Do 90% of fights really go to the ground?
Answer: Yes and no.
No doubt if you have been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or have been watching Mixed Martial Arts you have heard this statistic somewhere. If you’ve just started, you will hear it eventually. This blog will clarify the statistic that has been circulating throughout the martial arts community since the beginning of the Gracie era.
Originally, this statistic was deduced from a Los Angeles Police Department study of officers who got into an altercation while making an arrest in the year 1988. Police reports were summarized and studied, and percentages were drawn from the data. They read as follows:
- 316,525 arrests were made that year
- 5,617 involved a use of force
- 2,031 involved an altercation
Of those 2,031 altercations, 95% can fall into one of these patterns:
- 37%: Officer grabs the subject’s arm, subject pulls arm away
- 25.4%: Subject attempts to punch or kick the officer
- 19.3%: Subject refuses to assume search position
- 10.5%: Subject flees, officer pursues
- 6.8%: Subject assumes a combative posture, but does not strike the officer
In all of those scenarios, the end result of the altercation, was the officer taking the subject to the ground, sometimes applying a joint lock, and handcuffing the subject.
Altercations ended up on the ground the majority of the time. 62% of the time, to be exact.
The “90% of fights…” fact, then, would be more correctly stated as such:
62% of altercations between officers and subjects of arrest in 1988 ended by the officer bringing the subject to the ground.
But you can easily see how the statistics in the report can be misread or misunderstood.
Does this mean that the importance of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, ground fighting, etc. is no longer relevant? Absolutely not.
It is no secret that a lot of fights end up on the ground. More than half, according to that report. It is also no secret that most fights start standing up. Both methods of fighting are equally important if you are looking to get in an MMA match, feel secure about defending yourself, or just expand your training and knowledge as a martial artist.
The expansion of mixed martial arts and the growing popularity of martial arts classes is something to consider when you are training self defense. More of the population is learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling, thus if you are ever in an altercation, there is a greater chance nowadays that the aggressor will know some form of ground fighting. Call it paranoid, but I knew an old Sabunim who said it perfectly,
You train everyday, for the moment you hope will never come.
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