Your initial response is the key to success in ground fighting. Your first move sets the tone of the fight. It affects what techniques follow and eventually who dominates. Many of the Junsado responses to being pinned or immobilized on the ground rely on your initial movement as a defender.
For example, when you make your body smaller or draw your limbs into your center, you not only control your body better and conserve energy, but also make yourself less vulnerable by reducing the number of exposed vital targets. As a defender, particularly on the ground, it is critical to draw your knee and elbow closer together toward the center of your body to protect yourself, collect your inner force, and strike powerfully when needed. Bending the large joints and drawing the limbs in toward the center of the body creates three potential advantages: control, range of motion and twisting force.
On the ground, keeping your arms bent and close to your body increases your control and reduces the opportunities for your opponent to control you. For example, if you keep your arm straight, your opponent will likely try to lock it or break it (1). When you keep your arms bent, with your elbows close to your body, you not only defend against an arm lock, you put yourself in a strong position for twisting, pulling, pushing, or resisting (2). From this position, you can put your entire body weight into your techniques by using your legs and torso to initiate and follow through without losing control of your body as well as the situation (3).
Range of Motion
The greater the range of the motion in an arm or leg, the greater force you generate. By bending your knees or elbows, you put yourself in a good starting position for a strike, kick, push or thrusting movement. Bent joints store potential power. For example, when you are flat on your back with your legs outstretched, it is impossible to lift your body more than a few inches off the ground. But if you bend your knee, drawing your foot close to your hip and planting your foot on the ground, you are in a position to powerfully push off the ground and thrust your hip and torso upward. The same is true of your arms. By drawing your arms in close to your torso with your elbows bent, you create the possibility of striking or pushing the opponent over a greater range of motion than if your arms were already partially extended.
When escaping from a lock, pin or hold, a twisting movement is generally easier to apply than a straight line movement. The same is true of takedowns; it is usually easier to take an opponent down by rotating your own body and whipping the opponent around it than by throwing him straight down. When a takedown utilizes a torquing action, it mitigates the resistance of the major muscles and joints of the opponent’s body and allows you to take him down with less work. In grappling against a bear hug for example, if you try to escape by going straight down or directly forward, it is nearly impossible to be successful, especially when the opponent is stronger than you are.
However, if you lower your body while twisting downward at a fifteen-degree angle, you have a better chance of escaping. By doing so, you create more sensory demands for your opponent to process, increasing his distraction and your control. More importantly, the twisting action often creates a throw or takedown in the direction of his blind spot because the twisting motion produces an angular or diagonal movement trajectory. Taken together, a twisting motion can provide you with pivotal advantages to maximize your potential while mitigating the opponent’s strength.
In wrestling against a bigger opponent or untangling a lock on a vulnerable body part, such as the neck, it is useful to use your entire body as leverage. For example, as your opponent chokes your neck with his right arm from the front, it is hard to escape using your hands alone. In this case, you can forge his arm to your body by pulling it down against your upper chest and then twist your torso to manipulate his arm. Since your torso has greater weight behind it, you can generate greater impact on the joint of his arm when you rotate your entire body.
This article is an excerpt from Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat.
Junsado Fundamentals, Standing and Ground Combat ($5.99, over 650 full color photos) is available exclusively in e-book format for Kindle (Amazon.com).