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
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 his face.
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 anything else.
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
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.
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