What gives rise to ground fighting?

Excluding the obvious (and extremely common) case of loss of balance (read How to improve balance: tricks and exercises), in most cases, what precedes a fight to the ground is:

  • A grasping (by us or our opponent, read also Trapping [MINI-GUIDE])
  • A throw attempt (by us or our opponent)

Naturally, there are many other possible factors (eg. falling after being violently hit) but our focus, in this context, is on what we can work on in a “relatively” easy way.

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

How to limit (as much as possible) the risk of ground fighting

To continue the discussion started with HOW TO Avoid the GROUND FIGHTING (we will not repeat what we already said), let’s see (always in the context of a self-defense situation), some useful tips to avoid ending up on the ground:

  • No grasping – If we do not know what we are doing, let’s avoid as much as possible to grab and be grabbed; when the balance is shared between 2 or more active / passive dynamic elements of the scenario, the falling risk doubles; we have to try to avoid our opponents to catch us, we have to keep the distance (read Ideal distance from the opponent during a fight) and all of our limbs in a fluid and constant motion (read Liquid, Fluid and Solid: an exchange sample)
  • No static / long techniques – We have to limit the application of levers, constrictions, controls, etc.; it is not completely wrong to use Chin Na techniques (read Chin Na) but we should prefer dynamic breakings (if the situation is so dangerous to require it)
  • No throws – Let’s do not try to throw the opponent if not simply channeling his strength (again we must avoid any kind of “prolonged” contact); if the throw is not absolutely sure and clean, it is probable that we would have to struggle (inevitably increasing the risk of falling)
  • Never insist on forcing a technique – This is universally wrong but especially in this case; let’s do not insist on trying to apply a specific technique or to reach a specific target, this will make us predictable; we have to let the clash to flow freely
  • Never be cyclical – We do not have to maintain always the same tactic and pace of combat (unless if they do not guarantee overwhelming conditions of advantage); if our opponents are not beginners, every time we repeat ourselves, we give them an opportunity to prepare dangerous traps

The “allies” of who do not want to fall

It is important to understand that, in a self-defense scenario (read The 6 types of martial clash), the possibilities we have are very wide, there are no limits: we can move freely, use and do whatever we want to (legitimately) protect our survival.

A note by Master Kongling – For example, one of the great advantages of the grapplers is missing: we are not necessarily forced in a limited space, as it happens in MMA, boxing, kickboxing, etc. sports competitions (read What is the difference between real fights and combative sports?).

With similar premises, the best tactical choices are:

How to (try to) avoid the combat on the ground when we are already in close contact

As we have seen earlier (read Ground fighting), it is absolutely not possible to always / in any case be able to avoid the fight on the ground and the more we are static / in contact with the adversary, the more difficult it becomes.

Said this, we proceed with the discussion to see how to avoid ending up on the ground when we are already in close-contact (in other words, when we have already made mistakes that have put us in a situation of “relative disadvantage”).

How to recover the balance lost

For example, if our opponent tries to throw us to the ground, he needs first to get us in a condition of imbalance (read The 3 phases of a throw). If our center of gravity is out of line, we have only one possibility: use the body structure and the strength of the opponent to restore it.

Although it is not always feasible, we can try to:

  • Cling to him (to do this we need speed, reflexes and spatial intelligence)
  • Stay in close-contact, releasing all of our relaxed weight on him (in a raised position in relation to him)
  • Hold his head vigorously (preferably including some form of, even temporary, strangulation)
  • Drag him where we want (move his body in an unfavorable position for him and favorable for us, transforming his structure in our “crutch”)
  • Cyclically return the force he would use to throw us (eg. with a spiral, as it happens in Tai Chi)
  • Channel the force he uses to throw us to drop to the ground only him (again as in Tai Chi)
  • Assume a solid grounding position (eg. Ma Bu, the horse stance, read The correct position of the rider (ma bu) and Kung Fu rooting: the pyramid concept)
  • Use a full-body explosive wave motion (before being completely captured, to free ourselves and / or to make the opponent falling, exploiting the muscle chain and the Tai Chi principles, read The Spiral Muscle Chain: twists and screws of the body)
  • Use the body states variations – (altering partially or totally our level of body tension in a way that obstacle the action of our opponent, read for example Unpredictability: combine liquid and solid movements)

What to do if the falling is inevitable?

If the ground becomes ultimately inevitable, it is necessary to understand it immediately and to project our thoughts to the next phase; for example, we can try to:

  • Fall limiting the damages (read Everything you should know about breakfalls)
  • Fall in a favorable position (eg. elevated or not too disadvantageous, eg. with arms locked)
  • Fall in order to continue the fight in advantage (eg. by blocking one or more opponent’s limbs)
  • Prepare to immediately stand-up (assume a useful position to get up quickly, for example, untying us from the adversary (so we can roll away and get up rapidly)
  • Fall trying to bring harm to the opponent (eg. using the inertia of a throw)
  • Arrange our body so as to obscure the opponent’s view (this do not work against expert grapplers)
  • Create the occasion to hit our opponents in sensitive points (to force them to let us go, at least, the necessary time to get up)

A note by Master Kongling – A good fighter, in the present moment, never think at the past nor at the present: he always thinks at the next move 1-2 moves.

Final notes

  • The best way to face and / or avoid the ground fighting is and remains always to study it (deeply); the tips we have listed must not be seen as a ploy to avoid the study of a so fundamental aspect of combat
  • There would be many other things to say but we will have time to go into detail and deepen better every tactic we have mentioned
  • The smaller the battlefield, the greater the risk of ending up on the ground increases; the last tip is, where possible, to look for open spaces without obstacles; in terms of self-defense, being able to move easily can even simply mean to gain precious time (waiting for help, etc.)

In the next articles of this series, we will talk about how to fight on the ground.

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What is the best way to avoid ground fignting in your opinion?

Author: Master Kongling

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