In our karate classes, we spend about 5% of our time on ground fighting and take down defences. In combat that ratio shifts to somewhere around 10-20% on ground work and takedown defences.

But think about this: in terms of self-defence, 42% of real fights go to the ground. For ladies, the majority of assaults involve men trying to get you down if the attack didn’t already start with you seated or lying down in the first place.

So comparing the ratio of the likelihood of needing ground defence to the amount of time we train in it and you could easily argue that we should spend a lot more time learning ground fighting and take down defence. After all, where is the sense in spending all the time learning stand up skills, like other styles/clubs do, only to be completely inept in the 42% of fights that go down? And for women, it makes even less sense. The importance and value of ground fighting is undeniable.

The main reason for this article is that some people have expressed some concern about having to do more ground fighting as they advance in grades. This mainly hinges around feeling uncomfortable with rolling around on the floor with someone. To help people through this stage of getting familiar with ground fighting, the Combat instructors will be working on easing people into it more by starting off with partners they are very comfortable with and having more structure to the ground fighting section of class.

In the end, though people need to push through their qualms about having to roll around on the ground with people. If you think about it, it isn’t any different to wrestling with your siblings when you were little. Every time I teach kids ground fighting they are comfortable with it, if not excited by the prospect of rolling around on a mat with each other, but for some adults, we have learned to be inhibited by qualms that actually have no basis.

When people train in grappling arts like judo, jiujitsu and MMA this happens on day one and people think it is a normal and natural part of the art. They don’t give it a second thought and get on with it. In Shinkyu, where we learn stand up fighting first, rolling around on the ground seems foreign, although people rushing towards us throwing punches and kicks at our face is natural to us. And of course judo and jiujitsu guys find people throwing punches and kicks at them foreign and very disconcerting, but it’s natural to us.

By the way, sparring is also something that a lot of people, especially women, found intimidating when they first started. They may have had fears about getting hurt or hurting others and self-doubt about their abilities. However, the vast majority push through this stage and get good a sparring, completely overcoming their hang-ups. Most actually really enjoy it after they overcome this stage.

Because sparring is such an intrinsic part of what we do people don’t have any choice but to push through the difficult stage until they get familiar and good at sparring. Ground fighting is exactly the same except people don’t see it as important or intrinsic as sparring, so they feel trying to opt out is a better option rather pushing through. But it simply isn’t an option just like sparring isn’t.

Everything is relative. All it takes is spending the time to getting familiar with new paradigms.

One final thought on the importance of ground fighting for ladies. In this country as civilised as we think we are one in ten women will be raped and one in four will be the victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes. If you care about your sisters, your friends, your daughters please read the below article so you can understand just how important learning self-defence is not just for you but for them and all women. It is overwhelmingly worthwhile to overcome a qualm about having to roll around on the mat with someone every now and then.