Tag Archive for self defense

Why study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), developed by the Gracie family and made famous in events like The Ultimate Fighting Championship, is one of the most respected and effective martial arts in the world today.  Its real-world effectiveness has led to its acceptance and implementation by all branches of the US Military, local and national law enforcement, Air Marshals and military forces from around the world.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not based on strength or athleticism; its effectiveness comes from the use of an opponent’s strength, force and aggression against themselves.  The student learns how to use leverage and body positioning to defend themselves in virtually any close quarters attack or assault.  Since most real-world confrontations end up on the ground,  BJJ concentrates on grappling positions including the “Guard”, “Mount” and “Side Control”.  These positions allow the student to apply a variety of strikes, chokes, joint locks, pins and escapes with the most effective leverage-based techniques possible.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was originally developed, time tested and proven, on the streets of Rio De Janeiro,  Brazil and in fighting rings around the world to be the most functional approach to self-defense and combat against a much larger and stronger opponent.  Practitioners do not have to be in great shape, be big or strong and do not need prior martial arts experience before they can expect any benefits.  One of the major advantages of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that it really works for everyone.

What is jiu-jitsu? Why was it created? Sometimes these questions are not asked or they are ignored.  First and foremost it is our belief that jiu-jitsu was conceived, created, tested and perfected with the simple goal of self preservation….live to fight another day!

Jiu-jitsu was not created as a sportive activity but as a realistic and functional form of self-defense.  Overall self-defense is at the core of everything taught. Technical and simple movements along with counters and attacks that can be applied by anyone with the desire to learn.

The techniques are simple and effectiveness.  All classes are taught with the understanding that the student will learn how to be prepared for the “worst case scenario” encounter.  No wasted movements, energy or strength.  Simple and straightforward technical jiu-jitsu!  Above all, we want to be sure that the students never forget that JIU-JITSU SHOULD BE FUN! This is a place to be with friends and teammates.  Classes should be someplace for students to enjoy themselves!

Benefits of BJJ

Lose weight, build strength, increase flexibility, train for competition whatever your goals, you can achieve it through jiu-jitsu training.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a rare mix of both aerobic and anaerobic activity.  You will see your body change.  Muscle will develop and you will become leaner as you progress and train.  Additionally you will see increases in:  flexibility, balance, body awareness, cardiovascular endurance, muscle control, hand-eye coordination, functional strength, situational awareness, strategic thinking and much more.

Along with the physical changes you will experience there are many other significant benefits that transcend the simple application of learned techniques.  These benefits carry over into all aspects of your life.

As you progress through your training and your technical understanding grows so will your confidence.  The increase in your confidence level is not only in the sense that you will be prepared to defend yourself in any self-defense situation, but there is an empowerment in the knowing that you have been able to learn and apply something special. You have accomplished something exceptional.  This new found confidence then carries over into other aspects of your life (work, home, school, relationships, etc).

The physical benefits students see from the class often jumpstarts them down the path to lead healthier overall lifestyles. You will see yourself gain strength, flexibility and endurance. You will see an increase in energy and a decrease in stress. You will start to see what your body really can do and you will love it!

Through the class environment, you will also interact with people from many different walks of life. A rare camaraderie is shared amongst students, forging friendships that can last lifetimes.


Why the De La Riva Guard?

Ricardo de la Riva is a slight unassuming man with a gentle smile. Talking to him it is hard to imagine that this man is on the cutting edge of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Voted as one of the top five technical fighters of all times by his peers, every BJJ school on the planet is teaching his famous de la Riva guard.

Nobody could have imagined the impact this skinny 15 year old kid would have on the jiu-jitsu world, when he walked into one of Carlson Gracie’s affiliate schools in Copacabana and started training under the then brown belt Marcus Soares. When Marcus closed his gym, de la Riva started training at Carlson Gracie’s main academy; de la Riva had previously impressed Carlson by beating Carlson’s nephew in an inter-academy tournament.

De La Riva, Monteiro, and Gracie

The young de la Riva helped teach classes as a blue belt, and within six years Carlson awarded him his black belt. We recently a chance to train with de la Riva and asked him how his guard came about.

Carlson Gracie had his own approach to teaching Jiu-Jitsu with an aggressive style of training and a reputation of not holding back any information from his students. His academy was only the second jiu-jitsu academy to open, and Carlson, at the time still in his twenties and being a very aggressive fighter himself, attracted the most athletic and talented fighters around.

De la Riva still remembers well the extremely proud and competitive training atmosphere of the training at the legendary Carlson academy. Even getting onto the Gracie Competition Team was a very tough process, and once on it you had to compete against the other schools.  The rivalry between Helio’s style of “technical” jiu-jitsu and Carlson aggressive style of jiu-Jitsu went back a long way and there are still Carlson student today claiming that no Helio fighter has ever defeated a Carlson fighter.

De la Riva also remembers how future champions like Mario Sperry, Murillo Bustamente, Allan Goes and others started training at the Carlson’s famous Rua Figueiredo Magalhaes academy as white belts. “Their talent was obvious and the level of jiu-jitsu was very high. You could see right from the beginning how gifted they were.” He especially remembers Amaury Bitetti and Ricardo Liborio sparring with their teammates.

De La Riva also remembers the “original bad boy” Wallid Ismail walking in as a young blue belt from an affiliate academy; “He always had a temper and would fight like crazy.” The eighties turned out to be high watermark for the Carlson Gracie team producing many of the famous champions among the more then 100 black belts promoted by Carlson.

With his small stature de la Riva found a way to survive in this aggressive atmosphere by fighting mostly from the bottom, trying to keep his stronger opponents from passing. This led to his innovation:  the famous de la Riva guard position. What is only known to his students, however, is that it also led de la Riva to develop a very sophisticated half guard and butterfly guard game. “We never gave it names back then and just used to call all of it the open guard,” he says. The technical expertise in this open guard allowed de la Riva to compete successfully for years, beating notables like Royler, Rolker and Royce Gracie.

In 1986 he opened the de la Riva jiu-jitsu academy, teaching his very own technical and creative style of BJJ. Over the years he produced dozens of black belts, training people like Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira and Marcello Montiero along the way. As time went by and he continued to beat the best fighters in Brazil, including Royce Gracie twice, his fame started to spread beyond Copacabana. De la Riva academies started to open across South America, North America and Europe.

These days, de la Riva spends his time teaching seminars around the globe, as well as teaching at his own academy. He even has a whole BJJ tournament series named in honor of his achievements. The de la Riva Championships in Japan attract the best and brightest of the grappling community in that country every year.

When asked about his success he proves to be very humble. In his typical modest style that never really takes himself too serious.  He thinks that it was partially genetics that helped him succeed: “I share very flexible ankles with my brother, and that helped me to survive as long as I did.” He finishes jokingly: “I really didn’t have a choice. When I was young I only could either play soccer or do jiu-jitsu and these ankles sure were no good for soccer.”

Original Video explaining the De La Riva Guard.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and its training benefits

When it comes to training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the reasons why many people love training is because it provides several benefits. The benefits go beyond what people associate with normal working out or training. Apart from receiving an intense workout, training also instills a sense of pride and accomplishment with students that participate. People that enroll in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training feel a sense of confidence and power. For many people, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu becomes more than just a way to stay in shape, it becomes a way of life, a guiding path that they use to make decisions in their everyday life.

The benefits are remarkable because those students that go through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training find that they are driven to succeed and because of the connected feeling with other students. Students roll together, train together and find themselves surrounded by people that are like-minded. The people that you are going to meet during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training are not people that have an interest in hurting one another, but care more about bringing positivity to a sport that allows them to work together to get better, while simultaneously flourishing as an individual.

While going through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, you are going to see that you will increase your cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and start losing body fat. The best thing is that these things are happening without you feeling like you are powering through a chore. This is because you are having fun. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training is not like going to the gym, placing headphones on your head isolate you from the rest of the world and mindlessly get your workout in because you feel you it is required. It represents a social, supportive, and fun atmosphere that provides you with the same benefits that you can get from even the most advanced gym routine. If you have tried getting motivated for a regular gym visit and just could not put yourself to complete the workout, this would be the perfect alternative to try.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Stress Relief

However, the benefits to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training are more than just physical. Students find that they can reach a new level mentally as well. They have the determination to push harder and get better. Once people realize that techniques that were previously thought of as unattainable can be achieved through practice, it only further encourages them to try harder. Whether you are a stay-at-home mother, working a high-pressure job, or simply want to become more active, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training can provide an excellent stress reliever.

Ultimately, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training promotes healthy living, wellness, camaraderie, respect and discipline rather than violence. If you are interested in learning more about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainingbe sure to stop in or e-mail for more information about what options you may have available to you.

Getting Ready for your 1st Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament

Okay, there are a lot of first time competitors that ask questions about preparing for tournaments, so I thought I may write up a guide of sorts. I hope this gets a sticky! There are a couple important things I am going to address in the following:

Setting Goals/Organizing

Write down everything you want to accomplish before the tournament. This means the specific techniques you want to improve, positions you are weak in, and how you will exploit your strengths. Also, think about why you are competing. What is your cause, your drive as a fighter? Write this down, or even better, type it up. Print, and place in places you will see. Keep these goals in mind, they are the foundation for your motivation. This will keep you on the right track when you drive by McDonalds and want a BigMac, and then realize you can’t eat junky shit for another 3 weeks.

Weight Management –

This is another enormous portion of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. First, weigh yourself. Then decide if you want to compete at that weight, or go down in weight. If you are going down in weight, but not by much, then maintain your diet. If you need to lose 10 to 15 pounds, then set your diet straight right away. But do NOT neglect this step or else you will be stuck fighting in a weight class too big for you.

Skill Level Evaluation –

Talk to your coaches, and decide what skill level you will enter in. Your instructor will have a good idea of how well you are doing, and whether or not you should start out in basic, or novice. Also, chose if you will do Gi and No Gi, or just one of the two.

Cardio –

This is probably the most important step. Cardio will play a huge role in your fights at any tournament. With adrenaline flowing, you will always become more fatigued than you thought you would be. So add in an morning run, and do some high impact, high intensity training. Wear a mouthpiece when running, and especially when rolling. Breathing is half of cardio. The strength and conditioning forums are great for more information. DO NOT FORGET TO WORK CARDIO. I cannot stress this enough. IF this is the ONLY thing you do, THEN DO IT!!!


Many people will not go to practice and still think they can compete properly. If you can avoid it, try not to miss any practices at all. Go to every single one, and even if you are physically tired and cant roll, get in some technique. Your mind should be saturated with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Go to practice. This is a sport, and athletes never miss practice.

Switch up your rolling –

Roll with people of different sizes and strengths. Granted, you should be doing this all the time, but especially before competition. You never know what type of people will be in your weight class, so its best to be prepared for everything. Also, do not take long 10 minute breaks during rolling time. Roll for the entire time, and minimize breaks.

Simulate fights –

Start rolling standing, and work on take downs. If you go to the tournament without practicing take downs, you will get double tired as the take down department saps energy like crazy. Work your take downs, and work them often. Also, if your school offers super fights (which are just matches between two people in front of the class) volunteer to go. This will give you a simulated experience of what the tournament is like.

Meditation –

Focus on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Before you go to sleep, think about the tournament. Visualize yourself in all different positions, and in all situations. Calm yourself, and practice breathing. These will help you in the tournament. Remember that your coach is right there to coach you, and that you will be fine.

REMEMBER, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a way of life. You must put the effort into training if you want to win. You learn a lot about yourself when you compete. It is the ultimate test. Good luck everyone and remember most of all, HAVE FUN! If you lose do not take it personal. Fight out what you did wrong that led you to getting tapped out and then work on improving your brazilian jiu jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belt Promotion Time Frames


We decided to put this online because students always want to know the general time frame in accomplishing their BJJ belts so when you get a chance please review this timeline. Also students want to know why certain belts have a red tab, or a white tab at the end of the belt. Now this information is available for you to review.

Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: What to expect on your first class

The purpose of this article is to answer any questions you might have about starting to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and your first class in particular. Every school is different, but this article will help you understand how MOST Brazilian Jiu-jitsu schools operate.

You’ll find a glossary of basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu terms at the bottom of this article. This is to help you understand any technical words used here or in your first class.

Just Visiting?

At most schools you can watch a class, meet the teacher and ask some questions before ever getting on the mats.

What to Wear

Before you come to your first class, you’ll need to figure out what to wear.

You usually don’t need to own a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi for your first class. T-shirts, board shorts and sweat pants are all fine. Sometimes you can wear a gi or uniform from another martial art (ask the instructor about this issue). You will need to buy a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi if you continue training.

Do NOT wear anything with extra pockets, belt loops or baggy fabric. These are dangerous since fingers and toes can get caught in them. Baggy cargo shorts are a common example of what not to wear.

If you already own them, you can wear any protective gear (knee braces, ear guards, mouth guard, cup, etc.) you feel you need, with the exception of wrestling shoes (some clubs allow shoes, others don’t). Athletic tape can be used to protect injured fingers or toes.


Make sure your finger and toe nails are well-groomed. If you have long hair, you’ll want to put it up in a ponytail or bun during class. You should also remove any piercings to prevent injuries.

Your First Class

You’ll probably want to show up a couple minutes early to introduce yourself to the instructor and check out the school (if you haven’t visited already). You’ll often need to sign a waiver.

Before class starts, you’ll have a chance to get dressed and stretch out on the mats. Be sure to get everything ready before class starts so you don’t have to miss anything.


Some teachers use a very light warmup, whereas others start the class with a heavy-duty conditioning session. Most classes start with a group warm-up, such as running laps and doing push-ups, followed by solo drills like forward and backward breakfalls and shrimping. Those last three moves will probably be new to you, so just watch what everyone else is doing and try to copy them. These are to help you learn how to fall safely and move your hips on the ground.

Don’t worry if you don’t get the exercises correct at first—no one does on their first day, and they take a little practise. Just give it your best try and the instructor or a higher belt will make sure you learn to do it right.


After warm-ups, you’ll be partnered with someone and go to your own section of the mats to be taught your first lesson. At some schools you will practice a beginner curriculum, and at others you will simply do whatever techniques are being taught that day. An example of a beginner curriculum might be learning and drilling the following four techniques:

Upa mount escape.
Guard pass to side control.
Taking mount from side control.
Americana armlock(no-gi) or cross collar choke (with gi).
I think it will help you learn these techniques if you understand why they are taught.

Position Before Submission

One of the core principles of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is “position before submission”. By “position” is meant the relative position of your body to your opponent’s. By “submission” is meant an action that causes your opponent to submit (surrender), such as an armlock or choke.

It can be demonstrated that different positions in grappling offer varying degrees of control, and that those with the most control offer the best leverage for submissions and striking, with the least threat of counter-attack or escape. It is from this that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to seek and advance towards dominant positions and only attempt submissions once these are obtained. This also includes escaping from inferior positions to a neutral or dominant position.

You start in a bad position (under mount) and escape to a relatively neutral position (in the guard), then advance (pass guard) to a dominant position (side control), and then take an even more dominant position (mount), at which point you have the control and leverage to effect a submission (americana or cross collar choke).

You would not want to escape from mount to then try an americana or cross collar choke from inside their guard. This breaks the principle of “position before submission,” since you’re trying to jump to the submission before gaining real control. They still have more than enough control to stop you from submitting them and it puts you in danger of being submitted.

Each technique flows one into another, from position to position, and ends with a complete reversal of who is mounted. Once you’ve learned all four techniques, you and your partner can drill them all back and forth, switching off each time someone ends under mount.

While these techniques may seem basic, if you could consistently perform them successfully against resisting opponents, you’d be well on your way in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Positional Drilling

Usually resistance drills and sparring follow the instruction and repetition of techniques. This will be your first chance to try out what you just learned against a fully resisting partner in a live drill. And as such, it’s important that you understand some basic rules for all live drilling and sparring:

Basic Rules

* No striking, punching or kicking.
* No eye gouging or hair pulling.
* No twisting or grabbing fingers.
* No slamming (picking someone up and dropping them).
* No heelhooks (twisting the foot or knee).
* No neck cranks.

Remember that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is designed to be trained safely without serious injury. These rules are to help keep you and your training partners safe and healthy.


The normal way you signal submission in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to tap your opponent three times. When you tap, make sure you do it hard enough that your partner can feel it; or tap yourself or the mat where they can see and/or hear it; or verbally tap by saying “Tap!”; or loudly tap the mat with your foot so they can hear it.

Likewise, be aware of your training partner tapping and stop whatever you are doing when he does so.

Tapping is just part of training and there is no shame in it. Don’t worry about winning or losing. Just try the techniques you’ve learned to the best of your ability and tap when you need to, ideally before it hurts.

Passing the Guard

The most common group drill is Passing the Guard. It’s purpose is to develop a strong guard passing game. I’ll explain one way it is typically done (but there are many variations of this drill).

Everyone lines up along the wall while a number of guys lay out in the middle of the mat. Then people from the line pair up with those on the mat and get in their guard. When they are ready to go, they slap hands and get to it.

The person with guard has the goal of sweeping, submitting or taking the back of the person on top.

The person on top has the goal of passing guard to a dominant position and holding it for at least 3 seconds. Dominant positions include side control and mount, like you learned earlier.

Whenever someone succeeds at their goal, they stop and the “loser” goes back to the end of the line while the “winner” stays out and takes guard on the next person in line.


At most schools the class concludes with live sparring. You may be assigned a sparring partner(s), and usually you’ll change partners after every round.

At the start of each round, you’ll begin by facing your partner on your knees. When you’re both ready shake hands and start to “roll”: try out your techniques, stopping whenever one of you taps and restarting from knees.

Some schools start with timed rounds, but allow you to continue doing “free sparring” with no time limits after class is officially over.

After Class

With class over, you might have more questions, now you’ve trained for the first time. If you enjoyed the class and want to continue training, you can also discuss prices and setup a schedule.

You will need a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi for continued training.  Most instructors sell gis, but you can also buy them at most martial arts stores and at many online stores.

I hope this answers any questions you might have about what your first day could be like at a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school. Good luck in your future training.


Americana — A basic submission where the arm is bent and twisted towards the head in order to crank the shoulder. Also called American armbar, bent armlock, chicken wing, hammer lock, paint brush, top wrist lock, ude garami, and v-lock.

breakfall — The techiques for safely falling to the ground, such as after a throw. To breakfall means to execute a safe fall to the mat. Also called rollovers and ukemi.

gi — The uniform worn when training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Also called kimono.

guard — A number of positions in grappling where the person on bottom is defending themselves and controlling the person on top using their legs. Closed guard is where the position is held with one’s legs wrapped around their opponent’s waist with their ankles crossed. Open guard

guard pass — A technique done in order to get around or “pass” someone’s guard, ending with them securely holding a dominant position. Attempting to perform these techniques against an opponent is called passing the guard.

heelhook — A submission where the heel is used to twist the leg and possibly tear the knee.

mount — A dominant position in grappling where the person on top sits straddled across the torso of the person on bottom. In a self defense situation, the person with mount would be able to strike without much threat of being struck back. In grappling, mount offers the leverage and control to effect chokes and armlocks. The person on the bottom is considered mounted.

no-gi — Refers to training without the gi, usually wearing shorts and a T-shirt

shrimp — A drill done to train proper hip movement while on one’s back. It is an important part of many escapes and techniques. It is called “shrimping” because one bends in half like a shrimp as they scoot along the mat. Also called elbow escape or hip escape because of it is used in combination with the elbow in several escapes.

side control — A number of dominant positions in grappling where the person on top pins the opponent, usually with chest to chest contact. Also called crossbody, cross-side and side mount. Many particular holds from side control have specific names, such as 100 kilos and scarf hold.

sweep — A technique done from guard to put an opponent on their back and allow one to come up on top. To sweep means to successfully perform such a technique.

take the back — To gain one of the most dominant positions in grappling (called rear mount) on an opponent’s back. From here, one can strike (in self defense situations) or choke with little fear of retaliation.

weave — The type of fabric a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi is made from. Single weave is one of the thinnest types, making it good for hot weather training. Double weave is twice the thickness of single, and gold weave is somewhere between the two. Summer weave is the lightest and most easily torn.

upa — A bridging movement where you lie on your back and lift your hips off of the ground. Used in the basic bridge-and-roll mount escape.

Article written by Matt Kirtley

Sport & Combat Sambo

Sambo is an extremely efficient and deadly form of self defense.  It is a combination of combative wrestling and grappling.  People that practice Sambo do it for the sole purpose of  incapacitating their opponent as quickly as possible, while ensuring that they fully protect themselves at all times.  Many of the techniques that are taught in Sambo have been copied from some of the countries that Russia has had wars with in the past.  As a a result, many people consider it a true mixed martial art.

Some of the early practitioners of Sambo were Victor Spiridonov and Vasili Oschepkov, who thought it would be a good idea to integrate both jujitsu and judo into this hand to hand combat system.  Sambo is considered an excellent style to attempt to pickup if you are worried about your safety, and do not have too much time to devote to your training.  Some of the strikes that are instructed in Sambo, are very easy to learn, but can take an opponent down quickly, even if the opponent does happen to be much larger than you are.  This is one of the reasons that so many women are now learning Sambo.  In fact, some children that feel like they are bullied at school have taken up the sport to be better able to protect themselves.

Want to learn more about Sambo and some of the techniques you can learn? Check out the video below.



Do Most Fights Go to the Ground?

I constantly read that “Most Fights Go to the Ground“, but is it true? Here is a study done on that question. No it is not perfect and there are a lot of factors to consider when looking at real fights. I offer this and you can draw your own conclusions. I came up with mine, hint, I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu…

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

People who have been following MMA, submission grappling and martial arts since 1994 have been aware of the increasing emphasis placed on ground fighting. Yes, a lot of the push is because ground-fighting experts are trying to convince people to become involved in their martial art or trying to attract more students to their studios. However, there is an extreme seriousness to their claims as well. People can get injured, maimed or killed if they aren’t able to defend themselves.
As a serious MMA or submission grappling fan you’ve probably either heard or read the following claims:

Ninety to Ninety-five percent of fights go to the ground; or most fights go to the ground

These claims have become a part of the lexicon of grappling gurus and their participating disciples, including me.  However, is it true?

As a person who has been involved in some aspect of martial arts since I was nine years old, I have been apart of the tradition of accepting claims, verbatim, from martial arts professionals. Most of the advice has been wise, while other times it has landed me in situations I don’t want to talk about. So when I heard this claim coming from so many Jiu-jitsu and submission grappling experts in the mid 1990s I accepted it at face value.

However, as an academic, this statement over the last few years has begun to bother me. I began to wonder on what basis this claim can be made. Are there any studies that have been conducted to verify these assertions? Finally, I reached a standstill in my thoughts on the subject. I needed to know what was fueling the mantra that 90 to 95 percent of fights go to the ground. Is it an urban myth or is it for real?

So over a period of three months I designed an implemented an exploratory study with the expressed interest of trying to see if there was any validity in the claim that 90 to 95 percent of fights go to the ground or that most fights go to the ground.  Over 300 street fights were analyzed during this study. The results were clarifying as well as totally unexpected.

For the purposes of my study, I needed actual fights between average citizens. However, it is nearly impossible to find access to enough physical fights between two people to analyze in person, especially in a timely and safe manner. Therefore an alternative method had to be chosen in order to study this question. This problem was resolved by using the readily available data uploaded and archived on the popular video sharing site, YouTube. The video sharing website provided the researcher with an abundant amount of data to analyze the question regarding how often fights end up on the ground and by what methods do fighters end up on the ground. For the purposes of this study, a content analysis was conducted where 300 fights were dissected over a two month period in order to address the question of whether 90 or 95 percent of fights go to the ground.

For a more detailed description of the abstract, literature review, hypothesis, methodology, findings and conclusions, contact bakil@mgc.edu.

Below are the research questions and the findings from the study:

Research Question

RQ1: What percentage of fights end with both fighters having gone to the ground at some point during the physical confrontation?

RQ2: What percentage of fights end with only one fighter having gone to the ground at some point during the physical confrontation?

RQ3: By what methods do fighters end up fighting off the ground? (i.e., punch, kick, takedown, push)


Although the findings cannot be generalized to the entire population; in this study both fighters ended up on the ground in 42% of the fights analyzed. This percentage increased substantially (72%) when analyzed for at least one fighter going to the ground.

So what do these numbers indicate for research questions one (RQ1) and two (RQ2)? It means that the people who have been making these claims are not far off the mark. They just have to be more specific.  In other words, there is more than a good chance that if two people fight, one of them is going to end up on the ground (72% in this study). The chance that both will end up there is much less (42% in this study), but it is still substantial enough that one should focus on ground defense.

The third research question that needed to be answered is how do those fighters end up on the ground? The answer to that query is that in our study, 57% of the fighters who ended up on the ground were taken down by a throw, a trip or being pulled to the ground. Being pushed only accounted for 7% of fighters who ended up on the ground.  So learning how to grapple and more specifically; how to apply and stop takedowns is vital to fighting.

The other most common way that fighters ended up on the ground was by being punched.  This accounted for 35% of the total incidents where a fighter was sent to the ground. One other important point is for martial artists or others who might rely on kicking techniques.  Out of 300 analyzed fights and 600 fighters, only one person fell to the ground because of a kick.  However, that kick did result in a knockout of the person on the receiving end.

What happens when fighters hit the ground?

One very interesting finding from this study involved what happens to fighters once they do fall to the ground. At the following rates, the first person to hit the ground faced the following outcome. They either lost the fight (59%) or there was no discernible victor (33%), essentially a draw. Those who hit the ground second or remained standing faced different outcomes. They either won the fight (59%), nearly sixty percent, or no discernible victor could be declared (33%). This finding recurred repeatedly even if only one person went to the ground or if both people went to the ground. It even applied to situations where both fighters ended up on the ground and the person who initiated the takedown or pushed or punched someone in that direction landed on the ground first. In this study, fighters who hit the ground first were the clear victors in less than 5% of fights observed.

This indicates that in a street fight it is a major no-no to hit the ground first in any way. The findings were so one sided in this category it is highly likely that this is a major factor in determining who wins fights. Future studies should replicate these results.

Women should also be very careful to make sure that there hair is pinned up in an altercation as many takedowns involving women were due to their opponents (women) grabbing their hair (19%) and using it as a tool to control their head movement. In this study it was almost a guaranteed takedown if only one woman had control of the other woman’s hair. The other option was being pummeled. In one fight, a man’s ‘dred-locked’ hair was also used to throw him to the ground. I think further research would demonstrate that hair grabbing is not a habit related to gender, but availability.

Another finding that could support the argument that people should learn ground defense is that the first fighter to hit the ground usually lost the scramble for positional dominance. They were either quickly mounted, side mounted or had blows reigned down on them from many angles. Although the majority of the positional dominance observed would be considered crude from a trained martial artist’s perspective, it did demonstrate why ground training is necessary. Most of the combatants were at a loss of what to do when they were being controlled and subsequently pummeled.

Who’s Fighting Who?

In reference to the characteristics of the fighters in this study, demographic questions such as age, ethnicity or race could not be asked. However, records were kept using this researcher’s best judgment. Of the 600 combatants who fought, their opponents usually looked like them in a number of categories. Men fought men. Women fought women. Ethnicities or races appeared to be similar as in whites fighting whites, blacks vs. blacks, etc. Combatants also appeared to be the same age. Old men fought old men, teenagers fought what appeared to be teenagers and adults fought adults. This study suggests that a person involved in a street fight is most likely going to fight someone just like them.

Tips for: Avoiding Conflict or Inevitable Confrontations

Other interesting things to point out are that although some fights appeared to be spontaneous, most of them had an incubation period where many decisions led up to the ultimate physical confrontation. From studying these fights it is this researcher’s opinion that many of them could have been avoided. However, in cases where a fight is unavoidable, the following advice would be offered:

  • Never allow anyone to invade your zone of safety (a distance where they can quickly ‘sucker punch,’ push, pull or grab you without you being able to react).
  • Do not walk up to anyone ‘talking trash’ or allow them to ‘talk trash’ to you. Either way someone will most likely be hit mid-sentence.
  • Either fight or exit the scene. Make the decision quickly. Do not argue and do not posture up face to face, chest to chest or shoulder to shoulder. (Watch out for head butts!)
  • Do not try to fight more than one person, especially if you are alone.
  • Do not allow yourself to get mounted. (Where your opponent is sitting on your chest with both of their legs straddling your ribcage.) This was the absolute worst position for the fighters in this study; and most important.
  • Do not be the first person to hit the ground!

So, there you have it; an exploratory study to try to find out if 90 to 95 percent of fights end up on the ground.  The results offered in this study indicate that 90 to 95 percent is too high of a percentage rate.  It is probably closer to 42% where both fighters hit the ground and 72% where at least one fighter ends up on the ground.  In the final analysis, an overwhelming majority of fights did end where at least one fighter ended up on the ground at some point. As this was an exploratory study, more are definitely needed to explore this topic and other grappling or MMA related issues.

However, what was probably the most important finding in this study is that if you are untrained and are the first person to end up on the ground in a fight there is a good chance that you will lose and the best you can hope for is that no victor can be declared.

Self Defense Statistics

Most of these statistics below were taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or one of their related websites. As always it’s best to take statistics with a grain of salt, as often numbers can be manipulated to prove someone’s point of view.

  1. Seven out of 10 sexual assault victims know their offenders.
  2. Young people between the ages of 12 and 24 are most often the victims of violent crime.
  3. A woman is attacked every three minutes.
  4. One burglary occurs every 12 seconds.
  5. Males are victimized at rates 22% higher than females.
  6. Males are more likely to be victimized by a stranger.
  7. In 26% of violent crimes a weapon was present.
  8. One assault occurs every 29 seconds.
  9. One rape occurs every five minutes.
  10. Offenders had weapons in 6% of rapes and 55% of robberies.
  11. 63% of murder victims are under 35 years of age.
  12. Workplace violence accounts for 18% of all violent crime.
  13. A murder occurs every 24 minutes.
  14. Women who fight back gain an 86% chance of avoiding a rape or injury.
  15. Women using knives or guns as self defense were raped less than 1% of the time.
  16. 65% of homicides are committed with guns.
  17. Other self defense statistics tell us that females are raped at a rate about eight times that of males.