New Ground Fighting Curriculum

Thesemindz

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I recently started teaching again at a local kenpo school and I've been teaching Ground Fighting to my intermediate students. Coming up in kenpo, we had detailed curriculums for stand up fighting, but the ground component was always catch as catch can. In my experience, this is how Ground Fighting is usually taught, even in schools that specialize in this range. I'm not saying there isn't anyone out there who teaches a rigid curriculum for the ground, I'm just saying that the schools I've seen and heard of all have a much more informal kind of group workout approach. And that's fine, but I was raised with a strict progressive curriculum, and so I wanted to do the same here.

With that in mind I sat down with my notebooks and a stack of topical books from my library and wrote down everything I could think of that a student would need to learn in order to have a strong beginner base in ground fighting. That eventually became my new Ground Fighting Curriculum, which I have posted below, and the basis for my March class plans which I have posted in another thread.

The following is the new curriculum I'm using and the general order of instruction of these skills and techniques. You can look at my March plans to see how I wrote this into actual classes, but it could easily be incorporated into whatever martial arts curriculum you are currently teaching. If anyone finds anything valuable in this, feel free to use it or share it with others.

The only things original to me are the mistakes.



Ground Fighting Curriculum


6 Key Concepts
1. Tapping (no tough guys)
2. Energy Conservation (alternate bursts of energy with periods of relaxation)
3. Balance (mobility and stability)
4. Psychological Combat (create mental confusion)
5. Poison Hands (make transitions hurt)
6. Adaptation (control pace and stay fluid)


First Lesson - Tapping


Falling and Moving on the Ground
Rolls (barrel, forward, reverse, shoulder roll)
Falls (from stances, falling and rolling away, falling and lashing out with kicks)
Basic Floor Work (box drill, circling face down and face up, floor running with knee drive technique, scissor walking)


New Positions
Mount (balance, moving, settling, pressing the opponent away) (both sides)
Guard (balance, moving, settling, pressing the opponent away) (both sides)


Second Lesson - Energy Conservation


Kicking and Defending a Standing Opponent
Kicks (sk, fk, rhk, hhk, rk) (air, shields, body)
Leg Defending (blocking, reaching out to the opponent)
Protecting the Head (by rotating the body, blocking with the arms, crawling and rolling away)
Escaping a Foot Grab (sloughing, scissoring)


Takedowns
Double Leg Takedown (lifting, driving, single leg, from the side)
Tripping (front and side, throwing)
Rear Headlock Dragdown (choke, hang, slam)
Ankle Roll (from the ground against a standing opponent, against the front, rear, and side)


Getting Up
Street Fighter Stand Up
Knees to Feet Rising


New Positions
Side Mount (balance, moving, settling, pressing the opponent away) (both sides)
North/South (balance, moving, settling, pressing the opponent away) (both sides)
Scarf (balance, moving, settling, pressing the opponent away) (both sides)


Getting Position
Around the Legs (mount)
Through the Legs (guard)
From the Head (north/south)
From the Side (side mount)


Third Lesson - Balance


Defending on the Ground
Mount (bucking, hugging, trapping arms and legs, grabbing the belt)
Guard (pressing away with the hips and knees, rolling to the side and pressing away)
Side Mount (posting, shrimping, rolling hips out and away)
North/South (vulnerable, strike first and move, pushing the legs away, rotating the upper body)


Attacking on the Ground
Mount (smothering, posting, "cowboy" mount)
Guard (grabbing the belt, wedging with the elbows, lifting and slamming, butterfly and half guard)
Side Mount (plank versus hands and knees, lifting and compressing the opponent's legs, knee on stomach)
North/South (scissor walk to scarf, drop knee and rotate to side mount position)


Getting Up From the Ground
Mount (palms on chest pressing up to fighting stance)
Guard (stacking the opponent's legs over their chest and driving with the feet to a standing position)
Side Mount (knee on stomach, flip opponent to knee on back)
North/South (rising from hands and knees, scrambling away)


Fourth Lesson - Psychological Combat


Basic Escapes
Mount - Rolling Mount Escape (arm wraps and hooks, snow angels to escape arms pinned)
Mount - Elbow Wedge to Shrimping Escape (shrimping and scooting on the back, pressing the opponent away)
Guard - Stack and Roll (over the lungs, to the side)
Guard - Elbow Wedge and Knee Drive (straight or cross knee, swimming on the opponent)


Transition Exercises
360 Degree Spin Face Down on Opponent (moving through positions)
Lateral Rolling in Top Position (pressing the opponent with the back and using crab walk to push him away, moving high to mid to low and back)
Knee on Stomach Movement (hop over opponent, rotate around head, switch knees, roll opponent to knee on back)
Mounted to Guard to Side Mount to Mount (alternating with opponent, combining escapes)


Basic Strikes and Blocks
Mount (straight and hook strikes)
Guard (striking the body, groin area, and legs)
Side Mount (striking with the knees and elbows)
North/South (striking the legs, knuckle strikes)
Knee on Stomach (bracing strikes, grabbing the head and slamming it into the ground)


Basic Grapples
Mount (gi choke)
Guard (straight arm bar)
Side Mount (paintbrush)
North/South (ankle lock)
Scarf (headlock)


Fifth Lesson - Poison Hands


Pain Techniques
Frictional Burns (rubbing with the gi)
Positional Asphyxia (smothering and compressing the chest)
Crushing the Head (forearm to head, neck, and jaw, sitting on the head)
Biting and Pinching (vulnerable targets)


Takedowns
Bearhug Dragdowns (sacrifice techniques, dragging into guard)
Clinch Takedowns (foward dragdown, twisting takedown to scarf)
Inside Reaping Takedown (defense against kick from knees and standing)
Knee Bar Takedown (kneeling from ground, front, side, rear)
Hooking Leg Sweep (from ground to standing opponent's knee, rolling with the sweep)


Escapes
Side Mount - Roll Hips Out (push away)
Side Mount - Elbow Wedge and Shrimp (to guard position)
Rear Mount - Roll to Face (stomach to stomach)
Scarf - Roll to Hands and Knees (behind opponent, pushing headlock away)
Guard - Scissoring Guard Sweep (from bottom position)


Sixth Lesson - Adaptation


Grapples
One Handed Gi Chokes (knuckles to carotid)
Straight Arm Bar from Mount (pendulum movement)
Rear Naked Choke (alternate grip positions)
Guillotine (from bottom position, rolling sideways to increase angle of arch)


Striking out of Position
Mount (aiding Rolling Mount Escape with strikes)
Guard (kicking out of the guard position)
Side Mount (elbows and knees from bottom position)
North/South (bracing and pushing explosively away)


Rolls
Rolling to Standing Position
Rolling Away to Guarded Ground Position
Kicking off Opponent to Roll Away
Backwards Rolling Throw



That's it. I'm not pretending it's perfect, or even complete. But my hope is that at the end of it my students will at least have some idea of how to competently move, fight, and defend on the ground. I've had pretty good results with this, but if anybody has anything to offer on how they could improve it or thinks that I've missed some crucial skills, please feel free to offer suggestions. I want my students to get the best karate possible, and I'm always open to knowledgable advice. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


-Rob
 

WC_lun

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There are things right away that I believe you are missing, from my limited ground fighting experience. Space, structure, angles, positioning, balance points, and flow right off the top of my head. As you say, Kenpo is primarily a striking art and that has its' place, even in rappling. However, your perspective and training is much different than someone who primarily grapples. It would be much, much better to actually train with someone who is primarily a grappler and trained well and then put your heads together to help out your Kenpo students. Otherwise you will miss a lot and it will be your students that pay the price.
 
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Thesemindz

Thesemindz

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I forgot to include this. These two sections appear in the second lesson after "Kicking and Defending a Standing Opponent"


[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Lowering the Opponent to the Ground[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]From the front, side, and rear (safely guiding opponent to the floor)[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Applying Pressure + Hanging (driving forward and pulling over backwards)[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Controlling to a Position (mount, side mount, knee on stomach, knee on back)[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Defender - Hanging on and Breakfalls[/FONT]


[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Lifting the Opponent[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Lifting With the hips, back, and shoulder (double leg lift at the hips, pull over the back to fireman's carry, hip throw)[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Lifting the legs with Sweeps (reducing friction, shifting balance, up and away)[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Pressing Against The WeakLine Up (through the body, at the head, from the groin)[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Lifting from the Ground (by the lapels, by the head, leg and body)[/FONT]


I wanted to include these sections to help my students learn how to move themselves and their opponent safely between the two ranges (standing and prone).


-Rob
 
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Thesemindz

Thesemindz

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There are things right away that I believe you are missing, from my limited ground fighting experience. Space, structure, angles, positioning, balance points, and flow right off the top of my head. As you say, Kenpo is primarily a striking art and that has its' place, even in rappling. However, your perspective and training is much different than someone who primarily grapples. It would be much, much better to actually train with someone who is primarily a grappler and trained well and then put your heads together to help out your Kenpo students. Otherwise you will miss a lot and it will be your students that pay the price.


I'm certainly not going to dispute that sir. It would be better to learn ground fighting from ground fighters. And they would definitely have a different perspective. That being said, I have a different perspective too which brings its own ideas to the table, and I don't have an opportunity to train with ground fighters right now. So I do what I can where I can with who I can.

I'm sure I am missing a lot. But I'm only trying to teach beginner ground fighting, and I'm teaching it to young students who would otherwise have no ground fighting experience at all. I don't think my students are suffering for it, I think I'm doing them a service by passing on whatever knowledge I have, and at the end they won't be Gracies, but maybe if they get knocked on their butt and somebody sits on their chest and starts pounding on their face they'll have some idea what to do.

As you said, we are a kenpo school and kenpo is primarily a stand up art. It has a great deal of stand up grappling, but little true ground fighting. So I'm trying to supplement that with a specific study of the ground. But I'm certainly open to making it better. You mention "space, structure, angles, positioning, balance points, and flow." Can you be more specific? What exercises or drills would you use to train these things? I'd love to include them in our classes. Any advice you can give would be appreciated.


-Rob
 

WC_lun

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As you said, we are a kenpo school and kenpo is primarily a stand up art. It has a great deal of stand up grappling, but little true ground fighting. So I'm trying to supplement that with a specific study of the ground. But I'm certainly open to making it better. You mention "space, structure, angles, positioning, balance points, and flow." Can you be more specific? What exercises or drills would you use to train these things? I'd love to include them in our classes. Any advice you can give would be appreciated.


-Rob

This is actually a tall order, and I don't believe the type of info you are looking for can be transmitted through a chat thread. You need a skilled grappler to train with. We'll start with balance points since I know that is something good Kenpo teaches. While on the ground you also have balance points, but it can change form being a three point triangle to a four pount rectangle very quickly. Your students need to recognize these points very quickly.

Space and structure are linked. Using structure to create space in order to move to a different position or create leverage is something ground fighters do very well. Such movements as shrimping is an example of this.

Angles and positioning are linked to a degree also. Very similiar to stand up, the angles and supurior positioning are what allows a smaller grappler to overcome a less skilled opponent. However, it isn't exactly the same as stand up because you have body weigth and the ground adding new dimensions to the game. an example is a triangle choke. If you do not have the proper angle and position, it will never work and you end up wasting your energy.

Flow. Again, you should recognize this from your Kenpo stand up game. It is the ability to move from one thing to another without stopping. It is equally important in ground fighting. Also recognizing your opponents change of energy from one thing to another is important.

I applaud your desire to increase the things that your students are exposed to. That is a mark of a true instructor. However, how do you teach a thing if you don't know it? Teaching a student something incorrectly on the ground is just as dangerous as teaching them something incorrectly in the stand up game. You have the knowledge and experience to teach stand up. It doesn't look lik you do in ground fighting, so you should find someone who is knowledgable in that area. There are things in ground fighting that are almost counter intuitive. It is important to have someone who can point those tings out and keep you and your students from making basic mistakes all grapplers make when starting to learn. I know you'd hate to train bad things into your students.
 

LuckyKBoxer

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I teach Gi and No Gi classes regularly for Jiu Jitsu.
I am looking at your key concepts at the front and see energy conservation. alternating bursts of energy with relaxation..

one of the biggest problems beginning to advanced students have is understanding when to stay relaxed and when to fight when they are losing position.
alot of students will fight to maintain a position even after the opponents advancement is a forgone conclusion and will tire themselves out fighting a lost cause, rather then adjusting and trying to regain posture to either regain the position, or advance to a better start for the next position.

the other big mistake I see is once they have realized they have lost the ability to retain the current position they accept the advancement of the opponents position and try to relax as the opponent gets comfortable in the new position.... this is just as bad and is the prime moment when they should be exerting extra effort to prevent the guy from solidifying the new position.

not sure if this is along the lines of what you had in mind, but since its a big part in advancing practitioners abilities I figured I would share my thoughts.
 
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Thesemindz

Thesemindz

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Yes. I see students under the mount kick and struggle with their legs instead of using their arms. I see them clutching their opponent instead of controlling him. I'm trying to teach them when to struggle and when to relax, and how to settle their weight onto their opponent to crush him. How they're relaxing can make his job harder. How to be patient and let the opponent come to them, and be ready to attack when he does.

But I'm teaching ground fighting, not ground grappling. And I'm teaching self defense, not sports combat.


-Rob
 

LuckyKBoxer

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Yes. I see students under the mount kick and struggle with their legs instead of using their arms. I see them clutching their opponent instead of controlling him. I'm trying to teach them when to struggle and when to relax, and how to settle their weight onto their opponent to crush him. How they're relaxing can make his job harder. How to be patient and let the opponent come to them, and be ready to attack when he does.

But I'm teaching ground fighting, not ground grappling. And I'm teaching self defense, not sports combat.


-Rob

the basic fundamentals of combat on the ground do not change when you are discussing self defense or fighting, or sports grappling.
there is still a heirarchy of positions on the ground, some you can readily stand up and get out of and some you can not.
there really are 3 basic things you can do when grappling...
Positional movements, or advancement
Submission movements, or tapouts
and striking, pinching, biting, etc type movements, that may hurt an individual but are not necessarily joint distruction, or choking movements that fit into the previous category.
I am actually a 3rd Black in Kenpo, and a Brown belts instructor with Gracie Barra. I helped introduce our Kenpo programs introduction to grappling, and how we approach getting our Kenpo students familiar with grappling and grapplers.
I do have a question as to your experience with grappling. Do you have a wrestling or Jiu Jitsu, or other experience with grappling? I ask because I see alot of kenpo guys adding in ground work, ground fighting or something similar who have little experience othdr then watching someone else do it, either in person, or on television. I am not saying you are like this. I am just curious what your knowledge level comes from. Usually when I heard someone try to seperate ground fighting with ground grappling its usually because they have little expereince with an actual grappling type art and think that there is a huge difference. There is not a huge difference, and shifting from a sports style ruleset to a street style non ruleset is not very hard to do.
 
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Thesemindz

Thesemindz

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I have some experience training with purple and blue belts in BJJ and a few grappling seminars. Most of my knowledge comes from rolling around with other kenpo guys who have some experience in grappling but none of us are experts. I certainly don't claim to be one. But I'm trying to pass on why I've learned. My hope is to supplement my intermediate students with basic ground familiarity so they don't freeze if they fall over. I'm not giving out rank, I'm just teaching six or seven classes every couple of months.

The reason I Make the self defense/combat sports distinction and the grappling/fighting distinction is because I'm not teaching my students to mount, or submit, or tap their opponent. I'm teaching them to survive a violent assault. Hit, hurt, get up and get away. That includes grappling skills, but it could also include bashing a guys head in with a rock.

Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it.


-Rob
 

LuckyKBoxer

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I have some experience training with purple and blue belts in BJJ and a few grappling seminars. Most of my knowledge comes from rolling around with other kenpo guys who have some experience in grappling but none of us are experts. I certainly don't claim to be one. But I'm trying to pass on why I've learned. My hope is to supplement my intermediate students with basic ground familiarity so they don't freeze if they fall over. I'm not giving out rank, I'm just teaching six or seven classes every couple of months.

The reason I Make the self defense/combat sports distinction and the grappling/fighting distinction is because I'm not teaching my students to mount, or submit, or tap their opponent. I'm teaching them to survive a violent assault. Hit, hurt, get up and get away. That includes grappling skills, but it could also include bashing a guys head in with a rock.

Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it.


-Rob

cool deal... btw your list is fairly extensive.. I have not quite gotten around to studying the entire list, but it seems you have put a fair amount of thought into it on first glance.
I think they key to gaining confidence, and expertise on the ground is simply training it. I originally started Jiu Jitsu so I could get a better understanding of what they did, I fell in love with the training and the art though so here I am years later still training in it upwards of 5 days a week, when my original plan was 6 months to get the basis of their art lol... although I will say I recommend all my students train in grappling classes at some point for at least 6 months at 2 times a day.. thats a generalization of course, but it seems to be about the basic timeframe of training that tends to give people a fairly good understanding of balance, and momentum, and leverage, and positioning when on the ground and what and why grapplers do basic movements. when looking at our advanced students with no grappling training at all outside our basic elements in kenpo and our students who have at some point trained at least 6 months... the difference is drastic if the fight goes to the ground, or we put them on the ground with specific intrustion to get up, or keep the opponent down..Keep up the good work, I was reading your street fighting set up as well, you have some extension studying going on it appears, that cant be anything but good for you and your students.
 
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Thesemindz

Thesemindz

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This is actually a tall order, and I don't believe the type of info you are looking for can be transmitted through a chat thread. You need a skilled grappler to train with. We'll start with balance points since I know that is something good Kenpo teaches. While on the ground you also have balance points, but it can change form being a three point triangle to a four pount rectangle very quickly. Your students need to recognize these points very quickly.

Space and structure are linked. Using structure to create space in order to move to a different position or create leverage is something ground fighters do very well. Such movements as shrimping is an example of this.

Angles and positioning are linked to a degree also. Very similiar to stand up, the angles and supurior positioning are what allows a smaller grappler to overcome a less skilled opponent. However, it isn't exactly the same as stand up because you have body weigth and the ground adding new dimensions to the game. an example is a triangle choke. If you do not have the proper angle and position, it will never work and you end up wasting your energy.

Flow. Again, you should recognize this from your Kenpo stand up game. It is the ability to move from one thing to another without stopping. It is equally important in ground fighting. Also recognizing your opponents change of energy from one thing to another is important.

I applaud your desire to increase the things that your students are exposed to. That is a mark of a true instructor. However, how do you teach a thing if you don't know it? Teaching a student something incorrectly on the ground is just as dangerous as teaching them something incorrectly in the stand up game. You have the knowledge and experience to teach stand up. It doesn't look lik you do in ground fighting, so you should find someone who is knowledgable in that area. There are things in ground fighting that are almost counter intuitive. It is important to have someone who can point those tings out and keep you and your students from making basic mistakes all grapplers make when starting to learn. I know you'd hate to train bad things into your students.

Thanks man. I appreciate your responses. Some of these things I include in the classes themselves. For instance, when we discuss mount and guard positions, we teach them three and four pointed stances, posting out with hands, knees, elbows, feet, and the head, and shifting your opponent's balance points to create movement. Some of the flow practices you discussed are taught during the course of dynamic and spontaneous partner training where the students practice combining escapes, position changes, strikes, and grapples in a stuctured combat environment. As they increase in skill and ability they practice with greater intensity, as well as changing between a standing and prone position.

I want to emphasize the context this is taught in. These students are primarily learning unarmed standup fighting for self defense. The grappling portion is only intended to familiarize them with the positions and basic aspects of ground encounters. Even then, we emphasize returning to a standing position.

I also like your comments about space and structure. I always emphasize the importance of proper technique to my students. Strength and speed are less important than angles and position.

Thanks for taking the time to check it out and give me some feedback.


-Rob
 
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Thesemindz

Thesemindz

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cool deal... btw your list is fairly extensive.. I have not quite gotten around to studying the entire list, but it seems you have put a fair amount of thought into it on first glance.
I think they key to gaining confidence, and expertise on the ground is simply training it. I originally started Jiu Jitsu so I could get a better understanding of what they did, I fell in love with the training and the art though so here I am years later still training in it upwards of 5 days a week, when my original plan was 6 months to get the basis of their art lol... although I will say I recommend all my students train in grappling classes at some point for at least 6 months at 2 times a day.. thats a generalization of course, but it seems to be about the basic timeframe of training that tends to give people a fairly good understanding of balance, and momentum, and leverage, and positioning when on the ground and what and why grapplers do basic movements. when looking at our advanced students with no grappling training at all outside our basic elements in kenpo and our students who have at some point trained at least 6 months... the difference is drastic if the fight goes to the ground, or we put them on the ground with specific intrustion to get up, or keep the opponent down..Keep up the good work, I was reading your street fighting set up as well, you have some extension studying going on it appears, that cant be anything but good for you and your students.

Thanks. I'm teaching a lot of classes right now so I'm really working on keeping my students moving forward and making every class count. I agree with your comments about training. The only way to really get good at any of this is to lay down on the ground and have someone try to kick, punch, stomp, or wrestle you. And that's what I'm trying to do with my students.


-Rob
 
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