Ground Fighting Self-​​Defense Techniques

Almost all altercations will eventually go to the ground. This hold true whether you are in a street, military or law enforcement fighting scenario.

There are many ways the fight can end up on the ground. You could execute a throw or takedown, the attacker could bring you to the ground, one of the combatants could trip, one could be stunned and fall, etc. When you get to the ground, it is imperative to recognize that this is a dangerous place and situation. Spending too much time on the ground opens you up for other attacks. Also, the more time you spend there, the more time your attacker has time to capitalize on the situation as well. If you are in the military you always need to be aware of what other weapons may be available to your opponent during the fight. They may have lost their rifle, but still have access to their sidearm if they are able to create distance to shoot. This holds true with civilian or law enforcement scenarios as well. There is always a chance that your opponent maybe carrying a concealed weapon or use a weapon of opportunity during the fight. Because of the heightened risk associated with ground combat, you need to end the situation quickly. The benefit of learning ground fighting techniques is that most attackers are not familiar with ground fighting tactics and make common mistakes which can be easily capitalized on and allow you to finish off your attacker.

One of the ways you may end up in the ground position is if you apply a throw or takedown from the H2H Combat Program standing defense section and your opponent is able to bring you to the ground with them. Though this is not advantageous to go to the ground with your opponent, the standing defense techniques are designed to put you in a superior position allowing you to finish your opponent easily.

Key Points in Ground Fighting Defense

Attack Vulnerable Areas — even though you are on the ground, doesn’t mean that you cannot strike your opponent or attack nerve centers or pressure points. Use and attack whatever you can to either setup a joint break or get up and escape.

2. Maintain or Achieve Top Position — typically being in the bottom position is bad, especially in a real fight scenario. The bottom guard position does give you opportunities to sweep or submit your opponent, but the top position offers more opportunities to finish your opponent or escape.

3. Be Aware of Other Opponents — there maybe other attackers or possible enemies. If you are ambushed in a wooded area and takedown down, be aware of other enemies who may join the fight. If you get in an altercation at a bar, Movie Theater, etc. be aware of your attacker’s friends or people who just feel like “attacking”.

4. Be Aware of Weapons — some techniques are better then others when it comes to defending yourself against concealed weapons attacks during a ground fight. Be aware of what opportunities you are giving your opponent to draw his weapon and attack.

5. Not a Wrestling Match — don’t turn the ground fight into a wrestling match. This is a fight for your life, attack what is available to you, break a bone, choke him out and escape.

Types of Ground Fighting Attacks

Ground and Pound — your attacker is in a top position and will use strikes to pound you into submission or death

2. Chokes — your attacker may try to choke you from the top or bottom position

Ground Fighting Positions

Top Mount — you are in a top position, straddling your opponent. This is one of the most superior positions to be in, you can strike your opponent and apply a variety of joint breaks and chokes.

2. Bottom Mount — you are in one of the worst positions to be in. This is an extremely vulnerable position. You must escape or reverse the situation.

3. Top Cross Chest — you are in a top position, perpendicular to your opponent. You can apply a great deal of joint breaks, chokes and strikes from this position

4. Bottom Cross Chest — you are in another very bad position. You need to regain a better attacking position such as the guard or escape.

5. Top Guard — your opponent’s legs are wrapped around you and you are in the top position. This is a neutral position; your opponent can attack you as well. Your goal is to transition to top mount or cross chest, strike your opponent, or escape.

6. Bottom Guard — you are in a bottom position where your legs are wrapped around your opponent. This is considered a neutral position good defensive position. Your goal here is to apply a joint break or choke, or reverse your opponent so you are in the top position.

7. Smoother — you are in a top position where you are “in line” with your opponent and your chest is over their face. You are facing their feet. You can control easily from this position as well as choke and apply joint breaks.

8. Back Control — you are on your opponent’s back with your legs wrapped around them. This is a very dominant position where you are able to choke or apply joint breaks.

9. Back Taken — your opponent has your back, you need to reverse the situation immediately or suffer greatly.

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  1. SGTd says:

    I’m glad to see that points #3 and #4 are finally recognized as critical. Much of the current crop of “groundfighting” seems to ignore this aspect. An additional point needs to be addressed in the ares of “Can I execute these techniques successfully in full “battle rattle”, in an alley, gully, between-​​in-​​or-​​on vehicles, rolling around on broken glass, dirt, sewage, expended ammo and possibly body parts while maintaining control of my weapon, the bad guy’s weapon, getting to my back-​​up and getting some help to stomp some compliance (“restrain”) into the attacker(s)?”

    I also am at a continual loss to understand why in this era of urban warfare and close quarters encounters the higher echelons continue to buy in to the sales pitches of “new and improved” when the simple and effective techniques we won with in WW2 and Korea (Training films that are available through the Freedom of Information Act from the Library of Congress) STILL WORK BETTER! For further information I refer you to the works of Col. Rex Applegate (collector of techniques of “dirty fighting” for the OSS in WW2), Fairbairn and Sykes (from the same era as well as the opium wars of the 1930’s in Shanghai; Dr. Bradley J. Steiner, Mr. John Perkins and Mr. Carl Ceastari, (three of the best modern practitioners of these concepts). As a practitioner and instructor of traditional Japanese martial arts for almost a quarter century and a soldier and sailor for almost as long, I recognize the value in training and conditioning as these disciplines are practiced today. To make them work for troops on the “pointy end” my belief and request is to examine the original intent and execution of up-​​close– and-​​personal fighting. I finally wish to make clear this is not to disparage or show disrespect to anyone’s particular style or training. It is to create a conversation that ultimately serves our troops wherever they may have to fight.


    SGT d

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