Friday, February 2

IMPACT Defense Against Multiple Assailants class

     Fighting multiple unarmed assailants bore some similarities to fighting single unarmed assailants. Firstly, the premise of the attack was sexual assault or some other act that implied the assailants wanted you alive and aware of what they were doing until they felt that they had managed to perform this act. Therefore, assailants were more likely to grab and restrain us than to throw a deadly punch.

     As in Single Unarmed Assailants class, the presumption was that they were out to

  1. convince us to stop hitting them but not "fight" the way men fight each other and
  2. do sexual things we didn’t want them to do (or, as I said, something like that).
     This class is not adequate preparation for fighting multiple henchmen in a Jet Li movie whose only goal is to kill you as fast as possible.

     Another similarity to the single assailant class was the idea that men who attack women (or anyone they perceive as belonging to a “weaker” social category, like children or the elderly) are easily frightened by the yells and blows of an opponent who is fighting a "real" fight. The evidence (crime reports, interviews, etc.) shows that this is even truer of assailants who feel the need to have a whole group to be sufficiently intimidating to a woman.

     It is also truer with multiple assailants because the reasons for the attack are often focused on feeling masculine in the eyes of other group members rather than in the eyes of the woman. This can make a lot of members of the group lose commitment and run away or give up as soon as they see their only judges failing the intimidate-and-abuse mission.

     The neatest trick we learned was lining up assailants. Though they roam and threaten like a wolf pack, they don’t move like a wolf pack. Trained combat teams have better things to do: they have Jet Lis and Uma Thurmans to fight. Thirteen-year-olds are not combat teams who know how to move in relation to one another. They probably formed their group 30 minutes ago!

     So if they try to come at you from 2 or 3 different directions, you back up and move left or right until becomes . However, it doesn’t take long for the ones in back to figure out that their path is blocked, so you must hit or kick the front one as soon as you get that line and then keep moving to make a new line out of the assailants (preferably including the one you just mobilized, because he/she might be mobile sooner than you think).

     If one does manage to run around you (instead of you keeping him in front of you by backing up as fast as he’s approaching your flank side), you might indeed get grabbed from behind. We learned several handy techniques for that! We learned:
  • how to clock someone behind us in the head
  • how to hurt him in the groin despite having our backs to him
  • how to take out someone in front of us if that person seems too close to first hurt the rear person and take the time to turn around and strike a better blow, and
  • most importantly, no matter how many or few assailants we’ve struck, to see exit opportunities from the sandwich and take them right away.
How’d we learn? Practice makes better!
(One of our instructors refuses to say, "Practice makes perfect.")

     We also learned how to hurt them and thus escape if they’re pinning our arms and legs to the ground. Again, as with single unarmed assailants, it’s important not to think, "He’s holding me and there’s a hand coming to grope me!" and to think, "He’s at my feet, restraining them from moving in 2 directions, but not a third. I will move them in this third direction and use them to hurt him. If he leans in to try to grope me, all the easier, but I’ll figure it out no matter what he does."
     (Strong abs make this easier, by the way! Balance and gravity make it possible even without them, though.)

     Same goes for people holding your arms. Don’t worry about what they or their buddies are doing to your breasts and crotch. Focus on the ones pinning down your weapons (limbs) and only once they’re too immobilized/stunned to grab back your weapons is it helpful to worry about [using those weapons and] getting rid of or escaping out from under people with their hands on your privates.

     Since an attacked person can keep the fight much more manageable by staying mobile, we learned new kicks and hits that weren’t taught in the Single Unarmed Assailants class. There we almost tried to lie down on the ground as fast as possible. Here we had to learn to stay confident and strong while standing.

     We also learned to "shuffle" because walking, running, or traveling sideways by stepping with criss-crossing feet (I’m so bad about doing that!) is more likely to make us trip. It’s not all-important, but it helps.

     The strike-once-and-only-once-and-move tactic doesn’t last forever. Once every assailant has had a few blows they generally pause longer to recover. If you have put two on the ground ahead of you and a third is staggering away from you on your left from a blow to the head, when you draw the fourth out to your right and hit him/her, when he/she bends over or goes down, you might see that no one else is on his/her feet yet. If you see that, it is safe to throw one, two, or more kicks against the same assailant and knock him/her unconscious (ball-clutching or head-clutching assailants can recover and run quickly enough to catch you half a mile down the road. Unconscious ones give you time to get to a safe place and report the attack to the police).

     Towards the end of the fight, you use both the one-hit-and-move strategy and the hit-until-knockout strategy as appropriate until all assailants have been knocked out ("ASSESS!") or truly run away ("LOOK!").

     Use verbal assertion to dissuade any menacing onlookers from jumping in to start a new fight. Fight if attacked. Look, assess, and repeat if there are more menacing onlookers.

     Leave the scene, watching where you’re going. They’re all unconscious or gone--you checked earlier. Don’t get hit by a bus or trip in a gutter by looking over your shoulder while you walk or jog.

That’s what we learned in class!


Mike said...

Oh dear. As a veteran of the military and 17+ years in police work, including SWAT duty, I've had a great many similar classes involving unarmed defense, chemical sprays, etc. One factor stood out in them all: such tactics work pretty well in a controlled situation with sober police officers playing roles, but are anything but reliable in the real world.

Dont' misunderstand. When attacked, if one is unarmed, they can submit andhope they won't be seriously injured or killed, or fight back. If they fight back, they must do so with overwhelming and unrelenting aggressiveness and violence.

The best defense, available to citizens in about 40 states, is to carry a concealed handgun. Suggesting that a 120 pound woman (or even a man) is a match for multiple male attackers, or that they'll be intimidated enough to run away if yelled at or struck a time or two is terribly optimistic and is not a theory supported by real world experience. However, a 120 pound woman, appropriately armed and trained not only in marksmanship but the proper tactical application of that skill is indeed a match, and in most cases, the mere brandishing of a handgun is sufficient to halt an attack.

The martial arts are a worthy pursuit, good for the soul and body, but unless one is willing to pursue them constantly, are of limited use in such situations. The occasional seminar is of even less value. Skill with a handgun can make the difference for virtually anyone and does not rely on years of training or great size or strength.

Kaethe said...

Since the place a woman is most likly to be attacked by multiple assailants is a party or sporting event, with alcohol being consumed, and with ,inors present, I would have to say I think carring a concealed handgun is a very bad idea.

For that matter, is it legal for a minor to carry a concealed weapon?

Shira said...

My father is a mugger for impact. :-) Did you fight a "Mugger Jack" by any chance?

Katie said...

Nope, Shira, no mugger Jack! But so cool to hear from you.

Katie said...

Mike--the deal with IMPACT and IMPACT-style classes is that they train you, through repeated experience, to have pushed through an adrenaline dump and fought hard so when you're in a situation, you will be able to fight, flee, etc.--anything but the "freeze" response so many people today who get the animal instinct socialized out of them experience during adrenaline dumps.

Therefore, if you own a gun, IMPACT training would not so much make you think, "I'm going to fight without it because I've fought some physical fights before!" as make you think, "How best could I get out of this situation? Move! Move! Move! Grab gun (because in this case it's the appropriate response)!" They teach you, through repetition, to think clearly and come up with the best response (be it a gun or your body) in the heat of the moment.

Does that make more sense?

The reason they don't explicitly teach us to work through adrenaline dumps and grab our guns is because, well, not everyone in class has a gun. They teach with the only thing we all have--our own bodies.

Katie said...

Also, Mike, I think you're overestimating the rate at which victims end up "non-seriously injured" or "alive" from submission.

In SWAT're coming into situations where that's worked.

And as a policeman, you're not coming into the 10 times when a woman submitted and was beaten bloody by her husband. You're coming into the 11th time, when she didn't, tried to run / call you, you got there, and perhaps in her story it came up that she fought back and also came up that she used to avoid injury by submitting...but it didn't come up that those times she avoided injury by submitting were earlier, before the 10 times submitting didn't avoid her serious injury.

Plus, you might not be interacting with the ones who fought back and not only avoided injury, but simply ran away (and didn't call you because it seemed easier to keep a low profile).

The thorough studies show that in the real, private, non-police-involved world of sexual assault, women get hurt just as often and as badly (averaging things out, obviously--not talking about any one relationship) submitting as fighting.

And that actually makes sense, given the average sexual predator. They're usually people who are looking for someone who will not put up a real fight and will either submit right away or submit after fighting back and getting punched once. Most of them are looking for "fightless wins"--otherwise they'd be picking bar fights against bouncers or street fights. If those statistics of "fought back" include women who truly keep on fighting, rather than putting up some fight before the adrenaline dump caused by it makes them freeze at the first strike back, I'd easily believe that "fighting back" is evenly matched with "submitting."

(One more thing on submitting--we get taught in our Basic Skills class to do whatever we think is best for us. Now that we, through practice, have the option of keeping our brains and bodies capable of staying present in a fight, we are only to treat it as a blessed option, not as an obligation. They drill it into us that we should feel like fighters who won our fight if we, in the moment, think clearly through an adrenaline dump and decide to submit. After all, we thought of it with all options on the table, so we should have confidence that we actually chose the right option.)

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