By Sensei Guy Hagen, November 5, 2017

Multiple Attacker Tactics

I have spent the last ten years experimenting with and developing a system of tactics for multiple attacker situations (randori, or “taninzugaki”).  My objectives included building clear building block concepts (principles) tied to terminology and demonstratable skills, which can be applied against two or more attackers with or without weapons and from a variety of attacks (including classical Aikido attacks, grabs, and weapon cuts/thrusts).    The greater goals for the application of this system was of course greater proficiency against multiple attackers in a realistic defense situation, but significantly also to cultivate randori as an environment for meditation – conditioning breath, inoculating against stress, and maintaining/recovering mental calm in the face of constant, relentless aggression.

This article compiles the elements of the multiple attacker system which I call “Randori Lab”, and which is also to be incorporated into the Chuseikan Skill Tree system (link here for more information on this system as a progressive skill ladder and syllabus).

The top level priorities for this system are listed as follow.  Clearly, we may be differentiated from many other systems by our emphasis on our internal state of being; while we believe it is critical that training against multiple attackers remain grounded in realistic situations of potential violence, we believe the greater value is in training the perceptions and emotional maturity to handle aggression and stress in “normal life” (non-combat) situations.

  1. Quality of breathing: cultivating and maintaining strong, full breaths
  2. Quality of mind: cultivating an internal state of calmness and focus, and a lack of attachment on any particular outcome
  3. Effectiveness: improving skill at simultaneously limiting one’s own availability as a target, increasing entropy amongst attackers, and increasing overall availability of opportunities to control or neutralize attackers
  4. Situational prioritization: cultivating environmental / situational awareness and prioritization over the entire situation versus individual attackers

This is currently a working document.  I will be adding videos regularly to demonstrate each of the tactics and exercises in the system, and as we test them in a syllabus / skill tree environment and collect feedback, we expect that we will make regular adjustments and improvements.  Thus, this document may change. The current principles and exercises in the Randori Lab include:

Level Requirements

  • Level 1: Basic Entry and Evasion (link to video)
    1. Demonstrate (as uke) basic rules for attackers in randori drills (link to video)
      • 2-step rule
      • Natural attacks
      • Weapon control / awareness
    2. 1/2 speed randori: shomenuchi attacks demonstrating irimi, tenkan, posture
  • Level 2: Human Shields (link to video)
    1. Demonstrate human shields, 4 principles:
    2. 3/4 speed randori: shomenuchi attacks
  • Level 3:
    1. 3 Demonstrate momentum transfer concepts:
      • Threading the needle
      • Slingshots (identifying “clear mat” to slingshot uke into) and clear “Newton’s cradle” transfer of momentum
    2. Demonstrate irimi to the rear: eliminating “backing up”
    3. Full speed randori: all strikes
  • Level 4: Ghosting
    1. Demonstrate Ghosting principles (link to video):
      1. Basic ghosting
      2. Advanced ghosting: steering, jump-starting, target splitting
    2. Full speed randori: mixed grabs
  • Level 5: Movement Efficiency
    1. Demonstrate explosive tenkai (body change: link to video)
    2. Demonstrate clear movement reduction / minimalization; one-tatami randori (link to video)
    3. Demonstrate step interference (trip-stepping)
  • Level 6: Understanding Targeting
    1. Demonstrate “Wolf Pack” principles for attackers:
      • Creating “pincer traps”
      • Cutting off / leading nage
      • Teaming up
    2. Demonstrate zig-zagging and target lock breaking
    3. Full speed randori: shinai shomenuchi attacks
  • Level 7: Trap Avoidance
    1. Demonstrate trap avoidance (requires ukes attempting yokomenuchi and trap creation)
      • Uke avoidance – avoid contact with a designated uke
      • Trap recognition and avoidance
    2. Reversing (scarecrow) exercise while moving
    3. Full speed randori: open hand all traditional attacks
  • Level 8: Group Movement
    1. Demonstrate “Group Center” principles
      • Lining up / converging
      • “Bottling up”
    2. Full speed randori: shinai all traditional attacks
  • Level 9: Group Speed and Timing
    1. Speed manipulation/ reflex explained
    2. Demonstrate timing / speed control of ukes (speed them up, slow them down as a group)
    3. Demonstrate bailout moves
      • “I surrender” spin
      • Steering (link to video)
      • Corner / wall escape (toward center/open mat)
    4. 3/4 speed randori: hanmi handachi open hand strikes and katatedori
  • Level 10: Integration
    1. Rainstorm meditation: describe personal study, extension to normal practice and everyday life
    2. 1/2 speed randori: open hand, three attacks: demonstrate 5 tactics (from above, including ghosting, shisei/basic irimi+tenkan, and fast substitutions)
    3. Demonstrate / explain most common randori mistakes from your own observations and experience
    4. Demonstrate shisei, breath control, and mindfulnessFull speed randori: three weapons

(updated 8/15/2018)
Special thanks to Pete Jensen for advice, discussion and feedback from both a sports psychology and a military training perspective.  Pete is an Instructor under the International Combat Systema Association (ICSA), has served as the director of the US Military Academy Center for Enhanced Performance, and has a Ph.D. in  sport psychology and motor behavior.

The Skill Tree System, and the Multiple Attacker Tactics progression, are creative works, and are Copyright © 2017 Aikido Chuseikan of Tampa Bay. The Chuseikan Skill Tree System by Aikido Chuseikan of Tampa Bay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, based on work at This means that so long as you do not do it for profit or commercial purposes, you are encouraged to share it in whole or in part, to edit it and create derivative works, so long as you give credit to the source and provide a link back to us.

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