Multiple attacker drills are not only a killer workout, but they also teach valuable self-defense skills. It takes a lot more endurance and mobility to protect yourself from two people instead of one. Crucially, you also have to be much more aware of positioning against multiple opponents.
Today we’ll look at multiple sparring drills that aren’t just one-on-one! Some of these drills follow a 2 on 1 format, and some involve teams and groups. In either case, everyone will have a chance to deal with different attackers in the same round.
2 on 1 Sparring
One participant must defend against 2 attackers. All other rules for the match are normal. The defender should try to stay out of the middle and keep one attacker behind the other at all times. Meanwhile the attackers should try to surround the defender. It’s a simple strategy, but difficult to execute – be prepared to be tired afterwards!
2 on 1 Switch-up
This is just like the 2 on 1 drill above except an instructor will yell out the name of one person. That person immediately becomes the defender while everyone else becomes the attacker. The faster the defender is switched, the more intense the drill becomes. This is a great way to train awareness and positioning because you need to be aware of everyone else’s position, even if you’re currently on the same side!
This time the defender has an advantage! The defender gets a foam sparring-safe weapon while the attackers are unarmed. This drill can be done one of two ways:
- For less intensity have a coach tell the participants when to hand the weapon to the next person.
- For more intensity, the attackers try to take the weapon. If an attacker takes the weapon, they are now the defender and everyone else attacks them.
When practice with higher intensity. this drill lets you practice disarms and weapon sparring while also showing the advantage that a weapon will have. In a self-defense situation with multiple attackers, the extra reach of any object (stick, broom, etc) will help the defender keep the attackers at a distance.
AB Switch Sparring
This drill requires exactly 4 people participating and a fifth person leading. Everyone stands in a 2×2 arrangement and participants start by facing the person across from them. This is their “A” partner. The person to the side is their “B” partner. The coach will periodically yell out “A” or “B” to the participants. As soon as the command is given, people spar either their A partner or their B partner as instructed. The goal of this drill is to maintain awareness of the B partner even while sparring the A partner. You need to be ready so that you strike first as soon as the switch occurs. This really drills in readiness and awareness. Participants should have a plan ready when the switch occurs.
Divide participants into 2 even teams. Each participant stands across from a member of the opposite team, making 2 lines. Once the match begins participants do not have to stay with that opponent. Teamwork can be used to gang up on and eliminate opponents.
Set a limit to how many times a participant can be scored on before they are eliminated. For example, if a team member is scored on 3 times, they are out of the match. Continue until only members of one team are left.
Not only is this a fun, challenging drill, but it teaches different strategies than one on one sparring. This is a great way to teach teamwork and communication in sparring. Multiple teammates should “focus” on one opponent until they are eliminated, then proceed to the next. On defense it’s important to stay in a pack to prevent one member from being picked off.
Most Self-Defense Isn’t One on One
While sparring is inherently different from a real self-defense situation, drills like these will at least prepare you for being aware of multiple attackers. Using this experience you’ll know what positions are most dangerous to be in, and how to avoid them!