We do have a ground fighting component in Hapkido, but it’s not the primary focus. In any martial art that is focused on realistic self-defense, we don’t want to stay on the ground. While I’m wrestling someone on the ground, trying to submit him, he could draw a weapon, one of his friends could kick me in the head, or I could roll on broken glass or some other hazard.
So what happens when you’re confronted with a ground fighter who wants to take you down and choke you or lock you up?
1. In Hammerhead Hapkido, we work our takedown defenses. When that guy shoots for our legs to drop us, we should be able to sidestep or sprawl, and in the meantime strike effectively to the back of the neck and head. Strikes to the back of the head are not allowed in MMA, but I”m talking about real life. An icepick elbow (sometimes called a “12 to 6” elbow) to the back of the head or neck can be devastating.
2. In case our takedown defense fails and we end up on the ground, we must work escapes and recoveries to standing. In other words, if I’m on my back with another guy in my guard, I need to know how to quickly sweep him or escape that position and recover to my feet . Same thing if the guy has me in side control, half guard or the mount.
Conversely, if I’m in on top someone else’s guard (or if I have side control or the mount), I should know how to return to my feet quickly without being rolled or submitted, and how to strike effectively in the process. If I do apply a lock – for example an Americana from side control – it should be applied forcefully, to tear the shoulder. An arm bar should be applied quickly and with full force, to snap the elbow.
Once I’m on my feet I can draw my weapon if I have one, or I can kick, stomp or simply walk away when possible.
That’s Hammerhead Hapkido ground fighting.
Wael Abdelgawad, Founder