Follow Us On

Ground Fighting vs. Fighting on the ground

We have seen over the past years the rise of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a focus on “ground fighting”  in general. Be it Wrestling, Sambo, Japanese or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, some of us who have studied the arts of “Mortal Combat”quickly started believing we had to be “well rounded” and have a ground “game” as well. Even first responders and military institutions have adopted these ground concepts and ideas. Although, I do believe as martial artist we should be well rounded, many quickly started believing if you didn’t train a ground discipline you wouldn’t survive on the ground. This is where I disagree. For those who have been in actual encounters that have ended up on the ground we can all attest that it is unforgiving. There are many variables that we don’t train for which is something we strive to do in I.C.S. I LOVE Brazilian jiu-jitsu, both training and teaching it, but I will not say it is the end all be all. 

One of the first things I tell my Israeli Combat System students, (I.C.S), in our Ground class is, “I am not going to teach you ground fighting, I’m going to teach you fighting on the ground.” When we look at the “Science of fighting”, we can dissect so many parts of it. Body mechanics, average duration, effects of strikes etc. One absolute are the different angles and levels of a fight. That being said, we know a fight can be standing, kneeling, sitting or prone( or back/side). I make sure that when we teach a new technique or learn a new one myself, we go through that technique through all these positions. If you punch strong and well then you should do it laying on your back as well. Teach your body how to adjust. Therefore, we condition our body to fight on the ground. Traditional “Ground Martial Arts” are wonderful to build strength, learn new techniques and stay in shape, but understand and learn how to apply it in real life situations. This is the I.C.S way of teaching when it comes to all our techniques, be it standing or on the ground. If it has no realistic application then we don’t waste our time or yours. 

Here are “KodKod” Steves Principles of “Ground Class” with a little explanation:

  • We are learning to “Fight on the ground, not ground fighting.”
    • (If you can fight standing, then apply those skills on the ground), ( The actual ground is not a padded mat; learn your technique and do it on an actual hard surface. Train as you fight.)
  • We fight through the technique, during the technique and after the technique.
    • (When learning a “traditional” ground technique, we focus on violence and try not to get hyper-focused on the move itself. We are training to win in a violent encounter, not win trophies.)
  • Find the base and break the base.
    • (Techniques don’t have to be overly complicated. Find your opponents advantages and take them away with extreme violence.)
  • Fight to your feet.
    • ( if you can end the fight on the ground then do so but get to your feet as soon as you can.) 
  • Avoid the Ground if you can.
    • (Fights can very likely end up on the ground, if you can avoid it do so, but if you know it’s going down make it happen on your terms)

The principles can go on and on but these are the main ones we focus on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with training traditional “ground” oriented martial arts. Just make sure if you intend to use it as a self defense discipline, apply that said discipline to the possible scenarios you my encounter in the real world and make it work for you! If you train in a non-ground oriented martial arts, apply those techniques on different levels and scenarios and make them work for you! Don’t let titles and or tradition dictate your physical or mental self defense. At the end of the day you are limited by your own imagination. As I like to tell my students when teaching I.C.S,  “ Im giving you the paint and the brushes, it’s up to you to paint your own masterpiece!”

Related Posts