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Surviving on the Ground

Recently we had a ground-fighting seminar with Alex Ferreira who teaches MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Fight and Fitness in San Francisco. He knew he was going to be dealing with a group of people who knew little about ground-fighting and preferred to fight on their feet. With that in mind he focused on the goal of self-defense and getting off the ground. Here's some of the material we covered.

First, know how to do a simple backwards break-fall. I think the most important part of that being to roll and tuck your chin down to your chest so you don't smack your head on the ground. Next, learn to sit back up to one side with one arm behind and one arm forward protecting your head from an opponent. From the side-seated position you should be able to kick at the knee or shin of an opponent and also scoot backwards and away. From there you learn to get back up on both your feet in one fluid motion. All of that takes some practice, but most people can pick it up pretty quickly.

In order to feed someone learning to defend take-downs and survive a ground-fight, it is good to know a simple take-down. We learned a simple technique that starts with an upper body clinch under the arms and gripping together on the back of an opponent. Holding them close, with your chest and shoulders forward and your hips away, drop your grip to their lower back and pull with your arms and push with your upper body. The opponent is tilted back and off-balance, and will likely fall. Getting into the clinch is difficult, and it is good to eventually practice against an opponent fending you off with punches. The opponent will also get good practice avoiding the take-down.

If you and your opponent both end up on the ground, and you are on top, chances are you can throw some punches and fight your way back on to your feet. But if you are on the bottom things may be a little more difficult. Focus on facing your opponent; keeping your legs, hips, body and hands in play, and between you and your opponent when possible. You can use your limbs and hips to put distance between you and your opponent, sit up and stand up.

Practice holding your opponent in the guard position and pulling them close to the ground where it is difficult for them to throw punches. Your legs and arms can be used to rock your opponent backwards and forwards. Try and get your opponent to brace their hands on the ground while holding them close. Eventually your opponent will want to sit up, that is your chance follow them up. Put one hand behind you as you sit up on one side, drop your legs from the guard, bring your other arm around in front of your opponents face or throat and push off. Pushing off your opponent's face or throat while scooting back(as mentioned earlier) will give you room to eventually stand up. You could also put your feet on your opponent's hips and push them back forcefully.

Besides what I mentioned above, we also practiced shrimping, a couple of standing choke escapes and some other bits and pieces I will remember later. The above material was very appropriate for people with little or no ground-fighting training, and gave us a simple idea for how to survive a situation on the ground.

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