street self defense 101





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 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 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