From the Octagon to the Street

This is an article I wrote for Black Belt Magazine  and it got published in the January 2009 issue. I edited it a bit to make it more blog-friendly and cut it down in size. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the  comments section.

“From mixed martial arts to the street: Practical grappling skills for real-life self defense”

by

Wim Demeere

The first Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993 started a revolution in martial arts competitions: Very few techniques were prohibited:

  • Vicious elbows to the face.
  • Joint locks carried out to the fullest.
  • Strikes to the back of the head
  • Even kicking a downed opponent.

But the biggest upset was the fact that having a ground game and solid grappling skills proved an absolute necessity to leave the Octagon a winner. The Gracie family proved the effectiveness of its ju-jitsu ground techniques by placing one of their lightest fighters (Royce Gracie weighed a whopping 175 lbs.) against primarily heavyweight opponents. More often than not he managed to submit or choke out his opponents with an almost disheartening ease.

Nowadays, MMA competitors no longer fear the ground and are well-rounded professional athletes. They are masters of full-power striking techniques, grappling, groundwork, and most of all, they flow effortlessly from the one to the other when the situation demands it. This makes them formidable opponents and places MMA as one of the most well-rounded combat arts in the world.

The sport itself also changed; it turned into a multi-million dollar industry, eclipsing boxing and other martial arts in popularity. With the increased public awareness came a rise in misconceptions about not only the sport but martial arts and violence in general. The cage is viewed by many practitioners as the ultimate proving grounds for martial art styles. They argue that if exponents of any given system cannot beat an opponent in the cage or Octagon, then that system is worthless. They reason that MMAs have proven they can take down anyone fighting solely with traditional martial arts and then beat or submit them with ground fighting. The seemingly obvious conclusion is that the Mixed Martial Artist is the ultimate fighter in both the cage and the street. But is this statement true?

To a certain extent, it most certainly is:

  • Mixed Martial artists are comfortable fighting at punching and kicking range as well as clinching and stand-up grappling. This places them on equal footing with striking arts like karate, taekwondo or grappling arts like judo and wrestling.
  • But their specialty is taking the fight to the floor and working from there until an opponent is knocked out or submitted.

This makes MMAs one of the most effective systems for unarmed dueling. But unarmed dueling categorizes only a fraction of all violent encounters in today’s world. There is a much wider variety of situations in which fighting skills are needed:

  • Multiple-opponent attacks
  • Rape
  • Armed aggression
  • Violent assault
  • Robbery
  • Etc.

In most of these environments, taking the fight to the floor is not the best solution. The strategies and techniques that work so well in the Octagon can get you injured or killed in the street. This doesn’t mean they are useless for self-defense, on the contrary. It does mean you need to adapt your training to the viciousness of the pavement arena.

 

Multiple opponents

When you fight in the cage, you concentrate on the opponent in front of you; there are no other dangers or distractions. However, street crime routinely involves multiple attackers. They usually hide their numbers by making you focus on one aggressor while the other ambushes you from behind. It doesn’t matter how well you can fight in a competition; if you get clobbered over the back of the head with a tire iron, you go down. Or the attacker might only reveal his presence after you successfully took the first aggressor to the ground. While you feel ecstatic about gaining the mount position on him and are about to do some “ground & pound”, you don’t see the second man about to tear into you.

The problem is that there are no good techniques (grappling or otherwise) against multiple opponents once you hit the ground. If you willingly go to the ground in the street and ignore the danger of multiple opponents, you might discover that no amount of MMA training prepares you for defending against a viscous beating like this one. Notice how it starts out as one-on-one but as soon as the opportunity arises, a second attacker moves in. Ones the fight goes to the ground, it doesn’t take long to finish.

You can avoid all this by:

  • Being aware of your surroundings and making it a habit to register the people around you wherever you go.
  • If you spot a tough guy scoping you out, immediately assume he’s not alone and look for his accomplice.
  • This tactic applies in spades whenever a stranger approaches you: Before he can reach you, sneak a quick peek behind you to spot anyone closing in.
  • If you can’t prevent the encounter and have to defend yourself, step away from your aggressor as soon as he’s down and do a 360° scan to make sure you are safe.
  • Do not go to the ground in the street, unless you absolutely have no other choice.

 

Gender

Once a fight is taken to the ground in the Octagon, it turns into a contest of physical abilities quickly. Unless a competitor places a joint lock or submission exactly right and at blinding speed, he has to struggle to reach a dominant position from which he can finish it off. This takes a considerable amount of pure strength; a physical attribute the average man has the advantage of over a woman. This places women at a distinct tactical disadvantage on the floor. For instance, violent rape often occurs with the perpetrator pinning his female victim on the ground with his bodyweight and superior strength. Unless the woman has superior grappling skills, her attacker’s strength prevents her from getting back on her feet.

Effective women’s self-defense courses do cover the ground game but they take a different approach from mixed martial arts: instead of trying to beat or submit the attacker, they create opportunities to escape from the ground and get back up again as soon as possible. They use techniques that are not allowed in most MMA tournaments: attacking the eyes, throat, and groin, breaking fingers, biting, or even clawing and ripping skin off. These techniques are meant to disorient and injure the attacker long enough for the woman to get him off of her and escape to safety. Under virtually no circumstances should women try to prolong the fight on the ground by going for a submission or chokehold.

Take a look at this video of Rich Dimitri teaching a women’s self defense class. The “fights” start at 8min.10

The goal for a woman is not to “beat” a male attacker. The goal is to get up and away. Submitting the attacker by means of ground & pound, arm bar or choke is never the primary objective. Getting up and away is clearly the best option.

 

Time

In MMA tournaments a joint lock or choke hold rarely works instantly. Competitors transition from one technique to the other for several minutes (or much longer) to finish the fight and often the fighter who appears to be in a difficult position manages to reverse the situation in his favor. In a street confrontation, a fight often takes less than just one minute, sometimes it’s even less than ten seconds.

Usually one side gains the advantage over the other in the first few seconds and then exploits it to incapacitate his opponent. This makes time a critical component for ground fighting in the street; the faster you end the fight, the less chance of something going wrong:

  • There are no breaks to catch your breath between rounds or a referee to let you recover from an illegal blow.
  • You might just get tired before your attacker does and be unable to finish him off.

This means the safest strategy in the street is to incapacitate the attacker in matter of seconds once you hit the floor:

  • Instead of struggling for a dominant position that only prolongs the fight, try to get back on your feet before your aggressor does. This always gives you the option to run away if you find yourself facing a stronger opponent or if he brought his friends along to send you to the hospital.
  • If you do find an opening for a grappling technique, you might actually have to break or dislocate a joint before you effectively stop your attacker. Don’t expect him to tap out or if he does, respect the tap. He might decide to come at you again but this time with much more determination and viciousness.
  • Most of all you need to focus your training towards quick execution and decision making. That means going for the joint lock with the intent to end the fight in an instant but also the alertness to abandon that same technique if it doesn’t work right off the bat. At that point in time, instead of continuing to grapple on the floor, try to get away from your opponent before he can hurt you.

Watch this fight. One punch and it’s over:

 

Weapons

The days of Roman gladiators butchering each other with swords and other weapons for the entertainment of the people are fortunately in the past. In today’s arena, MMA fighters take each other on with empty hands. But things are different on the street: Criminals, thugs and violent drunks can and will use weapons to end a fight in their favor. This especially applies to ground fighting. As mentioned above, it usually takes time to choke somebody out or break the joint of a resisting opponent. If your attacker gets to his knife or firearm before you can render him harmless, your chances of survival drop considerably.

U.S. Marines currently train in ground fighting too, but do so with a specific mindset: they assume their enemy is always armed, regardless of the situation or environment. To instill this mindset, drill instructors place a stun gun in the pockets of some soldiers when they practice ground grappling. This forces recruits to control their opponent and try to finish the fight quickly. If they don’t, the stun gun (symbolizing a knife or firearm) gives them a shocking reminder of how real-life fighting can turn deadly in a matter of seconds.

You can train in the same way by:

  • Practicing ground fighting in street clothes and incorporating training knives and guns in the sparring sessions. Alternate bouts with both you and your partner armed and then just one of you, practicing both the offensive and defensive aspects.
  • Find ways to quickly draw your training weapon before your partner can finish a choke hold or joint lock on you, but also work on preventing him from doing the same.
  • In either case, your goal is to get up and away from your armed opponent without delay.
  • The other side of this coin is preventing him from disarming you. Conventional stand-up weapon retention techniques don’t work as well on the ground, forcing you to adapt them for the ground.

Here’s an example of a knife attack going to the ground. It looks like a fairly typical ground fight at first, until the knife comes out. Regular competitive MMA ground techniques and strategies work against you here.

 

Legal limitations

Self-defense regulations vary from one country to the other and even from state to state. Though there is no single set of laws that is universally applicable across the globe, most justice systems have two essential components: duty to escape and proportionate defense:

  • In layman’s terms, you have to avoid a physical altercation if that is at all possible. If not, then you are only allowed enough use of force to allow your escape and no more.
  • The second concept obligates you to take into account the level of aggression: if an unarmed attacker slaps you in the shoulder, you are not allowed to shoot him until you run out of ammo. The defensive actions you use must be proportionate to his attacking techniques.

Though different legal systems interpret and apply these ideas in a variety of ways, they are consistently present.

As a mixed martial artist you can find yourself in legal trouble real fast even though you might be justified in defending yourself. It’s hard to argue self defense when witnesses swear they saw you take your attacker down and then rain a flurry of elbow strikes to his face, continuing long after he fell unconscious. Or you might do a perfect throw on an aggressive drunk, pound away at his face for a while and then perform an arm bar that snaps his elbow clean. When he sues you for all you’re worth, his lawyer will have a field day painting you as a violent thug who crippled a helpless victim. Odds are good he’ll win the case and ruin you financially or send you to prison.

These are just two examples of how things can go wrong but there are many more. MMA competition training is first and foremost a dueling environment. Self-defense is an entirely different animal and the legal system doesn’t forgive you for not distinguishing between the two. So when you train ground techniques for self-protection, do so with the goal of ending the fight fast so you can get up and escape.

Conclusion

MMAs are perhaps the most spectacular and entertaining fighting arts of our time. They’re also a great way to get in top physical shape while improving both your health and self-esteem. But whenever you want to use them for self-defense there are certain parameters to take into account. Overall, this is more a matter of having the right mindset than a technical issue. Train to understand the differences between the cage and the street and then adapt your skills accordingly. Hopefully, you can then continue to live a safe and rewarding life in the knowledge that your fighting skills will be there for you when needed.

UPDATE: Here’s Part Two of this article.

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Comments

  1. Hi Wim–great article and love the videos. The section about gender really hit home. I have been in a few women’s self defense classes where we were instructed on techniques and things to do if we do find ourselves on the ground and they may work, but I also know that if someone is bigger and stronger than you and really wants to hurt you, and he’s getting ready to pin you to the ground, you better try your hardest to find an opportunity to get in a palm heel strike, an eye gouge, a knee or a foot planted somewhere vulnerable BEFORE you get pinned to the ground and then run like hell to safety. Thanks again for another great article.

    • Thanks Sherry. I agree, it’s not politically correct anymore to say it out loud but women are usually physically weaker than men. There’s no shame in that, nor is it a male fascist pig thing to say. :-) It’s just generally true.
      Women need to accept that and move on to stacking the deck in their favor.
      When I teach women’s SD, I usually illustrate this by grabbing one of the students and telling her to break free. She’s allowed to do anything she wants. In all those years, not one of them managed to do so once I get a hold and simply use strength and bodyweight to immobilize her. For many women, this is the first time they experience that: a man physically shutting them down. It opens a lot of eyes.

      • My sensei seriously opened my eyes–knocked me flat on the ground and pinned me down so quickly I didn’t even know what hit me. I could hardly move and I’m pretty strong. I imagined what one punch in the face would do…

        The comment by Steve below was a little eye opening too–biting off the attackers nose. When you’re in a self defense situation, you really have to do whatever you can to get out of it. Don’t allow yourself to feel powerless.

  2. Hi Wim–great article and love the videos. The section about gender really hit home. I have been in a few women’s self defense classes where we were instructed on techniques and things to do if we do find ourselves on the ground and they may work, but I also know that if someone is bigger and stronger than you and really wants to hurt you, and he’s getting ready to pin you to the ground, you better try your hardest to find an opportunity to get in a palm heel strike, an eye gouge, a knee or a foot planted somewhere vulnerable BEFORE you get pinned to the ground and then run like hell to safety. Thanks again for another great article.

    • Thanks Sherry. I agree, it’s not politically correct anymore to say it out loud but women are usually physically weaker than men. There’s no shame in that, nor is it a male fascist pig thing to say. :-) It’s just generally true.
      Women need to accept that and move on to stacking the deck in their favor.
      When I teach women’s SD, I usually illustrate this by grabbing one of the students and telling her to break free. She’s allowed to do anything she wants. In all those years, not one of them managed to do so once I get a hold and simply use strength and bodyweight to immobilize her. For many women, this is the first time they experience that: a man physically shutting them down. It opens a lot of eyes.

      • My sensei seriously opened my eyes–knocked me flat on the ground and pinned me down so quickly I didn’t even know what hit me. I could hardly move and I’m pretty strong. I imagined what one punch in the face would do…

        The comment by Steve below was a little eye opening too–biting off the attackers nose. When you’re in a self defense situation, you really have to do whatever you can to get out of it. Don’t allow yourself to feel powerless.

  3. As a lifelong martial artist, police defensive tactics trainer, wrestler and former special agent in the Secret Service and I have made it my quest for the practical in real life application. You summed up so well what I have been teaching for many years. Thank you for a great blog post. I will share it with others.

  4. As a lifelong martial artist, police defensive tactics trainer, wrestler and former special agent in the Secret Service and I have made it my quest for the practical in real life application. You summed up so well what I have been teaching for many years. Thank you for a great blog post. I will share it with others.

  5. Danny Young says:

    I think the Gracie’s are marketing geniuses. They got into the early UFC against other Martial Artists that had no ground skills. The Gracie’s used their strength wisely, and promoted that all fights go to the ground. Brilliant, really.

    I used to beat guys twice my size because they had no ground skills, now, if they did, I wouldn’t be writing this.

    I don’t agree that all fights go to the ground. If it does, you probably made a major tactical mistake. Staying on your feet is where you want to be. Running away like the wind is even better. I do agree you need some ground skills, but you don’t want to stay there.

    On the street, Big John McCarthy isn’t going to step in.
    Danny

  6. Danny Young says:

    I think the Gracie’s are marketing geniuses. They got into the early UFC against other Martial Artists that had no ground skills. The Gracie’s used their strength wisely, and promoted that all fights go to the ground. Brilliant, really.

    I used to beat guys twice my size because they had no ground skills, now, if they did, I wouldn’t be writing this.

    I don’t agree that all fights go to the ground. If it does, you probably made a major tactical mistake. Staying on your feet is where you want to be. Running away like the wind is even better. I do agree you need some ground skills, but you don’t want to stay there.

    On the street, Big John McCarthy isn’t going to step in.
    Danny

  7. Wim, that’s an outstanding article. I have trained in numerous “traditional” and not-so-traditional martial arts, and have even competed in MMA before. I can’t agree with you more on what you wrote, especially when you said “Overall, this is more a matter of having the right mind-set than a technical issue.” It irritates me when certain non-MMA instructors or practitioners disregard Mixed Martial Arts as a whole and seem to not see any value in it at all.

    One thing I would like to add is that while I agree with your statement “But their specialty is taking the fight to the floor and working from there until an opponent is knocked out or submitted.” most of the time, as there are a multitude of fighters that avoid that approach as much as possible. However, many fighters in the cage (or the ring, if you’re in Japan) prefer a sprawl-and-brawl style; avoiding takedowns and picking apart opponents on the feet. I am actually one of the latter.

    Like I said before, outstanding article! I look forward to part 2. Keep ’em coming!

    • Sorry, there was a typo in the second paragraph. It should read:

      One thing I would like to add is that while I agree that your statement “But their specialty is taking the fight to the floor and working from there until an opponent is knocked out or submitted.” is true in many cases, there are a lot of fighters in the cage (or the ring, if you’re in Japan) prefer a sprawl-and-brawl style; avoiding takedowns and picking apart opponents on the feet. I am actually one of the latter.

    • Dan, I understand what you mean buy actually, you’re making my point for me: the sprawl, in and of itself, inherently prepares you for the groundgame. yes, it’s designed to stop you being taken down but at the same time, it places you in a dominant position if the opponent doesn’t stay on his feet. Other techniques, more traditional ones, focus on not going to the ground at all, even if the other guy does so after you block his shoot.
      It might look like I’m splitting hairs but I’m not. This is a small detail that has huge consequences for how you fight. It’s perhaps not the most interesting thing to do in the cage but it makes a huge difference on the street.

  8. Wim, that’s an outstanding article. I have trained in numerous “traditional” and not-so-traditional martial arts, and have even competed in MMA before. I can’t agree with you more on what you wrote, especially when you said “Overall, this is more a matter of having the right mind-set than a technical issue.” It irritates me when certain non-MMA instructors or practitioners disregard Mixed Martial Arts as a whole and seem to not see any value in it at all.

    One thing I would like to add is that while I agree with your statement “But their specialty is taking the fight to the floor and working from there until an opponent is knocked out or submitted.” most of the time, as there are a multitude of fighters that avoid that approach as much as possible. However, many fighters in the cage (or the ring, if you’re in Japan) prefer a sprawl-and-brawl style; avoiding takedowns and picking apart opponents on the feet. I am actually one of the latter.

    Like I said before, outstanding article! I look forward to part 2. Keep ’em coming!

    • Sorry, there was a typo in the second paragraph. It should read:

      One thing I would like to add is that while I agree that your statement “But their specialty is taking the fight to the floor and working from there until an opponent is knocked out or submitted.” is true in many cases, there are a lot of fighters in the cage (or the ring, if you’re in Japan) prefer a sprawl-and-brawl style; avoiding takedowns and picking apart opponents on the feet. I am actually one of the latter.

    • Dan, I understand what you mean buy actually, you’re making my point for me: the sprawl, in and of itself, inherently prepares you for the groundgame. yes, it’s designed to stop you being taken down but at the same time, it places you in a dominant position if the opponent doesn’t stay on his feet. Other techniques, more traditional ones, focus on not going to the ground at all, even if the other guy does so after you block his shoot.
      It might look like I’m splitting hairs but I’m not. This is a small detail that has huge consequences for how you fight. It’s perhaps not the most interesting thing to do in the cage but it makes a huge difference on the street.

  9. Hey Wim,

    This was a well thought out and persuasive argument.

    One thing – no one would really argue that one method of fighting is any better than another in the street? Would they?

    I’ve always found it is ones thinking ability that makes the most difference. If one can then marry their skill level with what is required to mount a good defense – then they will carry the day.

    • Actually John, legions of MMA fans argue just that point. Visit some forums if you want to see just how prevalent this idea is.

  10. Hey Wim,

    This was a well thought out and persuasive argument.

    One thing – no one would really argue that one method of fighting is any better than another in the street? Would they?

    I’ve always found it is ones thinking ability that makes the most difference. If one can then marry their skill level with what is required to mount a good defense – then they will carry the day.

    • Actually John, legions of MMA fans argue just that point. Visit some forums if you want to see just how prevalent this idea is.

  11. Steve Holley says:

    Thanks for the review of UFC 1. I think it should have been subtitled “Too Fat to Fight”

    On the women’s self defense class, when that aggressor was in the woman’s face at the beginning, all I could think of was “bite his nose”. I worked an attempted rape where the woman did just that. The attacker had her on the ground and she just bit his nose. Off. And then, and I am not making this up, SWALLOWED it. She said she didn’t mean to, that it was just a reaction, but I’m not so sure…….

  12. Steve Holley says:

    Thanks for the review of UFC 1. I think it should have been subtitled “Too Fat to Fight”

    On the women’s self defense class, when that aggressor was in the woman’s face at the beginning, all I could think of was “bite his nose”. I worked an attempted rape where the woman did just that. The attacker had her on the ground and she just bit his nose. Off. And then, and I am not making this up, SWALLOWED it. She said she didn’t mean to, that it was just a reaction, but I’m not so sure…….

  13. Garry Hodgins says:

    Street fighting is all about keeping your eyes open and your mouth shut.

  14. Garry Hodgins says:

    Street fighting is all about keeping your eyes open and your mouth shut.

  15. It is true that gender should never be an issue when it comes to martial arts. In fact women should even be given more importance in martial arts classes since naturally, women are not that strong and cannot easily defend themselves.

  16. It is true that gender should never be an issue when it comes to martial arts. In fact women should even be given more importance in martial arts classes since naturally, women are not that strong and cannot easily defend themselves.

  17. Hey first of all.
    I like this blog verry interesting articles and comments.

    I think you got a verry good point of view on martial arts and their value for self defence.

    Self defence is protecting yourself from harm, and trying to geth away using minimum violence to protect yourself.
    You explain this verry good.

    However there are some things i kinda disagree.
    I think sparring or doing a combat sport, wil give you:

    better feeling for distance, timing and technique.
    i also think if you can aply techniques against a resisting oponent trained to defend against those types of techniques you can defend yourself more effectively in self defence, then that you practice against an oponent who pretends he atacks and allows you to do your technique.

    So for the self defence for women against rape i think it would be verry good for them to practice a grappling art (judo,bjj,sambo).
    so they are used to being atacked full force by someone who really wants to pin and submit them (noth someone pretending).

    grappling is also verry technical you apply the force of your entire body against your opponents weak parts (arteries,elbow/shoulder joints).

    This allows a weak person to sweep/submit a bigger more powerfull oponent by using leverage.

    I think the eye gouges and groin shots taught in the video, are a good idea.
    However on the long run training grappling wil have more benefits.

    Besides: het een sluit het ander niet uit.
    When going for a triangle you can still eye poke (or do other mean things).

    check this video out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DZuehi-ZrI

    this woman utilizes the guard (a position a woman wil find herself in when raped) to set up: triangle chokes, sweeps and joint locks against trained male grapplers.

    I think if she can pull these moves of on trained male grapplers.
    I,m pretty sure she can also pull them of on ordinary joe (who don,t know grappling).
    Therefore i think she (or another woman bjj practitioner) can defend herself more succesfully from a rape attempt then girls who know dirty tricks.
    Buth don,t know: sweeps,positions or how to apply techniques under stress against someone who really wants to take you out (noth pretending).

    That is all

    mma is defenitely a spectacular sport.
    However when defending yourself, you want to focus on gething away noth grappling for the submission.

    Again really like your articles.
    By the way i also saw your character in a book of Barry Eisler: requim of an assasin.
    verry good book, verry cool character.
    bye.

    • Hi Pieter,

      First, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad to hear you enjoy my blog.

      A few things:

      <<
      I think sparring or doing a combat sport, wil give you:

      better feeling for distance, timing and technique.
      <<

      I agree, up to a point. A fight in the MMA cage is different from a self defense situation, so the timing is different too. And these differences are just as important as the similarities.

      <<
      this woman utilizes the guard (a position a woman wil find herself in when raped) to set up: triangle chokes, sweeps and joint locks against trained male grapplers.
      <<

      Grappling arts are a good thing for a woman to learn, she'll definitely get more used to having an opponent on top of her. There's just one thing: chances are pretty good her attacker will outweigh her and be stronger than her. And that difference in strength and size is hugely important, especially for women who aren't athletes like the one in your clip.
      There are reasons why MMA has weight categories. If Randy Couture fights BJ Penn, takes him down and starts grappling, BJ is going to have one hell of a time getting free. Size matters, so does strength.

      <<
      I think if she can pull these moves of on trained male grapplers.
      I,m pretty sure she can also pull them of on ordinary joe (who don,t know grappling).
      <<

      That remains to be seen, IMO. See above.

      <<
      However when defending yourself, you want to focus on gething away noth grappling for the submission.
      <<

      An there's the rub: if you don't train specifically for getting up, you won't necessarily be able to pull it off in a SD situation.

      <<
      By the way i also saw your character in a book of Barry Eisler: requim of an assasin.
      verry good book, verry cool character.
      <<

      Cool, the Rain series is really good. I enjoyed it a lot. Though I do hate bike messengers now… :-)

      Thanks for the feedback,

      Wim

  18. Hey first of all.
    I like this blog verry interesting articles and comments.

    I think you got a verry good point of view on martial arts and their value for self defence.

    Self defence is protecting yourself from harm, and trying to geth away using minimum violence to protect yourself.
    You explain this verry good.

    However there are some things i kinda disagree.
    I think sparring or doing a combat sport, wil give you:

    better feeling for distance, timing and technique.
    i also think if you can aply techniques against a resisting oponent trained to defend against those types of techniques you can defend yourself more effectively in self defence, then that you practice against an oponent who pretends he atacks and allows you to do your technique.

    So for the self defence for women against rape i think it would be verry good for them to practice a grappling art (judo,bjj,sambo).
    so they are used to being atacked full force by someone who really wants to pin and submit them (noth someone pretending).

    grappling is also verry technical you apply the force of your entire body against your opponents weak parts (arteries,elbow/shoulder joints).

    This allows a weak person to sweep/submit a bigger more powerfull oponent by using leverage.

    I think the eye gouges and groin shots taught in the video, are a good idea.
    However on the long run training grappling wil have more benefits.

    Besides: het een sluit het ander niet uit.
    When going for a triangle you can still eye poke (or do other mean things).

    check this video out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DZuehi-ZrI

    this woman utilizes the guard (a position a woman wil find herself in when raped) to set up: triangle chokes, sweeps and joint locks against trained male grapplers.

    I think if she can pull these moves of on trained male grapplers.
    I,m pretty sure she can also pull them of on ordinary joe (who don,t know grappling).
    Therefore i think she (or another woman bjj practitioner) can defend herself more succesfully from a rape attempt then girls who know dirty tricks.
    Buth don,t know: sweeps,positions or how to apply techniques under stress against someone who really wants to take you out (noth pretending).

    That is all

    mma is defenitely a spectacular sport.
    However when defending yourself, you want to focus on gething away noth grappling for the submission.

    Again really like your articles.
    By the way i also saw your character in a book of Barry Eisler: requim of an assasin.
    verry good book, verry cool character.
    bye.

    • Hi Pieter,

      First, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad to hear you enjoy my blog.

      A few things:

      <<
      I think sparring or doing a combat sport, wil give you:

      better feeling for distance, timing and technique.
      <<

      I agree, up to a point. A fight in the MMA cage is different from a self defense situation, so the timing is different too. And these differences are just as important as the similarities.

      <<
      this woman utilizes the guard (a position a woman wil find herself in when raped) to set up: triangle chokes, sweeps and joint locks against trained male grapplers.
      <<

      Grappling arts are a good thing for a woman to learn, she'll definitely get more used to having an opponent on top of her. There's just one thing: chances are pretty good her attacker will outweigh her and be stronger than her. And that difference in strength and size is hugely important, especially for women who aren't athletes like the one in your clip.
      There are reasons why MMA has weight categories. If Randy Couture fights BJ Penn, takes him down and starts grappling, BJ is going to have one hell of a time getting free. Size matters, so does strength.

      <<
      I think if she can pull these moves of on trained male grapplers.
      I,m pretty sure she can also pull them of on ordinary joe (who don,t know grappling).
      <<

      That remains to be seen, IMO. See above.

      <<
      However when defending yourself, you want to focus on gething away noth grappling for the submission.
      <<

      An there's the rub: if you don't train specifically for getting up, you won't necessarily be able to pull it off in a SD situation.

      <<
      By the way i also saw your character in a book of Barry Eisler: requim of an assasin.
      verry good book, verry cool character.
      <<

      Cool, the Rain series is really good. I enjoyed it a lot. Though I do hate bike messengers now… :-)

      Thanks for the feedback,

      Wim

  19. Verry interesting article
    I like it.

    However would grappling training on the ground, would,nt give you a beter understanding of how to stand up and flee (sweeps,reversals).

    Would it be wise to spar grappling on the ground?

    What is your opinion.

    • Yes, no, maybe. There’s no black/white answer here. It all depends on the technical details of how you train these things. Because many (if not all) grappling moves in MMA are designed to get you into a dominant position so you can continue to fight from there; That is the total opposite of getting up and fleeing. so it depends on how exactly you spar and which techniques you use.

  20. Verry interesting article
    I like it.

    However would grappling training on the ground, would,nt give you a beter understanding of how to stand up and flee (sweeps,reversals).

    Would it be wise to spar grappling on the ground?

    What is your opinion.

    • Yes, no, maybe. There’s no black/white answer here. It all depends on the technical details of how you train these things. Because many (if not all) grappling moves in MMA are designed to get you into a dominant position so you can continue to fight from there; That is the total opposite of getting up and fleeing. so it depends on how exactly you spar and which techniques you use.

  21. Hi, great article/series. Thanks, Wim!

    First off: I’ve never taken a grappling class (I do FMA+Boxing) and I never taught women’s-SD, so I don’t know what I’m talking about :-)

    While the material that Rich Dimitri (and other great RBSD-instructors) teaches looks very effective, I’m wondering: wouldn’t that stuff get boring pretty fast? I mean: if I were a women, and I asked you: “I’m very dedicated to develop serious SD-skills. I want to train at least two times a week. Where to go?” Would you point her directly to a place that teaches only RBSD (exclusively!)?

    My thinking is: if someone wants to up his/her SD-skills, with as little time consumption as possible, then RBSD is definitely the way to go. Some people simply can’t/don’t want to train more than once or twice a month. But, for others, who want to put some real time and effort into it, nitty-gritty-RBSD might not be enough.

    In your interview with Mike Mireles he says:
    “That’s because boxing and wrestling have hard sparing that breed’s physical toughness. That goes a long way towards self preservation on the street.”
    Very true. May I add: it also develops psychical toughness and can be a lot of fun. This might result in a lot of time happily spent in the dojo/gym.

    That’s why I always thought that grappling would be a great foundation for said target group. They could toughen up by developing “attributes” (1) and then take occasional SD-courses to fine-tune their skills.

    (1) You know what I’m talking about, Wim. For those who don’t, here’s some further reading:
    http://www.straightblastgym.com/street.htm

    • Joe,

      It depends. If all you want is SD, then you’re better off focusing on awareness and avoidance courses, verbal judo, etc. These will take care of 95% of the problems the average citizen faces. Same goes for SD techniques: most combatives systems, RBSD or traditional styles can give you a handful of techniques that work really fast. If you want to train more than that, then your focus becomes wider than just SD: technique, skill, conditioning, fun, anti-stress, etc. Nothing wrong with that but it’s not pure SD training anymore.

      If you want to put real time and effort in getting good at SD, there’s no need to widen the focus. Just spend more time getting better at what you’re already doing. Me, I like all the other benefits and training just as much as the SD part. So I get what you mean. But for a person looking exclusively for SD, it’s probably overkill.

      As for the SBG, I think it’s a mixed bag. I agree with some of the things they’re saying, not others. Which is fine, BTW. Heaven forbid martial arts or SD teachers actually agree with eachother… :-)

  22. I love what MMA has done for martial arts training in general:

    Increased the focus on Conditioning; for most when they are caught off guard or become tired their very impressive skills quickly fade to the point of being a liability(they still believe they are impressive and will stay to fight.)

    Whether on the mat or the street the ground is a great thing to slam someone into, just like walls, Cars, etc. It is disorienting, unnerving and usually will at least partly knock the wind out of the poor sap. Unless you can spike their head of the ground, which is usually what causes death in street fights not involving weapons.

    It also showed the world that you can fight off your back on the ground against larger opponents(thanks to the Gracies). With that said it was against people that knew very little/Nothing about the ground game.

    One of the downsides of MMA is it has brought more thugs into Martial arts, a lot more. When I worked night club security it seemed every piece of “work” had 3-9 months of MMA/BJJ. The good news is they weren’t in it long enough to be very good but enough to try and make it work against someone with no awareness of these techniques/setups.

    The importance of training defences against basic Takedowns especially against singles/doubles; Training to work in a clinch, some ground work(sweeps/reversals, etc) to get back to your feet, and what have become standards(basic boxing, leg kicks, elbows and knees) can not be overstated regardless of your style.

    It is also important to practice these against people that can do the above listed well. Most of us are to worried about having our egos bruised because, “we are a Martial Artist and they are someone who rolls around in the filth and we think they are below us. The quickest way to get beat with something is to know nothing about it… and not know you know nothing about it.

    It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle. —

    Just my thoughts,
    AA

    My background consists of:
    Datu Kelly Worden’s NSI
    Bujinkan Ninjutsu
    CKM under Moni Aizik
    Working as a doorman
    Cross Training in BJJ to Round out

    Ps. Great blog, Lots of great ideas. thanks Wim

    • Glad to hear you like the post Aaron, and for sharing your thoughts. BTW, your last quote is from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, where there’s some more good stuff to find.