SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

Multiple Opponents?

September 7th, 2019

“It is better to avoid than to run, better to run than to de-escalate, better to de-escalate than to fight, better to fight than to die.” – Rory Miller.

If it is possible for something to be “more” true, then Miller’s pithy statement is even more true when you find yourself alone, unarmed, and facing more than one opponent.

Avoid first: if you are informed, you will tend to never even be in a scenario where a group of people is trying to beat you senseless. Miller recommends avoiding places where young males consume alcohol because those are the locations where fights tend to break out. The best way to “win” a fight is to not to be there in the first place.

Run next: maybe you like going to places where young men drink alcohol. Awesome. Fun things happen in bars and at parties and the majority of the time no fights break out (although there are some places where fights are pretty much guaranteed on a nightly basis and if you like to go to those places, your choices are your business). Maybe a conflict breaks out in a normally calm space, or you are simply accosted. The “run” step means staying aware so that if you see a confrontation brewing, you leave. Do you know where the exits are? Are you watching the room? Are people getting rowdy or just having fun? Are you staying within the social norms of the groups around you or are you (purposefully or accidentally) upsetting people’s sense of what is acceptable behavior?

De-escalate before engaging: if the conflict falls in your lap, or you missed the cues, try and talk your way out of things. It is helpful to have some understanding of why people want to fight. Much of the time, people use aggression to enforce social dominance. Swallow your ego and apologize. Listen to the grievance and let it go. Certainly, there are arguments worth having, philosophy worth discussing, and ideals worth upholding. Is this grievance worth a fight? I have no place telling you which fights are worth blood and bruises and which should be walked away from but I do know that people’s mind’s are rarely changed by bashing their faces in. There is also a small percentage of every population who are predators – people who simply engage in violence to be violent. Reacting to and dealing with predators is a whole different mess that we won’t get into here (although it is an excellent subject to research).

Fight last: maybe you tried to run and/or de-escalate and it failed. Maybe you never got a chance because you were jumped. Whatever the case, now you can fight or die. A friend of mine told me a wonderful story in which he stood there and let an angry young man punch him in the gut. My friend pretended to double over in pain and roll on the floor and the angry young man walked away, satisfied enough with the results to call the fight over. Maybe my friend was lying and he really got punched hard in the breadbasket. Maybe taking the punch was a super clever form of de-escalating. Maybe you think my friend was weak for letting the young man gut punch him. There may be some opportunity to still de-escalate even when the punches start flying but, like all strategies in fighting, there is risk.

Strategies for fighting multiple opponents: so if all other options fail, or were never present to begin with, what is the most important strategy for surviving against multiple opponents? Constant forward pressure. Strategy wise, it is really no different than fighting one opponent. To win, you must present your opponent with multiple problems to solve so that they are mentally (and perhaps physically) on their heels and reacting to what you are doing rather than formulating their own plan.

Specific tactics against multiple opponents: lots of footwork, striking, and using physical barriers so that you are fighting one person at a time. Can you move into a position such that one person is blocking the other(s) from getting at you? Are there physical barriers like a table, door, tree, or car that you can manuever around such that the opponent(s) you aren’t currently engaged with are chasing you rather than attacking you? Can you mostly avoid clinching and grappling, as it anchors you to one spot and makes you an easier target? If you do end up in a clinch or grapple, do you have the skills to quickly disengage?

Conclusion: fighting is a mess. Training certainly matters and we have all seen how a highly trained fighter can easily handle an untrained amateur in a controlled sport situation. Many of us in the martial arts community have seen the youtube videos of highly trained fighters handling an amateur in a self defense scenario… and also seen the trained fighter fail against an amateur. Many of us have probably seen fist fights, pushing matches, and perhaps even genuine knock down drag out violence in person. More people means a bigger mess. Crazy things happen. Training matters but as the numbers stack (2 on 1, 3 on 1, 4 on 1), the odds get longer and longer. Avoid it by knowing where violence happens. Run when you see it coming. De-escalate when you’re caught in it. Fight when you have to. Always be training.

New MDP Requirements!

September 2nd, 2019

Huzzah! Ever evolving in the face of martial arts technology, here are the amazing new MDP adult belt requirements.

You’ll have questions – of course. You won’t know what some of the things are – of course. You’ll wonder what some of the things are doing on the list and if they are useful – of course. You’ll wonder if these requirements will change again – they will. You are part of the process and we want your feedback.

The grand experiment that is MDP moves forward. Happy training to you all.

New Teen Jiu-Jitsu Class

August 31st, 2019

We are shifting the Friday 5pm kids BJJ class to a teen BJJ class. Like everything we do, it is an experiment and we’re excited to see what happens.
Our hope is that it gives students who are ages 13-19 their own space and time slot to learn and hone their grappling skills. It can be a tough age to train, caught between kids class and adult class and teenaged students have been and are still encouraged to go to either/both kids and adult classes.
Will there be more classes for teenagers? We’ll see! Spread the word, get some students on the mats, and let’s do this.

Kid’s Tournament

August 30th, 2019

We are thrilled to be hosting MDP’s annual Fall Kids tournament. This event will feature point sparring & forms (no grappling but don’t worry, we’ll have a grappling tournament coming up soon) and will take place at our 1509 SW Sunset gym.
Hopefully, like all our tournaments, the event will inspire students to up their training, work harder in class, and maybe even practice their forms outside of class.
I know I’ve given this advice a billion times but it actually works, so I’m going to give it again: if students want to do better in the point sparring competition, they should try to attend Dug’s Saturday 10am sparring class and if students want to do better in the forms competition, they should show up 5 minutes early to three classes a week and go through their form 2 times before class begins.
Extra bonus advice for sparring: students should have the coach or a parent film them sparring so they can see what they do well, what needs improvement, and then formulate a plan.
Extra bonus advice for forms: students should have the coach or a parent film them doing their form so they can see what they do well, what needs improvement, and then formulate a plan.
You can register on our events page.

Kid’s Point Sparring Tournament

June 16th, 2019

Not too long ago, we ran a grappling only tournament. We figured now it was time to run a point sparring only tournament. Hopefully everyone who was bummed there was no point sparring last time is excited this time. Actually, hopefully everyone is excited.

For those who don’t know what point sparring is, I’ll take a moment to go through the basics. Two students stand across from each other, just outside of striking range. Then, on the referee’s command, they try and punch or kick one another. When the referee sees one student touch another, they call “break” and decide who got a point. The first student to five points, or the student with the most points after two minutes wins the match. Students get paired up with other students of comparable size, skill, and age in an effort to make the game as fair as possible. We use a double elimination format to ensure each student gets at least two matches. The contact level is kept light but students should wear a mouthguard and male students should wear a cup.

Our goal with hosting this tournament is to give students a culminating event so that they have a tangible reason to continue honing their martial skills during the no-school days of summer. After the event, we will walk over to the park and share popsicles with anyone who cares to hang out for another half hour.

The event will take place on Saturday, July 20th, from 10-11am at our Capitol Highway campus. Go to the event page for more details and to register.