Tai Chi lacks ground fighting

It’s true – it does

A recent Internet clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs_kdGe8Ljc showed what was supposed to be a random attack on a subway somewhere that looks a lot like China or Japan. Two men get onto the subway, involved in some sort of disagreement, one pushes on the shoulder of the other who applies a swift wrist lock, throwing him to the floor, then acts like he’s about to help the attacker up, then the clips ends.

Firstly, it may or may not be a real clip. There’s something about the whole confrontation, and the technique used that looks a bit staged. The technique is too clean, the attacker looks like he’s acting, etc. It could all be being played out for the camera, to make it look real, or not.

Either way, there’s something you can learn from this – mainly that the defender has no idea what to do with a person on the floor that he’s just put there. Standing back to let them get up is a really bad idea. Think about it – you’ve just hurt them, humiliated them by throwing them on the floor and now you’re going to let them get up? Odds are that you’re really going to be in trouble now, because they’re really mad.

It’s a tactical error to let them get up, but one that probably happens because the defender is afraid of going to the ground. 6 months work in some sort of grappling art would sort this right out. I’d say restrain the person on the floor until you can safely get away, or they have stopped being a threat, or law enforcement arrives. Anything else is a big risk.

But why not just kick them in the head, you might ask? Well, in a court of law I think you might end up in trouble for doing that. Laws vary between countries, but I think it’s safe to say that your level of response has to be appropriate to the level of aggression.

So, yes, it’s probably a good idea to incorporate what to do to a downed opponent into your martial art studies.

3 thoughts on “Tai Chi lacks ground fighting

  1. That makes sense to me. If I’ve got hold of an arm when I throw I try and keep it so I can lock it with my leg when they land, but I like the idea of kneeling for restraint. We sometimes train dropping our body weight onto one knee with a pad on the floor, I reckon it would be quite painful to be on the receiving end.


  2. In a way yes – you can use a kneeling position which is half way between standing and ground – for people who don’t know something like BJJ the easiest thing to do is turn them on their side (they often move instinctively to this position anyway) and kneel on the side of their neck and control one arm over you other knee – this is incredibly hard to escape from and painful, which deters their escape. You aren’t on the ground yourself, you’re just kneeling on them. My Tai Chi instructor taught me this technique, he got it from his previous Japanese jiujitsu training, and used it in (real life) security work. Another good position to know is the JitJitsu and BJJ ‘knee on belly’ position, for when their back is flat to the ground. Again, you aren’t really ‘on the ground’ you are kneeling on them.


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