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  • Writer's pictureHadrian Parry

90% of Fights End on the Ground

This is a statistic that is often attributed to Rorion Gracie, a member of the family most associated with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), a predominantly ground fighting-focused martial art. Allegedly he was quoting an article in a pamphlet from the American Society of Law Enforcement Training (July 1997). I was unable to find the original article online, but I have stated my source material below that refers to it.

From my research, the statistic was quoted incorrectly, and the actual percentage is 62% but even this number needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it is related to a relatively small sample and relates to a very specific context and context is everything.

The data is sourced from LAPD officers’ testimonies regarding incidents where they tried to arrest a suspect who is actively resisting. There are a couple of points to consider, firstly the officer has a very specific outcome in mind, to take the suspect into custody, under the terms of engagement laid out by the LAPD police department. Secondly, for the most part, the suspects are not trying to fight the officer but to escape. For most self-defence situations neither would apply.


Is there other evidence of the number of altercations that end on the ground?

There are some but none that could realistically be considered reliable and there is no consistency in their results. My experience whilst working as security in night clubs was that there were generally 2 situations where people end up on the ground, the first was where a combatant was knocked to the ground, and this often signified the end of the fight. The other was where both combatants had no


training or significant experience. My experience seems to be echoed by people I know with significant real-life combat experience.

There are some indications that my experience may be out of date and that the rise in the popularity of octagon fighting may be changing the way people fight.



Maybe a better question is in self-defence situations should I opt to fight on the ground?

When I started door work, I was told “never go to the ground”, the reasoning being that:

· You significantly lose your ability to manoeuvre.

· You are much more venerable to third-party attacks.

· You appear more vulnerable, emboldening opportunistic attackers.

In a self-defence situation, the ability to manoeuvre is crucial, it gives you options to

· Run away.

· Use your environment to your advantage.

o Natural chock points.

o Access to weapons of opportunity, such as chairs or glasses.

· To limit the potential number of dangers, you face at any point in time, by angle to block attackers with other attackers of obstacles.

· Avoid attacks such as kicks, punches, weapons, or projectiles.

· To screen vulnerable parties, such as children.


In conclusion

It is undoubtedly useful to know how to fight on the ground, but to resort to this as a primarily defensive strategy in a self-defence situation is very unwise. The only exception outside of sports fighting is if you are likely to be in a situation where you are required to restrain an attacker, such as police or mental health work but even then, you should only be going to ground if you are confident that third parties are unlikely to get involved and that weapons are not in play.


Sources for this article and further reading.

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