Do All Fights Go To Ground?


With the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts “cage fighting” in the early 90s and the subsequent domination of Brazillian Jiu Jitsu in this area we began to hear the claim that “all fights go to ground”. Have you stopped to question this statement? I suspect that if you are reading this article you have.  Many people have, however taken it as fact.

I personally think that the “all fights go to ground” idea is Jiu Jitsu propaganda. No one would disagree that Brazillian Jiu Jitsu changed the MMA game, but their dominance can be attributed to the lack of grappling experience on the part of “kick boxers”. Kick boxers were “fish out of water” when they encountered the grappler. Fights do go to ground and most martial artists have no idea what to do when they do go to ground; but I do not think its a given that they have to go to ground. I heard Frank Shamrock say that the ground game was dead and I assume because kick boxers are now wise to grappler tactics. I would not say that grappling, and specifically ground fighting, is dead in MMA but I do not see it being the dominating force it has been in the last.

The other point to make is is that the MMA “cage fight” is not a realistic “street” situation. The “cage fight” is a one-on-one fight that occurs in a controlled environment. That is not what happens on the street. On the  street you need to contend with a multitude of variables; potentially more than one attacker, hidden weapons, hard or dangerous ground (broken bottles, rocks) and so on. So imagine taking a fight to ground (even one-one-one) and while grappling the attacker pulls a knife and stabs you, or an accomplice whacks you on the head with a crow-bar while you struggle for submission, or you fall onto broken glass. This is one of the reasons you do not see much ground fighting in Kung Fu. As far as self defence in an urban environment is concerned, going to ground dangerous, very dangerous indeed.

So I would not take the fight to the ground unless I had no other choice. I would prefer to prevent the fight from going to ground, and this is not as impossible as others would have you believe. That said, if you are forced to the ground, whether it is one attacker or many, empty-hand or against a knife, you would be better prepared if you have been doing ground fighting. And ground fighting for self defence extends beyond the sorts of ground fighting techniques you need for “cage fighting”. In the street you need to be able to fend of multiple attackers from the ground. You need to be able to defending against knife, gun and stick attacks (and more) from the ground, in addition to the standard submission and escape from submission techniques you would encounter when wrestling on the mat.

Do all fights go to ground? I say no not always. I say do not take the fight to the ground, rather fight standing up. You do need to be able to fight on the ground, but if you want to learn ground fighting for self defence, then look beyond MMA sports.

Source: Philip’s post on