Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hit’em with the Ground or a Wall

Due to the popularity of MMA Fighting and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu many who get into streetfights today try to take their adversaries to the ground to subdue or finish them from there.

To me it just doesn’t make much sense to take someone down to the ground when you don’t have to.

Most will do it out of training habits, the way you train is the way you will fight, and others will do it because their opponent is getting the best of them.

And still others will do it because of getting into a clinch and not knowing how to fight at close quarters. But whatever the reason, you need to stay off the ground to have a better chance of surviving. Even if you don’t know how to punch and kick like a pro, you can still fight standing up and defeat your attacker in a vicious streetfight.

So how do you go about accomplishing this feat without getting yourself into more trouble?

Simple, learn to use your environment as a third arm or a fighting partner in a streetfight. Instead of punching your attacker in the face, grab his face with an open hand and slam the back of his head into a wall, or grab him by the back of the neck and slam his face into the wall. Use a light post, fence post, and street sign post to drive his shoulder or clavicle into it. Or corners of buildings, using stairs, cars, or maybe even the edges of tables to cause damage with. And speaking of damaging them, how about throwing the ground at them, by tripping them, slamming them or throwing them into the ground on their head, neck or shoulder.

All these suggestions can help keep you staying off the ground while at the same time putting them on it, hard. Learning to use the environment will give you a great advantage over your adversary in a streetfight. You will have an element of surprise on your side if you need to use it. As you train yourself to use the wall, buildings, cars, fences and the ground, you will find that it doesn’t take much on your part to use these structures and solid objects. You will find that there is allot of hurt you can cause before you need to flop on the ground.

While many will look at these tactics and call them dirty or cheating, just remember there are no rules in a street fight, so do what you need to do to get home to safety.

In a street fight there are usually multiple opponents you’ll have to contend with and some will have weapons, so even the odds by slamming one or two of them into a wall or car bumper and lower their numbers. If one of your limbs gets injured or broken your environment can come to your aid to help you prevail. If you slam them hard enough into a structure, it might be just enough to knock the fight right out of them.

So the next time you’re attacked and think you’re at a disadvantage think again the whole environment is just waiting to help you. You no longer have any excuses when it comes to your safety in a violent encounter. But remember environmental weapons are available to whoever is smart enough to use them; either it’s you or your adversary. Training in a well lit, cushioned training center will not prepare you for fighting in a dark and cold alley. Prepare yourself both mentally and physically by using environmental simulations in your training. Train yourself in confined and open environments, look for the advantages in these areas and learn to use them effectively.

Also learn how to counter your opponent if he uses the environment on you, be ready for this reality.

In conclusion street fighting is a lot more than using your fists, knees, head, elbows or kicks. Fighting dirty by using the environment will go along way in giving you the edge in a violent situation. So when the need arises don’t even hesitate for a second, hit’em with the ground or a wall and finish it quick.

Daniel Sambrano


  1. It also helps to use the environment to put angles between you and your opponent. Get enough of an angle and you can disengage.

  2. Very solid advice (no pun intended), this is one of the main differences between Japanese jujutsu and BJJ: in JJJ the throws are meant to end the fight immidiately, throwing him head first into the ground or onto objects while BJJ seems to favour takedowns that end in a superior ground position. I much prefer the JJJ way since a) it's very likely you'll take that guy out of the fight (very useful in multiple attacker scenario's as you mentioned), b) it allows you to remain standing (retaining mobility is of prime importance on the street) and c) even if the fall didn't knock him out (which it probably will since you control the trajectory and very few people know how to breakfall properly) you're still in a great position to either finish the fight by knockout (blows tend to be a lot more effective with the added gravity of striking downwards, plus his head will bounce off the ground creating a double impact) or break (easy to do when he's stunned and quasi helpless) or control if you're law enforcement or feel you can pull it off without too much risk. The added benefit is the option to throw one person into another to confuse and muck up their strategy of ganging up on you, creating an opening to either run or maneuver to a position of advantage.


    PS: I very much like your (and Donny's) no-nonsense, somewhat brutal approach to fighting... So different from a lot of aesthetic, flowery martial arts these days that have lost their roots and forgot the MA consist of violence and originated in very violent times whereby one lived or died by their skill. MA are about fighting (all the rest is secondary) and you win a fight by immidiate, violent and effective action, continuing with full force until he's down and out. It doesn't matter how it looks, it needs to be effective and end the confrontation asap otherwise your chance of winning (and possibly surviving) will decrease rapidly. In a streetfight (a real one, not you and some drunken buddies having some fun) apply admiral Halsey's strategem: 'hit hard, hit first, hit often'. I detest humanistic, pseudo-spiritual nonsense ('we are at one with the universe and hence don't need to hurt somebody to subdue him') spouted to cover up incompetence in an instructor or deficiencies in what is supposed to be a fighting art. The word 'martial' in martial arts is there for a reason and it's got little to do with ethics, aestheticism or spirituality. It's bad when two completely different things become one since they'll dilute one another and inhibit effectiveness. In a fight (again a true one and not some stupid quarrel) there is no compassion or wisdom, there is only violence and destruction and the party that can inflict the most pain and damage on the other guy in the shortest time will win. True fights is warfare on the smallest scale possible: 'war is nothing but a duel on an enlarged scale' (Carl von Clausewitz). Be a nice guy or gal before and after the fight, but not during. A lot of people forget this and that is why they lose, even with years of experience in this or that art. This attitude of brutal effectiveness and focused anger is developped in training and this is why losing a fight probably means your training sucked big time. Train soft, fight ineffectively, train hard, win. Some people (the feignt of heart, the humanists by necessity for a lack of power) really shouldn't be in the martial arts let alone teach others... For them nitting or other so called non-contact sports are a far better option and a far less dangerous one.

  3. Nice piece. As a kenpoist, we are known for pummeling bodies at a high rate of speed, but when you step out of the studio and into reality, it's a whole new world. The last altercation I was involved in was 5 years ago and all my high speed multiple striking went out the window. A palm heel into the jaw, then driving the head into a bar top, fight over. Bottom line, good mechanics behind your weapons, know where to strike, cognizant of your environment, and the will to do whatever it takes.

  4. In our training we do train some ground fighting but from the perspective that if we do find ourselves on the ground how do we disengage and get back to our feet as qickly as possible? What concerns us is does he have a weapon on him or will his buddies show up any sec to have a boot party on my head.
    Back when i trained in Judo (non-sport) Sensei would emphasize that on the street throwing an opponent onto something hard like a concrete curb, fire hydrant, chair or second opponent was perfectly acceptable.