It is a well-known fact that in Krav Maga we want to avoid the ground as much as possible. Despite the fact, the first rule in Krav Maga is don’t go to the ground we also need to expect it as a possibility. The ground is a horrible place to be on the street as you can be more easily injured depending on the environment. You will have a far more difficult time escaping to safety and if other people jump in that are not your friends or if weapons are introduced, which you should always assume as a possibility, it can go sideways faster than the blink of an eye.
In Krav Maga it is often assumed that simply through aggression, groin strikes and targeting the eyes we can easily fend off any attacker from the ground. The problem is this assumes too much in a bad way. It assumes the attacker isn’t hyper-aggressive, on drugs (cannot feel pain), and is not putting aggressive forward pressure on you preventing you from getting up. Unfortunately for much of the history of Krav Maga, most instructors were focusing more on the stand-up portions and did not develop their ground skills. Only in recent years have life long Krav Maga practitioners realized that ground fighting was our greatest weakness.
The best way to stop any situation from happening is to understand it. If we accept that Krav Maga has a weakness when it comes to the ground then it would be a good idea to train ground specific styles. At UTKM it is believed that all Krav Maga practitioners should achieve a minimum of a BJJ Blue belt or equivalent. For example if you did competitive wrestling for 5 years, it is reasonable to assume you understand how to control another person on the ground.
While a good Krav Maga program must incorporate ground fighting as part of their training, due to the vast amount of knowledge needed to cover it is difficult to dedicate the appropriate time to ground training. Additionally, the approach to the Ground in Krav maga as laid out below does not always allow for good grappling skills to really be developed should you encounter someone who is very competent. Because of this, it is best to train outside of your Krav Maga training with ground specialists.
Understanding the ground and what someone is trying to do will give you the time to stop them even briefly to begin to apply the Krav Maga ground strategies.
So what are you waiting for? Get training!
The Basic Ground Strategy for Krav Maga:
Your goal on the ground should always be to create space, get to a neutral (non-grappling position) and get to your feet. However, if this is not possible follow the order of operation. Just know that no matter where you are in this sequence if, at any point that you can get to your feet, you must do so.
Ground fighting order of operation
- Do Not be on the Ground – First and foremost do everything you can to avoid the ground. This includes things like work on your balance, train in grappling, strengthen your core, practice proper avoidance and really anything that does not put you there. If you are not on the ground you do not need to worry about it.
- Learn to Fall – If you do end up on the ground there is a good chance you fell or were thrown. It is also likely that the surface you fell on was considerably harder than the mats you train on in the gym. If you don’t know how to fall properly there is a good chance you will not be getting up again. Because if you did not pay attention during break fall training it is likely your head has now bounced off the pavement, or you posted your hand when you should not have and you broke your wrist. Learning to fall is just as important as learning to pick your self up again.
- Get up – If you fell or were thrown but the opponent is not controlling you, it is not being overly aggressive or there is ample space to get up and do it fast. While you should use the correct techniques as taught to you in class really any method you use that gets you up on your feet is the correct one. So make a decision, make it fast and get to your feet.
- Be Defensive & Offensive – If the attacker is putting some pressure, but is still on their feet then you need to take a defensive position that allows you to protect your self and also attack. We recommend kicking the knees as this will cause them to back up giving you the space to get up. You can kick the groin if it is available but this may also cause them to fall on to you. If they do put their head in their range then good old fashion up kicks will do nicely. We do not recommend putting everything you have into a single kick as if you miss and they are aggressive you may find your self in a worse position.
- Use a Sweep – If they are moving in and you are able to use a sweep that puts them on the ground, and or in a worse position and you on your feet and or in a better position. Sweeps should be used before they start a grappling fight. While sweeps can still be used, they should be done prior to it being a full ground fight.
- Ground Fight – If you are now both on the ground its a ground fight. Use all your skills to go from a worse position to a better position with the goal of getting back to your feet. The only time you should choose to stay here is if it is life or death, or professional requirements dictate you stay here (Such as arrest and control protocols). However, if you stay on the ground to control a person remember, they may still have friends and even in Security and Law Enforcement scenarios, if you do not have back up right near you it may be best to get to your feet and control the person.
Weapons on the ground
If there is a weapon involved in a ground fight it complicates things dramatically. In particular knives and guns. You first must understand what weapon you are dealing with before you can safely manage it on the ground. See The Gun, The Knife and The Stick for more details.
But if you find your self in a ground fight with a weapon, follow the below strategy.
- Control the weapon arm – At all points, you should be controlling the weapon arm to prevent its use against your self. While we strongly do not recommend the Kimura grip in a standing position now is certainly a good time to implement it. Otherwise, use whatever methods you know that keep’s you safe and the weapon arm controlled so it cannot easily be used against you. This however is often a struggle, is messy and will really be about who wants it more.
- Disarm if possible – If you are able to disarm the weapon from the position you are in doing so. Whether you choose to use it against them will be a matter of personal choice. Sometimes it is required some times it is not. Just make sure you understand weapons and use of force laws where you are. However, consider this. It is better to be judged by 12 (a jury) than to be carried by 6 (in a coffin).
- Get to a better position– If you were unable to do a disarm, or if you were it is still time to get to a better position allowing more control and a path to escape. If you did not do a disarm then switching to a better position requires also controlling the weapon or the weapon arm. If you did do a disarm, then you will have to ensure you maintain control of the weapon while you get to a better position. How you get to a better position will largely depend on your skill, knowledge and what the attacker is doing. Just know that while you should use the techniques you were taught anything you do that gets you to a better position safely is good enough.
- Disarm if possible– If you are now in a better position that allows dominant control disarm the weapon using the methods you know. If you are unable to control the person enough to safely disarm the weapon then skip to the next step. If you can safely disarm the weapon then you should keep it on your persons to either use or present as evidence later on. If you also choose to maintain control of the attacker then you must keep your wits about you as there could still be other attackers.
- Create Space, get to your feet and Assess – Once you either have the weapon, the attacker has stopped, or you are losing control create lots of space by backing up. You then must asses what to do next. In most places, if you just took a weapon away from an attacker, you should call the police or appropriate authorities. Do not wait as the attacker could call first and lie about the scenario. You may also need to be prepared to continue fighting and now may be the time to use the weapon in your defense.