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Does your FMA fighting system address the possibility of multiple attackers?

 A question I asked my teacher many years ago was how the Filipino Martial Arts deals with multiple attackers.  To my surprise he told me that it wasn't possible to deal with more than one attacker wielding  single or double bastons.  I didn't agree with him at the time but I understood where he was coming from.  Imagine if you had to face two or more weapon wielding FMA experts, how do you think you would fair?

 The late GGM Vincent Carin survived a knife fight with multiple attackers, I think there were five of them that attacked him many years ago.  Many of us have either read or were fortunate enough to hear directly his accounts of this confrontation. Even though he was severely injured, he did survive.

 In the Book of Five Rings Miyamoto Musashi known by many as one of the greatest swordsman that ever lived, said if you can fight one, you can fight many...

 What do you think about this?  Does your FMA fighting system address the possibility of multiple attackers and if so, how do you approach this type of training?

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great question...

I think a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration about your training not just the style.

1. Do you train to fight against multiple attackers?

If you don't than I think u will be in for a big surprise. Things happen very quickly and if you have never practiced against 1 at full speed than 2 or more will be a lot to handle.

2. Does your style or training put you in a good position to handle more than one attacker at once?

3. Have you learned to zone your opponents and use your enviorment/surroundings to help in your defence?

4. Are you able to move between the different ranges long, middle, short. grappling standing or to the ground and back up again.

these are just a few of the questions that come to mind!


Very good Terry...  Using the environment is one of the ways I teach my group how to deal with multiple attackers.  If available, objects such as walls, trees, and other obstacles help to narrow the avenues of approach.  When I was in the military, the terrain was a very important consideration when preparing a defense, the only difference in self-defense is that you must train to be conscious of your surroundings at all times and adapt quickly.


In our Modified Pangamut system we do address this in a number of ways, we train for armed against armed un-armed against armed. We break this down into fighting 2 on 1, 3 on 1 and 5 on 1.We do this several different environments as well. I believe all fighters should learn fight against multiple opponents in street situations using the concepts crash and dash, working zoning, utilization of terrain and utilization of obstacles as well. I have blended the lessons taught by military, law enforcement and street fighting. Having been in this situation a number of times in life the concepts have carried that I have learned. One of the best examples I saw years ago came from Edwardian England's Baritstu using a cane and hat on street attack of five to one. The instructor in his writing stress hit and run using disabling targets. This goes to what you were talking about in accuracy and understanding body and its targets.


I teach my people to fight in a circular format as they progress. the reason for this is that in the training I received from Master Reston, he emphasised the circular aspects after getting the linear and angular down. But as a result of my own research and training with GM Nene Tortal, we utilize something similar with the enquartada footwork to evade the attack and this sets us up for the counter offensive aspects at the same time keeps our peripheral vision always on the move for subsequent attacks from others in the multi man attack groups.. I also teach my guys to utilize this in the empty hand aspects to limit the ability of the attackers to move in, by doing this, it helps apply forward pressure on the attackers and makes them compensate for our movement by creating or closing the distance when we move in

Hello Bill,

 Great to hear from you again!  Honestly I find it easier to deal with multiple attackers during empty hand bouts.  There's no doubt that dealing with more than one eskrimador is an extremely difficult task but I believe it's worth the exploration.

here is a practice drill to develop u can see there are openings & gaps in the defense...but better than nothing!

a couple other drills that we practice!

Guro Zach,

In my opinion - your teacher is right. Perfect example - the video showing 7 year old Gary Cabida ( , of the 3 submitted  by Guro Joven, this video is the closest resembling a multiple attacker situation (simultaneous attacks). The other videos are more of a multiple opponents attack (each attacker waits for the attacker before him or her to be done before initiating attack). There is a big difference - skill vs. stamina (repetition of applying the same skill done in an orderly manner).

Zoning, using the environment and footwork are all great things to take advantage of if the opportunity is there. I do not recommend grappling to the ground, if there are several attackers.

Two other factors to consider are:

1. What if you are weaponless and they are not?

2. What if there is no room, no environment - you are in an elevator?

Guro Zach, your teacher told you what was impossible. Did you ask your teacher what was possible? If I was to analyze your teacher's response I would break it down  this way - don't try to fight all multiple attackers at once (impossible), take out one attacker at a time (possible).

This is my opinion, your teacher is right.

Hello Al S.
I read your reply over several times and it's difficult for me to disagree with you on this. The best answer I believe are the circumstances that we may face and I believe you covered them sufficiently. I think the videos that were posted show an effort to make a person aware of multiple attackers and like I mentioned in my reply to Bill, it's easier for me to imagine defending against unarmed opponents than it is to imagine armed opponents with or without high levels of skill.

Pekiti Tirsia is designed tactically to combat multiple opponent's. It's our base mind set that we will always be fighting out numbered. It is definitely possible given three key factors...

1. Heightened Awareness of yourself, your environment and the potential of attacks

2. A proper tactical approach

3. Tactical and scenario training

In training (Musashi mentions this in the Book of 5 Rings also) we have found that offense is the best option. It is best to attack first, swift, powerful and without hesitation.  Who do you attack first? This comes down to what we refer to as the rule of 3rds, Priority-Proximity-Pressure.

Of course this is by no means a simple task and in a way it is true that you cannot fight multiple opponents at once. You still have to engage one opponent at a time.  If you get out flanked, chances are it's all over for you. Stack and protect your flanks! 


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