Is it possible to avoid the ground fighting?

As we said (read Ground fighting), to opt for ground fighting is:

  • A bad idea – If we are not skilled in grappling (it is a totally different context) and / or in a self-defense scenario (read also Best martial arts for self-defense)
  • A good idea – If we are experienced in that kind of combat and in a 1vs1 situation (no further adversaries, not even potential)

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).

Even if in a self-defense context (as in any other type of combat, read The 6 types of martial clash) it is not always possible to remain on our feet: through a few small tips, we can surely increase our chances.

Remain standing: the basics

Do not go down voluntarily

Before seeing what are the best approaches to (try to) avoid the fight on the ground, we must first talk about why and how to do not:

  • Fall involuntarily
  • Go down in a “volontary” way

Let’s imagine a self-defense situation:

  • We have been attacked and we cannot escape (read also Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method)
  • The clash is inevitable and we want to try at all costs to remain standing (eg. to be ready to catch the occasion to flee)
  • The opponent we are facing is not a ground fighting expert

A note by Master Kongling – It is important to stress that, against an expert, it is hard to avoid moving the fight on the ground; the longer the struggle, the more occasions he will have to bring us down. In terms of struggle (if we are very good in striking), we could try to end the clash quickly with rapid touch-and-escape movements but even this is not an easy way to go, not infrequently grapplers are also excellent settlers (ready to get hit in order to bind us to them). The point is that, if our adversary is trained, the only real solution is to be at least basically prepared for ground fighting: in all the other cases, the solutions we are going to explain could instead make a big difference.

Tips and precations

Let’s start from the basics:

  • Keep the distance – Let’s patiently keep the kick distance with a long guard, the close-range fight has not to be searched (read also¬†Ideal distance from the opponent during a fight)
  • Keep the rooting – Let’s widen and lower our stance focusing on stability (read Kung Fu rooting: the pyramid concept); the closer we are to the ground, the more difficult it will be to throw us with violence
  • Don’t trap ourselves – Let’s pay attention to the obstacles of the scenario, we have to always walk in direction of open spaces (preferably laterally, not backward)
  • Do not stop moving – We never have to stop moving, even slow but steady (let’s opt for circular paths, we have already discussed this in Forget everything you know about multiple opponents fighting);
  • If we fall – if we fall, let’s use the breakfalls (read Everything you should know about breakfalls) and try to immediately recover space / time to wake-up
  • Use rapid evasive movements with the upper limbs – We have to perform fluid but explosive movements to try to frustrate each attempt of stable contact (read also The 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s states of interaction); even for us grasping is not an option (in terms of trapping we should limit ourselves to pushing actions, read Trapping’s basics: move and hit)
  • Economize the energies – Let’s avoid to waste our strength, one of the main reasons why the improvised fights end on the ground is that we rapidly remain without energies
  • Try to prevent what our opponent is trying to do – Let’s keep under control the opponents’ body elements; the legs could try to toddle us, the arms to move us in unbalanced stances, the shoulders to charge us (etc.)

A note by Master Kongling – For the advanced level practitioners of the Core Course: the grapplers (more or less instinctively) always focus on the distribution of the weight in our body (especially in the legs), this could be an opportunity to deceive them or to resist to their action.

How to manage the interactions

How to address the contact with the opponent:

  • Let’s limit the trapping – The trapping skills (typical of Wing Chun, read Trapping) should be used only in case of a big advantage or lack of alternatives (and especially not before having tested the ability level of our opponent)
  • Move and hit, move and hit – To use our striking skills (punches, kicks, etc.) we naturally need to approach but always trying fast strike and withdraw movements
  • If we can’t push him, let’s push ourselves away – If the opponent gets too close, let’s push him away trying at the same time to create a passive distance from him with our legs
  • Let’s hit like a spring – For each attacking motion, we have to rewind our limbs at the same speed (and if possible, using the shortest straight line)
  • ..

A note by Master Kongling – These are only general ideas about how to avoid to fall to the ground but obviously for each specific technique, there are specific reactions.

In the next article, we will see how to avoid typical contacts that precede a fall and therefore, the fight to the ground (read How to avoid contacts that lead to ground fighting).

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever ended up on the ground during a brawl (even if not too violent)?

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