The ground is not the place to be in a street fight, that’s what is drummed into us throughout our self-defence careers.
But is it right?
In this article, we will look at the reality of self-defence and when going to the ground makes sense and when it doesn’t.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Ground Fighting On Concrete
Concrete is the sandpaper of the grappler. It adds friction to everything.
Spinning for an armbar, mount position, passing guard and even lying on your back feels as if you had rubbed a cheese grater onto the skin that touches the cold, unforgiving surface.
Concrete is not the ground fighters best friend, but that doesn’t bother people that train in ground fighting.
They see the surface as a mere momentary distraction to their end goal, destroying you.
I saw a grappler in a street fight once. He did a double leg takedown (in the city centre at night), he then moved to full mount and then did, and armbar from the top.
He had to be pulled off the arm by door staff; it was like seeing a dog with a bone.
If I hadn’t seen this myself, I wouldn’t have believed that the fighting style from UFC 1, (double leg, mount and finishing technique) would have ever been used in a real street fight.
But it was!
Why? The attacker believed that as the best chance for him and he made it work, he wasn’t bothered that people would say ‘never go to the ground’, he just did it!
This is something that you need to/must grasp.
Just because it is not a good idea to go to the ground in a street fight does not mean that you won’t end up there.
If you were to tangle with someone that has a background in Judo for example, well their best friend in self-defence is the concrete, they are aiming to hit you with a planet!
So whether you like it or not you need to understand that saying ‘never go to the ground’ is like telling people not to swear in public.
Sure it might be the right advice, but it doesn’t stop most people from dropping the f-word every 2 minutes.
So how should you fight on concrete?
The first bit of advice is to train there!
My first training session many years ago with Paul ‘Demolition Man’ Strauther and James Boyle was an eye-opener.
They had us go outside (it was an intensive 4-hour seminar) and train on the concrete.
The next step is to consider concrete like a hot surface. You want any part of your body to have the minimal exposure to the surface, the more of your body that touches the concrete, the slower you will be.
But you NEED to experience this. So if you teach Judo, BJJ or any system go outside and experience the sensation of grappling on concrete.
It might come as a shock that a lot of fights happen indoors. From nightclubs to pubs, wedding venues (hotels etc.) to restaurants.
Yes, the fact of having a roof overhead does not bother most people.
That being said not all indoor floors are the same.
For example, the floor of a pub nightclub may be wooden or carpet, and I urge you to always perform the following check when you are indoors.
Check 1: What is the floor like in the room?
Check 2: Is my footwear appropriate.
This should be something you always consider because if you have shoes with hardly any grip on them and you are in a bar where there is a wooden floor, there is a good chance (if it goes wrong) that you would slip over.
It might be best to do the old ‘come outside’ line (Jack Reacher style).
Your environment plays such a factor in your ability to fight.
But we can also use the same environment that could weaken us to weaken our opponents.
For example, if you look at your attacker’s footwear and they are wearing ‘dancing shoes’ and the floor is as slick as a skating rink, you can drag them off balance easily.
Maybe kick their legs with minimal force, and they go down.
The tools you use are up to yourself and your art.
My point is that yes the floor an be an issue for you, but you can make it an issue for them too!
The Ground Is Not Your Friend
I am not going to lie; no person should try and be the self-defence ground fighter. There are too many variables, the floor, your ability, their ability, their friends, are they armed etc.
But while you do not want to become best friends with the ground you MUST learn how to take the ground out for a beer.
You must be able to speak the language of the ground and learn how to get up against a group or an experienced grappler.
At Defence Lab we cover this in our physical and online training, you can learn a simple yet effective method of dealing with self-defence on the ground.