Sparring type 4: multiple opponents

Try what it means to face more opponents

The fourth type of sparring we study is completely related to self-defense. It has been created to familiarize with the idea (extreme but unfortunately common in street situations, read How to fight with more than one opponent at the same time) to face more adversaries simultaneously.

In a first time, this type of confrontation must be performed at an absolutely moderate intensity (based on the level of the current “victim”) and always with controlled power; the idea is to develop skills such as spatial intelligence, spatial memory, strategy, timing, adaptability, deception, pain / stress management, economization of energies (etc.).

After having read the general rules of sparring and respect (read How to do sparring and Dojo (guan): rules, respect and etiquette), let’s see what are the peculiarities of this type of sparring.

A note by Master Kongling – As we have already said a lot of times, it is almost impossible to prevail over multiple (prepared) opponents. This is only an exercise (“we fight giants, to easily win normal people”).

Description of the exercise

How this kind of sparring works:

  • In addition to us, we need at least 2-3 other participants (excluding the instructor)
  • Indoors or outdoors (especially at the beginning) we need at least a space of 10x10m
  • It is possible to start with a circular, folding fan or close contact formation
  • In the fight scenario, there can be some training / non-dangerous weapons (proper, improper, to be thrown, impact, etc.)
  • The opponents (armed or disarmed) attack as they prefer, their goal is to subdue us
  • Our first goal is to remain free, save energy and fight our opponents (by exploiting combat strategies, the environment and everything that is in our favor)
  • The battle (even if we win or we lose) do not stop and can last more than 30 minutes (if we are not more than trained we can start with a minimum of 1 minute)
  • Attackers must attack and try to immobilize us for 10 seconds (in this case we restart the game until the time is not ended)
  • The fight must always be imagined as real (this is not a game)
  • The roles are exchanged at the end of the time

Rules and goals

What we can do:

  • We can move completely freely in the defined area (between the obstacles)
  • The attackers can hit us but absolutely without full power
  • Defenders and attackers can use weapons, obstacles, levers, punches, kicks, knees, elbows, etc. (in a controlled way)
  • The defender can simulate the use of killing strikes / techniques that must be validated by the instructor (if he approves them the “killed” aggressor must temporarily abandon the clash or lie on the ground)
  • It is also possible to use verbal and body deception (always maintaining the respect)

What we can not do:

  • We cannot exit the fighting area until the end of the battle
  • The attackers can not simulate free hands killing techniques, only with weapons (eg. with a training plastic knife, read Sparring type 5: knife fighting)
  • It is not allowed to bring any kind of technique to cause serious damage
  • We can not lead real blows on pressure points (lethal, pain, etc.)
  • If we use weapons the attacks must be very controlled

Main objectives:

  • The main goal is not to prevail (read Practical advice on how not deal with multiple opponents)
  • The idea is to teach our body to maintain a general control of the environment, its spaces and what is inside of it
  • Learn to economize energies, to breath correctly and to increase our resistance
  • Learn to naturally use each element of the scenario (opponents, weapons, obstacles, etc.) at our advantage
  • Learn how to force the opponents to face us in an unpredictable / disadvantaged way and / or one at the time
  • Learn to give a priority to the opponents (by distance, level of skills, occasions, etc.)
  • Learn to recognize good occasions / space / time to act and use all kinds of deception
  • Learn to convert everything into neutral elements of the same type (read Become the absolute zero)
  • Learn to manage an increasing level of stress (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)
  • Learn to manage timing, positions and situations (recognizing what can be done and what must be avoided)

Details of practice

Protections and safety:

  • Depending on the level of the involved fighters, can be used or not more / less complete protections (gloves, helmet, etc.)
  • Both who defend both the attackers must think to the safety of their companions (we must always behave as a team)
  • If the “victim” taps or stops to react, the exercise must be immediately stopped (this sparring type is very chaotic)


  • In a first approach, the exercise must be executed without any power, speed and with simple pushes (as for the attackers as for the defender)
  • The fighting scenario can have obstacles (small, large, mobile or immovable but not dangerous)
  • We can increase the number of attackers and / or we can fight 2 vs. 2, 2 vs. 3-10 (etc.)
  • At an advanced level, we can allow the aggressors to elaborate an accurate (and obviously secret) strategy to better prevail on us
  • To train to disarm, sometimes, we can add fire weapons that shot at slow speed plastic spheres (wearing eyes protections)
  • We can start from advantage / disadvantage positions and / or conditions (in a lever position, with hands tied, at a close distance, encircled, lying on the ground, etc.)
  • We can use an object to be caught as a “trophy” (win who maintains its hold for more than 10 seconds, ideal for children’s training)
  • In the case of skill disparities, we can apply some other handicaps (more about this later)


  • With real attacks, this is absolutely not an exercise for beginners (the risk of injuries is very high)
  • With soft pushes, it is instead a good training for almost everyone
  • At the maximum difficulty, this type of sparring forges the ultimate level of 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s warrior
  • Doing only this kind of sparring is useless, we can not develop technique precision (etc.)
  • This type of sparring (as for the knifes one) is a must-be-done experience for everyone is looking for a real self-defense preparation

In future articles of this series, we will see the other types of training fight.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever tried to manage more than one person in a sparring session?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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