What with MMA being so hot these days, a common refrain to anyone studying martial arts is about how you need to have ground fighting skills because “all fights go to the ground”. Or maybe not all fights, but a large majority, or some other number pulled out of the air.
How much truth is there to the statement of fights going to the ground?
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.
Enter the joy of YouTube, which if you quickly search it you’ll find thousands of videos of people fighting. While the study was certainly not in-depth and more study truly should be done (and use venues other than YouTube, since that could have a “posting/content bias”), I do think the conclusion sheds some light:
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.
So yup. You can expect ending up on the ground. Now, I might be curious to know if going to the ground ended up being “an issue”. For instance, A punched B, B went to the ground, fight was over. So yes, B went to the ground so you tally one in the “went to the ground” column. But did B’s going to the ground have any greater implications? That is, the whole “fights go to the ground” issue is predication on the notion that because fights go to the ground you need to have some skills to deal with that situation (thus you must learn BJJ). So if B hit the ground and the fight was over, there really wasn’t need for skills or awareness or to even get back up. I’m not sure if this matters or if this is important, but I am going to contact the author of the study to see what he thinks. I guess it’s trying to find out not just if a fight goes to the ground, but since that assertion is made to imply you need to gain ground skills well, I think it’s worth a consideration if that is warranted. Of course, I’d say yes… but still, let’s discuss.
The best part of the study, however, is the greater implications for avoiding the fight in the first place. Truly, that’s the take-home from this:
- Most fights are not spontaneous. There’s an incubation period. There are things that lead up to the fight and, if minded, the fight could have been avoided.
- Be mindful of your personal space and don’t let people get close to you. I think about the book Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere because that’s what this is about.
- Don’t be rude. Trash talking (either you doing it or them doing it to you) usually winds up with someone getting hit mid-sentence.
- Fight or leave. If the fight is inevitable, either turn it on hard and fast, or go home immediately. Posturing and posing will get you hurt.
- Multiple attackers will always have a massive advantage.
- Getting mounted will put you at a severe disadvantage. Avoid it at all costs.
- Don’t be the first one to go to the ground.