I regards to pluspinc's comments, I would like to know if he knows the background of the MA who was killed (while preserving anonymity of course) because a lot of champions are very good...at competition, with rules and limited physical contact. It was one thing my instructor harped on is that you fight as you train (assuming you retain any training at all when the fight actually occurs). Therefore, those who have fought in tournaments "by the rules" may actually be at a disadvantage as compared to somone with no training who is simply trying to hurt someone no matter how they do it.
I have to agree with Skorzeny that BJJ is a good system to learn for practical self-defense, but like all things, it has its limitations. If you have ever watched any of the so-called "reality" fighting shows, you will see that, more often than not, the one who has good ground skills wins the match, especially since it is only one-on-one fighting. Once on the ground, devastating kicks and punches are of little or no use and it is very hard to deal a crippling blow that way as someone charges in, especially with limited room (though I have seen it done).
On multiple opponents, of course everything changes. Stay off the ground for as long as possible, lest your head be used for place kicking by one goblin while you are grappling with the second. By all means leave if possible. If it isn't, then do as much damage to one opponent as you can as quickly as you can so that at least you even the odds. There are no rules in a street fight.
I liked stick fighting, but it isn't practical to carry escrima sticks wherever one goes, although some makeshift ones can sometimes be found (mop handles, etc.)
Another thing to take into consideration is that you don't want to fight on an opponents terms, only yours (granted, you don't always have that luxury). For example, if he favors kicks, close the range rapidly and render the kicks less effective; don't stay at perfect kicking range while you try to plan a way in as you will only give them more opportunity to score on you. If he wants to go to the ground badly, there may be a reason. Also, you can defuse a lot of fights by simply expressing your willingness (though not necessarily eagerness) to see the fight through, as most thugs operate by intimidation and often will back down when they realize they might have to pay a price for their behavior. Give that person an out though! A lot of fights happen over ego, and if you can let the antagonist avoid a fight while saving face, by all means do so.
Finally, once you have determined that a fight will take place no matter what you do to deescalate it, you must act without hesitation and get the fight over with as quickly as possible. Letting things devolve into a shouting/pushing match will only serve to lengthen the time you are vulnerable. Of course the same applies to armed combat (back me up here someone!) in that once you've made the shoot/no shoot determination, you better be prepared to see it through. Hesitation will kill you, but most people just don't see it as so applicable to unarmed combat (but it is!), since the act of sending a bullet on its way is totally unretractable.
Armed vs. unarmed? That's a whole 'nother post and I've prattled on forever anyway. This is a good thread!
[This message has been edited by Gopher a 45 (edited February 09, 2000).]