I’m sure most martial artists have imagined ourselves fighting off multiple opponents like Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury. In this classic film, he takes on an entire dojo, battling against each opponent until he is left to confront the Sensei himself. However, is this realistic?
Masutatsu Ōyama (more commonly known as Mas Oyama) was a karate master who originally studied under Gichin Funakoshi, the Father of Modern Karate. Sensei Oyama went on to found his own style which he named Kyokushin Karate, a style of karate that allows full contact sparring.
Mas Oyama’s training style was brutal. He would put on martial arts displays where he’d knock out live bulls or he’d snap off their horns. Training sessions with his students were tough and injuries were common. Breaking techniques on boards and bricks were used as way of testing striking power.
One of Mas Oyama’s feats was to fight 100 men consecutively with each fight lasting two minutes. The Sensei even introduced this test as part of the requirements for a student to obtain their 4th or 5th Dan grade. Students were required to win over 50% of their fights and, if knocked down, to get up within 5 seconds.
So that’s unarmed fighting but what about in a military setting. Is this reserved for films like Rambo where a lone hero takes on entire army and emerges unscathed?
Whilst you’d expect this to be the the sole reserve of Hollywood. Such events have happened in military confrontations.
One took place in September 2010, in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province and involved Sergeant Dipprasad Pun of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
He was on duty alone at a two story outpost, when he suddenly found himself at the sharp end of a well planned attack on his position.
Pun grabbed his machine gun and fired off 250 rounds. He then threw 17 grenades at the oncoming attackers before picking up his service rifle and letting off a further 180 rounds. During the attack he even ended up throwing a land mine at the aggressors.
When the smoke cleared and reinforcements finally arrived, 30 Taliban lay dead.
Sergeant Dipprasad Pun was awarded the Gallantry Cross, one of the UK’s highest military honors.
For us mere mortals, the best option when confronted by multiple opponents is to run. It’s almost guaranteed that this type of situation won’t go well for you. In this scenario it’s very easy for you to be blindsided – someone will hit or kick you without you even seeing it coming.
In a very short period of time, you’ll find yourself on the floor with someone doing a hundred step kata on your head. It’s therefore always best to try and escape as quickly as you can.
If it’s not possible to run, then you’ll need to try and reduce the number your fighting at any one time. You can attempt this by manoeuvring yourself so that the opponents get in each other’s way. You use the opponents like a shield so you work on defending yourself from a reduced number of attackers.
Some martial arts experts recommend trying to get yourself into the corner of a room. The theory being that noone can sneek up behind you and only a limited number can actually attack you at one time. In this way you’re limiting the number of attackers you have to face.
However, the big problem with this approach is that you’re trapped. No matter how good a fighter you are, eventually someone is gong to catch you with a lucky punch and down you’ll go and once you’re down they’ll be no getting up.
As I always say, if faced with the possibility of violent confrontation, it’s always best to run in order to live another day.