The final part of my client’s 10 hour basic course on Submission Grappling/Ground-Fighting brought us back to the self-defence line. All lessons up to this point worked within the context of grappling with another ground grappler. Here the student can explore the art and the sport rather than be concerned with its place as a counter-assault method. Tonight all of that changed, as we had a different objective. Here the fighter is focused upon damage control and survival. Various important elements had to be considered, such as the unforgiving nature of a ground without mats, striking and various other tools that are forbidden in a grappling-only competition, and the introduction of an enemy mentality rather than an opponent. The rules change too, but not necessarily in the way many anti-sports martial artists argue. There are legal aspects that change an individual’s tactics when he fights back. I am mainly talking about how the counter-assaulter extricates himself from the fight once he has thwarted his enemy rather than completely dominate, as would be the case in a duelling/match situation.
I decided to primarily focus on ground-fighting rather than any specific submissions for self-defence. High percentage basic submission moves such as the rear naked choke and finger-locks were already confirmed with my client. I thought it was more important to ensure his skills at getting back to his feet from a grounded position and defending from strikes in these positions were learnt during this session.
After a warm-up of specific callisthenic exercises we began with asymmetrical ground-fighting. The started with a revision of the original self-defence course’s tactics for moving from the ground position to standing. I added on further pressure to further emphasise covering and then moving onto returning strikes as the fighter got to a standing position. A great way to train this exercise is to have two coaches: One pressures the fighter from the ground with focus mitts and the other jumps once he stands to engage in brief fighting. The purpose of the exercise is to motivate the fighter to continue fighting as he gets his balance. It is important to emphasise that this type of exercise has a specific purpose to train a specific behaviour – to keep on fighting fluidly and to maintain a strong balance as he regains his balance – rather than be a simulation.
We then looked at climbing to safety. This is a tactic used when fighting multiple aggressors in an asymmetrical ground-fighting situation. Unlike the previous exercise, where the fighter can spin away from an attacker’s kicking feet and fight to standing position, this scenario has the defender fighting from his back whilst being surrounded by kicking, stamping feet. Here he looked grip hold of one of the antagonists, stay close to him and climb up his body. This coordinated whilst employing kicks against the other antagonists.
Moving onto symmetrical ground fighting we covered escaping from the mount position and disengaging oneself from the guard. In the former we looked at using the bridge and snaking responses in conjunction with covering and biting. It is important that as the fighter tries to sweep his motivation is to get back to his feet as quickly as possible. The same applies with the guard position. Here the fighter strikes, using as much leverage as the position allows and coordinates it with movements used to block and control the attacker’s hips.
Photography by Charlotte Von Bulow Quirk Photography & Sonia Audhali Photography respectively.