Long day, just bothered to check the web.
BJJ in a multiple attacker situation has its disadvantages and benefits. Of course I do not advocate just bjj for self defense. I advocate alive training for what ever it is you want to deal with. We do a multiple attacker drill from time to time. The main goal is to stay standing while you have 2-5 guys rushing you with no escape and trying to take you down. Once you are down your goal is to stand up under a barrage of slaps and submission attempts. Everyone fails because the drill is designed to make you fail, as you get better we add more attackers.
What does this build? A desire to never give up, experience with how crowds operate and how to move when under physical stress. It deals with how to escape from a clinch, and how to safely disengage from a ground situation. It does not look anything like bjj, but is 100% bjj.
Think about it this way, if you were taken down to the ground, with a guy on top of you and his buddys on the way or on top of you, who would you rather be? A MMA or bjj trained fighter with training on how to properly use his body to protect, escape, and stand up or a person who never or rarely trains in this range, with no sparing, and no idea the kinds of stress that are going to be applied to them.
Its really not that complicated when you get down to it. Who would you rather be in a boxing match? My 11 year old ATA TKD nephew, or Mike Tyson? You train for the type of encounters you expect to engage in.
Did I just support scenario training? Yes and no. I do not belive you should train on how to deal with a bar, then how to deal with a nightclub, then how to deal with a living room like most RBSD arts do. I mean you should train to deal in the ranges and body types you plan to need to defend against. To simplify this I'm going to say there are basically 3 ranges (with sub category's of course) Standing, clinching, and ground. All 3 of these are important. If you cant' deal with a guy striking you, you are in bad shape. If you can't deal with a guy clinching you, you are in bad shape. If you don't know how to deal with the guy that is sitting on your chest..... Do I have to say you are in bad shape?
So the question becomes, do you know what you want from your training? Are you getting it? Are you being realistic and telling the truth about those two questions?
I can't use anyone but myself as an example. I train for a few things
1) For fun and sport. I love the fitness and thrills I get. Am I getting this? Obviously. I am losing weight, getting stronger, and having a blast.
2) To learn how to deal with larger, stronger, opponents.
I'll talk more about this in a bit.
3) My own interest in the history and development of all martial arts.
I accomplish this goal by trying new things, reading tons of books, and trying out tons of martial arts.
4) To eventually pass this down as a teacher.
5) To help further a sport (MMA) that I love.
These last two really need know answer if I am getting that goal done. Obviously by training, I am doing this.
So that leaves number two. How am I working to this goal? Well, the first thing I do is attempt to mitigate the fitness advantage by getting in better physical shape. Obviously sports are one of the better ways to do this. Next, I need to identify my personal weakness. First, I do not have a awesome build. It is hard for me to build muscle, i"m 5'10". I have a job that makes me sit for 10 hours a day. My nose bleeds with mild contact. I have glasses and very very poor eyesight and can not wear contacts.
Next my strengths. I'm small in stature, unassuming, quick, very calculating, dedicated, etc.
A bigger stronger person probably will have none of my weakness. This means I am very vulnerable to strikes. My best tactic will be to close the distance and force a clinch fight. Here the power of a larger man's punches is slightly mitigated. I can use my quickness to force mistakes on the bigger man, further more I can use leverage to then throw him and escape, or submit him on the ground. The strenght advantage is even more reduced on the ground where I can use my technique to force my larger muscle groups against smaller muscle groups (armbar, wristlock, choke, etc) and can disable if needed with 'illegal' techniques. So we know how judo and bjj fit into this. How does aikido fit into this? Well I use the drills to help develop concepts of distance and practice closing the distance with aiki like movements. Once that distance is closed, judo and bjj do the rest of the work for me in an efficient way. Of course I wish I could throw in more MMA sparing and boxing to help develop better head movement and striking defenses. This is a major weak area for me.
How do I accomplish these tactics and make sure I am prepared to use them? Is it showing up to a class 2 days a week? No its though alive drills, against as many different types of people and body types and I can find. These drills help develop proper technique and a good feel for movement in these very small ranges. I then follow this up with sparing in broader ranges such as judo randori, submission wrestling, etc. Finally I try (although I slack off on this too much) to add full MMA sparing.
And the track record has proven far better then any other art I've trained in. Prior to this method, I have trained in martial arts for years. I did TKD (black belt), krav maga, aikido. Yet I could not leverage any of my skills against a green belt judo student or a white belt bjj student when put to the test. Because I did not look realistically at what I was doing and I did not have aliveness in my training. Am I a master now who can take all challengers? HA! far from it. In fact I get beat down 6 days a week. Usually by bigger, stronger guys that I am trying to learn how to deal with. But one thing has changed, I am improving, faster then I ever improved. Anyone who walks in the door with no prior 'sport MA' training I am confident I can spar with and win. This is not because bjj is better, but because aliveness is better. I know my limits, I know myself, and I know how to read what my attacker knows. I know when I'm out classed, and I know when I'm the bigger dog.
I am just now today starting to achieve a level close to what I was so sure I had accomplished when I was not training with aliveness. I was positive that I could not be taken down, that I could kick a guy at will, that I had the anti grapple with eye gouges and leg pinches. I believed everything my instructors told me. Well, rather I questioned it in my heart, but I convinced myself to believe it. And a lot of what they told me was true. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that without aliveness I never developed the sensitivity and physical ability required to actually perform my techniques against someone hell bent on stopping me.
So you ask the question, how does bjj train you to deal with multiple attackers? My answer would be it all depends on how you train your bjj. If you start drilling standing up and escaping clinches, your bjj will help your multiple attacker scenario greatly. This is not to say bjj will teach you to deal with all ranges of a fight, far from it, but it will give you a great foundation, or at the very least help you defend yourself properly should you ever find yourself on the ground.
Finally, to Mike Balko.
I'm more then willing to play with weapons or spar under any rules within reason. I'll allow eye gouges, pinches, biting, safe weapons (no reason to use a boken when kendo people have developed perfectly good tools for us to use). In fact I have done this for time to time to prove a point. The simple fact is most bjj guys do not train to deal with this because they simply do not care about it. The techniques are there, I've seen Carlson Gracie Jr. show standing wrist locks and other traditional defenses. Your post shows how limited your understanding of bjj is. You think its all double leg takedowns and chokes. Our bjj club knows many good judo throws. Beyond that many proper techniques are designed to protect your eyes and throat from attacks. We just don't talk about it because we simply do not care. That's why the mount is so important, you can hit them, then can not create any leverage to hit you. Can they go for the groin? Sure but they take a much greater risk, namely staying conscious long enough to attack the groin while they get blows rained down smashing their head between the ground and a fist/elbow/forearm/palm. It seems to me a proper defense to protect your head then escape would be a much better idea. I like my skull in once piece.
This is not to say that sport aspect is not leaking in. I've watched people told to do things that would get you killed on the street, like see if you do this he can't hit you because striking to the back of the head is illegal. Again though, it comes down to being honest with yourself and your goals.
And besides, I really do not see a street fight going beyond that first Harai I throw. Especially if I revert to competition mode and land on his chest.