In 1993, Royce Gracie won the first Ultimate Fighting Championship and it forced the fighting world to pause and take notice. As grapplers continued to excel in mixed martial arts it gradually started to sink in that there was something to it as more and more people started to look into getting some form of training on the ground. Fast forward twenty years and you begin to see something very interesting.
With the inception of various online video sharing sites we started seeing more and more shaky cell phone videos of street fights, bar fights, Walmart fights, etc. In these videos you can see footage of thugs, drunks, and ladies (sounds like a hip hop album title) doing a very poor, but very noticeable, imitation of positions used by skilled fighters in the highest levels of competition. Grabbing onto a person and wrestling them to the ground in order to pummel them is a very natural, primal instinct but this is more. You see people moving into mount position or even holding on for dear life in a ham handed guard. The Point of all this is just to say simply grappling happens.
Don’t Think You Can Just “Knock Them Out”
So many armchair athletes and computer warriors like to pontificate on how, “If some grappler dude tried that stuff on me I’d just knock them out”. The phrase “I would just…” has probably begun more asinine statements than anything else in the history of the internet. If we set aside the simple fact that most people who say this couldn’t knock someone out if they were standing still, even skilled strikers are wary to let their hands go against a grappler. Putting someone who relies on striking on their back greatly diminishes their advantage in a fight. The window for striking against a person intent on clinching and taking you down are very small. Once they decide to close distance they can move from outside of striking range to a standing grapple very quickly and chances are you’ll only get one shot off. Now if we move outside the ring (or cage) and onto the street we run into a bigger problem; everybody stands too darn close! There is no footwork or jabbing. It’s an escalation of posturing until someone finally makes a move and usually from inside arms reach. As if that wasn’t inconvenient enough, the person you are arguing with may not even be the physical threat. They may just be the distraction for their accomplice who is standing behind and just off to the side of you.
What NOT To Do When An Assailant Tries To Tackle You
- Don’t try to back up. The time for that has passed. Of course if their coming in with force they’re going to move you backward. What I mean is they can move faster forward than you can backward so you aren’t going to be able to get out by jumping back. Worse, you are likely to run into or trip over something that could put this fight on the ground with you on your back.
- Don’t start flailing in a panic. If they start to grab on to clinch our goal is to stop the damage there. To do this we need to keep them from getting control of your hips. If they get this, your life gets harder (and possibly shorter) because they can pick you up, throw you, or bend you back and trip you. You are in too close to throw anything effective anyway. trying to throw ineffective punches brings your elbows away from your body and allows them access to your hips.
Check out this clip of a grappler vs. a striker. These are by no means professional fighters but you see how hard it is to keep from being taken down by a determined opponent if you are try to only strike your way out.
Take These Steps To Turn The Tide On The Attacker
In keeping with our dance analogy in the title, it’s time to “Turn the Beat Around”. To do this we need to do a couple simple things to stop their attempt to take us down and then we can “lead the dance”.
- Get your hips down – Picture trying to pick up a child throwing a temper tantrum. Widen out your base and lower you center of gravity.
- Get “inside” position – By inside position I mean get at least one arm under theirs. If you maintained good posture during the early stages of the fight your elbows should be down so getting this shouldn’t be too difficult.
- Move to the side – Position yourself so that you are on your opponents side with both arms locked around their waist.
- Dump ’em – Bump their knees forward while simultaneously bumping their upper body back using your head and let them fall.
Since our goal was to avoid the ground in the first place we are not going to follow them down. If we wanted to control the situation more that is an option however. In essence, some times we need to fight fire with fire. For a great perspective on the importance of position check out this article by Eric Fletter.
And remember, the only time it is acceptable to say “I would just…” is if it is followed with “…go out and get more training”.