eye then throat. one kneecap, eyes. another neck, groin, and another neck, kneecap, eyes. Thanks.

  22. Ivan

    I’d like to add that the group’s ‘leader’ can change from moment to moment; pay attention to how they behave as a group.

    Also ‘cues’ is not spelt ques.

  23. Survival Bloke

    The Bizzerker when excuted properly is unstoppable to defend against. It is the ULTIMATE fyght move of our time and when used with duel blades, can be bloody deadly.

  24. Danial

    today i was attacked by a dozen of boys I’m 18 but they were in their 20 and maybe 30’s, it started when some 3 guys on a bike came out from a street on to the main road I quickly going at 60 evaded from them last moment before their could be an awful accident.I stopped to go to a shop I didn’t bother much about the cyclist as I was parking these bikers come to me and say wht is your f king prob I told him that’s my line and I dnt really care wht happened back just becarefull suddenly the rider got mad and started threatening me if few seconds more ppl appeared 14 or more I tried reasoning with them but they took advantage started pushing me abusing me I retaliated but not effective then I escaped .Now I’m very nervous how to handle such situations I fear that gang they took my picture but I was sunglasses maybe they will have difficulty searching me.

    • Fighter Man

      Good job on staying calm in your previous situation; if possible, try to carry mace or even a firearm and make sure that those bikers know it.If you are fairly confident that they would not seriously hurt you, ad are simply looking for a fight, the threat of a gun or mace will be more than enough to stop them. If they are serious trouble, try to not go down the same road. Maybe go a different route, or obtain the help of the police. You will come out of this situation fine if you keep protection on you and obtain the help of the police if things escalate. You’ll be fine, but stay strong.

  25. Joe

    Some good information. I’d add avoid risky areas. I also think people need to make the investment to have training and the resolution to kill to survive, be armed with a gun or two, a knife, a cane, a baton, a kubotan. Having a buddy or two along, also armed, would be good.

  26. shikira

    Few attackers will approach someone who walks tall and looks sharp and vigilant. My secret weapon is my large wide eyes – I have this demonic glance, that if I feel threatened will stare someone out if my confident walk tall approach does nothing. The more vocal you are too, the less inclined it will attract the wrong sort and they tend to scatter quickly if they are out in the day, but never try to talk and reason with any gang/group of idiots – giving them your attention is like giving a baby its expecting feed, so best to apologize loudly with hand facing their face and speedily walk away. Sometimes it works best if you pretend to be mentally unwell and start muttering about religion – often terrifies the life out of most people!

    • Enter your name...Steve m

      This is one of the better comments I’ve read. Acting apologetic to a predator only makes you look more like prey. Being assertive is best, but not offensive.
      One thing to remember is that they are going to count on you being intimidated, so anything you can do to throw off their thinking will help. Unless they are drunk, then just expect a fight..

  27. chew

    Thank you very much. Living in Asia where mob attacks and herd mentality is a such deep rooted sub-culture thing. I really liked the info shared and find them very helpful as a constant vigilant reminder. Keep it up.

  28. ricky.

    what if theres some one whith a gun and u cant run from it how would said victom defend them selfs?

    • Dim

      If they have a gun always hit the one with the gunman first, if talking doesn’t work make sure you hit first before they can react, make sure when you hit the gunman that he goes down the first time whether you have to kill him or not, grab the gun, verbalize that you have the gun with something along the lines of “I’ve got your ###king gun” and then shoot either in general or at someone. Normally being shot at discourages people no matter whether the bullet hits them or not.

  29. Al

    I have much appreciated all the good advice. Considering unarmed defence, taking a good self defense class is essential. Krav Maga has to be, in my estimation, the best system available. It is used by Special Forces around the world. One thing I found missing, is the use of an ear piercing WHISTLE.

  30. Steve m

    I strongly agree that some form of combative training is crucial! I would recommend some boxing, kickboxing, and jujitsu. You need to know some basic takedowns under these circumstances, and keep in mind that slamming someone on the concrete does significant damage versus slamming someone on a mat. Just getting good at a few basic strikes and takedowns will go a real long way, there isn’t use for fancy stuff in a multiple attacker scenario anyway, not a real one anyway.

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