During my career (I've trained at a couple of places), I've participated in several drills where a group of people surrounded a single guy and at a call of a number would attack the guy in the middle for a short amount of time and then retreat with the next guy taking his place in a short amount of time.

I've done this drill in a striking oriented BJJ club (so we were looking for take downs) but I think it can be tailored to different disciplines.

What I'm looking for is a format to conduct this drill: - duration of a round

  • duration of attack

  • duration of rest between attacks

  • attach rules for striking sports (i.e. use palms only from the outside, etc)

  • general name of the drill used

  • I am a little wary of your use of "combat". In Aikido, we have plenty of such drills but they are highly structured as they are learning tools and not combat training. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 9:48
  • I'm holding practices in JKD for a small group of people. What I want to condition my self and drill is handling multiple oponents, e.g. getting used to the situation. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 14:18

3 Answers 3


This is a standard exercise in Shodokan Aikido (required for every test). We call it either "Randori" or "Jiyu Waza". We don't standardize it the way you're asking.

(In Chinese martial arts, the term may be Sanshou, but I'm not sure that is standardized. Closer to Kumite)

My school used to do 4 attackers, 90 seconds, with each attacker starting their attack run at the moment the preceding attacker made contact. The defender is expected to evade and execute techniques. Attackers attack in order. someone is the referee and will call "STOP" if there is anything dangerous (people get too enthusiastic, someone gets injured, etc.)

We don't rest between attackers.

That is probably still the archetype, but:

  • Timekeeping is a pain - we generally now do a set number of attacks. Each attacker attacks four or five or X times.

  • For lower belts the attack is restricted to a "loping stiffarm" - slightly faster than a walk, slower than a run, hand held out in front to simulate a wide variety of attacks. Lower belts are expected to learn to evade, do hand passes, and control the floor (don't get trapped against walls, be aware of where the next attacker is, etc.) The worst that happens is that you get a palmtouch where you weren't expecting it. This lowers the threat threshold for juniors, and helps them feel comfortable.

  • We go back and forth on blocks. One of the defender's best strategies is to move so that the next attacker blocks the following attacker. (if attackers are A, B, C, move so that A is between the defender and B). Defender also wants to alter the technique so that A is thrown into the path of B. For lower and mid-belts, B will call "block" and the attack proceeds to C. Blocking is a very realistic strategy, and there are times when this is the focus of the exercise. On the other hand at some point we become so good at blocking that we cease to do techniques, so some days we don't permit blocking. You'll want to play with both.

  • Sometimes we have too few healthy attackers (I work with a bunch of seniors, who have correspondingly high injury rates). In which case we use 3 attackers (and up the number of attacks).

  • for higher belts, attackers are authorized to use a variety of attacks (shomen uchi, yokomen uchi, reverse punch, reverse yokomen uchi, haymaker, jab, etc.) (Uppercut and kicks have a tendency to develop into dangerous and artificial patterns, so we avoid those). Basically any attack which is interesting and which doesn't tend towards dangerous. We slow the pace so that the next attacker begins the run only after the defender has finished a technique. Yes, this is artificial, but (a) we've mastered the earlier drills and (b) we want to focus on finishing techniques.

  • Some groups (I've only seen this in Chinese martial arts) use a circle, and if if the attacker is forced out of the circle, the attack is deemed to have been countered.

  • Every belt test also includes knife randori - we generally limit this to one attacker. We also do tournaments with knife randori

  • In my Taji Chuan (Chinese Martial arts) school, we do a variation of this. One student performs the Taiji form; other students are free to attack whenever they feel like it. The student performing the form must adapt the form to counter the attack. (and return to the form, but we're not strict about that).

  • Because my Taiji school has more junior than senior students, we tend to restrict the attacks to slow, abstracted thrusts and grabs. This reduces the threat level and allows the student to concentrate on the purpose of the exercise. As the students become more comfortable, shift upwards.

Potentially helpful links


That drill exists in a lot of different martial arts, each of which have tailored it to their unique style.

I think each style calls it something different, and some don't call it anything at all, so you might be out of luck there. Schools with a penchant for the dramatic will probably call it "circle of death" or something like that (I'm looking at you, Kenpo). Hey, guess what, I totally made up that circle of death thing, and here it is on youtube, and yeah, its the same drill, and it's Kenpo

Here's something we do in Kali:

  • Start with two, or three attackers and one defender
  • Give each attacker one or two potential moves. Also limit number of attacks to one, two, or three. This isn't a free fighting drill, and letting attackers do whatever they want is going to get sloppy and get folks hurt.
  • Objective is for defender is to disarm or otherwise deal with each attacker. Attackers go about half speed. Defender is advised to maneuver attackers so that he has bodies between himself and the attackers who are still active. Defender can accomplish this with footwork, and/or joint-locks.
  • Whole thing lasts only a few seconds, even if it sounds a little complicated.
  • Can't yet give an one up but thanks for the feedback. Really helpful. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 14:22

Good answers already, but I'll dump some thoughts here too...

  • if you allow any rest between the attacks - or even enough time for the (nominal) defender to return to a guarding position, then in one sense they're facing a series of one-on-one challenges rather than facing concurrent opponents, but there are still many benefits that make it a worthwhile stepping-stone exercise:

    • cultivating awareness of the people waiting to attack
    • starting to keep pending attackers in sight, moving out of their reach until they finish dealing with the current aggressor etc.
    • motivation to finish each opponent quickly as it's increasing the perception of pending threat
    • quick assessment of a new threat
    • stamina as the defender gets less rest
  • some variations for sequential attackers

    • next attackers in known sequence or self selecting "at random"
    • pending attackers stationary or moving around to line up their attacks
    • fixed attacking technique, set options, or anything goes; single attack, fixed- or maxed-sized combo
    • defender selects next opponent by attacking them pre-emptively
    • defender can but doesn't have to attack pre-emptively or counter-attack concurrently with attack (stretching the gap to some opponents and closing on others is enormously important when fighting multiple opponents)
    • next attacker shouts loudly before attacking - giving a little telegraphing to reduce risk of injury
    • each attacker has disproportionate responsibility for their own safety, and the defender can lash out a bit more than for one-on-one sparring
    • defender encouraged to use current opponent as shield from next attacker, push them into each other etc.

For genuinely concurrent fighting, there's less rules to worry about - the outcomes teach the defender and attackers what to do ;-).

  • Thanks Tony D. I would for starters choose a fixed set of movements, options with random attackers in sequence with variable rest periods. My motivation is to teach the basics of multiple attacker combat with minimizing risks. I generally think that an all out melee (free form) is for more advanced practitioners (both defenders and attackers) and the group I'm practicing with are generally beginners jus starting with JKD. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 14:22
  • @NikolaStjelja that sounds great... I trust they'll enjoy and learn from it. Cheers.
    – Tony D
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 15:17

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