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Ground Fighting Self-Defense Principles


Ground Fighting Self-Defense

form the H2H Self-Defense Combat Program

Almost all altercations will eventually go to the ground. This hold true whether you are in a street, military or law enforcement fighting scenario.

There are many ways the fight can end up on the ground. You could execute a throw or takedown, the attacker could bring you to the ground, one of the combatants could trip, one could be stunned and fall, etc. When you get to the ground, it is imperative to recognize that this is a dangerous place and situation. Spending too much time on the ground opens you up for other attacks. Also, the more time you spend there, the more time your attacker has time to capitalize on the situation as well. If you are in the military you always need to be aware of what other weapons may be available to your opponent during the fight. They may have lost their rifle, but still have access to their sidearm if they are able to create distance to shoot. This holds true with civilian or law enforcement scenarios as well. There is always a chance that your opponent maybe carrying a concealed weapon or use a weapon of opportunity during the fight. Because of the heightened risk associated with ground combat, you need to end the situation quickly. The benefit of learning ground fighting techniques is that most attackers are not familiar with ground fighting tactics and make common mistakes which can be easily capitalized on and allow you to finish off your attacker.

One of the ways you may end up in the ground position is if you apply a throw or takedown from the H2H Combat Program standing defense section and your opponent is able to bring you to the ground with them. Though this is not advantageous to go to the ground with your opponent, the standing defense techniques are designed to put you in a superior position allowing you to finish your opponent easily.

Key points in Ground Fighting Defense

  • Attack Vulnerable Areas – even though you are on the ground, doesn’t mean that you cannot strike your opponent or attack nerve centers or pressure points. Use and attack whatever you can to either setup a joint break or get up and escape.
  • Maintain or Achieve Top Position – typically being in the bottom position is bad, especially in a real fight scenario. The bottom guard position does give you opportunities to sweep or submit your opponent, but the top position offers more opportunities to finish your opponent or escape.
  • Be Aware of Other Opponents – there maybe other attackers or possible enemies. If you are ambushed in a wooded area and takedown down, be aware of other enemies who may join the fight. If you get in an altercation at a bar, Movie Theater, etc. be aware of your attacker’s friends or people who just feel like "attacking".
  • Be Aware of Weapons – some techniques are better then others when it comes to defending yourself against concealed weapons attacks during a ground fight. Be aware of what opportunities you are giving your opponent to draw his weapon and attack.
  • Not a Wrestling Match – don’t turn the ground fight into a wrestling match. This is a fight for your life, attack what is available to you, break a bone, choke him out and escape.

Types of Ground Fighting Attacks

  • Ground and Pound – your attacker is in a top position and will use strikes to pound you into submission or death
  • Chokes – your attacker may try to choke you from the top or bottom position

Ground Fighting Positions

  • Top Mount – you are in a top position, straddling your opponent. This is one of the most superior positions to be in, you can strike your opponent and apply a variety of joint breaks and chokes.
  • Bottom Mount – you are in one of the worst positions to be in. This is an extremely vulnerable position. You must escape or reverse the situation.
  • Top Cross Chest – you are in a top position, perpendicular to your opponent. You can apply a great deal of joint breaks, chokes and strikes from this position
  • Bottom Cross Chest – you are in another very bad position. You need to regain a better attacking position such as the guard or escape.
  • Top Guard – your opponent’s legs are wrapped around you and you are in the top position. This is a neutral position; your opponent can attack you as well. Your goal is to transition to top mount or cross chest, strike your opponent, or escape.
  • Bottom Guard – you are in a bottom position where your legs are wrapped around your opponent. This is considered a neutral position good defensive position. Your goal here is to apply a joint break or choke, or reverse your opponent so you are in the top position.
  • Smoother – you are in a top position where you are "in line" with your opponent and your chest is over their face. You are facing their feet. You can control easily from this position as well as choke and apply joint breaks.
  • Back Control – you are on your opponent’s back with your legs wrapped around them. This is a very dominant position where you are able to choke or apply joint breaks.
  • Back Taken – your opponent has your back, you need to reverse the situation immediately or suffer greatly.

Additional Resources:


Matt Bryers
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About me:

  • Certified H2H Combat instructor in the H2H System
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Kobukai Ju-Jitsu
  • Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Competitor in Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling and MMA
  • Operated Self-defense and Ju-Jitsu School in Cromwell, CT

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