"Swarming" - group attack

Summertime in Minnesota brings everything out of the woodwork.

The latest: Groups of bad guys are working together to swarm people who are walking.
Technique: Two BG coming from one direction, two BG coming from the opposite direction and sometimes a car with two or more BG pulling up in the middle of the swarm, thus surrounding the good guy. Although a gang of them was recently arrested, this may not be the last of them. Also, they are armed and aggressive.

I’m always carrying, but in a situation like this, I’m wondering about the best strategies.

Ideas? Thanks

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The only thing I can think of, based on a situation that happened to me and a buddy, is go out in groups who all carry. And practice the scenario under the the guidance of a good instructor together.


If going in a group isn’t an option. Just stay vigilant on your escape routes. Avoid boxing yourself in. Only you know your daily routine, be honest with yourself when assessing your weaknesses we all have them and have to mitigate them as much as possible.


Yes, this is often the case as I use public transportation to get to/from work, so walking in groups usually isn’t an option. My question is more about what to do if, in spite of vigilance and best efforts to avoid, the unthinkable happens. (Should mention that my background includes work as martial arts teacher and LEO, so I have faced some dicey situations previously.) Just trying to think outside the box at this point. LOL!

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Are the groups attacking for money or for physical violence? If it’s for money, don’t carry anything with you and keep your hands free for your defense.

I personally do not carry a purse at all. I don’t have anything flashy on me and try to blend in.

If they’re assaulting people, keep pepper spray in your non-dominant hand and keep your head on a swivel. Also, carry extra magazines and practice reloading.

Can you travel in a very populated area between the public transportation to and from work?


I agree with @Dawn with the pepper spray as a great option. With your background you have a huge advantage with the element of surprise. If it’s going to turn physical your LEO background you know if it’s a group they’re following a leader. If you can pick him out. They are expecting resistance and they really aren’t expecting the person they are following to drop out. Do everything possible to mess up their OODA loop and you’ll have the upper hand.

That being said obviously going hands on is an absolute last resort.


Actually, wasp spray is better, better distance. I took a self defense course. One of those where the guy dresses in football gear so the student can hit as hard as possible. They taught us how to get to the floor and fight from there. For two reason : 1. legs are strong than arms, and less body to attack, 2. you can spin around and break a lot of knees.


Hey Dawn,

Great suggestion about the pepper spray in non-dominant hand. I do carry a messenger bag and backpack and nothing flashy–I also have easy access to a tactical pen and a Vipertek flashlight/stun gun that I carry in the side pockets of the messenger bag.

Since I walk to the bus very early in the AM, generally when it’s still dark, that’s the only time that our neighborhood is not too busy. That’s the only time I’m on guard, but, it’s also a reminder to be vigilant at all times.


Ah, yes. Disrupting their scenario is an excellent strategy. The bad guys usually have been doing bad things all their lives and have a well-scripted scenario as to how something will go down. :slight_smile:

Used to teach a self-defense course that was all about doing the unexpected while being targeted - and you’re reminding me that I need to look up our handouts. Much appreciated.


Remember that carrying doesn’t always mean resisting is the best option or that resisting with a firearm is the best answer from the start if you do.

Each situation is going to dictate the wisest course of action.

In general the best advice is to be aware such an attack is a possibility, try to avoid places and times where being present puts you at an elevated level of risk, always be aware of your surroundings keeping your head on a swivel and leave yourself options to avoid, and escape if at all possible without engaging.

In some cases you will simply find that compliance is your best strategy or at least that feigned compliance is.

Unless you can anticipate an ambush is about to take place you will always be at a disadvantage and have to react rather than to act proactively to avoid it.

If compliance is not going to work, feigned compliance can at least help to relax your attackers and perhaps distract them enough for you to then either escape or to be able to draw your weapon without them noticing.

Your chances of escaping unarmed if your attacker already has you at gun or knife point go down substantially if you decide to draw and cannot conceal the draw or mislead them through feigned compliance.


There’s some truth in this when talking about being randomly targeted but the pro robbery gangs in big cities frequently study potential targets for days or even weeks to learn their routines so as to most effectively target them at the most opportune times which is why if you live in such an area it’s always wise to vary your daily routine as much as possible.


In your situation you can do a lot to mitigate the risk. When walking be aware of what’s a head and behind you and always try to leave yourself two possible avenues of escape/avoidance.

Walk close to buildings or fences so that if attacked you can Put your back to the wall" so to speak if your avenues of escape/avoidance are suddenly closed.

If you are walking along the edge of the street you may have more options to evade or escape but you are much more easily surrounded.

Given the choices with multiple potential attackers I’d rather be able to keep them at 180 degrees than giving them a 360 degree angle of opportunity.

If this type of an attack is likely be sure whatever defensive tools you have with you can be easily, quickly, and stealthily accessed should you find yourself in need of them.

You can always help yourself a lot whenever other “average citizens” are walking along through the same path in the same direction by simply placing yourself in close proximity to others so as to appear to be part of a group rather than obviously being alone.

There are so many variables possible here that general rules can only go so far as the circumstances will always dictate the best course of action.

One huge benefit of watching the ASP videos on youtube is that John has thousands of them up with him dissecting them showing virtually every reasonably likely possible scenario and even some that you’d never think of before seeing them play out.

I encourage my students to try and dedicate a few hours each week even if only five or ten minutes at a time to watch his videos.

Really sound advice worthy of a repeat.


“Given the choices with multiple potential attackers I’d rather be able to keep them at 180 degrees than giving them a 360 degree angle of opportunity.” @WildRose - lots of excellent advice and this sentence really stands out. I just located the ASP videos and will be taking a closer look.

Thanks EVERYONE for the thoughtful responses. You’ve given me a lot to think about!

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Link for the ASP videoa?

I’ve seen some of those videos, although I’ve not taken a class for that. It makes some sense for women to be able to use the strength in our legs to fight with. I think in this scenario where there are 4 or more attackers I’d want to stay on my feet if possible. Once down, your options are reduced and swarming a downed subject is one of the tactics LEO use when arresting someone combative. For me, fleeing is an option I want to keep, especially if there are multiple attackers.
As @Sheepdog556 said, disrupting the OODA loop might give you a few moments where they are trying to figure out what happened and how to react, and that may give you a chance to exit stage left. In that case you want to be on your feet already, if possible.


Something to keep in mind that hasn’t been mentioned yet. These types of attackers are looking for easy prey.

Keep your head up, no ear phones or ear buds, keep your head on a swivel, and move with confidence as though you are on a mission.

Those things along with the above mentioned make it far less likely that you will be targeted.

They are looking to ambush easy prey not for a fight. The gal that is meek mild and looks like she’s trying not to get noticed shows fear and vulnerability while the confident gal moving quickly and with purpose signals that she’s not going to be easy pickings and is probably prepared to defend herself.

The only guaranteed way to survive a fight is to avoid it.


I’d still use it as a last resort. One could take doen 4 people like that quite quickly. But like anything it requires training. In some places don’t allow guns or sprays or knives or spoons


Using wasp spray against a person is a federal offense and can get you into a lot of legal trouble. I do not recommend carrying it.

Also, I’ve done a lot of martial arts training, I do everything I can to avoid fighting from the ground as it would take longer for me to get away and puts me in a very vulnerable position. I’m really surprised someone is teaching that for self-defense. :astonished:


Pepper spray, from what i understand is just an annoyance. I guess were screwed

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