Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tips on improving self defense grappling

In my previous post "grappling for self defense vs. grappling for UFC" (, i outlined the differences between grappling for self defense and grappling for sport. In this self defense guide, i will explain in further detail how to apply grappling in the streets.

* Know when grappling is applicable and when it isn't - Sometimes, you cannot win a street fight with grappling alone. You will need striking and kicking skills. There's many fights on youtube where the grappler tries to take it to the ground. While the grappler wins, he is still hit in the process and struggles to apply grappling holds well. You don't want to take a fight to the ground where your vision is limited and you are very vulnerable. This is an example of such a case where grappling failed. Understanding when grappling is useful and when it isn't is key in self defense.

* Embrace dirty fighting - Learn about all the illegal moves in grappling arts and use them to your advantage. Headbutts, biting, eye gouging, groin strikes, elbow strikes, throat grabs, bashing someone's head repeatedly against the concrete, weapons, etc. are all legal in a street fight. Use your environment to your advantage. Simplify your grappling techniques by incorporating these dirty fight tactics in your grappling skills. Raw Combat International gives useful grappling moves for self defense.

* Throw away unessentials - In order to effectively use grappling in self defense, forget about the sports mindset and making your opponent tap out. Discard grappling rules and anything that hinders you from learning grappling for self defense. Self defense is a matter of survival, not of competition.  

* Control your opponent - Controlling your opponent is very important in grappling. You will want to target certain areas such as the arms, legs, and the head to establish a firm hold on your opponent. Once your opponent is under control, you can choke or strike and do whatever you want. Make sure that the grappling holds you choose prevent your opponent from attacking you effectively.

* Use your opponent's momentum against him/her - Don't fight force against force. Absorb your opponent's force and use it against him or her. Let's suppose you are on the ground and your opponent is on a high mount trying to strike you. Feel the energy, redirect it, and allow it to carry your opponent over out of balance. If someone tries to choke you from behind, you could also use momentum to carry your opponent over and break free from the hold.

* Protect your balance - Balance is very important to avoid being taken to the ground. Lower your center of gravity, use momentum, sprawl and brawl, strike, etc. to keep your opponent from executing a successful takedown. Make sure that you have quick and mobile footwork to stay outside of someone trying to grapple with you.

* Set up a takedown - In order to be skilled at setting up a takedown, you need to trick your opponent and understand the range to do it. You will also want to use a takedown useful for self defense. You don't want to go to the ground with your attacker but you'll want to take your attacker down. For example, i like to grapple my opponent from a side position before i sweep him or her down. Rather than go down with my opponent as seen in sports, i release my hold the moment my attacker is falling over. I find these takedown techniques also useful for self defense.

* Be fully aware of your surroundings - Generally, you will want to learn grappling techniques that don't limit your vision. You will also want to scan your surroundings if you are on the ground to make sure there are no multiple attackers. For example, applying a rear naked chokehold works well in choking someone out but my vision is limited. I cannot check to see if my attacker is reaching for a weapon in his or her pockets. I am also vulnerable to strikes to the face. Applying a full nelson is a better grappling hold because 1) My attacker's arms are within my control and vision 2) It establishes full control over my attacker.

* Grapple from a dominant position - The best position to grapple an attacker is when he or she is in the prone position as shown in the picture below. This is where your attacker is at his or her most vulnerable and it's very difficult to resist. Grappling holds such as the boston crab prevent your attacker from reaching for a weapon and escaping. Attacking from a side position where your free to strike and grapple is effective because you only have to deal with his or her arms than the legs.  

* Have a strategy - If you are to use grappling effectively for self defense, you need a strategy. Perhaps you know your opponent is a superior striker so grappling would be useful in neutralizing his or her striking ability. Perhaps you need a human shield against multiple attackers so applying a grappling hold on one as you move around is effective. Grappling can be used to escape from an opponent mounting you on the ground.

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