Ground Fighting vs Grappling. Yes, There Is A Difference! - S2 Strategic Defense
Grappling and Ground Fighting are critical elements for self defense. S2 Strategic Defense has programs that include functional ground fighting skills for your self defense needs. Contact S2 Strategic Defense to find out more.
Grappling, Ground Fighting, Self Defense
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Ground Fighting vs Grappling. Yes, There Is A Difference!

self defense training

08 Aug Ground Fighting vs Grappling. Yes, There Is A Difference!

Often we use the terms Ground Fighting and Grappling as they are one. And in lament terms they are….kinda. Most people understand the need to learn ground fighting for self defense, it is a common occurrence in many self defense situations. To see to combatants rolling on the asphalt while trying to harm the other isn’t something new. For┬áthose who understand the consequences of not having proper skills on the floor, martial arts programs such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Sambo have been a great answer, but are those arts really applicable for self defense?

In short, the answer to the question is “Yes and No.” We certainly need to experience the ground to understand the perils associated with it. Having to navigate the ground while someone is on top of you compressing your lungs and grinding you into the floor while striking you in the face is frightening situation, and the only way to train that is to get involved in with ground based martial arts. These arts have a training platform and progression to introduce and develop ground tactics. But rarely do you see grappling arts deal with multiple attackers, weaponry, unfavorable surfaces such as asphalt, gravel, ice, snow, or concrete.

To understand the real difference between Grappling and Ground Fighting, it is best to list out a few key factors.


  • Standing or On the Ground (Judo, Wrestling, BJJ)
  • Competitive Mindset (seeking points, submission or pin)
  • One on One
  • Often divided into weight classes or skill levels (not limited to this)
  • Weaponry Not Included
  • Mass Attack Not Included
  • Majority of training is for competition, and uses mats suitable for grappling
  • Easier and much safer to train
  • Agreed engagement
  • Striking may be limited



  • In specific to combat that has ended up on the ground
  • Survival Mindset (not about winning by points, submission, or pin)
  • May involve many attackers
  • No weight classes, clothing requirements
  • Weaponry is trained (offensively and defensively)
  • Training includes a variety of surfaces, lighting conditions, and other variables
  • Needs “grappling” methods to train safely
  • Typically resulting in ambush type of attack
  • No rules. All is fair game!

Ultimately the major difference between Grappling and Ground Fighting is the main objective. In Grappling matches, we can “win” by many methods and typically have a partner who is willing to play the chess match on the floor with us. But in Ground Fighting, there are only 2 objectives; a) Get back to your feet -or- b) Control/Restrain someone by applying positional dominance or control tactic.

For those of you who train in arts such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Wrestling etc (just as I do), keep the other factors in mind. Introduce the “street” game into your training and train your grappling against a knife, or against multiple attackers. Take that match out into the grass, snow, or pavement (safely). Put on some boxing gloves and a mouth piece and drill the striking aspects into the match. Bring in someone who is bigger, stronger, and even untrained but very aggressive. These items will improve your abilities on the ground, and give you a different outlook on ground fighting. If anyone can adapt to this variable…it is YOU!

For those who do NOT train on the ground….well, all I can say is “Good Luck, and I hope you never end up there.”

Stay safe-


Nik Farooqui



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