"Q.Do you emphasize grappling and groundfighting? I keep hearing statistics about how often real fights go to the ground.
A.We emphasize 'winning'. In a real fight, DO NOT go to the ground. Cement is not your friend. Mobility and maneuverability are. While grappling is great fun and great exercise, it is tactically the least desirable place to be in almost all fights. Now, learning to 'groundfight', when you're forced to the floor is another thing, and that's a paradigm shift for many:"

Why do you give this advice?
I disagree with you. As most fights go to the ground, it is a great advantage to be on top of someone, and controlling them. Just look at MMA. Especially if someone knows what they're doing...why not take an attacker down and either break them, choke them out or ground and pound? The cement can be your friend, especially if you're a wrestler and can throw someone on their head. Taking a fight to the ground is a tactically superior move if trained to do so.

If this advice is only to officers, how about prone handcuffing?

"Just look at MMA"...

No offense but a street fight is real and MMA is sport. In a street fight going to the ground could cost you your life depending on the situation, of course it could also save your life as well. I think in a street fight situation going to ground will also limit your ability to escape/get away from the danger, which should be everyone's first priority! (sorry to comment, I am not Mr. Blauer's team but feel he is quite correct in his views/teaching on this matter)

Yes look at MMA, mixed martial arts started as "simulation combat". It's what would happen if these two fighters faced off on the street. Royce Gracie showed that he would take the guy down...
If you were faced against a guy you didn't want to fight, in let's say UFC, youre strategy would be different then if you faced them on the street; maybe you would run away if you were in a dark alley, but if you had to fight, im sure your strategy would be the same as if you wanted to fight him in the UFC. Yes there are plenty of rules in MMA today, but the same training goes, there are also many people still involved with real vale tudo events, and training.

If you have more training than a common "bar thug", why not do what you can to teach them a lesson? If let's say, they try to fight with you.

I think that giving someone advice that has the possibility to constrew a thought perspective on what to do in a certain situation LIMITS their potential arsenal. Yeah, run away, but if youre a police officer(like most of tony's students) you don't have that option.

I must disagree with you. YES , it is important to know how to fight from the ground , but in a real fight, standing or grounded, you want quick fight enders, you don't want to hold someone in your guard working for a submission.

I have been training in a reality based self defense system for over 18 years, every time we do multiple defense scenerio training, if something happens and the defender goes down, it's over for him. I've seen a guy tie up 2 attackers , from the ground, but the 3rd one , at their leisure, moved in kicked the grounded defender, moved out, and calmly waited for the next opening.

If you are going to be good at defending yourself, you need to be a good all around fighter. You need to be confidant standing , sitting in a chair, or on the ground. In a real fight your chances of survival are better if you stay standing. I will concede this one point, if you only know how to fight from the ground, take the attacker down, and hope for the best. Then after it's over, start learning to fight on your feet as well as on the ground.

I have been doing BJJ for about four years and consider myself a grappler. At one time I may have bought into the "take it to the ground" philosophy.

However, I am also a cop and a DT instructor so it is my obligation and responsibility to look at tactics that apply across a wide range of students in a wide range of scenarios.

The key word is "scenarios". Ambushes are sudden, violent attacks that are connected to most injuries and fatalities (thanks Tony). These are the scenarios you need to look at for the street. They don't start with consent, squaring off or a discussion of the rules, and they are designed to catch you when you are least prepared, off balance, etc. It may be when the you are seated, distracted by another, whatever.

The idea of not going to the ground as a primary tactic is that it commits you to the most dangerous range of the physical fight without considering the street possibilities.

Tony helped me Street proof my BJJ and forever changed the way I look at DT/ Combatives.

I wouldn't recommend going to guard in a street fight either, but to be on the top is another story. Also 99% of people on the street you would be fighting don't know submission, and would be susceptible to being caught in one.
Obviously one wouldn't want to go to the ground against multiple attackers, and the scenarios you guys bring up are just that, scenarios. I'm not saying that taking a fight to the ground is the best thing to do in all circumstances, but saying to not take it to the ground in all circumstances is flawed.

You cannot effectively handcuff someone standing up, who is resisting. You have to take control of them, and that usually means throwing them against the car, or on the ground.

Without dominating this thread (I would like some other's input), I can see your point. That is that there is a tactical need to take a suspect to the ground. That is to facilitate control, make cuffing easier by using the ground as counter pressure for leverage.

But we are talking about a fight, a sudden ambush attack where the cop is not simply struggling for control and looking for compliance. One of my comrades says it best, "most cops don't know when they are no longer fighting for control and now fighting for their lives". The difference is "control tactics" vs "out of control tactics" and it is an important distinction.
If you face a 3%er (the motivated bad guy who has the capability and the intent to seriously hurt or kill you) control tactics that work for the other 97% will not be enough.

What I learned from Tony at his Ground Combatives course was about fighting on the ground if you absolutely had to. Priority was maintaining awareness, mobility and the option to disengage. The more involved you become in a ground fight (punching, clawing, submission holds, chokes) the harder it is to disengage.

All things being equal, if you have great grappling skills that you know are better than your opponents, you are in a protected area (not likely to jumped by a third party), and you are not totally out of it when you are attacked and you get to dictate the tempo of the fight, then go for it. The idea of avoiding the ground fight is for the other 99% of the time.

I would really like to hear Tony's or Sean's input on this.

I agree, yet my point was that Tony said "In a real fight, DO NOT go to the ground...it is tactically the least desirable place to be in almost all fights" and i disagree with that statement.

you are talking about an encounter with an ambush on an officer, i am mentioning street fights in general. Specific situations may dictate different strategies, but in general, i find it wrong to say that going to the ground is tactically undesirable and to avoid it.

also, when an officer is facing someone that is resisting arrest(at any compliance level), it can be considered a "fight", that is fighting for control. If this person is drunk, and obviously disoreinted to begin with, it will be easier for a cop to control and dictate the "fight", taking the guy down to restrain him etc.

And I believe, looking at it from the perspectives of both a sport grappler and a LEO trainer that....

If it is a real life threatening fight, (which is what Tony's SPEAR system is about), then the big picture reveals this:

It is "tactically less desirable" to be tied up on the ground in anything other than maybe the knee ride position. I fought a violent psychopath on the street a few years ago. It went to the ground and I ended up subduing him with a hold from the mount position. It turned out alright. I suffered a bite, scratches and a black eye, but I kept my gun and he went to jail. Glad I had a good holster because he was well within reach and motivated to take it.

I'll add my two cents (alright, maybe a quarter), from the purely civilian community. I am an avid grappler, an MMA coach, as well as part of Tony's Personal Defense Readiness program. I have been teaching for 9 years, for both hardcore street self defense AND for sport.

I recently did a survey of all my friends, family, and students. The question was this: "What percentage of fights that you were ever involved with, or ever witnessed, went to the ground?" I have never personally bought into the "most fights go to the ground" theory. The response was very clear. Less than 10% of all fights witnessed or participated ever went to the ground!!

Now, I live in a rather "redneck" part of the country, where power drinking and bar brawling are pretty common. Real "gangs" are non-existent here, although friends and family members will certainly back each other up in support and even in retaliation at times. Maybe that affects the percentage of fights going to the ground, and maybe it doesn't. But for MY area, it holds true with anyone I have asked in the last several years.

I believe this: The last time I saw a statistic, it said that less than 3% of the U.S. citizens trained in martial arts at any given time. Of the other 97%, I really doubt that "grappling" is much of a consideration. Now I'm sure someone will say "That's why grappling is so effective, because the average person doesn't know how to defend it!!" I disagree. The "average" person will respond with instinct, aggressiveness, and indignation when put in a position where they feel threatened and/or helpless to any degree. They will not try to perform "upa" to roll you from mount. They will not know about controlling space to effect better positional control. What they WILL know is that you are on top of them and they don't want to be there (this is going along with the presumption that you can indeed get mount, as you stated, pluxor). When this happens, they will get an adrenaline dump (if they haven't already), their strength and pain tolerance will increase, they will revert to base-instinctual tactics, and attack your eyes, throat, or groin, while biting, scratching, gouging, etc, whatever they can.

Please do not confuse MMA with real fighting. Sure, Randy Couture could not get the bigger, stronger Josh Barnett off him when he lost his title. But what if Randy had grabbed his balls? (In the street, no one wears steel nut cups). What if he had turned and BITTEN Josh in the thigh? What if instead of covering his head, he picked up the rock or bottle lying next to him on the ground, and smashed Josh in the side of the head with it? Or let's look at another situation. Have you ever done a double-leg takedown in shorts on cement? Try going into a parking lot, wearing either just a t-shirt or no shirt, and lie down and grapple from guard position. It sucks (yes, I've tried it). WHAT IF it is YOU who gets taken down or trips and falls, and you find that you are NOT in mount right away. Here you are, on your back, on tar or concrete. OH SHIT!! THAT SUCKED!! MY WIND IS KNOCKED OUT OF ME!! I THINK THAT ROCK I LANDED ON CRACKED A RIB!! THIS GUY IS HUGE AND ON TOP OF ME!! WHY ISN'T MY TECHNIQUE WORKING?? HOW COME I CAN'T STOP SHAKING?? WHY IS HE GRABBING MY HAIR??!! OWWW!!!!! Ooops, sorry, you just lost consciousness as he repeatedly slammed your head into the ground, dude........

(continued in next post)

Or lets assume, for a minute, that you are simply a great grappler. The guy swings at you, and you duck and flop him on his head. He's only half conscious, but he's trying to get up. You jump on him to teach him a "lesson" as you put it. You do some ground and pound. He pushes up on your chest, and you swing into a textbook armbar, and decide to snap it. Great. You ARE the man.........

Whoops.......where did the boys in blue come from? Why are they cuffing me? What is this term "excessive force" the lawyers are talking about? I gave the scumbag what he had coming - he's in the hospital and I don't have a scratch on me!! Why am I the one going to jail??

Real fights are real fights. NHB, MMA, grappling, boxing, kickboxing, Karate, Kung-fu, Wushu, TaeKwonDo, Hapkido, etc. etc. etc., are all SPORTS when they engage in combat. Sure, you can argue that Royce Gracie could have done even MORE damage to his opponents in the early UFC's without rules. But what of his fight with Kimo? How long could he have continued if the ref didn't stop the fight? How long could he have kept going if it was in the street, but realized that after he snapped Kimo's arm, that Kimo still has another arm, two legs, and TEETH? Royce barely could walk after that fight, while Kimo barely broke a sweat with his enormous power advantage. I personally think in a "real" fight, ON THAT DAY, Royce would NOT have been the victor.

In general, there are two types of people in the martial arts community, my friends:

The first type holds that their training is the holy grail, that with proper training, they can't be beaten. Unfortunately, anyone who tries to tell them otherwise is "wrong," which is another way of saying that they cannot swallow their pride and accept that life and combat are just not that simple, or that they are still white belts in the world of "real" combat. (I'll bet on a vietnam vet over a grappler any day of the week!!)

The second type of person looks at things objectively. They step "out of the box." The question everything that they are doing, rather than simply accepting what they are taught as the total "truth" in self defense.

The beauty of questioning, is that Tony's methods always stand up when scrutinized from a non-biased viewpoint. If it works, it works. Period. Case closed.

(continued next post)

Pluxor, I have deliberatly poked a little bit of fun at you. It is not intended to be personal toward you, even though I realize that you make take offense. It is just that I have heard this argument SOOOOOOO many times by every newcomer who falls in love with the sport of grappling, and is told the "truth" of the world by some instructor who has likely never been in many real fights themselves, and certainly never researched the data our there on what really happens in violent encounters. For you personally, you can do several things from here:

1.) Decide I am full of BS, and ignore me.

2.) Decide I am full of BS, and "counter-attack"

3.) Realize that although you are entitled to your opinion, there are others who may have different opinions, and that that is okay. People often learn a lot from those with differing opinions.

You asked Tony "Why do you give this advice?" Well, the obvious answer is because after researching violence and teaching combat tactics for over 20 years (to civilians too, not just LEO and military), he BELIEVES in what he is teaching. I respect his opinion. I respect your opinion. Maybe grappling IS what is best for YOU. I don't know you, your skills, your body type, or anything about your future confrontations, so I won't presume to tell you that you are "wrong" in this matter. Maybe you are right. FOR YOU. BUT........for general strategical advice, I agree with Mr. Blauer. My own research and experiences support his findings completely. As does the research and experiences of many, many others.

In summary, if you want us to consider your OPINION as tactically valid, it's easy.....give us a few thousand testimonials from people who can back up that your approach has stood the test of time, physically, emotionally, morally, and legally, and been victiorious in a predominant number of cases. Maybe you will change OUR opinions. On the other hand, your research may bring you to draw some different conclusions for yourself, instead.

Food for thought........in the meantime, happy training and best of luck to you.

Adam LaClair,

MMA coach, PDR coach, avid SPORT grappler

Adam's Thought are well laid out.

All add onlythe following .....

I did an instructor's certification program on Combat Grappling for the Street at Walt Lysak's Sento a few years ago. Walt is one of the best ground fighters on the planet.

For one afternoon we acutally went out in a parking lot and went at it. We tried all the fun stuff. Walt would call them out one at a time.

Just a few observations - shoot for a sigle or double leg - YOU BLEED.

Get a suplex - you knock the wind out of YOURSELF.

Etc, etc, etc......

There are rocks, broken glass, gravel, shit, etc, etc, etc.....

Then after all that fun we added a variable - you're on the gound and the bad guy has a friend that pulls up in his car. When grappling you are nearly FULLY engaged with the oponant - AND you can't simply disengage to address a more immediate threat.

The selective factors here are clearly apparent - in the street, you must know what to do if it goes to the ground - but it's not where you WANT to be.

In all my years on the job - I only ever ended up on the ground twice. (That is, DURING the fight.) But, I spent alot of time practicing how NOT to get taken down.

Now, I've been on the mat with Guys like Walt, Renzo Gracie, and Dan Severn - and I couldn't keep them from taking me to the ground - but they're nice guys - not your average ally scum.

Win, loose, or draw - if your on your back in the street - you're risking too much.


I would think that cops especially wouldn't want to go to the ground, that would put their weapon within arm's reach of the bad guy for a prolonged period.

Hey, I finally got in on a good thread. Usually my post is the kiss of death.

Great posts!

From a law enforcement perspective, I don't see why anyone wearing a sidearm would want to grapple if they could prevent it. Grappling, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in particular, is a game of inches, with the best control being maintained through tight, close movement on your adversary. Why would ANYONE wearing a weapon want to put that weapon tight and close to their opponent's reach? It kind of defeats the whole purpose of carrying it, doesn't it?

Cops have a hard job, and although I may or may not always agree with the actual laws they enforce, I have the utmost respect for each and every one of them and the service and protection they provide. In the real world, they also have different "rules" than the civilian, to some degree, as far as procedure goes, but what works in a life&death struggle is pretty much the same for a cop or a civilian, in my opinion. Law Enforcement officers just have more things to consider, making it that much MORE of a challenge for them.

Joe, thank you for emphasizing a couple of my points with your own similar experiences. Concrete and flesh just don't "play" well together, as we both know!

FJJ828, see if you can bottle that effect, it might be a marketable commodity for self defense! :-) We can look for "Bottled Kiss of Death" right beside the Pepper Spray. :-) I don't know if Tony will jump into this one, or not. If he feels I answered the original question adequetely, he may just pass. The Mental Edge has been pretty slow as of late, so I don't think any one person's posting is really a death-touch of any kind. Although working around surgery rehab and some other crises of life right now, I'll be attempting to get some good educational threads on here more and more as well. I'm approaching it from the perspective that it is part of MY training in improving my own ability to understand Tony's material and use it to help other people. You can only get experience by experiencing.................

This thread struck me as a bit disrespectful at first, that is why I wrote in a bit of a provocative tone. It may not have been the most desirable way to handle it, or it may be just what was needed, I am not sure. But......if it serves to help even one person see that relying on only one range (grappling in this case) is NOT a positive thing, then it will have served a purpose.

After reading the prior threads I have to jump in with a LEO perspective. lofland is right, grappling with a loaded semi-auto, pepper spray, baton, and 20 lbs. of assorted other crap wrapped around your waist is less desirable. My number one priority is keeping my mobility, -mobility to escalate force, possibly to another force option (ie oc spray, baton,firearm), or to disengage. The problem lies in the fact that most LEO's are taught to decentralize (take them to the ground) the bad guy and ground cuff so they have more "control". I believe that most cops really dont have a clue when they are in control, or when the bad guy is really in control, and thus the cop fight goes to the ground. This would account for the stat's that adamlaclair discussed where only 10% of civilian fights he has researched go the ground, where LEO fights go to the ground much more often, and probably way to early, as the average LEO hasnt done the training they really need for street encounters. ***remember I said the "average" officer, I dont want to offend the real LEO warriors out there who keep an open mind and train with integrity. any thoughts? -joel

INteresting thread guys, Im just back from Europe,
had a real good class with 22 agencies
represented and 35 trainers present, we even had
a group down from Ireland, talk about a paradigm
shift from regular scenarios!

As to the thread, I think it was intersting if not just to
force opinion and reflection...Pluxor, you seem
slightly familiar with some of my work, is that form
my site or a video or two?

The probelm I see is that youve taken a sentence
and solidified it...in other words, the sentence was
part of a paragraph which was part of a chapter
whcih was part of a philosophy.

There's a huge difference in 'fixating' from
'focusing' and I think youre fixating on something

while you raise good points you seem to question
the comment to the point where the only suitable
answer is a reframe that 'yes' grappling is good.

Anyhow, as i dont know where youre getting your
resources on my strategies i cant comment, I will
say, as I do say in all my interviews or articles on
grappling & groundfighing this: that if you cannot
control the perimeter, if you do not know the
opponent's groundfighting ability, if there may be
weapons open or hidden, if there may be multiple
assailants, if you run the risk of being run over or
falling over a precipice, if the ground is full of glass
or rocks or other debris, then your primary directive
should not be to go to the ground.

Further, with effective verbal skills, CWCT
applications and a plan you can end most fights

As for your comments on cuffing, yes prone is
safer but prone cuffing is not a sport and cuffing is
not a XYZ process in that, the time and place of the
cuff - i.e. the scenario - will dictate if the cuffing is
nice or not nice.

Anyhow, those are some thoughts...


So many posts with so much information I may be restating the obvious but I'll try to be concise:

1. At least where I live, predators tend to travel in groups (or gangs), I never see two guys without any friends fighting with each other. That means if you go to the ground there's always a chance the guy's buddy is going to bash your head in while you're on top of him - especially if his buddy is losing.

2. Your mobility is severely limited on the ground whether you're on top or not. If given the opportunity of being able to move around and run if necessary, why would you grapple and intentionally immobilize yourself?

3. Grappling is good to have in case you are taken to the ground or go to the ground accidentally. I really can't think of a reason why you would want to go to the ground on purpose if you didn't have to. Not that such a situation is impossible, I just can't think of one off the top of my head.

4. Tony is not the only realistic self-defense expert who holds this opinion. In fact, it is pretty common. The only people I know who are for going to the ground are people who specialize in grappling. That's not good or bad, that's just my observation.

Anyway, that's just my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

If you are attacked on the street then your attacker feels confident that he will win. No one starts a street fight unless they feel they have an advantage. You will most likely face one of three types of attackers.

1, Someone with a weapon
2, Someone with friends
3, Someone with good hand to hand skills.

Your not going to face an untrained, unarmed, attacker that is by himself, unless he is piss drunk, but drunks don't count. Thats not a street fight its just some practice ;)

Don't want to grapple a skilled fighter in the street.
Don't want to grapple against him and his friends in the street.
Don't want to grapple against a weapon in the street.

Don't want to grapple in the street.

You want to know how to grapple so can get the f*ck up if the need arises tho.