Self-Defense When You Are Outnumbered

Multiple attacker situations are threatening because it is very challenging to defend yourself when you are outnumbered.  It is important to remember that there are strategies that can be used.  Keeping basic self-defense principles in mind can help you to find escape routes and ways to get away, and avoid feelings of hopelessness and/or panic. 

Self-Defense Principles: 

  • Keep thinking and stay active. 
  • Ask yourself:  How can I get away?  What can I pick up to shield myself?
  • Strike to primary targets (eyes, nose, throat, and knees) to keep people away from you.

Basic Multiple Attacker Principles: 

  • Move towards the exit or towards the direction you feel you have the best chance of getting away, which may mean that you are moving backwards.
  • As you are moving towards the exit, try to keep watching the group and try not to get surrounded or backed up against a wall. 
  • Protect your head by using the 2-handed vertical block and turn your body to protect your head from several directions.   
  • Try to protect your back by not letting anyone get too close.
  • Try to line up your attackers so they can’t surround you by moving yourself to the outside of the group.
  • Yell to keep up your energy and your spirit, and to attract attention and help. 

The Figure 8 Block

Practice the Figure 8 Block using a jacket, handbag, backpack, or bag.  This is an efficient block when you are being attacked by more than one person. 

  1. Hold the jacket or bag 6-12 inches from your body, with your hands about ten inches apart from each other, and move your arms to trace the outline of an 8 lying on its side, like an infinity sign.  The side of the jacket or bag that you aren’t holding should be flapping around.
  2. The goal is to block in big, continuous, circular movements, and position your body so you can easily turn side to side when blocking.  When the jacket or bag is being whipped up, down and around, it is difficult for an attacker to get close to the person practicing this block.

Many people have used the Figure 8 to defend themselves (see video on, and as with any self-defense techniques it should be practiced slowly first and then faster.  If you practice against a person, remember they can get scratched by the zipper or buttons on the jacket or bag.