Get up… Stand up… – Stay on your feet to defend yourself.

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When I am overseeing kids sparring and a kid gets knocked down and starts rolling on the floor, I tell them to get right back up. At first the kids usually seem surprised that I am not more sympathetic to their plight and sometimes the parents get a little upset with me. If someone is really hurt, I wouldn’t make them get up. The issue I see is overreaction to being hit. Most times the shock is worse than the pain when one is struck, so the rolling around on the floor is just a ploy to get attention. I call this the sympathy show. The kids experience a shock and try to display distress to get attention. I have seen kids go from rolling on the floor in “pain” to jumping up to get attention for something else. I have also seen the sympathy show in adult sparring, grown men rolling on the ground like a 4 year old who skinned his knee. In a defense situation performing the sympathy show can leave you vulnerable to further attack. Fights are unpredictable. Whether you are sparring or are having a real altercation, you may be hit hard enough to get knocked down. A blow that hard can hurt and if you fall improperly that can hurt even more (to improve your falling technique if you do not study breakfalls in your style, talk to any friends that take judo, aikido or BJJ. Also, YouTube has videos under breakfall techniques).

You have just been hit hard; you have fallen down; now is not the time to feel sorry for yourself and lick your wounds. You are vulnerable on the ground. You need to get up. I have been knocked down and hurt in altercations. If I had rolled around on the ground rather than getting up quickly, I would have had a stay in the hospital rather than just some bruised ribs (and ego). Hesitating while on the ground in a defense situation is dangerous. Your mobility is reduced and unless you have a BJJ background, being on the ground can be a foreign experience. As I have quoted before “You can only fight how you practice” You need to get up when you are knocked down. The only exception may be if you have a spinal or head injury and that may change depending on the level of danger you are in.

How you get up is up to you. I recommend that you use a technique that mitigates the risk of further attack as you are getting up. I use the technical stand up to get up. If you are unfamiliar with the technique, look it up on YouTube or talk to a friend that practices BJJ. I have had bruised ribs, I’ve torn a meniscus and have had other injuries while sparring or in real altercations. Each time I have gotten up and gotten out of harm’s way to treat my injuries. Getting up was not pleasant. It ranged from uncomfortable to painful, but it was important for me to protect myself. You need to consider this too. Whatever technique you use to get up, getting away is preferable to getting additional injuries.

As we’ve discussed before, the best fight is the avoided fight. However, if you are trapped in a defense situation, your goal should be to get you and those you are responsible for out safely. To achieve this keeping your feet is best, but if you end up on the ground, get up as soon as you can in such a way that you don’t get your face kicked in for your effort. If your assailant goes down with you, you’ll need to get him off first and that is a whole different set of skills. If your altercation on the street is your first execution of a technique, you will have trouble with it. The key to performing well under pressure is performing well when you train and to perform well when you train, you need to train often.

I teach people to avoid the sympathy show in a defense situation, the sympathy show is a signal to your assailant to finish you off in both sparring and on the street. You can see it in the shock videos on the web. One member of a group sucker punches the victim and when the victim goes down, the others in the group swoop in to get their licks in. When defending yourself, it is safer to remain standing. If you go down, get up quickly. When sparring, if you go down, get up immediately. If you are injured, bow out, leave the ring and tend to your injuries. You can only fight how you practice, so practice staying on your feet.


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