I am happy to report that the ground defense principles I proposed over the weekend were well-received. They were considered to embody the 4 tenets of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu and are therefore being incorporated into what we teach for ground defense.
As discussed in my last post, I discussed the idea of moving away from set defenses against specific ground attacks to apply a system of defense that is more flexible to different body types and the adaptive nature of ground attacks. And of course, the goal, as always in ground defense, is to get to your feet and get away. The system of defense is based in the idea of combining two strategies. They are as follows.
1. Body Shifting. When defending on the ground, you shift and move your body in ways that will give you an improved tactical position from which to fight back. If you’re defending against a standing attacker who is trying to kick your head or get on top of you, you shift your body in ways that will keep your feet towards your attacker so you can kick them as they come in. If you’re under someone on the ground, you use bridging & rolling, shrimping, etc. to off balance the attacker and/or create opportunities to strike.
2. Vital Targets. Body shifting alone is not enough, especially when you’re dealing with a much larger attacker. Striking, grabbing, squeezing, or applying pressure to vital targets can help you create space, off balance/distract an attacker, thereby giving you opportunities to use body shifting to create more space and escape.
These strategies can be used interchangeably as ground attack changes in nature. In some situations, body shifting may be enough on its own to create an avenue of escape. In others, you might have to attack a vital target first in order to employ body shifting effectively. Or in yet another situation, you might only be able to use body shifting enough to improve your position but not get away. In this case, you might have to attack a vital target to create enough space to use additional body shifting to get away.
The idea is that it’s a flexible system that is highly adaptable. While it may be necessary at first to introduce the concepts with set attacks and defenses, the goal is to quickly move forward into adaptive attacks and adaptive defenses. These concepts are explained in a lot more detail in my new book, When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-jitsu Strategies & Tactics for Self-Defense.