Most students of personal combat today have some understanding of ground fighting and the mechanics of taking down an adversary. Its not a hard thing to learn, and anyone who has a little athletic ability and a partner to work some basic moves can develop some pretty serious skill sets in short order. Most shooters already have a disdain for physical combat of any sort, but bring up the notion of wrestling around on the ground with someone and you will probably be asked to leave. Ignorance is bliss and few people want their bliss upset.
These blissful shooters may not like the idea of fighting on the ground, but ignoring the situation is as silly as pretending that knife assaults won’t happen either. Any gun guys who think they are so fast and alert that they can never be taken down to the ground, please send me an email. I have some Brazilian gents I’d like to introduce you to and I will bet you $1000 they will put you down before you can clear leather.
I will begin by saying that I hate ground fighting. I am 56 years old and hate rolling around on an asphalt surface getting my clothes ripped and my elbows and knees ground onto the concrete. I hate it but I cannot ignore it. With the rise in popularity of the UFC and the prevalence of Brazilian Ju Jitisu, the idea of fighting on the ground has become a reality and likelihood regardless of your exposure and training. Like it or not, the complete fighter must have an understanding of ground fighting as much as an understanding of knives and other things not associated with the sterile shooting range.
In my opinion, the most important thing when fighting on the ground is to find a way to get back up. Unlike the sporting arena, you won't be facing one guy alone. While you are putting some sort of arm bar or whatever on the one adversary, and that is taking for granted that you are better at this than he, his buddies will walk up behind you and stomp your brains out of your skull and into the gutter.
The ground is NOT where you want to be in the real world, so avoid it.
Second, but just as important, is getting your weapon out and working. Whether that weapon is a knife or a pistol, you want to deploy it as soon as tactically possible. This is no place for Less lethal options.
Going to the ground on the street in a real fight is a serious matter and potentially deadly event for you. Feel free to take it hard and escalate accordingly. If you can manage to get a pistol out, I suggest getting as many shots into your adversary's body as you can.
Hopefully, this will facilitate mission one which is to get back on your feet. The problem that we see come up all the time in our "force on force play time" is that when the muzzle of the pistol is jammed into the adversary, the weapon will not function.
The solution we came up with in training is to physically keep the weapon in battery and then fire the shots.
I know that this will be one of those controversial things and that people all over the internet will be arguing about the wisdom of this concept and perhaps about my very sanity. So please read through the article before passing judgment.
Keeping the weapon in battery and in a firing condition can be done in a myriad of ways.
One answer that is often discussed is to simply carry a revolver as this is not susceptible to being “disconnected” like a semi-auto. While this is true, the revolver can be disabled in other ways just as likely in the body to body ground fight. Moreover, the carry of an S&W 13 over a Glock 19, as one example, doubles your weight and cuts you ammunition payload in half. The revolver is not a better weapon, simply a weapon with a different set of liabilities.
Back to the semi auto, one way to keep the weapon in battery is to simply block the slide into battery with your body as you physically press into the grounded adversary either in the guard or the mount.
Another way is to physically block the slide with your hand as you press it into the adversary's body.
There are several ways to do this either by blocking the slide with your palm, blocking it with your thumb, or by actually grasping the slide with your hand either forward or to the rear of the ejection port. The one caveat would be to watch for those silly compensated pistols and avoid the gas vents.
To lock the slide in place simply place your support side palm hard against the back of the slide. While we are shooting into a piece of card board here, please remember that the end of the muzzle would be jammed into the adversary's body.
If only one hand is available, you can simply bring the back of the thumb up and lock the slide into place with it. One hand is often needed to control the adversary so this may be the only option you have.
Finally, simply grabbing the slide and locking it in place is a fast and easy way to keep the pistol in battery in a grounded or clinch struggle.
We introduced this concept at our recent Zero To Five Feet class. Take a serious look at this application. As always, proceed with caution.