Most 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 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 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
Read about how you can learn effective self defense,
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