street fights go to the ground!
It has been said (mostly by those who
are promoting grappling systems and videos) that most street fights
go to the ground. But what is the basis for these supposed facts?
I don't know about you but most street
fights, including bar fights and even road rage fights I have
seen are over in about ten or fifteen seconds. Usually the person
who lands the first good shot and follows up with several more,
is the winner.
Sure they might end up in a standing
clinch or there may be some grabbing and some other crude techniques,
but for the most part these things are settled pretty quickly.
The mid 90ís produced a new phenomenon
that would impact the Martial Arts World more than anything since
Bruce Lee. This was the Ultimate Fighting Challenge, produced
by a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu family by the name of the Gracieís.
In these no holds barred fights standup
punch kick fighters routinely were taken to the ground and defeated
by the seemingly unstoppable Gracieís. This lead to a new rage
of ground fighting schools across the country as traditional fighters
desperately sought to even up the score.
Now years later the rage has subsided
but the Gracieís will have forever left their mark. Ground fighting
was an important and neglected facet not adequately addressed
in many Asian fighting arts. But do these same principles apply
in street fights? In my personal experience of literally dozens
of fights, only once did I ever end up on the ground. That was
one classically ridiculous situation where a drunk called me out
of the bar to fight. Leading an entourage of characters like something
out of the movie Roadhouse, the two of us 'took it outside' to
the back of the bar.
I was a young buck of 19 at the time
and was pretty nervous as the macabre scene unfolded.. This other
guy was obnoxiously drunk and had pissed off a number of bar patrons,
so I was the emotional favorite, It did feel good to have the
mob on my side. We stood there while my opponent spewed out drunken
obscenities but making no move. I was getting fed up with the
whole thing and really just wanted to end it so I could go back
in and have a beer. Finally he took a long slow motion roundhouse
swing at me. In fairly good shape and a trained Karateka, I moved
in and straight punched him in the jaw. It all seemed like a slow
motion movie as my fist skipped off his chin barely nicking him.
To my disbelief he continued down to the ground as his feet slipped
out from beneath and he landed flat on his back. Stunned and not
knowing what else to do I dropped onto his chest and started smacking
The whole thing seemed surreal and
after a short while my friends thankfully pulled me off the poor
drunken guy. With a detached awareness, I noticed blood all over
my hands and shirt. It wasnít mine.
What an amazing and impressive victory
for me right? Well, the truth was that when our drunken lad swung
at me, he lost his balance on some ground ice, (it was winter
in New England) and my chip shot was enough to make his feet come
out forcing him to slam to the ground. On landing he cut his hand
on a piece of glass accounting for the blood. The entire exchange
was a fluke caused by nothing I did at all but from a bizarre
set of circumstances. His face wasnít even bruised where I had
been hitting him.
In my experience the reason most fights
go to the ground is because the participants donít really know
how to fight, as was the case here. Succumbing to the adrenal
rush people tend to flail ineffectually. Eventually a clinch ensues
because nothing else is working. These inept grappling matches
often end up on the ground due to the force of gravity more than
Years later when I did learn how to
fight, not a single altercation took place where I ended up on
the ground. A good stand up fighter should be able to take care
of business without going down (and that is IF awareness and verbal
skills didnít stop the altercation). In speaking with several
other experienced 'experts', we all seem to agree that most fights
actually do not go to the ground if one of the people has any
fighting skill at all. In fact we concur that the ground is not
a good place at all to be in a fight.
Master Ricardo Murgel, former coach
of the Brazil National Jiu Jitsu team and now a world reknown
combat Jiu Jitsu Instructor, emphatically states that he will
avoid going to the ground at all costs in a street situation.
So what of the usefulness of ground fighting skills?
There are situations that do end up
on the ground even among experienced fighters. Of course most
of the complicated arm bars and joint locks are almost impossible
to apply under duress just as in stand up fighting. But a basic
knowledge of ground fighting skills is important to have. How
to get someone off of you, to locate and attack vulnerable areas,
and to get up and out of there as soon as possible should be learned
and practiced under duress.
The argument can also be made that
learning ground fighting skills makes it easier to see such attacks
coming and neutralize them. Sport fighting and no holds barred
events require ground fighting skill to be competitive. But there
is a big difference between these consensual athletic contests
and real life altercations. Very big differences.
In adrenal stress response training
we use the ground fighting to really amp up the adrenaline intensity
level. It never fails to hit home the concept of 90% spirit vs.
10% technique. Things get real primitive real fast among trained
ground fighters and non alike.
Written by Bill Kipp - President International
F.A.S.T. Defense Association
Bill Kipp is my partner in the above
organization. During my years of training with him and applying
his technology to my own self defense skills, I have renewed my
absolute belief that directness and simplicity are the keys to
real street self defense.
Read about how you can learn effective
self defense, quickly and easily from the privacy of your home
at Street Self Defense 101