70% of all fights go to the ground.

Or 90%.
Or 75%.

I have heard this factoid quite a bit in the last 10 years or so, including seeing it repeated on these boards. But where does it come from. As far as I can tell it was popularised by Royce Gracie, who happens to run a martial arts school that specialises in… fighting while on the ground. So I’m a bit skeptical about his take on things.

I can’t even imagine how I would go about collecting data on this subject. Sitting around in rough bars with a notepad is hardly representative of the fights people who don’t frequent rough bars get into. Stats collected from ring fights seem even more dubious. Collecting data from hospital admissions or police arrest reports seems like the old story about collecting data on where to armour aircraft from bullet hole sin returned aircraft.

So does the claim have any basis in fact, and if so how was it calculated?

I’m just going to do a quick guesstimate until someone can throw facts this way…

I’d guess that about 80% of all regular people in a fight would actually have the power, courage, and coordination to knock someone out BEFORE GOING TO THE GROUND, so you can figure that of 10 fights, it’s a sure thing 2 of these will go to the ground.

As for the other 8 fights, how many do you think will end with a knock out before going to the ground? I’d say maybe 2.

So my guess would be around 85% of fights go to the ground.

If you wanted the numbers from professional fighters… I’d say this number would be about the same since the skill and tolerance of a professional fighter makes up for the lack of power, courage, and coordination of regular fighter.

I’m pretty sure at least 50% of (real-life) fights end when the combatants separate after a punch or two. Of the remainder, 80% doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Are you sure Gracie wasn’t talking about MMA specifically?

I’d just chalk it up to the 87.2% of statistics that are entirely made up.

Many fights involve unskilled combatants. The combatants may also be somewhat unsteady on their feet due to recreational chemical use. So, IME, most fights end up on the ground because two drunks throw a couple ineffectual punches, grab each other, and fall over. It isn’t because either one of them meant to take it to the ground.

Striker’s retort: “yeah, but 100% of fights start standing up!”

I think the “90%” statistic is just verbal shorthand with a small dose of hyperbole used by grapplers and ground fighters to say that somebody who doesn’t know how to fight from the clinch or ground (or at least escape from the clinch or ground) is missing a large portion of the reality of combat, which is true enough. It’s hardly scientific, but among the “ego fights” that I’ve seen between unskilled combatants a much smaller propertion than 90% “went to the ground” as most people would understand it, because neither participant wanted to, or had the skill to take the other down effectively even if he did.

Here’s a study I found by a law enforcement use-of-force trainer with some statistics about the number of police altercations that go to the ground, although I’d have to give it a couple of caveats: I don’t know anything about the methodology used, and fights between a suspect attempting to escape a police officer or get his weapon may be different in nature from an assault or an ego fight. A good proportion of takedowns involve the officer taking the suspect to the ground to subdue the offender, so that might inflate the statistics.

Going to the Ground: Lessons from Law Enforcement

What they said.

One of my favorite semi-related stories was from a guy who used to do a lot of training, and then would go out to - ahem - test what they had worked on. One time after training he and another guy went out with 2 students who were college wrestlers. Went to a bar and picked a fight with a bunch of badasses. The 2 wrestlers each immediately picked one guy and dropped him with a beautiful takedown - leaving the 2 remaining guys to handle the rest of the gang they had pissed off!

Legendarily unreliable source, but an amusing anecdote nonetheless! :cool:

I read the title as 70% of all flights go to the ground and I was trying to figure out where the other 30% ended up.

Classic (inadvisable and uncondonable, but classic). :smiley: Wrestling is a hugely underestimated fighting base.

100% of fights consist of two hits:

Me hitting you and you hitting the ground.

I rather suspect the basis for the statistic is that BJJ fighters attempt to make 100% of their fights go to the ground, and fail 5% of the time.

Even for non-BJJ’ers, a lot of fights start off with some flailing about, and then somebody tackles somebody else and they wind up flailing about on the ground. I don’t know of any hard statistics, but as mentioned, alcohol tends to be involved in a lot of fights, and that affects your balance.

Tackle and ground-and-pound is a very common street tactic, in my experience. Even if all they do is rush you, often the momentum of the oncoming body will carry you down, especially where the footing is bad.

AFAIK this statistic is not and never has been scientific; it is just a subjective estimate made up from observations of all kinds of unrelated “tussles” and passed on by word or promtotional literature (sports mag interviews).

I believe there might have been some numbers borrowed from a US police report on use of force incidents in the 1980s, which might have been picked up by a few members of the Gracie family who had recently come to the US and started teaching BJJ, or it might have been the other way around… in either case Rorion Gracie would have been the likely “spreader of the word” to or from the police and or public at the time.

He was a great promoter of his family’s grappling art in the US and behind all kinds of filmed challenge matches, instructional tapes, started schools, and started the UFC in the early 90’s. Royce was one of his younger brothers and chosen to represent the family in the cage; Royce didn’t do much talking at the time - that was Rorion’s thing.

At any rate that’s where the statistic got a lot of publicity, but I’ve never seen any legitimate science behind it. Even if it was loosely based on police info, it would be irrelevent. Armed officer’s trying to trip and handcuff drunks outside bars are not fights; they’re trained arrest procedures on subjects who are almost certainly not trying to actually fight them (just resisting).

There are way too many variables such as training, intoxication level, physical condition, environment, numbers, motivation, experience, size difference, gender difference, state of mind, weapons, age, etc. to label every case of forceful physical contact between people as a generic “fight” and treat them the same. Any such proper statistic would need to refer to one of several possible types of fight/confrontation…

demented seniors attacking nurses in retirement homes?
angry mother attacking a stranger trying to abduct her child?
trained professional boxers attacking each other in a ring?
police trying to cuff a man on PCP?
rapists attacking women in dark alleys?
an old catch wrestler teaching a young hoodum a lesson?

This generic stat was almost certainly not researched and calculated based on any kind of acceptible methodology. That doesn’t mean the claim is wrong though, people do indeed often end up stumbling around and ending up on the ground in a variety of different types of fight. But that’s just another observation…

Underestimated by whom? Considering the success of Couture, Lesnar, Lindland, Liddell, Koscheck, and others, it seems to me that knowledgeable fans know that wrestling is a pretty good fighting base. (Yes, I know that Liddell uses wrestling skills mostly to NOT get into a grappling match.)

Knowledgable MMA fans and fighters sure do, but among the general populace (and even among a lot of martial artists) wrestling still sometimes gets short shrift, although I expect that will continue to lessen as MMA gains popularity. You’ll occassionally hear a black belt of this or that art who is dismissive of wrestlers, assured that their mad skillz would disable a wrestler long before they got in clinch distance. The first time they have a really good wrestler shoot on them and manhandle them for a takedown is a very sobering wakeup call. Some of the same guys will have respect for Judo but not wrestling, for no discernable reason other than that Judo is Japanese and Judoka wear gis and belts.

I used to be a wrestler and then went on to coach. The only reason wrestlers don’t maim each other in matches is because they don’t want to.

You, and Chuck Norris! I’d pay good money to see you two in a face-off.

It’s the Internet. For all you know, I am Chuck Norris.:smiley:

I use 50%. As was stated earlier, 100% of the fights start standing up. I teach Taekwondo, so our basic premise is that I want my opponent on the ground. I’ll do something along the lines of taking his legs out because it’ll be kinda hard for him to chase me if I blow out one of his knees, then haul ass.

I’d prefer to not go to the ground, because he more than likely took me there. And that means I was dumb enough to let him get close enough to get his hands on me, and I shouldn’t have done that. But if it happens, I’m going for pressure points and joints like a madman.

Having done a bit more research I came across this http://ejmas.com/jnc/2007jnc/jncart_Leblanc_0701.html. I see that a bunch of my first post was right but that I may have spoken too soon about some aspects.

Firstly, the stat does appear to come from (or is most heavily supported by) US police reports on uses of force, it definately was/is used by the Gracies and other ground fighting specialists (though not all), and there are differences in what police do in certain situations vs what civilians do in often different ones.

But saying the statistic was not being based on acceptible methodology might not be right; you’d have to look deeper into the study to determine it’s validity, PLUS decide how well it correlates to the generic “fight” between two humans.

This is apparently the actual abstract of the article linked:

“6.8% Subject assumed a fighting, martial arts, or boxing stance but did not attack the officer; the most frequent second act was the officer striking the subject with the baton (38%) and this was also the most frequent final act (41%).”

Heh. :stuck_out_tongue: