Why Grappling is Useful in a Street Fight

Grappling in a street fight

“I always hear about people saying that it is better to grapple than to strike in a street fight. Can you give me reasons why this is better than striking?” This question was sent to us via Best Self Defense Weapons Mailbag.

There are many reasons why grappling techniques are useful in a street fight according to Stephan Kesting, the author of the self defense book “A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.” Here are some of the reasons he gave:

1. It is Effective if You Have Been Tackled Down

The art of fighting has changed drastically since MMA was introduced. Many people now employ techniques that they usually see on TV. Thus, someone might attempt to do an MMA-style tackle on you during a fight. If you have been taken down successfully, the only effective way to defend yourself is to grapple.

2. You Can Use This to Counter Someone Who is Continuously Beating You Up on the Ground

If you have been knocked down at some point, and your opponent starts mounting or kicking you on the ground, you can’t really do much effective striking with your hands or feet. Once more, the only thing left for you to do to turn the situation to your advantage by grabbing your opponent.

3. A Great Way to Fight Someone Bigger

Striking is more effective if you have more reach and better strength. However, if you happened to be the smaller person during a street fight, going toe-to-toe with a bigger person who is much stronger may put you at a disadvantage. Again, grappling is the only way to keep you out of this predicament.

4. The Best Way to Keep Someone Under Control

There are instances wherein you just want to keep someone under control instead of causing injury in order to avoid possible criminal charges. In this case, grappling will surely come in handy.

5. A Good Way to Knock Someone Out

People on a roid rage or high on illegal substances have the tendency to have higher tolerance to pain. There have been numerous police reports that these persons can even stand multiple bullet shots before they are knocked down. For a better example, just think about Tony Montana’s last stand in Scarface. In this event, striking can be ineffective. But one thing that is guaranteed to put the person down is by stopping the flow of blood to his brain or by temporarily cutting off his air supply. So, one thing you can use in this situation is a well-executed rear naked choke.


Considering that Kesting is a BJJ expert, it is obvious that grappling works best for him in self defense. Grapping may not be a good option in a street fight if you want to keep a person at bay, you are hit simultaneously by multiple attackers (unless you have Steven Seagal-like skills in movies), or you lack the skills to do it. In this instance, a good old strike to the vital parts of the body will surely come in handy.

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