Krav Maga Ground Fighting Training – Stay On Your Feet - Self-Defense Global

Krav Maga Ground Fighting Training – Stay On Your Feet

Ground Fighting for Sport

Ground fighting works in sport, what about self-defense?

Ninety percent of fights result in ground a myth. You should never, ever, for whatever reason...willfully go to the ground or stay on the ground in a self-defense situation.


Where did the 90% Ground Fighting message come from?

"90% of all fights end up on the ground." Come on...really? It's OK to question that now. There was a time, not too long ago, that asking such a question would get you labeled as an ignorant, outdated, martial arts traditionalist. Starting in the early '90s, and running for a good 2 decades, ground grappling took center stage in the martial arts world. Spearheaded by the Gracie Family and their version of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, ground fighting took UFC and the world of sport fighting by storm. With brutal locks, inescapable chokes, lightning fast arm-bars, grappler/wrestlers rolled right through the competition.

Silly phrases like, "90% of all fights end up on the ground" went uncontested, propagating with every new tap-out, choke-out, and submission win. And there were lots of wins! No doubt BJJ and wrestlers are to be respected. Those guys are fit, and have uncanny awareness and control...I've rolled with a few and have gotten twisted up like a living pretzel before I even knew what was happening!

Remember, Ground Fighting is a Sport!

But let's's a sport. And even in the sport, we are seeing dramatically less wins as a result of submissions. People are getting knocked out again! Nowadays, MMA competitors all need to have a ground game, and the playing field has been leveled, yet again. BJJ enjoyed its golden years, and while still a necessary and critical part of MMA, it is now (and rightly so) just one piece of the MMA menu.

Now let's step out of the cage, and into the real world. One of the first things you'll notice is...the ground. Seriously, the ground is different. The mat in the gym that we train on, has been designed to protect our feet, knees, hands, body, and head from taking unnecessary punishment, protecting us from all kinds of injury. The pavement outside is much less caring of our personal protection from injury. It has been designed to take unimaginable punishment from cars, trucks, and extreme weather conditions. Wrestling someone on the pavement, with rocks, glass, and other random pieces of trash...not fun.

Try Out The Pavement - Exercise

Here's a fun exercise, that you can do once, that will really drive the point home. Get outside and onto the pavement. Do a warm up, with normal push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. The pavement is different. Now, if you are brave, try doing part of a grappling warm-up, on the pavement. It doesn't feel good! And now, if you are really feeling it, grapple someone, starting on your knees, for one minute. It sucks! Getting taken down on the pavement, shrimping and scrambling for position, it's totally different on the hard, cold pavement.

Multiple Assailants

Lots of fights do end up on the ground. But then again, lots of fights also end with people getting knocked out or beaten down from their feet! And perhaps the most important reason for you to keep your feet in a self-defense because of the feet of the friend, of the person you are squaring off against. Getting into a scuffle and ending up on the ground is bad for a number of reasons, the top one being your opponent's buddy who is about to stomp your face.

In a stand-up situation with full mobility, facing off against multiple assailants is a dicey be avoided if at all possible! Rolling on the ground against someone while there are multiple assailants?...forget it! Hitting the ground and starting to implement a ground fighting strategy takes away your best defense - running.

Think of it this way, if you are grappling someone on the ground, you are FULLY engaged with that person. That means you are FULLY open to a 2nd or 3rd attacker. On the streets, there is no cage to keep others out. There is no referee to stop others from joining in. And the scariest part?!...situational awareness goes way down once you hit the ground and start rolling.

Team Fighting Championship - Illustration Video

Never heard of Team Fighting Championship? Think 5 on 5 MMA. These fights almost all begin and end in the same way. 10 guys on 2 teams start to fight it out, some strike and some go to ground. You can see, for that first minute or so, it plays out as a common individual sport MMA match. However, once that first person gets knocked out, we see the group mentality and the chaos of multiple assailants kick in. This uneven/outnumbered situation QUICKLY leads to the end of the match.

Stay On Your Feet!

That's why our recommendation is to never, ever, for whatever reason, go to ground in self-defense. We recognize there may be some instances where you are called to subdue a single person until help arrives, and holding out in a grounded side control might be what's necessary. But for the most part, getting stuck on the ground is a bad idea. So what should we do? How should we prepare ourselves?

In self-defense, if you happen to lose your feet, the rule of thumb is to do whatever it takes to immediately get back up.

Be Immediate 

When you hit the ground, you have about .5 to 2 seconds to start a desperate attempt to get back to your feet. In that same amount of time, your opponent is going to be working to secure a position of dominance over you while on the ground. Do NOT let this happen. Do whatever it takes (see here) to gouge, bite, twist, or smash whatever body part to give you that advantage to break contact and to get up BEFORE your opponent gets settled in a dominant position.

Think: Ground, Knees, Feet.

Although pretty cool in Saturday Morning Kung Fu Theater, that Chinese Kung Fu get-up might be slightly out of reach in a real fight. Sometimes a reachable goal from the ground is to get to your knees first, and then work your way to your feet. If you can get to our knees, you are 80% to your feet. On your knees, you have a decent platform to strike with punches, push, shove, and otherwise defend yourself. Try practice fighting on your knees, in spite of the obvious mobility hindrance, you can actually still do quite a bit from a self-defense context.

Fall - Knees - Feet Drill

  • Stand with your eyes closed.
  • Partner shoves you with Buckler Pad.
  • You fall to the ground and immediately work to get to your knees, all while your partner continues to 'zombie' advance towards you with the buckler pad held ready for jab/cross straight punches.
  • When you get to your knees, deliver a jab-cross combo to stop the advancement. This will also create space for you to stand up. Get to your feet!
  • Notice the jab-cross from the knees was still delivered with considerable force and stopping power from a base that was very well balanced. It will buy you the precious seconds you need to really get to your feet.

As a rule of thumb: Get to your feet, stay on your feet!

Does that mean we forget BJJ and ground grappling entirely? No way! In NO way is this blog post a BJJ vs Krav Maga fact, we at Self Defense Global strongly encouraged cross-training in different martial arts, and BJJ is a favorite of ours.

It's important to get a feel for what can happen to you on the ground. The more you can learn, the better equipped you'll be to defend yourself on the ground or in any given situation. We do stress, however, the importance of remembering where a fun sport and hobby ends, and realistic danger and protection begins.

It's similar to learning the spinning heel kick. Would we recommend using that in a real self-defense situation...probably not. But it's good to learn it, so that you know what it is and can defend against it! For self-defense, you don't have to become a world class grappler. But it won't hurt to learn some, so that you know how to shut it down or work out of it.

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I'm Jonathan Lee. I've been a Self Defense Global and Krav Maga student of Eric for more than 3 years. I'm an avid fan of keeping myself, my family, and my friends SAFE!

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