“The “Ground” Game: Is It Necessary to Know How to Defend from Down There?,” by Felicia H.

“This morning, as my hubby-to-be and I were doing a little spring cleaning, I playfully hit him with a pillow. Since the laundry basket was in back of me, I thought nothing at all of him walking behind me to toss the pillow cases in it – until he bum-rushed me from behind and pinned me on the bed. Not the position anybody wants to be in at all – especially since he’s a 6’3″, 215 lbs runner who lifts weights with his athletes (he’s a track coach) at least three days a week. Not only is he rock solid, he also studied judo as a kid as well as some practical self-defense stuff while in the military for 20 years.”

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  1. From the above link…

    Anyone who considers aikido a realistic self-defense, however, is misinformed. It has no groundwork, a serious fault since most fights—the Gracie family is correct on this—end up there. Like karate students, aikido students simply aren’t trained to fight there.

    Most aikido techniques are not realistic. Students are filled with illusions on this. Techniques are applied against various wrist and body grabs, and Japanese-type strikes that will not occur. Most aikido students, however, are not interested in self-defense so much as in a philosophy built on ki which benefits students physically, mentally, and possibly spiritually. Though it is estimable from these standpoints, it is limited combatively

  2. A bit of a red herring but I think the kernel here is that the ‘attack’ came from her partner (the tragic bus incident not withstanding ). This is the most likely scenario to be faced and awareness of such is often most neglected aspect of self defence. Its loved ones, friends and acquaintances that are most likely to be responsible for assault. In fact for one of the years of survey it was found that in Australia that only 6% of perpetrators of female homicide were strangers. Here are some stats put together in developing self defence resources for our dojo that might be interesting

  3. Kit Leblanc says:

    Finally some accurate and self-aware reflections! There is hope for people getting solid information on self defense here after all!

    Six months to one year of quality BJJ training – then practiced in “likely” attack scenarios as the two she described – will do WORLDS of good in developing skill, confidence, and ability against a larger stronger attacker in those kinds of circumstances.

    One does not have to master BJJ, but the more the basics are mastered, the better.

    With that background the additional tactics and skills effective for self defense (striking, damaging gouges, rakes, accessing weapons, etc.) will be more effective because she will understand the extreme importance of the positional hierarchy and positional dominance. The one major failing I see with people who attempt to teach “anti-grappling” or “ground defense” absent any skill in grappling is that they fail to understand and compensate for the “positional game.”

    Look at MMA – many fighters figured out BJJ’s “number” fairly early on. While many did study BJJ, they did so in order to understand the positional aspects and how to defeat it. Many wrestlers did not even bother to study BJJ, but rather learned how to maximize their positional game leading to much more effective ground and pound – and then it was the BJJ-ers turn to have to adapt!

    Daniel makes a great point but it is less of a red herring than you might think. Yes, the person victimizing a woman is far more likely to be a known subject, and close.

    However, I can tell you from ten years responding to domestic violence, rape, and date rape calls, when the violence goes to a higher level a high percentage of those attacks involve circumstances in which the woman is lying down or forced down: on beds, couches, floors, the seat of a car, etc.

    Frequently they include straddling and “mounted” attacks and strangling.

    Gary Ridgeway – the Green River Killer – would take prostitutes from behind, get them to look up, then throw a rear naked choke on them and throw his legs around them to control their hips, and hang on until he finished them off. He stated he learned this technique in the service…

    Hopefully people – men AND women – with an interest in self defense versus martial practice will think about what this woman wrote and seek a way to address this very real issue. She may, in fact, have saved a life by writing this and giving someone food for thought.

  4. …i came out of wrestling, so groundwork isn’t particularly intimidating. and – you don’t want to go there. the most important techniques on the ground are getting out of the transition where the attacker is consolidating his position. and achieving suwari. if you fail, well, your chances are much reduced. awareness may avert the whole problem. of course, if you ARE on the ground, even if succeeding in the ground fight, you are pretty vulnerable to any of your attacker’s friends. Inugaki Shigemi san, one of Saito’s strong students, said that he thought that aikido was as effective as any other martial art and better for multiple person attack. he was probably basing that statement on personal experience. still, it is important to consider that most dojo training is incomplete. striking is also weak. aikido was originally a graduate school, not a grade school.

  5. I think Charles hits the nail on the head here, as well as others making good points, so I’d like to expand on something else. (I came out of BJJ and Bujinkan and into aikido, so perhaps I’m predisposed to agree) A lot of this thread is discussion about more modern aikido, and not at all what was at the root of it (and you can argue what that root is, but it’s not “yokomenuchi daisankyo waza, douzo!”). I’d venture to say against the one who speaks of aikido as incomplete in any way. The very nature of the system is that it is entirely complete in its philosophy and application. I think a good example of something similar is Russian Systema. If one finds ones training to be lacking in, say, groundwork, it is not the fault of the art but the lack of awareness of the practitioner. The art never told you not to go to the ground to work out the principles that make, say, iriminage work. Perhaps your teacher did not teach it. But the art itself is entirely complete in its repertoire of preparing someone for self defense (you see Ueshiba even doing “ground things” in the 1935 Asahi film, and also it is very apparent it is there if you take a look at parts of Daito Ryu’s syllabus), as most are. The weak link lies in the practitioner, in my opinion.

    The rub comes with modern society and the way in which that society is practicing “aikido.” To say “aikido doesn’t work on the ground” is as meaningful as saying “BJJ doesn’t work standing up.” It really sort of doesn’t make any sense because both systems are operating, at the upper levels, on principles as opposed to techniques. Anything overly-focused on technique (ikkyo, nikyo, shihonage, name any technique from any system, of no matter) is misguided, as these are a means to an end. So you have to parse out the principles as opposed to simple ways of moving the body around or locking up a joint.

    That’s my opinion on the matter, though not worth much. I know that after some years of aikido, I felt much, much more comfortable on the ground (and that’s coming INTO it from BJJ), and the hip movements of suwari waza and seiza greatly help me when maintaining or regaining the “positional dominance.” Whether your goal is to “ground and pound” as someone as already invoked, or to get the hell up and run away, this “positional dominance” thing is something you cannot escape when pondering your practice on the ground and must master or at least understand, I fully believe. As with aikido, and with BJJ, body positioning and control of your center and displacement of opponent’s/uke’s center are paramount to the functionality of both systems. Kind of like whoever it was that said aikido is akin to two balls rolling around with a bunch of handles (i.e. 2 centers of gravity with arms, legs, heads, to use to manipulate that center) And there may lie (no pun intended) a very good link between the two arts discussed here. All the best! :)

  6. Assume seiza and accomplish hanmi-handachi or makeshift suwari-waza.

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