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Grappling / Groundfighting FAQ
Question
Introduction and background information
Doesn't the presence of broken glass, needles, lava, sharks, etc. on the ground make groundfighting a bad idea even if you're good at it?
But couldn't I just gouge the grappler's eyes, or bite him?
But don't grapplers have to reach me first?
Submissions are just for sport. In real life no one taps out so how can you use grappling in a fight?
Couldn't I just hit sidestep the shot?
Why don't you roll on concrete instead of a mat?
Where can I see concrete evidence of the unworkability of "anti-grappling" techniques and the neccesity of learning grappling and groundfighting
What about multiple opponents?
"I wouldn't want to grapple/wrestle with a bigger opponent, I'd rather strike."
Grappling styles such as Folkstyle, Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling are just sports. How is knowing one of those styles going to help in a real fight?
But doesn't my traditional system already have groundfighting?
But in my school/system/class/warrior clan, we train so that we are never taken down. Why should we learn grappling?
What about anti-grappling?
I saw some MMA matches where guys were knocked out. Doesn't this mean grappling doesn't work?
Ok, you convinced me. But it looks scary. I don't wanna get my arm broken by a three hundred pound ex-wrestler!
It looks gay...

Answer
Introduction and background information
The neccesity of learning to grapple and fight on the ground has been debated countless times on internet martial arts forums such as bullshido.net.

Arguements have been brought forth and systematically taken apart over and over again. Evidence has been shown for the neccesity of learning to fight on the ground if one wishes to be a well rounded fighter, prepared for all situations.

This FAQ was created for the purpose of disspelling common misconceptions about what grappling and groundfighting are and are not.

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Doesn't the presence of broken glass, needles, lava, sharks, etc. on the ground make groundfighting a bad idea even if you're good at it?
Striking advocates are quick to point out that you would never want to roll around on the ground where you would get scraped up by the asphalt or broken glass. This is indeed the truth and it is why a person should train in groundfighting.

A groundfighter is going to control the takedown and be on TOP thus using the harsh environment against his attacker. Even if our groundfighter is in a disadvantageous position, he will quickly improve position, whereas the helpless striker would just flail about and remove the skin from his own back.

A fight is an unpredictable event and going to the ground is a possibility. You may not have the luxury of keeping the fight standing especially if you do not train in proper takedown defenses. You may also trip, or slip on something, or...the list goes on and on.

Learning groundfighting will give you the ability to continue to defend yourself as well as teach you proper, safe ways to stand back up.

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But couldn't I just gouge the grappler's eyes, or bite him?
The non-grappler will claim to resort to such infallible techniques as eyegouging, biting and / or genital crushing techniques. The reasons why this is bullshido are as follows:

1. How often do these strikers actually train these movements? The answer is usually not very often. Thus, they are a somewhat risky method of countering a grappler, who has practiced the movements they will be using many times before on resisting opponents.

2. Eyegouging, biting and genital mandhandling are of course very uncomfortable for those on the recieving end, but they are not instant fight-enders. Resorting to these techniques suggests a 'last chance' situation, whereby the grappler has you under their control and you are trying a last ditch attempt to escape or injure the grappler. If you do not either gouge the eye right out of the socket and put your thumb in their brain, crush their nuts even through various layers of clothing, or bite a rather large chunk from their body, they will continue to choke you to unconsciousness or break / disable a joint or limb.

3. What you can do to them, they can do to you. In other words. if a grappler can beat you under a specific ruleset, chances are that when those rules are lifted, they can beat you even worse. There is no unwritten law in life that states only kung fu weenies can poke someone in the eye or squeeze some testicles.

Which brings us to the last point,

4. Whatever move you claim to be able to pull out of the bag during 'anti-grappling', chances are a grappler can not only do the same move to you, but can use their skill and experience of fighting in that range to put themselves in a much better position than you to apply the move, and also have the knowledge and experience to defend against it far better than a non-grappler.
For instance, from under mount, trying to gouge your opponent's eyes will give your opponent a great opportunity to armbar you. Whereas the person on top mount can gouge with impunity.

5: So far these tactics have never worked on a skilled grappler. For instance, in the john marsh vs. kung fu guy video on bullshido.net, the kung fu guy trys to gouge Marsh's eyes from underneath side control. Marsh uses the raised arm as an opportunity to apply a keylock and snaps the kung fu guy's shoulder.

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But don't grapplers have to reach me first?
Yes they do. However, the deceptive, quick, and expolosive nature of the shot (takedown) makes this relatively easy allowing you only one solid attack with which you must KO your opponent to avoid grappling. Should you fail, you'll likely end up on the ground or at least entangled with your opponent.
Submissions are just for sport. In real life no one taps out so how can you use grappling in a fight?
Submissions are generally not pain based. Many submissions will seriously injure, cripple, or even kill the opponent if actually finished. Chokes and strangles will render them first unconscious and then dead. This is the reason why people tap out.

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Couldn't I just hit sidestep the shot?
Theorists believe that the shoot is executed from a great distance like a football tackle. This is why most believe that a simple side step, palm strike to the ear, or knee to the face will take down any grappler trying to shoot because they can see it coming. Effective shoots are used from close range and are typically set up via punch combinations or by causing the opponent to break their balance prior to shooting.

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Why don't you roll on concrete instead of a mat?
For safety reasons. The mat protects the person who is being taken down (IE the person who's been outwrestled). It is NOT because grappling is innefective on concrete. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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Where can I see concrete evidence of the unworkability of "anti-grappling" techniques and the neccesity of learning grappling and groundfighting
On the internet, the download sections of Bullshido.net and Subfighter.net have many clips of grappler vs. striker fights.

The Ultimate Fighting championships one through five brought fighters from many different styles, grappling and striking, together in no rules matches. Vale Tudo matches continue in Brazil and sometimes in the USA and Japan.

The gracie jiujitsu in action videotapes show the famous gracie brothers fighting challenge matches against many other styles.

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What about multiple opponents?
A: There is no evidence that striking is any safer than grappling when fighting multiple opponents. Fighting several attackers is a losing proposition for anyone, grappler or striker. It's not impossible but it is very unlikely. People who think they can fight multiple people without getting seriously hurt tend to have watched a few too many kung fu movies.

The best defense in this situation is to run away.

B: The second best defense is to have a weapon (or three).

Grappling and ground-fighting skills are essential in a
multiple opponent scenario with weapons involved. Put
simply put you need grappling/groundfighting skills to
utilize a weapon effectively when escape is not an option.

A weapon is not a magic wand. It often requires time or
multiple successful attacks to remove an attacker from the
fight. In the meantime dog-pack tactics are likely to be
employed against you. A multiple opponent scenario where
escape and evasion is not possible is by definition �close quarters�.
To escape from a clinch, takedown, tackle, or pin requires
personal understanding of how it is executed. It may take
minutes for an attacker who has been stabbed to cease all
resistance, and a bludgeoned opponent may collapse on you or
pass out with a death grip on parts of your anatomy.

No part of a multiple opponent scenario is pleasant to
contemplate.. but whether you can run or must fight, the
grappling and groundfighting skill-sets are essential if you
want to live through a bad situation. Hopefully you won�t have
to use them, but they are critical insurance when things go
pear-shaped.

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"I wouldn't want to grapple/wrestle with a bigger opponent, I'd rather strike."
In the striking range, there is a higher percentage of chance factors that can result in the inferior striker getting in a shot that KO's the other person. This is especially true if you are fighting a big person. A bigger person with little or no training can still throw powerful punches. A good grappler can negate this by taking the bigger person to the ground and minimizing the distance the bigger opponent has to build momentum in striking. Yes, size still matters on the ground, but not as much as standing up. It's more likely that your technical skills on the ground will protect you against a larger opponent than standing up.

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Grappling styles such as Folkstyle, Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling are just sports. How is knowing one of those styles going to help in a real fight?
Yes, the various wrestling styles are sports but consider these following points.

1. Wrestlers perform their techniques between 80% to 100% full speed during every training session. That means that they have drilled their techniques countless thousands of times under real conditions against opponents who are actively training and defending at the same speed they are. These techniques are ingrained into their muscle memory, as are all the possible variations that can arise when changes are introduced.

2. Wrestling practice and competition is always full contact. Wrestlers are used to working in a full contact environment where pain is part of the game. This means they are used to getting slammed, bumped, bruised, twisted and cross-faced etc. Wrestlers have developed the mental and physical toughness required to compete in a very physically demanding sport and this translates well to a real fighting situation.

3. Active participants in any style of wrestling are going to be in phenomenal shape. Wrestlers generally spend a decent portion of their training session getting into shape with a combination of calisthenics (pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups and dips), weights and aerobic/anaerobic exercises (long distance running, wind sprints and bleachers/stairs). In addition to these they spend a lot of time performing anaerobic activities in of all things� wrestling. This translates to roughly 2-3 hours a day at least 4-5 days a week of non-stop physical fitness.

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But doesn't my traditional system already have groundfighting?
Many traditional systems do have an assortment of techniques which are said to counter basic attacks of groundfighting. However, before even discussing if these techniques work, one must first look at how these techniques are trained. Many of these techniques never get trained in an alive manner, so the student will not know how to apply them in an actual grappling situation. Conversely, the student training in aliveness will have practiced their techniques much more often, and against opponents who have also practiced countering them. In comparison, the student training groundfighting techniques without practice is no better equipped than someone with no "training."

Also, because these techniques never get practiced in an alive manner, counters to things like takedowns and pins can get considerably more surreal and less based in effectiveness, simply because the instructor or student may not understand grappling. Grappling doesn't always follow normal human instinct, and improper training could result in bad techniques that make it even easier for the poorly trained student to be beaten by an experienced grappler. Examples of this include counters to takedowns that involve lifting one of you legs up, which just makes it easier for you to be taken down, or attempting to eye-gouge while mounted which simply opens you up to a number of armbars.

Finally, remember that all systems have different focuses, and therefore different strengths and weaknesses. Just because your Shotokan class has some "grappling" in the syllabus doesn't mean that you're going to get a complete understanding of grappling from them. BJJ classes will briefly touch on some aspects of striking, but that doesn't mean you'll be a competent striker. To understand different ranges of combat, you actually have to train in them, fully, and from someone with a proper understanding of them. BJJ striking isn't going to teach in depth strategies of footwork, defense, and striking power that a good stand-up class wil. The same strategy and understanding of grappling needs to be built by actually training grappling, otherwise you will have no idea what you're doing in this essential range of combat.

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But in my school/system/class/warrior clan, we train so that we are never taken down. Why should we learn grappling?
Professional Boxers train to never get knocked out, but it still happens. Players of almost ANY sport train to not let their opponent win, but it still happens. There are no gaurantees in fighting, and as much time as you spend training to never be taken down, there are people training to take you down. It's important to know how to adapt to all situations, good and bad, and that includes grappling.

Also, there is ample evidence, video and otherwise, of people claiming they cannot be taken down, only to be taken down and submitted minutes later.

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What about anti-grappling?
In addition to the refutations above, the whole idea of "Anti-grappling" is absurd. If I were to claim to be practicing "anti-striking" every time I shot a double leg takedown, you'd laugh, wouldn't you? "Anti-grappling" is just as ridiculous an idea.

An entire range of fighting cannot be dismissed with just a few techniques.
I saw some MMA matches where guys were knocked out. Doesn't this mean grappling doesn't work?
Crosstraining in both grappling and striking is neccesary to be succesful in MMA. However, if you don't grapple at all, your chances of success are slim to none. Even fighters who prefer to strike have to train grappling.

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Ok, you convinced me. But it looks scary. I don't wanna get my arm broken by a three hundred pound ex-wrestler!
It isn't. The tap-out system allows for a maximum of safety, much more than sparring in striking arts.

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It looks gay...
What are you, eight?
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